Guns of the Patriots

When visiting Colonial Williamsburg, the events that you can participate in may vary depending the time of the year or if there is any special occassion to commemorate. During my visit, it was a particularly special weekend as the town commemorate its role in supporting the Continental Army just before the Siege of Yorktown that was the defining moment that led to the end of the American Revolutionary War. So the events of the day appropriately revolved around this: battle planning, march by the army, soldiers roaming the town, and demonstration of the firearms. You could both feel what it was like to life in the 18th century town and being in a place during a war for independence; there were people walking around in period clothes, some looked like regular citizens of the town, while others wear uniform and looked like soldiers from out-of-town who enlisted in the army to help the cause.

One event I attended was a demonstration of the firearms used during the American Revolutionary War. Several soldiers demonstrated the firing of these guns, and while they were doing so, a narrator provided some explanation to the audience about what was going on. I think the interesting fact I learned was about the two different types of guns used back then: the muskets and the rifles. The muskets were among the earlier firearms used, and while they provided the advantage compared to the enemy without firearms, they are not that accurate so the soldiers would typically march in groups and had several of these muskets fired toward the general vicinity to increase the possibility of hits. Compare that to the rifles. With the rifles, the construction of the barrel allowed them to spin the projectile as it comes out of the barrel, so the marksman can aim more accurately. So you can get quite accurate shooting even from longer distance.

During the American Revolutionary War, muskets were the weapon of choice especially during an open field battle because they were faster to load than the rifles, so when you have two fighting armies shooting at each other you can probably win when you have many people with muskets as supposed to small numbers of people with rifles. But if your goal is to perhaps hit a very particular target from longer distance (where accuracy matters more than rate of fire), then it would be the other way around where one would use rifle and using a musket would be a bad choice. So both kinds had their places during the war.

The photo below was taken during the demonstration of firing the muskets by a group of soldiers. There was a leader who coordinated the firing so the guns were fired roughly about the same time and increasing the likelihood of hitting the opposing army.

Muskets firing

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