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Rare Prussian Percussion altered India Pattern Brown Bess

Rare Prussian Percussion altered India Pattern Brown Bess

SKU: FA-20-0006

     The musket offered here is a very unusual and quite rare example of the 1797 India Pattern Brown Bess Musket. The India Pattern musket served as the backbone of the British military throughout the Napoleonic Wars until the 1840s when it was finally replaced by the Pattern 1839 and Pattern 1842 percussion muskets. During that time nearly 3,000,000 of them are estimated to have been produced.

     Historically England has opted to fight peripheral wars if possible, and the Napoleonic Wars were no exception to this rule. To that end it comes as no surprise that to do so the British were more than willing to help subsidize the military campaigns of their allies. Throughout the 12 years of the Napoleonic Wars millions of pounds were spent providing military aid to England’s continental allies. Among these beneficiaries was the Kingdom of Prussia, which starting in 1813 received a £666,666.00 annual subsidy. These monies were used to provide a wide array of military equipment including uniforms, accoutrements, munitions, and weaponry. In the four months following Prussia’s treaty with England some 68,000 muskets had been delivered to Prussian Baltic ports.

     Little has been written about these Prussian used English muskets, but based on a handful of surviving examples it would appear that the majority of the arms were India Pattern Brown Bess Muskets. A single surviving Model 1805 New Land Pattern Light Infantry Musket with Prussian connections is known by me at this time as well. Apart from a brief mention in “European Arms in the Civil War” by Schwalm and Hofmann I do not believe any English language publications cover their history.

     The little that we do know starts after the Prussian adoption of the percussion ignition system in 1839. In the following years the Prussians undertook a massive operation to modernize their stocks of arms which still included some stocks of British muskets. These muskets invariably are found with large Prussia style bolsters and hammers in the same manner as percussion altered Model 1809 “Potsdam” Muskets that are so common in the United States. In addition to percussioning them, the Prussians also added a block style rear sight to the barrel’s tang in the same manner as a Potsdam musket. As originally produced the India Pattern Brown Bess utilized the bayonet lug as a front sight, which is far too short to be effective with the new rear sight. To remedy this the Prussians also added a tall iron front sight just behind the forward edge of the stock nosecap.