21eme Regiment de Ligne
  The Musket
by Malvolio

I was asked to write a piece on how to clean up muskets after use. There is no hard and fast way of doing it, save the barrel needs washing out, the lock should be rinsed off, and the stock wiped over. Everyone does it different. All I can do is to give you an example.

Fouling in muzzle loaders is due to the residue of unburned powder  in re-enactments we don't use ball so fouling due to lubrication of same won't enter into it. After use, the unburned sulphur in the powder starts
to condense on the bore (and everywhere else -hands, face, etc.) Sulphur in powder serves two purposes -part fuel and part explosive catalyst. It's not very efficient so a lot gets left behind, binding with the ash to form a kind of cement. You'll have noticed this falling off in tiny scales from your flashpan.

I don't recommend taking off the barrel of Brown Bess to clean it out at displays. Those tiny pins get lost easy in grass, and you need to carry a special tool to poke them out. Sareless poking causes damage to the stock. The stock wit:'lout the barrel in it is also very easily busted, particularly in the careless manner some get left about camp.
Take off the lock first and put it safe. Sharpen a matchstick of small hardwood twig and poke it into the vent, carefully. Wrap a rag around the muzzel and pour in a little boiling water, slosh it about and pour it down a
drain or into a hole you've dug -not outside someone's tent where folk will walk. The stink you get at this point of 'rotten eggs' is the smell of foul sulphur. Repeat the process until the water flows clean out of the barrel. The rag will stop you scalding your hand or dripping water onto the stock to get under the barrel. Take out the plug from the vent and hold the musket muzzel down for a few seconds.

If you haven't got a jag (or indeed know what a jag is) tie off a small piece of rag around your ramrod swelled end, and carefully pass it down the bore. Repeat the process until the rag comes away dry and clean. You'll
need to replace the rag a couple of times. A rubber band comes in handy to secure the rag.

Put on a clean pice of rag and drip some oil onto it. Pass this up and down the bore several times to ensure a clean bore.

Clean out the vent now. A feather comes in mighty handy here. Wipe off any dirt from this area.

Pour boiling water carefully allover the lock. Get the lock as hot as possible. Wrap it in clean rag and wipe off -shake off any excess water droplets. The heat in the lock will help to dry it. Put aside to cool.

Wipe off any dirt from the stock now. watch the barrel for being too hot still. When it is clean, replace the lock.

You can put a little oil or grease onto the workings of the lock. Wipe over the lock once in and tight with the oily rag from the ramrod. Stick a new flint in if necessary. Don't leave the flint grip in the jaws whilst cleaning -if it's leather it won't dry out, and the jaws will get rusty. Put a little oil on the top jaw screw.

With a clean rag, wet the end with your tongue and pick up a little ash from the camp fire. Use this sparingly to polish off the furniture. Brasso can also be used here, but again sparingly. Don't slop it allover the place.

Wipe off the ramrod with the oily rag and replace in it's slot under the barrel.

Once you've got the water boiling, all this takes about as long as it's took me to write it. Let the musket cool off in the open air, and then pop it back into the case, ready for tomorrow.

When you get home, repeat the procedure but take more time and care. When you've cleaned up the musket, don't just prop it up in it's usual groove and forget about it until the next campaign. Take it out when you've a minute and check it over. Look for rust pitting possibilities and check the workings of the lock. Clean up if necessary and store.

You can wipe over the stock with linseed oil to protect it from damp and season the wood. Don't ladle it on or it'll still be sticky in a months time. Clean off the white pipeclay where your sling has rubbed with a clean rag and a little meths, or white spirit.

Like any workman, take pride in your tools and look after them. There is no sergeant to inflict the many and subtle punishments you would incur by not paying enough attention to your weapons and turnout as there would have been in the 'old school'. Clean weapons and a smart turnout is the first step to promotion.

Try to avoid the unecessary habit some folk have of  flashingt the pan before a display, or even trying a shot. It ruins the suspense and indicates a lack of confidence. If youtve cleaned up ok and set your flint correctly and reamed out the vent, it'l shoot.

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Commanding Officer
Chris Perko
Algrave Hall
Hassock Lane North
Derbyshire DE75 7JB
The Adjutant
Chris Durkin
7 Lowcroft Crescent
Oldham OL9 9UU
Position of the Regiment
25th May
1790 Regiment Guyenne at Lyon
1792: Journal militaire:1st battalion arrived Besancon
1793 Landau, siege until 28th December.
1794 At Nice, General Kellerman formed a Polish battalion with men found in the 21eme demi-brigade, 9 companies of 3 officers and 70 men.
1796 Evening, Massena's division (21e) along left bank of the Ellero, from Mondovi to the Tanaro.
1798 Into garrison at Amiens, 2nd battalion at Nantes (formed March 1797), 3rd at Dunkirk
1799 Magnano, towards Brescia.
1800 Pas de Suse, and town of Suse.
1801 Battalion expeditionnaire formed on the Ile de Re, with 140 of the 21eme, 106 56th Line, 59 5th Light, 58 Colonial depot Ile de re, 28 legion Loire, 119 cannoniers 5th Foot artillery, on the frigate l'Africaine.
1803 Bruges Camp/Ostend, 3/4 battalions Flessigne until July 1804.
1804 3rd and 4th battalions to Cologne.
1805 Crossed the Danube at Pressberg, one battalion at Bruick, other in villages of Regelbrun, Arbestal, Collesbrunn, Willfersnauer, and Schadendorf, until 5th January 1806.
1806 Division Kreus Munster
1807 Division at the Hohenstein camp until 5th June.
1808 Juliers
1809 Division left Ebersdorf for Vienna
1810 Brunswick, until October.
1811 Stade
1812 Division Thorn
1813 Order to form 1st Corps, 1st division, 33rd Provisional demi-brigade (2/12, 2/21) forming near Erfurth, united into corps at Wittenberg.
1814 Bergen op Zoom
1815 Lille

1815 Between Quatre-Bras and Waterloo.
Waterloo 1985
Boulogne 1991 on the Video page.
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