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Buccaneer Era Firearms

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I know we have touched briefly on this topic but what sort of firearms would Morgan and his lads carried with them on thier various raids? I know the Spanish relied upon matchlocks but would the Buccaneers favored wheellocks, doglocks, or flintlocks (or a combo of these and others)?

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Morgan and his men would have had a mixture of these weapons. Flintlocks had come into their own by this point and were becoming plentiful in the Caribbean but the earlier English lock and doglocks were also quite prevalent at the time.

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I know we have touched briefly on this topic but what sort of firearms would Morgan and his lads carried with them on thier various raids? I know the Spanish relied upon matchlocks but would the Buccaneers favored wheellocks, doglocks, or flintlocks (or a combo of these and others)?

Probably a combination of Wheellocks, snaphaunses and doglocks. Matchlocks had a lot of disadvantages and the colonies made the switch to better weapons sooner than European armies.

The biggest drawback of matchlocks was the match. This burns at around a foot and hour. That means miles of rope would be needed for a large force and it had to be imported from Europe. Spanish troops garrisoned at a major port might not think that this was a problem but Buccaneers would have difficulty getting enough rope. Even some European countries had trouble getting enough match. Sweden switched to an early form of snaphaunce in 1620 because of match shortages.

Also, the Buccaneers were recruited from hunters and matchlocks are poor weapons for hunting. You have a smelly match that has to be adjusted every few minutes and, again, you have to carry a lot of match. In contrast you can carry a flint weapon cocked and ready to fire.

Mark

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When I portray Morgan, I use a doglock. They were also found in the ruins of Port Royal, which sank in 1692. They are a good choice since they can go forward in period some, and really the only difference in the modern doglock and a flintlock is the extra safety (the dog). Otherwise, many of the models don't really look that different. I had a Loyalist doglock right next to their sea service flintlock and they look pretty much the same.

Hope this helps.

Edited by hurricane

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I think there are two distinctions to be made here. First is that I wouldn't count out the matchlock so easily. Yes, doglocks were being imported to Port Royal and probably to some other ports, but when? Early buccaneer or late buccaneer? Looking at the production from England, I'd have to say that the early buccaneer period, say the period of Myngs, and you are far more likely to see matchlocks. By '72, the percentage would have changed, but the the matchlock would still be represented. Remember that while the independent buccaneers would get hold of doglocks and even french flintlocks whenever as they could, Morgan was being supplied by the British government, which was still firmly in the era of the matchlock. The Glorious Revolution was still a matchlock war, manuals were still being written for matchlock troops, and the last ones were not withdrawn from line regiments until the early 1700's. So it is safe to say that equipment being supplied, especially concerning that colonial supply tended to be whatever was left in the armouries, would still have consisted of a reasonable proportion of matchlocks.

Also, the one weapon that is being ignored in this discussion is the miquelet. It was the Spanish firelock of choice well into the 18th century. Captured Spanish arms would be miquelets (and matchlocks), not French locks or English locks. There should be a percentage of miquelets in any buccaneer group.

Second, I disagree with you about the appearance of the doglock, Hurricane. The English doglock of the mid century period had a side acting sear, not the rotating sear of the French lock. The lock plate was longer and thinner, looking far more like a matchlock lock plate, from which, indeed, some of them may have been converted. There is a definite visual difference.

I suppose it depends on what you are doing. Tendency among modern reenactors is to have the fanciest, most up to date musket, that is available. We can afford it, for the most part, and we have the advantage of 350 years of hindsight onto which worked best. Historically, though, it depended what you could afford, capture, or be issued. The choices, for the average no name, were not so many. I'd certainly like to see more variety in the weaponry at any given event, instead everybody carrying top of the line, state of the art, shiny weapons, that they likely would never have been able to afford.

Hawkyns

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"Second, I disagree with you about the appearance of the doglock, Hurricane. The English doglock of the mid century period had a side acting sear, not the rotating sear of the French lock. The lock plate was longer and thinner, looking far more like a matchlock lock plate, from which, indeed, some of them may have been converted. There is a definite visual difference."

I of course agree with this Hawkyns. I was only referring to the production versions that are readily available. The two Loyalist weapons were virtually the same.

I know that in the buccaneer works I've read the buccaneers didn't like the matchlocks because the burning/glowing match gave away their positions at night. The use of flints was a tactical advantage for them in battle as a result.

-- Hurricane

Edited by hurricane

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Middlesex Valley Trading has a proper English doglock

PDOG_right.JPG

Understood about the light and the smell, it's a complaint that goes back to the 15th century. The very fact that they complain about it though, to me, indicates that they must be using matchlocks or it would not be an issue.

Hawkyns

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I know that at least one pretty spot on buccaneer rifle may be at PiP this year. Saw it in it's mid stages and it is awesome. Almost 7' long.

Buccaneers with rifles?

Intrigomon!

I understand rifling well predates the buccaneer era, but did not know of buccaneers with rifles.

Tell me more...

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Also keep in mind that the majority of the early 'boucaniers' were French. (During Morgan's time, more and more 'buccaneers' were English, but many nationalities and origins were still represented, of course). The French had flintlocks available from the early 1620's on, and indeed were even making flintlock trade muskets for the fur trade with the 'Indians' of North America in quantity by 1680 (some reports indicate as early as 1672). My point is that if the French could make true flintlocks for trade with the natives of the period, they undoubtedly had enough such arms to supply many to their own people in the carribbean. they would have had them by the mid-century in some quantity, by all accounts. These would have been popular with any buccaneer who could get one. I am not trying to argue that all, or even a majority of buccaneer reenactors should carry French-style flintlocks; on the contrary, I agree that a wide mix of types (particularly doglocks and miquelets) would be ideal. I do think that given the early French leanings of the buccaneers, the flintlock is a good and "period", option. A buccaneer might well not be able to "afford" the best, but he would jolly well seize up the best dropped weapon he could get his hands on, at the first opportunity! wink.gif For the record, I reenact an old, battered, partly 'retired' pirate in 17o0 New Providence, but I got my 'start' as a buccaneer lad in Port Royal of 1667. I still proudly carry the early model French Fusil-Fin type 'C' trade musket I 'acquired' in Newfoundland in 1674. In .615 caliber, it is quite accurate for a smoothbore, and is the envy of my PoTC crew!

Edited by Badger

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Middlesex Valley Trading has a proper English doglock

PDOG_right.JPG

Understood about the light and the smell, it's a complaint that goes back to the 15th century. The very fact that they complain about it though, to me, indicates that they must be using matchlocks or it would not be an issue.

Hawkyns

This is a beautiful weapon,but be warned it is about 30" OL...I purchased one and being short in stature it had the feel of a blunderbuss.....I gave it to a friend that was 6'5". Great gun but not for short people. Just sayin'.

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This is a beautiful weapon,but be warned it is about 30" OL...I purchased one and being short in stature it had the feel of a blunderbuss.....I gave it to a friend that was 6'5". Great gun but not for short people. Just sayin'.

Remember, it's a cavalry pistol. The originals were kept in holsters hung from the saddle.

Mark

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I think there are two distinctions to be made here. First is that I wouldn't count out the matchlock so easily. Yes, doglocks were being imported to Port Royal and probably to some other ports, but when? Early buccaneer or late buccaneer? Looking at the production from England, I'd have to say that the early buccaneer period, say the period of Myngs, and you are far more likely to see matchlocks. By '72, the percentage would have changed, but the the matchlock would still be represented. Remember that while the independent buccaneers would get hold of doglocks and even french flintlocks whenever as they could, Morgan was being supplied by the British government, which was still firmly in the era of the matchlock. The Glorious Revolution was still a matchlock war, manuals were still being written for matchlock troops, and the last ones were not withdrawn from line regiments until the early 1700's. So it is safe to say that equipment being supplied, especially concerning that colonial supply tended to be whatever was left in the armouries, would still have consisted of a reasonable proportion of matchlocks.

Also, the one weapon that is being ignored in this discussion is the miquelet. It was the Spanish firelock of choice well into the 18th century. Captured Spanish arms would be miquelets (and matchlocks), not French locks or English locks. There should be a percentage of miquelets in any buccaneer group.

Second, I disagree with you about the appearance of the doglock, Hurricane. The English doglock of the mid century period had a side acting sear, not the rotating sear of the French lock. The lock plate was longer and thinner, looking far more like a matchlock lock plate, from which, indeed, some of them may have been converted. There is a definite visual difference.

I suppose it depends on what you are doing. Tendency among modern reenactors is to have the fanciest, most up to date musket, that is available. We can afford it, for the most part, and we have the advantage of 350 years of hindsight onto which worked best. Historically, though, it depended what you could afford, capture, or be issued. The choices, for the average no name, were not so many. I'd certainly like to see more variety in the weaponry at any given event, instead everybody carrying top of the line, state of the art, shiny weapons, that they likely would never have been able to afford.

Hawkyns

Good point about the miquelet. There aren't many repros of those out right now so we tend to overlook them.

I don't think that the British government was supplying small arms, just a warship that Morgan managed to blow up. Remember that he never had a warrant for invading cities. His papers were for raiding Spanish shipping and he exceeded his authority (which is why he was arrested and sent to England).

Morgan's troops were not army regulars. They were volunteers who signed on for a share of the wealth. They provided their own weapons. Armies were still carring matchlocks because they were cheap but individuals were willing to get the best piece that they could afford. A musket was a major investment and, for reasons I already gave, matchlocks are poor weapons for hunting. The extra utility of flint pieces made them worth the extra cost.

Undoubtedly some of the men with Morgan used whatever they could get their hands on. The lure of easy money would have inspired some people to outfit themselves and sign on but these must have been in the minority.

I will admit that I am extrapolating from New England and Virginia inventories where fling pieces outnumbered matchlocks by quite a bit by the 1660s but the Caribbean was at least as wealthy as New England so they should have been able to afford similar weapons.

Mark

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I am working on building my personal blunderbuss and hope to have the lock here by PiP 2010 which is a beautiful miquelet (Italian actually) however sinceit is coming from TRS and they estimate 6-8 months I'm hoping to get it in under 12. The buccaneer musket I am currently building (some people on the forum have seen the work in progress) will be around 6 feet with the barrel length around 57 inches using a snap haunce lock. I chose that lock for a variety of reasons the primary is that it is an early flint that I feel fits nicely in the void between matchlock and doglock predating the English yet still used along side. I think a buccaneer would have been using it not because it was the newest piece available but instead was several years old and had been proven to work reliably being much better than a matchlock. By the way the pan holds roughly 15 grains.

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"I don't think that the British government was supplying small arms, just a warship that Morgan managed to blow up. Remember that he never had a warrant for invading cities. His papers were for raiding Spanish shipping and he exceeded his authority (which is why he was arrested and sent to England)."

Since Morgan is my specialty, I couldn't let this one slide.

Quoted from his Letters of Marque dated 20th of April 1669:

"And also for preventing the intended Invasion against this place, you are hereby fully authorized and required, in the case that you and your Officers in your Judgement find it possible, or feasable to land and attain the Town of St. Jago de Cuba, or any other place belonging to the Enemies, where you shall be informed that Magazines and Stores for this War are laid up, or where any Rendevous for thir formes to Imbody, are appointed and there to use your best endeavours for the seizin gthe said Stores, and to take, kill and disperse the said forces."

Morgan did have authority to attack towns. He ran into problems with Panama because a treaty had been signed between England and Spain. He was arrested, never imprisoned and was then knighted and returned to Jamaica as acting Governor. Hardly a punishment for a criminal. In fact, Morgan was "arrested" to appease the Spanish.

As an interesting side note, Morgan is the first person to ever successfully sue for libel, against that wonderful sot, Exquemelin. Much of his musings on Panama were unsubstantiated, since it was doubtful he was ever at the front lines, being a surgeon and too highly prized in such a capacity to risk death or injury. Some contend he wrote the piece because he was angry and having to miss the action.

Though modern history likes to rewrite his role, he was a patriot who protected Jamaica with all the will, resources and power he could muster and it was never successfully attacked by the Spanish, French, Dutch or anyone else because of his actions.

-- Hurricane

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"I don't think that the British government was supplying small arms, just a warship that Morgan managed to blow up. Remember that he never had a warrant for invading cities. His papers were for raiding Spanish shipping and he exceeded his authority (which is why he was arrested and sent to England)."

Since Morgan is my specialty, I couldn't let this one slide.

Quoted from his Letters of Marque dated 20th of April 1669:

"And also for preventing the intended Invasion against this place, you are hereby fully authorized and required, in the case that you and your Officers in your Judgement find it possible, or feasable to land and attain the Town of St. Jago de Cuba, or any other place belonging to the Enemies, where you shall be informed that Magazines and Stores for this War are laid up, or where any Rendevous for thir formes to Imbody, are appointed and there to use your best endeavours for the seizin gthe said Stores, and to take, kill and disperse the said forces."

Morgan did have authority to attack towns. He ran into problems with Panama because a treaty had been signed between England and Spain. He was arrested, never imprisoned and was then knighted and returned to Jamaica as acting Governor. Hardly a punishment for a criminal. In fact, Morgan was "arrested" to appease the Spanish.

As an interesting side note, Morgan is the first person to ever successfully sue for libel, against that wonderful sot, Exquemelin. Much of his musings on Panama were unsubstantiated, since it was doubtful he was ever at the front lines, being a surgeon and too highly prized in such a capacity to risk death or injury. Some contend he wrote the piece because he was angry and having to miss the action.

Though modern history likes to rewrite his role, he was a patriot who protected Jamaica with all the will, resources and power he could muster and it was never successfully attacked by the Spanish, French, Dutch or anyone else because of his actions.

-- Hurricane

I stand corrected on the scope of his warrant (it's been a long time since I read a biography of him). Am I completely mis-remembering or did he exceed his authority on at least one expedition?

Anyway, my main point was that the English government was not equipping him with firearms. Do you know of anything to the contrary here?

Mark

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You're right on on the weapons. Each man had his own weapon that he brought with him. So they would be all manner of types, just like people now prefer different types of rifles or hand guns. There was no standardization and it was just as likely that a soldier who had been on campaign would pick up a nice Spanish gun if he liked it better than his.

Guess that never really changed. As soon as my brother hopped off the chopper in Vietnam he ditched his finicky M-16 and grabbed a dead soldier's AK-47 and used it for the rest of the time he was there.

Some things never seem to change, eh?

-- Hurricane

Edited by hurricane

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I take it that a blunderbuss is a more of a GAOP weapon than a tool of the Buccaneers?

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I take it that a blunderbuss is a more of a GAOP weapon than a tool of the Buccaneers?

Not at all. They predate the Buccaneer period by decades. The main difference is the lock. It would not be my first choice for land battles since it has a shorter range than a musket.

Mark

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I don't know... I will have to go look up a reference.....

Now I could be wrong, but why would a hunter(cattle and pigs) carry a short range shotgun? too heavy for back-up... but I have read references to Buccaneers using pistols.... so who knows....

OK... that may be what I end up carrying this year at PiP (a blunderbuss)... I'm running outta time to make a case and harden the frizzen for my dog lock......dang....

OH yeah... back on topic... Arms of the Frontier (or something like that)... shows some good early period guns... I will have to look up the actual title and who wrote it ......

And see if I can find the link again to the (I think Danish) museum that had a fantastic collection (on-line) of early period guns... not necessarily Buccaneer, but what was available at the time period....

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I take it that a blunderbuss is a more of a GAOP weapon than a tool of the Buccaneers?

That's a loaded question, and the devil, as they say, is in the details. What do you consider a blunderbuss? If you are talking about the standard, short barrelled, brass mounted, french lock blunderbuss, then no. Those are barely period even for GAoP. The majority of them use a Brown Bess style lock and furniture. The lock that most of them are built on is an early 2nd pattern lock, which dates from the mid 18th century. They also use the shortened buttplate tang and later trigger guard. This was actually a coaching gun and made for defense of the mail coach or other defense against highwaymen. The large muzzle and smooth taper on the barrel was to assist loading on a bouncing coach.

Blunderbusses are period, but not neccesarily in the form that most know them and has been codified by Hollywood. There is reference to someting that might be considered a very early form dating to the Columbus expeditions. Firearms that fire multiple projectiles have been found on the Mary Rose, a flared barrel murderer with a square muzzle fired like a hand cannon and hooked over the rail. The origin of the word is 'donder busch' or thunder gun in German. The first references to a small arm appear in 1566 to a 'busch' that will fire between 12 and 18 bullets. Several wheellock versions of the weapon exist, but have much less flare to the barrel and are longer, similar to what we would think of as a carbine. Snaphauce blunderbusses were develeoped in the low countries in the first part of the 17th century. It spread slowly to England and the first English pieces were likely wall guns from the early Civil War period. Another variant produced during the ECW was the Littlecote carbine, designed as a cavalry carbine to take a single shot or handfull of small shot. It did have a flared barrel to assist horseback loading, but not so large or tapered as the conventional piece. The Commonwealth lists several references to imported continental weapons, some for cavalry operations, and "100 Brass Blunder Bushes' acquired for the Hispaniola expedition.

In the 1670's and later, both English Doglock and French flintlock versions were produced. The lockplates tended to be longer and thinner than the more common 18th C lockplate. Other major differences would be the absence of a sideplate, the absence of a tailpipe for the rammer, and a thin brass buttplate nailed in place instead of the common , heavy shaped buttplate. Miquelet versions exist also. Rather than the finely developed 18th century firearm that is the common view of a blunderbuss, weapons from this period were "ugly, brutish and short".

So the short answer is yes, they are correct for the Buccaneer period, but to be correct, they need several modifications from the pieces commonly available.

Hawkyns

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The doglock buss would work for period since they were being made; however I would agree with Hawkyns in regard to later 18th century lock styles. If they were readily available I would also consider one with an early English lock like those on the horse pistol of fishtail musket. That might make for a fun project gun.

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Here ya go! Dog lock, no side plate and flat plate buttstock.

http://www.middlesexvillagetrading.com/MDBB.shtml

MDBB_right.JPG

MDBB_right.JPG

MDBB_lock.JPG

MDBB_buttplate.JPG

Hawkyns

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I take it that a blunderbuss is a more of a GAOP weapon than a tool of the Buccaneers?

I just picket up the MVTCo doglock blunderbuss. Its a hefty weapon and beautiful too.

Capt Black

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I should have some pictures tomorrow of the buccaneer musket I made for Shay

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Here are a couple of shots of her with the musket.

067.jpg

086.jpg

musket.jpg

Edited by vintagesailor

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