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.
By Joe Wagner
The following quotes are taken from a document entitled “ Orderly Book of Captain Robert Gamble of the Second Virginia Regiment, Commanded by Colonel Christian Febiger, August 21 – November 16, 1779” They offer some insights on the daily doings of an American unit in camp. The setting is Fort Montgomery, New York, overlooking the Hudson River, where in the fall of 1779 the American Corps of Light Infantry was in camp. Spelling is, as always in those times, a do-it-yourself experience.
Listen up musick
HEAD QUARTERS LT. INFANTRY, FORT MONTGOMERY.
Regimental order Sept. 1st ’79
. . . the Col. o[b]serving that the Drums & Fifes in Stead of Improving themselves since they have Been on this Detachment have Grone a Great Deal worse Direct that Phillip Goaf, Fifer in the 1st Battalion, and Wm. Armstead, Drumer of Second, take out the Drums & Fifes of the Reg’t Every afternoon Sundays and Rainy Day[s] exsepttd to Practice for hours From four to six o’clock,