By Lance F.
My family and I are missionaries in Africa and I am a regular reader of TTAG when the internet allows. My two favorite hobbies are hunting and guns. Since I have not been able to pursue my gun hobby and will never get to hunt here, my wife was more then supportive last Monday when I had the opportunity to buy two flintlock muskets . . .
These muskets have survived quite well considering the hot humid climate they have been in for many years. One of them is a Brown Bess, the musket used by the British army in all of their wars from 1728 to 1854. It was also used by the East India Company. The Brown Bess was used by other countries during this time also, most notably the American war for independence (on both sides), the War of 1812 (again on both sides) and the Texan war for independence by the Mexican army.
This particular musket has a 39 inch barrel with an over all length of 56 inches. This means it is probably a New Land Pattern firearm, tough it does not match any Pattern perfectly. Production of the New Land Pattern started in 1802 and continued to 1839 as a flintlock configuration.
The emblem behind the barrel embedded in the stock is missing so I can not definitively say that it is not an East India Company musket. The stock is beat up but the lock functions and the barrel is in decent order. There is some pitting inside but not enough to compromise the barrel. The ramrod is rusted off short and the flint is missing. The gun shoulders well and points almost as nicely as my 870. It probably has been used mostly as a shotgun here in Africa.
Now the real challenge; the other musket has a 21″ barrel with an over all length 38 and 3/8 inches, and it looks to be about .69 caliber, which was the French standard for their Charleville muskets. It has one barrel band near the end. On the hammer is an arrow head pointing up, under that, two half moons with the open ends facing out, and then under that a four pointed star.
The star and half moons are repeated on the trigger guard behind it on the flat tang. It points horribly, it is impossible to get your eye down far enough to look down the barrel and use the bayonet lug as a sight. It seems like it was made in this short length and was not cut down at some later point. The barrel has a lot of rust inside and it even has a small hole 4 inches from the lock, so I will not be firing this gun. The lock functions but is sluggish. I have a guess but I am not certain of what it is. Can any of you help identify this musket?
Now I need to make some black powder and find something to use as shot so I can test fire the Brown Bess. I have heard that the Africans use the seeds of a certain fruit as shot. I will try to find out more about this. I wish that guns could talk and tell us their stories, how they came to Africa and what has happened to them over the years.