Musket

Musket
Iron and walnut
Fredericksburg Gunnery
Fredericksburg, Virginia
1789
Gift of Thomas Mellon II, 1936
In 1775, the Fredericksburg gunnery was established by the Virginia Convention of Delegates to produce firearms for the American Revolution. Of the five councilors appointed to oversee the gunnery, Fielding Lewis and Charles Dick took the most active roles. The convention contributed the first £25,000 to implement the gunnery, but Colonel Lewis and Mr. Dick provided most of the operating funds.

This musket is one of the few surviving examples of the Fredericksburg Gunnery's production. Several alterations were made to it, including changing the firing mechanism from a flintlock to a percussion cap and shortening the wooden stock by two feet.

The original flintlock firing mechanism used a piece of flint striking steel to create a spark to ignite the gunpowder in the muzzle of the gun. Following the Revolution, the percussion cap system was developed. This system used a hammer striking a cap containing the explosive substance, fulminate of mercury, to ignite the charge in the barrel. Both of these forms were used on muzzle-loading firearms where charges of black powder and shot were compacted using a ramrod. Later firearms use breech loading technology in which the charges are loaded near the firing mechanism.