A Soldier's Best Friend
A simple weapon by today's standards, the flintlock musket was the primary weapon of infantrymen during the U.S.-Mexican War. It was here at Palo Alto Battlefield the first angry shots of the war sounded on May 8, 1846. Though muskets saw limited use during the battle, they saw much more action in later engagements. Eventually, some of the muskets present at Palo Alto would make their way to Mexico City when the U.S. Army captured the Mexican capital in September of 1847.
In the hands of U.S. and Mexican soldiers, the flintlock musket was both a giver and taker of life. An instrument of war made of wood and steel, it was often the only thing standing between an early grave or living another day. The musket was a constant companion of the infantryman, at times even sharing a bedroll with the soldier.
The weapon employed a simple firing mechanism relying on a piece of flint crashing down on a steel plate. The resulting shower of red-hot sparks ignited gunpowder held in a shallow pan on the side of the lock, setting off the main charge inside.