Black Powder

Cuthbertson’s System for a Battalion of Infantry

Cuthbertson’s System for a Battalion of Infantry

Compiled by Joe Wagner

As a new reenactor learns the use and care of their musket, they likely hear many stories and advice passed down from reenactor to reenactor.  The use of leather verses lead grips for our flints, the protection of the lock and use of frizzen covers, relieving the mainspring when on the rack, and the history of other tools and devices we acquire to care for our weapon, are all subject to various opinions on the authenticity and value of each.

What we need is a truly authentic view from the ground level of soldierly operations.  The original and authentic source of information on how the original musketman cared for his weapon – the British Brown Bess.

Enter Cuthbertson’s System for the Complete Interior Management and Economy of a Battalion of Infantry – New Edition with Corrections, printed by Rouths and Nelson, Bristol, England, in 1776.


Advices From the Front

Advices From the Front

to the Williamsburg Gazette

Published July 16, 1776

Airborne Soldiers

 New Jersey – July 6, 1776

 On Saturday last, the brig Nancy, with six 3-pndrs, under Capt. Montgomery of Wilmington, loaded on Congress’ account with 400 barrels of powder and 50 stands of small arms was drove on shore by the Kingfisher at Cape May.  They got out of her first 260 barrels of powder but the fog clearing away, the ships came within shot and five barges full of men were sent towards her.  When the brig’s people, finding they could not hold her, started afire about 140 cakes of powder in the cabin wrapped in sail and then quitted her.  One or two of the boats then boarded her and others close under her stern.  Those coming on board had given three cheers and fired their arms at our people, when the fire took effect on the powder, and sent 30 or 40 of them into the air, who soon returned to the water.  They have taken up 11 bodies, and a leg wrapped in a white splatter dash, supposed to be that of an officer.  The water was covered with legs, heads, arms, and entrails.  Thus did they huzza for a Scotch prize.*

*-18th century slang for no prize at all or not worth the price.


Williamsburg, VA – July 20, 1776

 Stolen from my company of marines, at Fredericksburg, a RIFLE GUN 3 feet 8 inches barrel, about a half inch bore, with a brass box, marked on the top square of the barrel Fredericksburg, and the maker’s name, which I do not remember.  Whoever brings the said gun to me in Hobbs’s Hole**, or to Col. Fielding Lewis in Fredericksburg shall have 20s. reward paid by GABRIEL JONES, captain.

** – Present day Tappahannock, VA