Brown Bess flintlock Musket, circa 1790. (Photo credit: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)
The flint for flintlock – 17th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the Revolutionary war, the main weapon used on both sides was the flintlock musket, nicknamed “Brown Bess” (I have no idea why -yet).
This musket was a very reliable weapon, simple, and easy to operate -though not very accurate.
To begin loading, about a tablespoon of black gunpowder was poured down the barrel, and a round lead ball (for the rebels lead was scarce, so many melted and casted pewter pots, spoons and plates into bullets) appriximately half an inch in diameter was rammed with a special ramming rod down on top of the powder.
Now for the interesting part: in the second photo you can see at the left the hammer (also called the “cock”) with a piece of flint clamped firmly in. Both this and the piece of metal at right (the striking plate) are attached to springs and both spring to the right when the trigger is pulled. You can see just under the flint the primer pan, where half a teaspoon of powder was poured. Now the striking plate is pulled down on top of the powder and the hammer is pulled back. When the trigger is pulled, the flint hits the striking plate as it flies up, which lites the powder underneath.
The powder inside the barrel is lit through a hole just above the striking plate, and the powder explodes, sending the ball out the barrel with considerable force.
British “Brown Bess” flintlock musket – U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)