.69 caliber flintlock muskets were the arms issued to infantry units at Fort Scott in the early to mid 1840s. The musket shown is a model 1816 musket produced at both the Harpers Ferry and Springfield Armories, as well as by several contractors.
The flintlock ignition system employed a piece of flint clamped into the top of the musket hammer. When fired, the hammer fell forward, causing the flint to strike a spring-held vertical piece of steel. As the steel snapped back, the resulting sparks were forced downward to a priming charge of gunpowder. The ignition of this powder passed fire through a pin-sized hole and ignited the powder charge. The advent of the small brass percussion cap in the 1830s, with its self-contained explosive charge, eliminated the need for flint, steel, and priming powder and would eventually make flintlock arms obsolete. The model 1816 muskets would be replaced by 1816 conversion muskets or 1842 muskets.
Bayonets were detachable blades put on the muzzle ends of muskets and rifles, for use in hand-to-hand fighting. Most bayonets at Fort Scott were angular (or socket) bayonets. The three steel and/or iron parts of an angular bayonet were the blade, socket and clasp. The blade had a sharp point and usually three fluted sides The socket fit tightly over the outside of the muzzle and was secured to a stud on the barrel by the clasp. Generally, the front sight of the gun was used as the bayonet-stud for angular bayonets. Bayonets were more of a psychological weapon than a practical one. A company of infantry charging with polished bayonets created quite a site. However, the problem with the bayonets is that if you were to stab someone with it, the gristle of the person you had stabbed would close in around the bayonet, making it difficult to remove. Because of this, many bayonets were put to other uses such as tent pegs, pot hooks, candlesticks, skewers, and entrenching tools.
The information on this page came from An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms by Earl J. Coates and Dean S. Thomas.
Did You Know?
Politics made strange bedfellows. John Little, a proslavery man, was shot to death at his father's store, by free state men who raided Fort Scott in December 1858. A friend, George Crawford, a free state man, was staying with Little that night. Crawford had once been the target of proslavery men.