Brown Bess Musket in the War of 1812 Transcript


[Tim Compeau narrates] During the War of 1812, British soldiers carried the India pattern flintlock musket affectionately known as the Brown Bess. We spoke to re-enactor Kevin Thompson to learn more about this weapon of war.

[Kevin Thompson] So this is a Brown Bess musket and this was the weapon that the British infantry used back in the War of 1812. It's a black powder flintlock weapon. The flint here would strike this steel.

Now, what the soldier would do, he would carry a cartridge box with the cartridges which contained the musket ball and the black powder. So we put the powder in the small pan here and there's a very small hole there that will turn the spark through once a flint ignited that powder, and he would put the remainder of the powder down through the barrel there, followed by the ball and then he would pull the ramrod out.

Put it back down and push it all in really tightly down there, pack it all down to the bottom and then when the soldier was ready to fire that would be closed to keep that powder stuck there. Pull the trigger, the spark would ignite the powder there, go through the touch hole, ignite the powder inside and then send the round off.

A lot of the expressions that you hear now go back to that era, the 1812 conflict. Lock, stock and barrel; lock; stock; barrel; side burns. The hair on the side of the soldier's head—they would grow long to stop the flash there from burning their faces. So a lot of the expressions we use now, we found that they go back to during that time period.