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smoothbore shooting
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seesbirds
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Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 49
Location: Florida
Real Name: Mark S. Preston

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:22 pm    Post subject: smoothbore shooting Reply with quote

my buddy and I both have .62 smoothbores and we were postulating last night about how the weapons were loaded back in the day...e.g. we put in powder, an over the powder card, a wad, the shot, and an over the shot card. Our question: is this the way that it was done back in the day? We can't imagine them carrying all that junk around with them and our theory is they put a patch over the powder, poured in the shot and then probably put another patch over the shot.

What about it? I know there are a bunch of knowledgeable folks on the board. Are we on the right track?


Last edited by seesbirds on Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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AxelP
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Joined: 23 May 2007
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Real Name: Ken Prather

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have read where they frequently used paper for wadding. There is that quote about them using hymnal pages?

also leaves and grass. I know wasp nest seems to be used today and probably back then too.

Cards seem to be more of a modern thing.

K
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Wahkahchim
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Joined: 29 Jul 2010
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Real Name: Peter Andresen

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

About 20 years ago, I pulled the load out of an 1816 which had been brought to California around 1848, then left here in a barn. It had a great big wad of 1864 newspaper over the power and another big wad of the same page over the ball.

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D.S. Bradshaw
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Joined: 19 Apr 2009
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Location: Middle Waters, USA
Real Name: D. Scott Bradshaw

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny thing, I hae often wondered that myself. How many people had paper to spare "in the day", rags were actually valueable recyclables, they made journals and magazines from old rags, (why some magazines and journals are still called "rags" to this day), and pre-manufactured cards were non-existant. Natural wadding would be my first guess, as in grass, hornet nests, wasp nests, and then mosses perhaps. These are just speculation when paper was not an option.

For me in modern times though, I carry regualr ol' cotton balls in my pocket when I'm shooting shot (not period I know) One over the powder, and one over the shot, packed tight with the rammer. Still haven't killed a turkey though.
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Mario
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Real Name: Mario Doreste

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Now search for Tow, and some old Saddle pierce:
No Wadding lies so close or drives so fierce.”

Pterypegia, or the Art of shooting Flying, 1727

It is the General's orders, that none of the men load with cartridges upon their regimental parades but from these powder horns; AND TO HAVE WADDING ABOVE AND BELOW THE BALL, TO KEEP BOTH POWDER AND BALL FIRM IN THEIR PIECES." [emphasis mine]

John Knox, 1759 (Knox, pg 259)


“I observed here a kind of Moss I had never seen before; it grows in great Quantities upon the large Trees, and hangs down 3 or 4 Yards from the Boughs; it gives a noble, ancient and hoary Look to the Woods; it is of a whitish green Colour, but when dried, is black like Horse-hair. This the Indians use for wadding their Guns, and making their Couches soft under the Skins of Beasts, which serve them for beds. They use it also for Tinder, striking Fire by flashing the Pans of their Guns into a handful of it, and for all other Uses where old Linnen would be necessary.”

Moore, Francis. A Voyage to Georgia, Begun in the Year 1735. London: Jacob Robinson, 1744.


"...and Wadding equivalent to such cartridges..."

NY Militia Law, April 3, 1778


"A Winnipeg River find in 1967 proved to be a typical Northwest gun...charged with 22 dropped shot...with wadding probably of beaver hair."
Voices from the Rapids (Wheeler, 81)

"This charge was held in place by coarse cloth wadding...believe it dates from about 1820, plus or minus 10 years."

Granite River find, Voices from the Rapids(Wheeler, 67)

"...on being loaded to four inches including powder, shot &wadding..."

Philip Turnor, Letter to London Offices of HBC, 1779 (Tyrell, 258)


“As you might expect, parts from many Type G trade guns have been recovered in FL. I think the one that you are referring to and the one that is the most complete is the piece recovered from the Suwannee River at Running Springs by a river diver back in 2005. It was marked “Williams” on the lock, but no proof marks were found discernable on the barrel. It was 24 gauge or .58 cal. and the barrel was 46 ˝” in length. It was octagon to round with a diameter of 1.2” at the breech. It was found loaded with a ball that looked to have been whittled down in size and palm or palmetto fiber appeared to be the wadding.”

E-mail from James Levy, a conservator working for the State of Florida.

We have now to speak of another species of wadding, which has novelty, at least, to recommend it ; but, in truth, it may be preferred to hat-wadding, for the principles of that equally apply to this, and it possesses one great advantage in the circumstance of not fouling the barrel so much as the other. The wadding to which we allude, is made of the cloth called fear-naught, or shepherd's cloth, which is very generally known, fitted to the bore of the piece by a punch ; but it must not be dyed, for the acid which is said to set the colour, will rust the inside of the barrel immediately in contact with it, and especially if the gun is laid by charged. –
The Sporting Magazine October 1793



Mario

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Wahkahchim
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Joined: 29 Jul 2010
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Real Name: Peter Andresen

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, Mario, I am going to have to print and save what you just posted! Thanks!

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KarlK
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Joined: 24 May 2007
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Location: Grand Portage, Minnesota
Real Name: Karl Koster

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:47 pm    Post subject: Shooting Reply with quote

Here is from an article in the works, the article will detail how to choose a gun and it's accoutrements:

How your persona will define what gun is right for you...

Then, what to carry per persona:

What tools can be documented:

Worm... what type?

Wire...what type?

Flint: spall/wedge or platform/prismatic/blade?

Powder...what type?

Can one document a ball puller or powder charger for his persona...etc...

On shooting a smoothie, here is some wadding doc. by far the most common way, way more than patching a ball:

Shooting in modern re-enacting mostly mirrors standard rifle techniques that go back a ways, but were dealing with smoothbores, it' a different creature. It is also likely many of the men we emulate never had experiance with rilfes and only know the smoothbore. Powder and ball remain the same in both rifled and smoothbores but a difference at times appears in the middle of these. Rifles enjoy a tight fit in the barrel, this allows those grooves to take hold and apply the spin on the ball, a tight fit is compensated by what is termed a "patch". The use of the patch among smoothbores, it just isn't seen as nearly as the term wadding. All this can be confusing. What is wadding? How do we know wadding and patching are not the same thing in some instances? An early wadding reference, albeit from across the great pond, comes from a verse in A.B. Markland's 1727 poem: Pteryplegia: Or, The Art of Shooting Flying: "Now search for Tow, and some old saddle pierce: No Wadding lies so close or drives so fierce.", besides this foriegn reference evidence from this country exist as well. Instances include the discovered "Wickham Musket" of Virginia, a firearm discovered in an old privy still loaded with wadding and the 1779 military order in Boston to the troops requesting they have "tow for wadding" as well as other items like priming wires and worms which we have covered already:
To Shrimpton Hutchinson Esq.
SIR,
You are hereby ordered and directed, to compleat yourself with ARMS and Accoutrements, by the 12th Instant, upon failure thereof, you are liable to a FINE of THREE POUNDS; and for every Sixty Days after, a FINE OF SIX POUNDS, agreable to Law.
Articles of Equipment,
A good Fire-Arm, with a Steel or Iron Ram-Rod, and a Spring to retain the same, a Worm, Priming wire and Brash, and a Bayonet fitted to your GUN, a Scabbard and Belt therefor, and a Cutting Sword, or a Tomahawk or Hatchet, a Poach containing a Cartridge Box, that will hold fifteen Rounds of Cartridges at least, a hundred Buck Shot, a Jack-Knife and Tow for Wadding, six Flints, one pound powder, forty Leaden Balls fitted to your GUN, a Knapsack and Blanket a Canteen or Wooden Bottle sufficient to hold one Quart.

~ above from the Emmet Collection of the New York Public Library

More relevant wadding references closer to home are the following;

"A Winnipeg River find in 1967 proved to be a typical Northwest gun...charged with 22 dropped shot...with wadding probably of beaver hair."
~ Woolworth & Birk, Winnipeg River find from Voices from the Rapids, (Wheeler,81)

"When found, this firearm was charged with...lead shot ranging from .140 to .185 inch in diameter. This charge was held in place by coarse cloth wadding...believe it dates from about 1820, plus or minus 10 years."
~ Woolworth & Birk, Granite River find from Voices from the Rapids, (Wheeler,67)

"...it is the General's orders, that none of the men load with cartridges upon their regimental parades but from these powder-horns; and to have wadding above and below the ball, to keep both powder and ball firm in their pieces."
~ John Knox, Point Levi, 1759, (Knox, 295)

"...on being loaded to four inches including powder, shot & wading the third time it was fired blowed into two pieces about 15 inches from the britch [breech] but luckily did no damage."
~ Philip Turnor, Letter to London Offices for HBC, 1779 (Tyrell,258)

"...discharged his piece at him the ball Enterd About an Inch from the middle of his back...the very wad Enterd the wound."
~ John McKay, Rainy Lake, Minnesota, 1793 (J. McKay,17)

"...while Roussell in repairing a double-barrel gun she went off and the contents lodged in his right thigh...The flesh was cut open below and opposite the wound, and the contents taken out. She had been loaded with shot and wadding."
~ Alexander Henry (Y),Fort George, 1814 (Henry, 670)

..."Each hunter then filled his mouth with balls, which he drops into the gun without wadding..."
(which may imply wadding being used) ~Paul Kane, Wandering of an Artist, page 85, 1830-50s

"The Yellow Head landed, during the morning, to fire at a deer, which was seen grazing on a meadow, at some distance. He approached cautiously, but was unsuccessful in the shot he fired. What most excited our surprise, was the rapidity with which he reloaded and fired again, before the deer had got without the range of his shot. This was effected without the use of wadding to separate the powder from the ball."
~ Henry Rowe-Schoolcraft, Minnesota, 1832 (Schoolcraft 1834, page 65)

"The musket with which this nefarious act was done, is said to have been loaned to him from the guard-house at Fort Brady. Dr. Bagg pronounced the ball an ounce-ball, such as is employed in the U. S. service. The wad was the torn loaf of a hymn book."
~ General Cass on the John Tanner shooting incident of 1836 (Schoolcraft 1851, page 316)

"The pigeons flew very low, whole flocks skimming over the tops of the bushes...The townsmen kept up a perpetual fusilade;... At one period we had exhausted our wadding, so hot had been the battle, and I was fain to wad down my powder and shot with dried leaves. But Slope was ready to keep up the play, without being beholden to the trees; tearing off his shirt sleeves, he soon made wadding enough for his pistol, and pulling out his shirt bosom and collar, he threw the residue of his shirt to me...",
~ Morleigh, Wisconsin, 1841(Morleigh, 34)

"..had shot her in the back...she thought if she could only have this bullet out she would not have such pain. So Wacouta opened a knife and gave it to her. She made an incision and the bullet, together with a bunch of grass, fell to the floor and rolled away. They always wadded their guns with grass."
~ Mary E. Schwandt Schmidt Recollection,.German Pioneer Accounts of the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862

Personally, I shoot only a smooth and carry what I call my vital 5, the 5 things I carry to shoot and clean:

Linen Rag ( cleaning, emergency wadding, lock coverage in inclement weather)

Wire

Spare Flints

Worm (conical wire-cone style)

Balls (loose in bottom of bag) or shot in a small drawstring bag.

often found wadding is what I use.
Karl
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seesbirds
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Joined: 17 May 2007
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Location: Florida
Real Name: Mark S. Preston

PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew you guys would come through.

Thanks Guys!!
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Shawnee Mike
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Joined: 28 Nov 2009
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Location: Cortlands Ford, Indiana territory
Real Name: Mike Greenhorse

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bezon,
I use a smoothbore as my primary weapon. I do as Mario said above. I will wad above and below the ball or shot charge with Tow, or cloth wad, or big leaves.
All work about the same and i have seen NO CHANGE in shot pattern or accuracy.
I believe all that over under powder wad/ card stuff to be just modern ways to complicate things.

My favorite is just pulling leaves from local plants. But up here in Big Bear there are few large leaved plants so i carry wadding.
When i go back to Ky. leaves work awesome.

I will also patch a ball sometimes although this is not a documented proceedure. but its awfully accurate.

Wads of paper will work just fine as well. Some stuff just more flammible then others.

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Swanny
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Location: Two Rivers, Alaska
Real Name: Thomas Swan

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shawnee Mike wrote:
Bezon,
I believe all that over under powder wad/ card stuff to be just modern ways to complicate things.

I will also patch a ball sometimes although this is not a documented proceedure. but its awfully accurate.



I've found that using the 'standard' modern combination of OP card, compression wad, OS card, the compression wad often flies through the shot charge, leaving a big hole in the pattern.

Both of my 16g smoothbores give me a better shot pattern if I omit the card or use tow or paper wadding instead.

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D.S. Bradshaw
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Location: Middle Waters, USA
Real Name: D. Scott Bradshaw

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing I have found different than the others in modern technology are the shot cups. The plastic ones. These do add several yards to a tight pattern, but besides being non PC, they are a pain in the butt to use, so I don't. I used to make some out of cardboard but found them too difficult to keep together while loading so I gave up that idea too.
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markinmi
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Real Name: mark drinkard

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ive had good luck with half dry grass when it can be found.Limp but not brittle dry.I'll pull a hank of it and twist it into the bore and push about an inch or two into the bore then trim the rest with a knife.Then shot and then just a wad to keep the shot in place.I cartwheeled a squirrel from the top of an oak with this load with a head shot.
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trg
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Real Name: Gene Stebbins

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to go with mostb here who fins simple waddding of two.balnket scraps leaces,grass to work quite well as well if not better thna the modern shotgun cpolumn accesories, I do patch the first ball at times when hunting but wad the reload if a shot is taken though I know both ways will take a Deer at 50 yds. it is often hard to get past the modern mindset that tells us what we "HAVE" to do to make things work, inspite of hundreds of years of historical evidence pointing in a different direction.
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Shawnee Mike
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Real Name: Mike Greenhorse

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup Swanny,
I agree with ya. Found that a while ago as well. Cant tell some folks that though, But Whatever. The proof is in the shootin, ya Know?

Markinmi,
Grass and leaves are great. Not much of that here on the mountain, But when I get back to Caintuk, Ill never buy wadding again. Hoozah for the rhododendron.

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Gonzales
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Location: Saint Louis
Real Name: Larry Gonzales

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great posts all, especially yours Mario.



Quote:
“I observed here a kind of Moss I had never seen before; it grows in great Quantities upon the large Trees, and hangs down 3 or 4 Yards from the Boughs; it gives a noble, ancient and hoary Look to the Woods; it is of a whitish green Colour, but when dried, is black like Horse-hair. This the Indians use for wadding their Guns, and making their Couches soft under the Skins of Beasts, which serve them for beds. They use it also for Tinder, striking Fire by flashing the Pans of their Guns into a handful of it, and for all other Uses where old Linnen would be necessary.”

Moore, Francis. A Voyage to Georgia, Begun in the Year 1735. London: Jacob Robinson, 1744.


Very cool!
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