Weapons & equipment
Fought mainly to reconfirm the independence of the United States from Britain, the conflict ironically saw both sides armed in largely the same manner
The conflict featured weapons such as the Brown Bess, sabres and rockets
The War of 1812 saw a number of weapons figure prominently in the fighting. Muskets were the common firearms of both armies, being distributed to most infantrymen, while rifles were in the hands of specialists or militia. The Pattern 1796 light cavalry sabre was a new take on an age-old weapon. Another, the gunpowder-propelled Congreve rocket, was innovative and pointed the way to the future.
“MUSKETS WERE THE COMMON FIREARMS OF BOTH ARMIES, BEING DISTRIBUTED TO MOST INFANTRYMEN, WHILE RIFLES WERE IN THE HANDS OF SPECIALISTS OR MILITIA”
Produced originally by Pennsylvania gunsmiths, the flintlock Pennsylvania rifle was the favoured firearm of the American frontiersman. It fired a lighter ball than a musket, but its barrel was rifled, and the spin imparted made the projectile more accurate.
PATTERN 1796 BRITISH LIGHT CAVALRY SABRE
The Pattern 1796 sabre was 84 centimetres (33 inches) long, with a curved steel blade that thickened towards the point, increasing its cutting power. It was said that one blow could cleave open a skull or lop off an arm.
Named after its inventor, William Congreve, the 14.5-kilogram (32-pound) rocket was launched by black powder, and carried bursting or incendiary warheads weighing between 1.5-11 kilograms (3-24 pounds). Congreve rockets were used at the Battles of Lundy’s Lane and Bladensburg, and also against Fort Mchenry.
Invented in 1776 at the Carron ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland, a carronade was a short, stubby gun that fired a heavy cannonball relative to its size and weight. Its drawback was its short range compared to a conventional cannon. It was employed on both land and sea.
BROWN BESS MUSKET
The ‘Brown Bess’ was the nickname of the standard .75-calibre Land Pattern flintlock musket, carried in various versions by most British infantrymen for many decades during the 18th and 19th centuries. A bayonet was attached to the front end of the muzzle-loading weapon for close combat.
“THE ‘BROWN BESS’ WAS THE NICKNAME OF THE STANDARD .75-CALIBRE LAND PATTERN FLINTLOCK MUSKET, CARRIED IN VARIOUS VERSIONS BY MOST BRITISH INFANTRYMEN FOR MANY DECADES”
The Pattern 1796 sabre was used by the British throughout the Napoleonic Wars and during the War of 1812 The Pennsylvania rifle was lethally accurate to 365 metres (400 yards)
The Congreve rocket, a largely inaccurate weapon, was invented in 1804 and came in several sizes
The Brown Bess was the primary infantry firearm of the British Army during the War of 1812
The hard-hitting carronade was used extensively on warships during the War of 1812