V. Musket/Rifle Care

Musket Cleaning and Maintenance, WHY?

One of the most important aspects of an infantry soldier impression is the care and maintenance of your musket or rifle-musket. Not to mention the fact that it may be the most expensive investment in the hobby. During the course of a battle reenactment and/or living history, several safety and cleanliness inspections are likely to occur. Historical references imply the condition of a unit's arms were an indication of the pride and spirit of a unit. While Confederate soldiers at times lacked uniformity in clothing and suffered physical discomforts in health and diet, it can be said that they were very disciplined in drill with, weapons battle ready. So far as our weapons are concerned, we should emulate their actions.

What you need:

Period guidance states "Each soldier should have a screw driver and a wiper (incorrectly referred to as a "worm), and each squad of ten, a band spring and tumbler punch, and a spring vise. No other implements should be used in taking arms apart or in setting them up." Most screw drivers also have a cone wrench (cone being the correct reference instead of nipple). Your cleaning kit should also include patches, a lubricant of your choice (Hoppe's, Rig Grease, etc...) and rags to wipe down your weapon.

What to do:

It is not essential for the musket to be dismounted every time that it is cleaned; for after firing it in fine weather...it can be perfectly cleaned in the following manner-

Put a piece of rag or soft leather on top of the cone and let the hammer down upon it; pour a gill of water (the warmer the better) into the muzzle, carefully, so that it does not run down the outside; put a plug of wood into the muzzle (a tompion will do), and shake the gun up and down, changing the water repeatedly, until it comes out clear. When clear, withdraw the leather (from the cone) and stand th musket on the muzzle for a few moments; then (screw the wiper to your ramrod, applying patches so the wiper doesn't chafe the barrel) & wipe the barrel quite dry, changing the patches as ofter as needed and lastly with a patch that has been oiled; wipe the exterior of the lock and the outside of the barrel around the cone and cone seat, first with a damp rag, then a dry one and lastly with a rag that has been slightly oiled. In this way all the dirt due to firing may be removed without taking out a screw.
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