weapons of the american revolution

Weapons and Firearms of the American Revolution

Michael Crites

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English, British, and French troops in the Revolutionary War used similar weapons. The differences in weapons were most significant from one type of unit to another, as the artillery, cavalry, and infantry employed drastically different equipment and tactics.

Muskets and Rifles

brown bess musket

The Brown Bess was the most commonly used musket by American troops, even though it was designed and manufactured in Great Britain. This type of musket shot a cluster-style shot that had an effect similar to today’s shotguns

Short Land Pattern

The Short Land Pattern Brown Bess was not as common as the Long Land Pattern, but it was shorter and significantly less bulky.

Long Land Pattern

This long and bulky musket was the most common firearm for American troops.

Charleville Musket

Charleville musket
 
flintlock pistol
 
Modele 1763

As American and British officers each had their standard pistols, so did French military officers in the Modele 1763. It was similar in size and use to the Light Dragoon.

Close-Range Weapons

Swords and Sabers

There were many close-combat situations during the Revolutionary War, and both sides used swords and sabers to this end.

Spontoon

This spiked weapon served for many years as a signal device even after it was retired from being used in close-combat situations.

Halberd

This weapon was carried by British officers and is similar in appearance to the spontoon. Because of its recognizable shape, many American snipers were able to locate and kill British officers who were holding a halberd.

Native American Weapons

Many Native Americans used muskets and other weapons used by Americans and Europeans, but there are two weapons that were used almost solely by Native Americans.

Bow and Arrow

While the range of a bow and arrow is significantly less than that of a musket or rifle, its silent use and ability to be reloaded quickly often provided an advantage.

Tomahawk

Tomahawks were used effectively by skilled handlers in close combat, but in the right hands, it could be thrown as a weapon as well.

Artillery Weapons

Cannon

A cannon shot could be devastating, but the effort required in using a cannon was significant, as the recoil meant that it had to be repositioned after each shot. Both sides used cannons often.

Mortars

Mortars, used by both British and American troops, look similar to cannons, but they are mounted in a block of wood. A mortar could fire exploding shells that would cause shrapnel to fall to the ground over a large area.

Howitzer

This monster of a weapon combined the elements of cannons and mortars. It was able to shoot exploding shells and cannonballs over both high and low trajectories.

Carronade

A carronade is a small and short cannon used primarily on ships, and they were employed often during close-combat situations, as they did not have a long range.

Swivel Gun

These small cannons were effective when trying to stop a ship from being boarded and could also be used in an infantry battle. Swivel guns are short, but as their name implies, they were able to swivel in all directions to aim at enemies coming from anywhere.

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