- a long, heavy weapon with a matchlock or wheellock and loose powder fired with the gun barrel resting on a stand
- a lighter weapon with rifling and percussion caps, with a bayonet.
Muskets were made for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket was called a musketman or musketeer. In the 1500's, soldiers armed with a heavy arquebus, called a musket, supported the arquebusiers and the pikemen. By the start of 1700's, a lighter type of musket took over from the arquebus. When the bayonet was added, there was no longer a need for pikemen, and almost all infantry soldiers became musketeers. In the 1800's, better ammunition and ways of firing the gun, meant that rifling was practical for military use, and the rifled musket became common. A few years later, the use of cartridges, breechloading, and multiple rounds of ammunition meant the "rifled musket" gave way to "rifle", and "muskets" were no longer used.
Musket calibres ranged from 0.5 inches (13 mm) to 0.8 inches (20 mm). A smooth bore musket, firing at a single target, was only accurate to about 50 yards (46 m) to 70 yards (64 m). Rifled muskets in the 1850's were much better, able to hit a man sized target at up to 500 yards (460 m). The advantage of this longer distance was shown at the Battle of Four Lakes, where Springfield Model 1855 rifled muskets killed Indian warriors before they could get close enough with their smooth bore muskets. However, in the Italian War of 1859, French forces were able to defeat the longer range of Austrian rifle muskets by quick, small attacks and bayonet attacks at close range.
References[change | change source]
- "Arms and Equipment of the Civil War" By Jack Coggins, Published by Courier Dover Publications, 2004
- "Gunsmoke and Saddle Leather: Firearms in the Nineteenth-century American West" by Charles G. Worman, Published by UNM Press, 2005
- "War in the Age of Technology: Myriad Faces of Modern Armed Conflict" by Geoffrey Jensen, Andrew Wiest, Published by NYU Press, 2001