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Richard Warren

Rifle-barrelled muskets and Rifle-bags

Hello, gents.

Just a couple of quick queries that have come up in my ongoing fascination with militia rifle companies. I'm sure someone here among you rifleologists will know ...

First, I read that the newly formed rifle companies of the 3rd West Yorkshire Militia were issued "rifle-barrelled muskets" in 1804. To my mind, that suggests something of a musket length but with a rifled barrel, rather than the shorter Baker rifle etc. But did such a thing even exist in 1804? (On the other hand, they were issued "side-arms" with these, which suggests sword bayonets.)

Next, I'm still wondering why the rifle companies of the Shropshire Militia couldn't pack their blankets inside knapsacks when this was suggested for the other companies. Did they have no knapsacks, smaller knapsacks or what? But now I see in Bryan Fosten's Osprey 'Wellington's Infantry 2' that the 5th Battalion of the 60th when raised was ordered to carry "rifle-bags" of brown leather instead of knapsacks. OK, I know it's the 60th, and I know Ospreys can be less than reliable, but what exactly was a "rifle-bag", and do we know what one looked like?

Thanks .....
Ben Townsend

As you've no doubt noticed, 'rifle-barrelled muskets appears in literature of the period frequently. I'm wary of assigning any significance to the term of the specific nature you suggest, its a synonym for rifle in my book. The options are wider than just 'Baker' or A.N. Other of course: the testing for the first Infantry Rifle counted options in dozens registered at Horse Guards for the Duke of York's personal examination, and the Tower hoarded captured rifles of multiple types, often Dutch in manufacture. De Witt Bailey is good on this subject.

The rifle bag is a fascinating moot point. Schedules of contracts from as late as 1812 list Light Infantry knapsack. Was this a different article from the regular knapsack? Or marked with a buglehorn? Or with black straps?
There is also the possibility that this implies a lighter knapsack such as that proposed by the author of Scollopteria as ideal rifleman's equipment. To a certain extent this was the opinion also of Coote Manningham and Stewart, who appear to have equipped the early 95th with a small portmanteau in 1800, useful for the proposed harassing role of the rifles in the event of French Invasion of Britain, but evidently deemed impracticable, being ultimately replaced by something akin to the regular knapsack- by 1804 I believe (Paul?)
Paul Durrant

From: The British Military Library Journal, No.xxix, Feb 1801, vol ii., Art. CLXXX., p.564.
Courtesy of the Foyle Special Collections [Rare books Coll.], King College, London.

Chapter heading:
The Rifle Corps commanded by Colonel Coote Manningham, with a description of its Uniform, Arms, and accoutrements, Manoeuvres, and Manual exercise.


____________________________________________

From Public Records Office - WO 3/152 p36

"Horse Guards
13th May, 1803
Sir - I have need the Commander in Chief's directions to desire, that you will take an early opportunity of submitting the enclosed letters from Colonel Manningham, proposing changing the Leather Wallets with which the Regt. under his command, was furnished at his request, for the packs generally used in the Infantry of the Army. to the consideration of the Secretary at War..."

Greg Renault

Don't know if this is helpful or not, but here are the terms that were in use mid-19th century:

rifle--the shorter, rifled, muzzle-loading firearm that we are familiar with.

rifled musket--a smoothbore longarm that had rifling added post-manufacture.

rifle musket--a rifled longarm, approximately the same length as a smoothbore musket, but manufactured with rifling (eg, a P1853 Enfield).
Richard Warren

Thanks Appreciated.  I knew I was asking the right people. Paul and Ben - thanks, the "rifle-bag" what I suspected. I'm just a bit surprised there there appears to be no surviving image??

Greg - thanks, and yes, absolutely, I recognise those terms from my ACW days, but unless anyone else is saying otherwise, I'm thinking there was no such thing as a long barrelled ("musket" length) weapon with rifling at this period and that the distinctions you outline must have come in later?

Paul's post reminds me - anyone know of an accessible online version of "British Military Library" Vol Two? Vol One on Google Books, but two I'm stuck on ...
Ben Townsend

Vol 1 of BMLJ is available as facsimile from Gale Ecco imprints. Got one for c. £20 on Abe.

The rifle bag mentioned in Scollopteria is illustrated in the frontispiece. The author (colonel of Tower Hamlet's Militia) intimates that the illustration was completed to his specifications regarding the perfect (hypothetical) rifleman's equipment according to his own lights. Book published 1808 (from memory). Can scan and post if you don't have access to a copy.

Edit. Sorry just realised you are after BMLJ vol ii. Try Gale all the same. They seem to have purchased much of the Horward collection and are pumping out the facs just as fast as, ahem, 'others' can pirate them.
OJM

Re: "Rifle-barrelled muskets" and "rifle-bags

Richard Warren wrote:
Next, I'm still wondering why the rifle companies of the Shropshire Militia couldn't pack their blankets inside knapsacks when this was suggested for the other companies. Did they have no knapsacks, smaller knapsacks or what? But now I see in Bryan Fosten's Osprey 'Wellington's Infantry 2' that the 5th Battalion of the 60th when raised was ordered to carry "rifle-bags" of brown leather instead of knapsacks. OK, I know it's the 60th, and I know Ospreys can be less than reliable, but what exactly was a "rifle-bag", and do we know what one looked like?


In several of the Germanic armies, as well as up here, variously titled "jäger bags", "shooting bags" etc. are fairly well known. Basically, it's a single strap "18th century" knapsack, main room for soldiers belongings, separate rooms for patches, bullets, powder and other rifle equipment. AFAIK, both furry and smooth types are known, especially a German version in badgerskin, with the badgers head on the flap, the Danish version was made, possibly at first with badger, later with sealskin(!).

In theory, these were meant to negate the need for a separate large cartridge pouch etc.
(I believe the construction/function of the Austrian version is detailed in the Osprey MAA on Austrian Auxiliary troops).

At least in Denmark, it was found to work not satisfactory, and replaced with separate cartridge pouch, bullet pouch, powder horn and regular knapsack, by 1810 at the latest.

The space issue seems to have occured with the Danish version, as the Jäger depicted in pattern drawings for uniforms from around 1788-90 shows them wearing their cloaks 'en bandolier' instead of strapped on top off, or under the flap of the bag, as with regular knapsacks.

http://www.thm.dk/udstil/rk_online/pics/139b_s.jpg

Hope this might be of help!
Richard Warren

Yes, it's of great help - thanks! Seems like there are two possibilities - a single strap "haversack" type bag, as here, or a smallish back pack, which seems to be shown on the floor in the Scloppetaria (is that right? I can never spell it) image, along with a separate (?) blanket roll.

Thanks for the Gale Ecco tip, Ben.
Richard Warren

Just noticed that Cope's 1877 History shows this in the rather dodgy frontispiece image:
Ben Townsend

I think the image in Cope is a version of the below from Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, which is dated 1810-45, and may in turn be a version of the Atkinson, also below.





Richard Warren

Thanks, I hadn't spotted that in the ASKB. Do you think the large single strap bag is the mysterious rifle-bag, or just a garbled version of a haversack?
OJM

I'd say that it is a garbled haversack, based on the rifleman also having a regular cartridge box and powder horn.

Unless the british militia version of the rifle-bag was just a single strap knapsack meant to keep ordinary kit and equipment, which makes it a somewhat meaningless exercise.  

Checked the Ospreys, and the Austrian rifle bag is described and illustrated in both MAA 299 and 413.

Edited to add links:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5203/5247276845_becbc12f0c.jpg
Probably not contemperary, and based on the one below?

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5281/5247878266_68c7f0099c.jpg

I'd say this also looks more like a portmanteau than, say, the Danish version.

Apparently the Austrian version was made to also function as a carrier bag for the doppelstutz twin barrel rifle.

And yeah, that's a Balkans border rifleman armed with a twin barrel gun and a pike, no man to meet in a small dark room.  q14
maurice

on rifle-muskets

Greetings to all on this board.
I ran across the queary about the rifled musket and rifle bag. Sorry I can't provide info on the bag but as to the rifle bit I'll throw in my two cents worth. Before the pattern rifle submitted by Msr. Baker was adobted various other pieces were fielded.  Mr. Nock was using older muskets and replacing the musket (i.e. smooth bore) with a rifled barrel. This was also being done in Prussia with their rebuilds. Various muskets of older vintage were refurbished. One item that was done was to install a new barrel that had the same external profile of the musket barrel but was rifled, Bore size was around the same as the "cartridge" for the standard Bess, about .67 caliber. The government bought a few batches of these items and they were listed as rifle muskets or rifle barreled muskets. Most were issued to the foriegn corps, i.e. west indies, canada, KGL, etc.
The one example that I have seen looked exactly like an East Indian Musket. The barrel was "purpose" built, ie it was rifled not converted. Profile was the same as a standard musket but was distinctly built a a rifle barrel. I could not make out the maker and it was hard to see all the proofs.
British Military Flintlock Rofles by De Witt Bailey mentions this. And two museums in my neck of the woods (Oklahoma, and Arkansas) have examples. I hope this will ad some light to  your question.

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