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“When the whole are completely formed, they may ground

their arms …”
Grounding versus Stacking Arms in the Continental Army
(With Notes on British and German Practices)

John U. Rees
What did Continental troops do with their weapons when they did not need them, or
were halted on a march? In camp simple musket racks made of two forked sticks with a
straight pole, branch, or sapling laid between them sufficed. In the Charles Wilson Peale
portrait of Colonel Walter Stewart (completed 1781) such a device can be seen in the
camp behind him. Most notably, that rack is built very low to the ground so that the
muskets rather recline than stand up. Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne's orders, Totaway, New
Jersey, 9 July 1780, mentioned building musket supports: "As soon as the tents are
Pitched and the Bowers made, the Troops will attend to Claning and repearing their
Cloths & Arms. Racks or Forks are to be fixed in front of each regt to bear the
arms against."1

Continental Army musket rack. Detail from Charles Willson
Peale’s portrait of Pennsylvania Col. Walter Stewart. The
pictured camp was likely sketched in spring 1781, when the
Pennsylvania regiments were stationed in Lancaster, Pa.
(Peale’s bill for the camp sketch was dated 23 May 1781).
Edward W. Richardson, Standards and Colors of the American
Revolution (Philadelphia, Pa., 1982), 219.

In 1782 Sublieutenant Jean-Baptiste-Antoine de Verger, Royal DeuxPonts Regiment, described musket racks.
17 September We crossed the Hudson at Kings Ferry. En route to the
crossing we marched under the fort at Stony Point that was captured

by M. de Fluery. On the opposite bank stands Fort La Fayette on which
rests the right flank of the American army. On its left was a wood, and
far in advance was a corps of 500 men commanded by Lord Stirling.
Between this corps and the army was a large marsh. The whole colorline was bordered by a very beautiful arbor, decorated with various
designs and coats of arms (which were very well executed)
representing the different regiments. The American soldiers do not
stack their arms in piles like ours but simply lean them against three
posts set up in the form of a scaffold before their tents, which they
erect on one line."2

Musket rack in the style used in the Continental Army.
(Image courtesy of the His Majesty’s 40th Regiment of Foot

When such contrivances were not available, for much of the war
American soldiers simply grounded their arms. Eventually (circa 1779),
they adopted the British method of stacking (or piling) arms (locking
firelocks together to form conical stacks). One reason why Continental
troops grounded rather than stacked their arms has been posited as
being due to the lack of uniformity in the men’s firelocks or an
insufficient supply of bayonets. The reasoning behind this supposition
is that bayonets were needed to form a musket stack. Perhaps, but as
anyone knows who has worked with reproduction muskets of the

period, a stack can also built by partially drawing out the ramrods of
three muskets and interlocking them.
To date I have found no early-war mentions of American troops
stacking arms. By contrast Rhode Island soldier Jeremiah Greenman
mentioned grounding arms six times in summer and autumn of 1777,
but only twice in 1778. On the other hand, he never wrote of stacking
arms in his eight-year diary.3 General George Washington army orders
tell only of grounding arms up to May 1778.
Head-Quarters, Middle-Brook, June 12, 1777 … The General thinks it
necessary to establish the following regulations for guards; and hopes
that officers will consider them as the rule of practice, and make
themselves well acquainted with them ….
After placing his Sentries, the officer of the new guard is to make his
men lodge their arms, first giving them the orders necessary, to govern
their conduct. Care must be taken to lodge their arms, in such a
manner, that each man may have recourse to his in a moment, without
bustle or confusion. In most cases it is best, the arms should be
grounded on the guard-parade, during the day. 4
Head Quarters, Wilmington, September 4, 1777 ... The tents of Genl.
Sullivan's, Lord Stiriing's and Wayne's divisions, and Nash's brigade,
are to be struck and packed by five o'clock to morrow morning (if the
weather permit) these corps, together with Genl. Potter's brigade, are
to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning
afterwards upon receiving orders. For which purpose, each brigade
should be paraded, their arms grounded, and the men ready to
take them up at the first call.5
Head-Quarters, White Marsh, November 28, 1777 ... Such of the troops
as are not already furnished with cooked provisions for to morrow, are
to draw and cook them to night. At day break a cannon will be fired as
a signal for the whole army to parade, ready to march. When the
whole are completely formed, they may ground their arms, but
be ready to take them up again at a minute's warning. If it
should rain or snow the men are not to parade.6
Head Quarters, White Marsh, December 6, 1777 ... The troops are to
ground their arms at their alarm posts; and as soon as
possible, draw and cook their provisions for to day and to
morrow, and immediately set about making the best provision
they can of wood and huts for to night.7
Head Quarters, V[alley]. Forge, Tuesday, May 5, 1778 ... The several
Brigades are to be assembled for this Purpose at nine o'Clock tomorrow
morning when their Chaplains will communicate the Intelligence
contain'd in the Postscript to the Pennsylvania Gazette of the 2nd.
instant and offer up a thanksgiving and deliver a discourse suitable to
the Occasion. At half after ten o'Clock a Cannon will be fired, which is
to be a signal for the men to be under Arms. The Brigade Inspectors

will then inspect their Dress and Arms, form the Battalions according to
instructions given them and announce to the Commanding Officers of
Brigades that the Battalions are formed. The Brigadiers or
Commandants will then appoint the Field Officers to command
the Battalions, after which each Battalion will be ordered to
load and ground their Arms.8

Daniel Granger, serving with the Massachusetts militia during the
1777 Saratoga campaign, left this anecdote of grounding arms:
The nexte Morning the Companey was paraded early, and for some
reason, they were ordered to ground their Arms, and to stand easy. We
had in the Companey an auquard gawkey kind of a fellow, tho very
clever, on whom I loved to play rogueish tricks, and while the
Companey were then standing, I steped round behind, and as this
fellow stood by his gun, gawping as usual, I steped in softly took his
gun by the brich, drew it back into the rear of the Companey, & went
round to my place, he did not mis it until the Order was given, "take up
Arms," when he stooped down to take up his Gun, but it was not there,
such a look as he gave then half stooping down, caused all that saw it
to bust into a broad Laugh, Officers not excepted but he went back &
took up his Gun being told where it was and went to his place, enquiry
was mad "whom it was that had don the trick," and the answer was,
"the greatest rogue in the Company" but all went off well and I

escaped a reprimand from the Officers- 9

Firelock at Order, the position before grounding the
weapon. (Plate 7, after page 6, A plan of discipline for
the use of the Norfolk militia ...)
(Also plates on preceding and following pages) William Windham
and Viscount George Townshend, A plan of discipline for the use of
the Norfolk militia ..., Part I. Containing the manual exercise ... Part
II. The method of teaching the exercise ... Part III. Reviewing,
forming the battalion, firings... With an introduction from Aelian,

Vegetius, Folard, K. of Prussia, M. Saxe, Wolfe, and the most
celebrated ancient and modern authors ... By William Windham ...
and the Right Hon. George lord visc. Townshend ... The 2d ed.,
greatly improved. To which is now added, the present manual
exercise for the army, as ordered by His Majesty and the Adjutant
general. With encampments for infantry and cavalry (London:
Printed for J. Millan, 1768).

(Front view) First motion of grounding firelock. (Plate 8,
after page 6, A plan of discipline for the use of the
Norfolk militia ...)

(Side view) First motion of grounding firelock. (Plate 9,
after page 6, A plan of discipline for the use of the

Norfolk militia ...)

The earliest mention of American troops stacking firelocks known to
the author comes from Massachusetts Ensign Ebenezer Wild’s 19
September 1779 diary entry at New Castle, New York, "At 8 o'clk
marched up to the regtl. parade and stacked our arms. About 11
o'clock we fell in and marched up to the church, and stacked our arms
in the road, and had orders to cook our provision." 10 General
Washington did not mention grounding or stacking from May 1778 to
March 1780. The following appeared in the verdict of a court martial:
Head Quarters, Morristown, Wednesday, March 22, 1780 ... Neither
does it appear to the General that Lieut. Col. Howard can be
considered as having been absent from the men paraded as he was
never farther than his quarters, which were quite contiguous to the
parade, and this it seems while the men were walking the parade
to keep themselves warm, and after stacking their arms, in
consequence of orders delivered by Lieutenant Duff who acted as
Adjutant, and who said he had received the permission from Colonel
Nor does the General find, from any evidence in the course of the
trial that the men were in a condition unfit for action; Their walking
the parade and stacking their arms to warm themselves seem
to have been justified by the severity of the weather and the
explicit permission delivered by Mr. Duff.11

Here are four more.
[Capt. Joseph McClellan, 9th Pennsylvania Regiment] Oct. 26th... The
Division of Light Infantry was reviewed at sunset ... stacked the arms
on the parade; the men to parade in one hour, which was done ...12

Ens. Ebenezer Denny, 7th Pennsylvania Regiment, heading south to
Virginia in late spring 1781, described Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne's march
Struck our tents every morning before day. About eight or nine o'clock,
as we found water, a short halt was made, the water-call beat; parties,
six or eight from each company, conducted by a non-commissioned
officer, with canteens, fetched water. Seldom allowed to eat until
twelve o'clock, when the arms were stacked, knapsacks taken
off, and water sent for by parties as before.13

Army orders:
Head Quarters, Tarrytown, Monday, July 2, 1781 ... No drum to beat
without particular order. Officers and Soldiers are to refresh
themselves and be within call of their Arms which are for the
present to be Stacked.14
Head Quarters, Newburgh, Friday, August 30, 1782. [directions for the
movement by water from West Point to Verplanks Point] … When the

signal for landing is given, the boats are to close up without crouding
and row for the shore, falling in upon the left of each other, in which
order they are to debark at their respective landing places, ascend the
bank, and form as fast as they get up into brigade Collumns. In this
order the head of each Collumn will be conducted by the brigade Qr.
Master to the right of its encampment, where it will display to the left,
and each regiment take its own ground, Stack their arms, bring
up their tents and baggage and establish their camp. 15

But, even at this late date, there were drawbacks and problems with
stacking arms. Orders for the Marquis de Lafayette’s small army in
Camp Near New Castle, August 18, 1781 ... The whole of the Troops
are to parade at 10 o’clock to-morrow in as soldierly a manner as
possible. They will be reviewed, and then form in the Wood near the
Church to attend Divine Service. It is expected that no trifling excuse
will prevent any from attending. The Officers to which any Delinquents
belong, will be Judges of their ability or inability, and will excuse or
punish them accordingly. The new Guards will remain with their
Regiments until Service is over. Horses or cross-trees for the arms
to be laid against must be fixed in front of the Tents, to
prevent injury which the arms receive frequently falling after
having been stacked.16

It seems some soldiers just never became adept with that method of
lodging arms.

(Above and following page) Detail of part of a group of Continental soldiers from Pierre
Charles L'Enfant (1754-1825) painting of West Point and dependencies. View is from the
east side of the Hudson River, at the top is the lower part of Constitution Island. This was
done after August 1782, as service chevrons, worn on the saluting soldier’s left sleeve, were
first authorized on the 7th of that month. Several soldiers in group are wearing knapsacks,
and what appears to be a rolled blanket can be seen on top of three of the packs. Library of

As for British troops, they were stacking their firelocks before the war, though when
the practice began is not known. Eric Schnitzer notes, “There are many references
in journals for the British stacking their arms in the Northern campaign
of 1777 … One journal (that of Enos Hitchcock, Patterson's Brigade …
specifically mentions that on the day of the surrender (17 October
1777) ‘the British Troops locked [stacked]
their Arms, the Germans grounded theirs ....’ Also, the British system of
stacking arms is commonly referred to as ‘locking’ (as this journal
mentions) or ‘piling.’” Eric also point out that one of the circa 1771
paintings of the 25th Regiment at Minorca “shows a whole row of
stacked arms in the background, proving that it was practiced by
British forces” prior to the American War.17
Just how did British troops “pile” their muskets? The answer is
supplied by two friends and fellow researchers. Steve Rayner found
one answer in Thomas Simes’ 1780 work, The Regulator - or
Instructions to Form the Officer and Complete the Soldier:

Directions for fixing up their Firelocks by Files.By locking the bayonets and ram-rod tops together, and spreading out
the but-end to an exact triangle, at such a distance as to form a steady

Another military author expanded somewhat on the theme and
noted the Germans preceding the British in stacking arms. This is from
Bennett Cuthbertson’s System for the Compleat Interior Management
and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry (1776 edition),
As it may be requisite in the course of exercise to rest the Soldiers, when
perhaps the dustiness of the road or wetness of the grass may render it
prejudicial to the arms to have them grounded, it will in that case be of
great use to pursue the method generally practised by the German
troops, of fixing up their firelocks in files, by locking the bayonets and
ramrods top together, and spreading out the buts to an exact triangle, at
such a distance as to form a steady foundation: on service, the
advantage of this method above grounding is much to be considered, as
by it many accidents may be prevented in the course of a campaign,
when a Battalion always marches with loaded arms. 19

An associated footnote relates that on, “the first expedition to
Martinico [Martinique] last war, an officer lost a leg by the discharge of
a grounded firelock.”
Matthew Keagle supplied this pertinent excerpt from standing orders
for the British 62d Foot, issued 25 April 1781; on regimental inspection
When the whole is ready, the Adjutant will acquaint the commanding
Officer; with his Leave he will give the Word of Command. Officers,
review your Companies. The Time-man of each Company will then
spring out, and Officers spring the Right-about. Words of Command.
One Motion, - Shoulder your Firelocks, - Open your Pans, - Fix your
Bayonets, - Draw your Ramrods, - Order your Firelocks, - Triangle your
Arms. And then inspect their Necessaries, and ask all necessary
Questions from the Serjeants.20

(Preceding page and detail below) “Lady Louisa Lennox with Her
Husband’s Regiment, 25th Regiment of Foot,” Minorca, circa 1771,
by Giuseppe Chiesa. Note the line of stacked firearms across the
background. (National Army Museum)

Thanks to those who contributed to this work, truly a group effort: Don
Hagist, Matthew Keagle, Steve Rayner, and Eric Schnitzer.
1. William Henry Egle, ed., “A Yorktown Orderly Book,“ Notes and
Queries Historical and Genealogical chiefly relating to interior
Pennsylvania, two volumes, vol. 2 (Harrisburg: Harrisburg Publishing
Co., 1895), 255.
2. Howard C. Rice and Anne S.K. Brown, eds. and trans., The American
Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, vol. I
(Princeton, N.J. and Providence, R.I.,: Princeton University Press, 1972),
3. Robert C. Bray and Paul E. Bushnell, eds., Diary of a Common Soldier
in the American Revolution: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal
of Jeremiah Greenman (DeKalb, Il., 1978),
. Greenman mentioned
grounding arms six times in 1777: once on 15 or 16 June, twice 17 June,
twice on 28 November, and once on 11 December; in 1778 he noted

doing so on June 25th and July 31st. Here is a small selection of other
Lt. Charles Willson Peale, 2d Battalion, Philadelphia Associators, 2d
Trenton/Princeton campaign:.
"Jan. 1st, 1777... After remaining some time in this order, we retired a
little back to an orchard, which joined the field, ground our arms, and
made fires with the fences … [later the same day] We now marched to
the skirts of the field, ground our arms, made fires with the fence rails,
and talked over the fatigues of the day; and some, after eating, laid
themselves down to sleep."
"4th ... I then returned, and received the order to stop, ground arms,
and set to making fires." Horace Wells, Sellers, ed., "Charles Willson
Peale, Artist-Soldier," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography,
vol. XXXVIII, no. 3 (Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania,
1914), 278-279, 283.
Sgt. Ebenezer Wild, 1st Massachusetts Regiment:
November 8, 1777 - "About sunrise our regt. paraded and grounded our
arms, and then struck our tents and carried them with the rest of our
baggage down to the side of the river and loaded them on board of
batteaux... [After crossing]... we marched about 6 miles... to Center
hoock [Kinderhook]. There we lodged in barns."
December 6, 1777 - "... a little after sunrise we marched to our alarm
posts & grounded our arms. In the afternoon it clouded up. We moved
back a little in the woods and built huts with the dry bushes, for we had
no axes to cut any." "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," Proceedings of the
Massachusetts Historical Society, 2nd series, vol. VI (Boston, Ma., 1891),
100, 104.
4. General orders, 12 June 1777, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of
George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799,
vol. 8 (Washington, DC, 1933). Available online at

5. General orders, 4 September 1777, ibid., vol. 9 (1933).
6. General orders, 28 November 1777, ibid., vol. 10 (1933).
7. General orders, 6 December 1777, ibid.
8. General orders, 5 May 1778, ibid., vol. 11 (1934).
9. M.M. Quaife, ed., "Documents – A Boy Soldier Under Washington:
The Memoir of Daniel Granger," Mississippi Valley Historical Review,
XVI, 4 (March 1930), 544-545.
10. "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," 129.
11. General orders, 22 June 1780, Fitzpatrick, Writings of George
Washington, vol. 19 (1937).
12. Capt. Joseph McClellan, 9th Pennsylvania Regiment, "Oct. 25th
[1780]. A very fine morning. Built a chimney to our tent." "Oct. 26th...
The Division of Light Infantry was reviewed at sunset... stacked the arms
on the parade; the men to parade in one hour, which was done ...,"

"Diary of Events... from Aug. 1, 1780, to Dec. 31, 1780. From the Journal
of Capt. Joseph McClellan, of Ninth Penn'a." John B. Linn and William H. Egle,
eds., Pennsylvania Archives, second series, vol. XI (Harrisburg: Clarence M. Busch, State Printer,
1896), 606-607.

13. "Military Journal of Major Ebenezer Denny," Memoirs of the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania, vol. VII (1860), 238-239.
14. General orders, 2 July 1781, Fitzpatrick, Writings of George
Washington, vol. 22 (1937).
15. General orders, 30 August 1782, ibid., vol. 25 (1938).
16. William Henry Egle, ed., “A Yorktown Orderly Book,“ Notes and
Queries Historical and Genealogical chiefly relating to interior
Pennsylvania (two volumes), vol. 2 (Harrisburg: Harrisburg Publishing
Co., 1895), 255.
17. William B. Weeden, ed, Diary of Enos Hitchcock, D.D., A Chaplain in the
Revolutionary Army, With a Memoir," Publications of the Rhode Island
Historical Society, 7 (Oct. 1899), 159.

18. Thomas Simes, The Regulator - or Instructions to Form the Officer
and Complete the Soldier (London, 1780: Reprinted Champaign, Il.:
Merde Press, 1980), 10. Courtesy of Steve Rayner.
19. Bennett Cuthbertson, System for the Compleat Interior Management
and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry (Bristol, 1776), 172-173.
20. Regimental Standing Orders for the Sixty-Second Regiment of Foot;
Issued by Major General Edward Mathew, April the 25th 1781,Lincoln:
S. Simmons, 1781, p23. (British Library, RB 23 A 19192). Courtesy of
Matthew Keagle.

“Many … valuable advantages, would result, from having the arms …
of the same bore”

Non-Standardization of Arms in the Early to Mid-War Continental
John U. Rees
To my mind, the contention does not ring true that the reason
Continental troops did not stack their muskets for much of the war was
due to a mix of different firearms within companies and regiments. It
seems more likely a shortage of bayonets was the real culprit or,
perhaps, that American soldiers were not familiar with the practice and
were not versed in it. Despite that, below is a series of research
vignettes illustrating the various arms used.

Col. Israel Shreve listed muskets purchased for the 2nd New Jersey
Regiment in spring 1776, including one each with “Curl’d,” “Dutch,” and
“Spanish” stocks, two with “Buckanear” stocks, one “old and ugly,” and
a “Queen Anne Musket.” A letter from Brig. Gen. Thomas Mifflin
described arms supply for the two Pennsylvania battalions at Fort
Washington: “Col Magaw [5th Pennsylvania] has not more than 125
[firelocks] in his Regim[ent]. Fit for service [total rank and file strength of
401] – Col Shee [3rd Pennsylvania, whose regiment consisted of 435 rank
and file] about 300 [muskets] includg all the Carbines which they recd
lately …” Uneven supply and a lack of standardization was one reason
for this mix of arms; another factor was the “Custom of hiring them [i.e.,
paying soldiers for muskets they brought from home] for the Campaign.”
This practice alone resulted in a real hodge-podge of weaponry.
Israel Shreve, 1776, (transcription no. 31), Israel Shreve Papers,
Alexander Library, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. Thomas
Mifflin to George Washington, 2 July 1776, George Washington Papers,
series 4, reel 36.
On 14 July 1777 Washington noted, “as soon as the Men are settled in
their quarters, the Officers are critically to inspect their arms and
accoutrements, and have them put in the best order possible – The
Commander in Chief was surprised to day to see the bad condition of
many arms they being not only unfit for fire, but very rusty, which latter
defect it is certainly in the power of every man to prevent, and the
neglect of it must arise from an inexcusable inattention of the officers.”
General orders, 5 August 1777: “The want of Armourers … gives the
Officers a fair Opportunity of attributing many things, which are really
owing to their inattention to their men … And it is no uncommon thing to
find Arms returned as defective, [which] upon close inspection … want
only rubbing and cleaning.”

Another serious difficulty resulted from the different caliber firelocks used
within regiments. General orders, 13 October 1777, “As many great and
valuable advantages, would result, from having the arms of a division, or even
of a brigade, of the same bore, the Commander in Chief directs, that each
officer commanding a brigade would have a return instantly made to him of the
different Calibers and number of each kind in his brigade … if such a disposition
of arms can be effected … many happy consequences would flow from it.”
General orders, 14 July 1777, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of

George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799,
vol. 8 (Washington, DC, 1933). Available online at ; General
orders, 5 August 1777, ibid., vol. 9 (1933); General orders, 13 October
1777, ibid., vol. 9 (1933).


Modern excavations of the Valley Forge cantonment give a rough picture
of the differing arms used in several brigades. Based on musket balls
found at various sites “the proportion of .75 calibre ammunition to .69
calibre suggest that there were more of the larger calibre weapons in use
at Valley Forge. However, 123 of the larger calibre balls came from the
area around [Connecticut] General Jedediah Huntingdon’s quarters …
This may indicate that the men quartered there were equipped with a
larger proportion of British or American muskets than French. In contrast,
out of 39 measurable musket balls from Wayne’s [Pennsylvania] Brigade
area 32 were .69 calibre, suggesting a higher proportion of French
muskets. At the Virginia Brigade area the proportions of .69 and .75 balls
were more or less equal.”
John B.B. Trussell, Birthplace of an Army … (Harrisburg, Pa.: 1983),
M. Parrington, H. Schenck, and J. Thibaut, “The Material World of the
Revolutionary Soldier at Valley Forge Soldier,” David G. Orr and Daniel G.
Crozier, eds., The Scope of Historical Archaeology, Essays in Honor of
John L. Cotter, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984), 144-146.
On 12 June 1778 John Conway informed New Jersey Brigade commander
Brig. Gen. William Maxwell, “By Mr. Samuel Caldwell, conductor of
Waggons I send you sundries as p[e]r. the inclosed invoice. – The Arms
are mostly French & Hessian, one box only of British. I stript the store to
get them & am sorry there was no better on hand …” A year later
regiments still contained a mix of different firearms types. Lt. Col. Josiah
Harmar, 6th Pennsylvania Regiment, recorded an attempt to standardize
the arms of the Pennsylvania troops. “May 18th: [1779] … the Second
Pennsylvania Brigade … [is] ordered to march early to morrow Morning
to Pluckemin to exchange the arms of our Brigade for British. May 19th:
… March’d … to Pluckemin … On our Arrival there, the nominal British
Arms turn’d out mere Patch Work Old Arms cobbled up – refused them …
May 21st. … The Virginians have accepted the Nominal British Arms – We
must endeavour to be completed with French Musquets, which are as
good again …”
John Conway to William Maxwell, 12 June 1778, Israel Shreve Papers,
Buxton Collection, Prescott Memorial Library, Louisiana Tech University.
18 May to 24 May, 1780 entries, Lieutenant Colonel Josiah Harmar’s
Journal No. 1, 35-37, Josiah Harmar Papers, William L. Clements Library,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

According to one document, muskets were still not uniformly supplied
in 1780, though French weapons were beginning to predominate. A
return for Lt. Col. Grosvenor’s Connecticut regiment (either the 3rd or
4th), and Lt. Col. Sprout’s 12th Massachusetts indicates the various
kinds of muskets in those units. Dated 29 July 1780, the return lists 843
French, 281 Hessian, 125 British, and 124 American firelocks. Of the
French arms, 612 had no bayonets; 70 Hessian and 94 American
muskets also lacked bayonets, as did all of the British weapons. It is
likely similar proportions were to be found in other Continental Army
units. (Edith von Zemensky, ed., The Papers of General Friedrich
Wilhelm von Steuben, 1777-1794, guide and index to the microfilm
edition (New York, 1984), reel 11, 270-288.
Late in the war the arms of the various regiments were probably
reflected by those firelocks listed in a 23 February 1782 return of stores
at Claverack Landing, New York, where there were 9,974 stands of
“French Arms,” but none of British or other origin. (Source yet to be
And, mention of a mid-war lack of bayonets:
13 March 1780, “General Washington this morning assembled at Head
Quarters … [the] Officers commanding Brigades, acquainting them with
several points in which their Brigades were defective, particularly … their
Men not being provided with Bayonets. Fortunately the Pennsylvanians
escaped Censure on this Occasion … our Troops are better arm’d &
equipp’d than any in the Army.”
13 March 1780, Lt. Col. Josiah Harmar’s Journal No. 1, 11 November 1778
to 2 September 1780, pp. 90-91, Josiah Harmar Papers, William L.
Clements Library, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

(Following page) William Windham and Viscount George

Townshend, A plan of discipline for the use of the Norfolk militia ...,
The 2d ed., greatly improved. To which is now added, the present
manual exercise for the army, as ordered by His Majesty and the
Adjutant general. With encampments for infantry and cavalry
(London: Printed for J. Millan, 1768), Plate 1, after page xxxii.