The Weapons

The"Brown Bess" Musket was typically .75 caliber and fired a one-ounce (.69 cal) ball. The loose-fitting ball, coupled with the smooth bore, made the Brown Bess notoriously inaccurate at long range.

The standard British infantry arm throughout the entire 18th century was the "land" pattern musket. The long land (with a 46" barrel) and short land (42" barrel) patterns were used by both Continental and British troops during the American War for Independence. This musket was commonly called the "Brown Bess", though scholars continue to disagree as to the origins of this nick-name.

The 55th was stationed in Ireland just prior to coming to the colonies and received 351 new stands of arms in 1774 (WO 27/35). The regiment also had 39 stands of arms that had been issued in 1772 (WO 27/35). Therefore, the regiment probably carried the second model Brown Bess made at Dublin Castle. Cuthbertson states that arms from Dublin Castle came marked to the regiment, but that company and piece numbers cost extra (Cuthbertson, p 90). One surviving Dublin Castle musket with the barrel engraved "55th Regiment" (ASI Moore, p 85, fig S-20) is said to be a fake, and the illustrations below were made from another surviving Dublin Castle musket marked to the 55th Regiment that is in a private collection. (For an excellent study on the Brown Bess musket, see Darling, Anthony, Red Coat and Brown Bess, (Alexandria Bay, New York: Museum Restoration Service), available from a variety of

Dublin Castle lock from a short land musket marked to the 55th Regiment. The face of the cock is flat, not rounded as is typical on most locks of the period.

Brass escutcheon (wrist) plate from a 55th musket showing distinctive regimental markings. The top number is, of course, the regimental designation. The "G" is the company number (in this case Company "G" was Gillian's company) and "20" is the rack number.

Illustrations are copyright 1997 Mark Tully and are not to be reproduced without permission.

The Accouterments

BELTING. There doesn't appear to have been a "standard" pattern for bayonet belts in the period, and a variety of styles can be seen in period artwork. The basic specifications for the bayonet belt and shoulder carriage are outlined in the Royal Warrant. Cuthbertson states that "the bayonet belt, if worn around the waist, not only heats and confines the soldier so much about the loins, but if buckled over his coat . . . shows whatever defects he may have in his shape . . . if worn across the shoulder, those inconveniences are at once removed, as he becomes cool, free and unrestrained, at the same time . . . (Cuthbertson, p 98)." Some regiments were using shoulder belts as early as 1772, and wasitbelts were sometimes worn over the shoulder, or were converted to a shoulder carriage (Dawnay, plate 67, illustration by Morier of a grenadier of the 34th foot; MC&H #18, p 44).

CARTRIDGE POUCHES. The 55th's inspection return for
1775 indicates that the 55th had both a cartridge BOX and a Cartridge POUCH (WO 35/27). The cartridge pouch was a black leather case holding a wooden block that was drilled for 29-36 cartridges. The soldiers were usually issued 60 rounds, and the extras were typically stored underneath the block. The pouch was suspended from 2-3/4", white, buff leather sling and fastened to bottom of box by two, 1" square, iron buckles ((Simes-Warrant, p 74, Neumann, p 54, fig 18, & p 67, fig 12). A vent pick and pan brush was also often suspended from cartridge pouch belt (Darling, p 35, Fig. 30). The cartridge pouch was worn on the right hip so that the top of the pouch rests over the rear hip-button of the coat (Cuthbertson, p 97).

In the 1775 returns it is indicated that the 55th's cartridge boxes dated from 1757 during the Seven Years War (WO 35/27). These were the common "belly box" consisting of a simple wooden block drilled with 18 holes and covered with a leather flap. The flap was often embossed with "GR 2" or "GR 3" design, depending on the date issued. The cartrideg box was not carried on the 2-inch waistbelt with the bayonet, but on a second, narrow, black leather belt (David Morier paintings ASI Dawnay, plates 55-72). The cartridge box was also sometimes worn on a shoulder carriage, probably of either natural or buff leather, and was in fact ordered to be worn in this fashion after August 3rd of 1775 (Howe, p ??).

OTHER ACCOUTERMENTS. A course linen haversack was issued during war time and was used to carry the daily food rations. A tin canteen was also issued to the troops when on campaign.


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