Working the Rifle

The longhunter carried a rifle known as a muzzleloading flintlock. It is loaded from the muzzle and uses a piece of flint which strikes a hard piece of metal known as a frizzen, which causes a spark to ignite the black powder on the flash pan. The flash caused by this flashes through the flash hole at the base of the barrel which burns the black powder in the barrel. Since the lead ball and patch has been forced tightly down the barrel, pressure builds in the barrel and the ball is projected out. This happens in a split second once the trigger is pulled.

The loading process may seem complicated compared to a modern rifle, and, actually it is! The frizzen on the lock must be closed, then the powder measure is filled and the powder is poured down the barrel. A strip of greased cloth is placed over the end of the barrel. The grease can be animal grease, a combination of grease and beeswax or even split. A round lead ball is placed over the cloth and pressed into the barrel with the side of a knife or the thumb depending on tightness. The excess patching material is trimmed off with a knife and the ramrod is pulled out from under the barrel and used to drive the ball and patch down the barrel firmly against the powder charge. The frizzen pan is lifted and a small amount of powder is placed in the pan. The gun is primed and ready to fire.

To fire the rifle, the hammer holding the flint is pulled back on the lock. When the trigger is squeezed, the flint will strike the frizzen and create the sparks to start the process.

Making Fire

Fire is essential for survival. It provided heat for warmth, light and a heat source to cook food. Matches were not available in the colonial times. Fire was made with flint and steel, friction or magnifying glass. Flint and steel is the most efficient of the three. Flint can be found in fields or purchased at the general store. A hard pice of steel, usually forged with some sort of handle is used to strike the flint. This creates tiny flecks of the steel shaved off by the hard flint. They are heated during the action and ignite. The key to all of this is where the sparks fall. If they fall on tinder they will never start a fire. Material called char must be used. It is pieces of cotton or punk wood that has been partially burned with little air in a closed can. When the sparks fall on a piece of this, an ember will start the char burning. Touch the burning char to some dry kindling and apply a little air and the kindling will burst into flames. With the flames started, it is positioned on the ground and larger pieces of kindling are applied. The fire is started.

Fire Fire Kit