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"British Officers with fusils" Topic

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636 hits since 10 Nov 2017
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Bill N10 Nov 2017 5:13 p.m. PST

While I've read that officers started carrying fusils early in the war, I haven't seen anything on how they used them. Did they still carry swords as well? Were they usually used with fixed bayonets? Did they load and fire along with the ranks? Did they use the fusils like spontoons?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 7:27 p.m. PST

The fusil replaced the espontoon -- not the sword. Here is an interesting article:


As you can see, not all senior commanders liked officers carrying a fusil because it could distract them from their mission of commanding their troops. I have read that Gen. Washington did his best to prohibit his officers from carrying fusils for that reason.

historygamer10 Nov 2017 8:33 p.m. PST

I think they were carried mainly for personal self defense. The practice in North American started during the F&I War. A lot of British officers were issued captured fusils after the capture of Louisbourg.

I'm not sure what you mean about using them like espontoons (aka: spontoons). Sergeants used their halberds to keep the men up or straighten the ranks. That was not an officer's job.

Eric Schnitzer, park historian at Saratoga battlefield, remarked to me that indeed the period was divided on whether they should carry a musket or a spontoon – but they made a clear decision by the Napoleonic period to discard them.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 12:06 a.m. PST

Perry makes German officers carrying a musket.




Here's the British


Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 12:18 a.m. PST

I have a German and a British officer carrying a musket at the trail. I can't find them on the website but they are two of the best figures in my collection.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member11 Nov 2017 2:45 a.m. PST

During the battle of Long Island, the Hessian colonel von Donop shot and killed a rifleman who was in the process of aiming at him.

Washington ordered that company commanders and above should carry spontoons; subalterns were still allowed to carry fusees if they wished.

British sergeants were re-armed with muskets (or in some cases the shorter artillery carbine) before the war even started.

Virginia Tory11 Nov 2017 11:46 a.m. PST

Which is good because I find carrying a spontoon tiresome.

Bill N11 Nov 2017 4:25 p.m. PST

The and for the replies. @79 that link gives me enough to work with.

42flanker12 Nov 2017 12:25 a.m. PST

The other element of self defence was that, as well as wearing plainer frocks cut down from uniform coats and stripped of officers' lace, by carryig a fusil the officers gave themselves a profile in the field that presented less of a target for enemy marksmen. Not entirely of course, since together with sergeants their actions among the troops would indicate who was a leader.

British officers in WW1 also started to carry a rifle for the same reason, although wearing an OR khaki tunic was thought bad form.

historygamer13 Nov 2017 1:40 p.m. PST

Same with US army officers in WWII. They removed the insignia off the front of their helmets and collars and quite carrying the M-1 carbine as it all made them stand out.

Bill N24 Nov 2017 8:07 p.m. PST

One advantage of plastic multi part figures is that it is easy to switch out arms so the men can be equipped as you wish. Junior British officers will have muskets and swords.

Virginia Tory30 Nov 2017 12:01 p.m. PST

"Same with US army officers in WWII. They removed the insignia off the front of their helmets and collars and quite carrying the M-1 carbine as it all made them stand out."

According to a vet friend of mine, they stopped carrying distinctive map cases/binocular cases as well--dead give away.

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