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soldier's survival depended on his weapons. During the American Revolutionary War, weapons and equipment were often in short supply. Iron foundries, such as Hopewell Furnace, produced weapons for the Continental Army. However, many soldiers and officers provided their own weapons and household items. They also carried the equipment needed to fight, such as shot molds, tinder lighters and cartridge boxes.

evolutionary War period smoothbore muskets were quite inaccurate. Soldiers lined up in long lines and fired massive amounts of lead balls at each other. Commanders hoped these deadly volleys would break holes in the enemy line. Once the enemy line was breached, soldiers with bayonets could rush in to create panic and break the enemy's formation. Cavalry could then ride in and hack at the panic-stricken opponents. At that point demoralized soldiers might ask for quarter and surrender their weapons.
Pistol <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Spontoon <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Link to 'Peter Francisco: One Man Army'. Will open separate window.
Link to 'Powderhorns'. Will open separate window.
Link to 'Traveling the Back Roads'. Will open separate window.
Graphic of two pistols used to separate page information
The flintlock musket was the most important weapon of the Revolutionary War. It represented the most advanced technological weapon of the 18th century. Muskets were smooth-bored, single-shot, muzzle-loading weapons. The standard rate of fire for infantrymen was three shots per minute. The rifle, although slower to load, was more accurate than the musket. However, riflemen were at great disadvantage in close-quarters fighting against disciplined infantry armed with muskets and bayonets. Cavalrymen and officers used pistols. Pistols were effective only at close range.
Gunlock <click to enlarge and read additional details>
3 Muskets <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Bullet Mold <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Bullet mold and stone <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Shots and mold <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Bullet mold <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Bullet mold and balls <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Large bullets <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Large cannon balls <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Tinder lighter <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Spurs <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Pouch and scabbard <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Shot pouches <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Box, flint, and striker <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Cartridge box <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Cartridge box <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Cartridge box <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Bayonet <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Dagger <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Bayonet <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Sword <click to enlarge and read additional details>
Edged weapons played a critical role in the Revolutionary War. Battles like Guilford Courthouse were decided in bloody hand-to-hand combat where bayonets, swords, and axes were used. Riflemen, having no bayonets, relied on knives and tomahawks. Swords were widely used during the war. Infantrymen used hangers, while their officers carried short sabers. Cavalrymen carried heavier and longer sabers. Officers' small swords were light, straight, and slender. Hunting swords were short, cut-and-thrust weapons used by the German Jaegers, American riflemen, and officers of both sides. Pole arms served both as combat weapons and symbols of rank. The bayonet was the most widely used edged weapon of the war. It transformed the musket into a spear. It was a terrifyingly effective weapon when used by an experienced soldier. Inexperienced troops often fled in the face of bayonet charges.
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Last Modified: Thursday, July 26, 2001

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