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I consider as the oldest, had on the barrel the figure of a hen with a musket in its mouth, because, perhaps, they were made at Henneberg. A pistol of this kind was entirely of brass, without any part of wood, and there. fore exceedingly heavy. On the lower part of the handle were the letters J. H. Z. S., perhaps John duke of Saxony. A piece with a wheel, which seemed to be one of the most modern, had on the barrel the date 1606.” There is a short thick firearm used in the service, called the musketoon, the bore of which is the 30th part of its length: it carries five ounces of iron, or seven a half of lead, with an equal quantity of powder. According to Strutt (Manners and Customs of the English, vol. iii. p. 91.), the archers and the henchmen, or men with axes, were, in the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., constantly intermixed with the gunners, musketeers, or, as Holinshed and some other chroniclers call them, harquebussers and pikemen; but, during the reign of queen Elizabeth they do not seem to have made any considerable figure, and in the days of James I. we hear no more of them : but the pikemen were continued down to a much later period; and the pikes then used form a considerable part of the small armory exhibited in the Tower of London, which must have fallen under the notice of most persons in the metropolis.
The musketeers, even in the time of Henry VII., and more particularly in the reign of his son, constituted a considerable part of the army; and, during the reign of James I., they with the pikemen formed the whole ; for muskets were then used by the horse as well as by the foot soldiers. From that time English archery may be said to have been no longer in use. The following is the upper part of a figure, copied from a book in the Cottonian library, and exhibits a man with the hand-gun or musket on his shoulder, as in use in the reign of Henry VIII. (Fig. 24.)
The priming was laid in the hollow at the side of the lock, exposed uncovered to the weather, which, when damp or rainy, would of course prevent the explosion of the gun, and render it useless. And John Bingham, an author who regrets the decay of archery, bears witness, that even in the more improved state of the musket, as in the reign of James I., it was subject to the same inconvenience ; " for,” says he, “ in raine, snowe, fogges, or when the enemy hath gained the wind, mus
kets have but small use." He declares that much time was necessary for their charging ; “ while,” says he, “the musketeer takes down his musket, uncockes the match, blows, praynes, shuttes, castes off the pan, castes about the musket, opens his charges, chargeth, drawes out his skowring sticke (or ramrod), rammes in the powder, drawes out again, and puts up his skowring sticke, lays the musket on the rest, blowes off the matche, cockes and tries it, gardes the pan, and so makes ready ; all which actions must necessarily be observed, if you will not fail of the true use of a musket.”
The foregoing figure not only exhibits the musket of the sixteenth century, but likewise the match, and the method of holding it in the hand. Of this match, which was prepared so as to burn very slowly, every
soldier carried a lighted piece with him, which, when
a necessary part of the mus-
are approached by means of a boat, having a convenient support for a very large fowling-piece.
Spain, once noted for its manufactures in iron, was famous for the excellence of its firearms. The author of “Wild Sports of the West” says, “ Spanish barrels have always been held in great esteem, as well on account of the quality of the iron, which is generally considered the best in Europe, as because they possess the repu. tation of being forged and bored more perfectly than
It should be observed, however, that, of the Spanish barrels, those only that are made in the capital are accounted truly valuable.
They are proved with a treble charge of the best powder, and a quadruple,one of swan or deer shot. At Madrid, and throughout all Spain, the manufacture of barrels is not, as in this and most other countries, a separate branch of the gun-making business; but the same workmen make and finish every part of the piece.
- Almost all the barrels made at Madrid are com. posed of the old shoes of horses and mules, collected for the purpose. They are all welded longitudinally ; but instead of being forged in one plate or piece, as in other countries, they are made, like the English twisted barrels, in five or six detached portions, which are afterwards welded one to the end of another, two of them forming the breech, or reinforced part of the barrel.”—“ To make a barrel, which, rough from the forge, weighs only six or seven pounds, they employ a mass of mule-shoe iron weighing from forty to forty-five pounds; so that from thirty-four to thirty-eight pounds are lost in the heatings and hammerings it is made to undergo before it is forged into a barrel.”
James, in his “ Military Dictionary,” says that the Spaniards were the first who armed part of their foot with muskets. At first they were made very heavy, and could not be fired without a rest: they had matchlocks, and did execution at a great distance. These kinds of muskets and rests were used in England so late as the beginning of the civil wars.
Musketeers, when on a march, carried only their rests and ammunition, and had boys to bear their muskets after them. They were very slow in loading, not only by reason of the unwieldiness of their pieces, and because they carried their powder and ball separate, but from the time required to prepare and adjust the match : so that their firing was not nearly so brisk as that of modern troops. Afterwards a lighter kind of match-lock musket came into use; and the soldiers carried their ammunition in bandeliers, to which were hung several little cases of wood, covered with leather, each containing a charge of powder : the balls they carried loose in a pouch, and a priming-horn hanging by their side.
These , arms, towards the beginning of the last century, were universally laid aside in Europe, and the troops were armed with firelocks. The firelocks were formerly three feet eight inches in the barrel, and weighed fourteen pounds : at present the length of the barrel is from three feet three inches to three feet six inches, and the weight of the piece only twelve pounds.
They carry a leaden bullet of which twenty-nine make two pounds ; its diameter is iğths of an inch, the bore of the barrel being only about the 150th part of that diameter wider, because if the shot only just rolls into the barrel that is sufficient.
The fabrication of firearms is one of the most extensive and important of the manufactures of this coun. try into which metal enters. The seat of this amazing staple trade is at Birmingham, which may not only be designated the armory of Great Britain, but even of Europe, and, in some sense, of the whole world; for there is probably no place, however remote, to which British enterprise has carried a knowledge of the deadly effects of powder and ball, where the gun-makers of that flourishing town might not recognise their workman. ship.
The introduction and establishment of the Birmingham gun-trade are thus succinctiy described by Hutton, the local historian : “ Tradition tells, that king Wil. liam was once lamenting, that guns were not manufactured in his own dominions, but that he was obliged to procure them from Holland, at a great expense, and with greater difficulty.' Sir Richard Newdigate, one of the members for the county, being present, told the king that genius resided in Warwickshire, and that he thought his constituents would answer his majesty's wishes. The king was pleased with the remark, and the member posted to Birmingham. Upon application to a person in Digbeth, whose name I have forgotten, the pattern was executed with precision, and, when presented to the royal board, gave entire satisfaction.