Charleville Musket Muzzle-Loading Musket
The Charleville musket served throughout countless conflicts including the French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812 and the American Revolution.
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The Charleville Musket, gaining its name from it place of manufacturer, this being the French main arsenal in Charleville, France (Champagne-Ardenne region) - was the standard issue flintlock musket of the French Empire throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The original musket was delivered in 1717. She was further developed to become the revised model of 1728, this gun noted for its use of three barrel bands when attaching the barrel to the wooden receiver. In 1740, a steel ramrod was issued to replace the original's wooden form. In 1746, further revisions saw the pan bridle removed from the design. Additional subtle changes would continue for the next few decades until an all-new model was issued beginning in 1763. The 1763 production form was reinforced for the rigors of combat but these additions proved in excess and the added weight to an already unwieldy and long weapon. As such, a revised, lighter version soon followed in 1766. Over the next decade, still more revisions occurred in an effort to produce a better fighting musket. It is estimated that tens of thousands of Charleville Muskets were produced.
Flintlock actions such as the one used on the Charleville design required a great deal of interaction from the operator for he had to first rotate the hinged cock handle (this implement holding the piece of flint rock needed to generate a spark) to "half-cock" to prevent accidental firing of the weapon during loading. The operator then preceded to load the weapon from the muzzle with the gun held vertically and the buttstock on the ground. An amount of black powder was inserted down the barrel and this was followed by the "shot" (or the spherical lead ball) used as the bullet. The bullet was most often times wrapped in a piece of cloth or paper for a tighter fit in the barrel. The operator then utilized a "ramrod" to ram the contents of the barrel down further, moving it ever closer to the critical firing action. With the gun held horizontally now, a small amount of fine gunpowder was deposited inside of the flashpan. The flashpan lid (also known as a "frizzen") was then closed and the weapon was officially made ready to fire. The cock was then set to "full-cock" and the gun's firing was now at the discretion of the operator's trigger pull.
Basic verbal commands to ready and fire dominated the field of the day beginning with "Load Arms!". This was followed by "Open Pans" and then " Handle Cartridge" and "Tear Cartridge". Next up was "Prime" and then "Shut Pans". What followed was "Load", then "Cartridge into Barrel", then "Draw Ramrod" and finally "Ram Down Cartridge". "Return Ramrod" placed the ramrod back into position under the barrel to which then the command to "Shoulder Arms" was given, followed by "Make Ready", "Present" and "Fire!" - all in French of course. The process was repeated over and over through daily training to the point that a single solder could loose off between two and three bullets in a minute.
Of course this entire action was at the mercy of many factors including that of the operators own level of training. Additionally, the moving working parts of the gun would have to be properly maintained while the piece of flint rock used to create the needed spark would have to be in serviceable condition. The gun powder used would have to be as dry as possible and proper amounts would need to be inserted into both the barrel and the flash pan. The ramrod action itself would also need to have had pushed the barrel contents as close to the spark action as possible.