Between 1775 and 1783, American rebels battled the British for our fledgling country’s independence. Armed with the most sophisticated armaments of the era, both armies waged 165 bloody battles. The Americans ultimately won, but at the cost of an estimated 6,800 soldiers killed in action. Another 6,100 were wounded, with a further 17,000 dying from disease. (These are the 12 wars where the most Americans died outside of combat.)
On the British side, estimated battlefield deaths, injuries, death from disease, prisoners of war, and missing soldiers totaled 24,000.
Soldiers for both armies carried small arms, mostly muskets, pistols, and rifles. Of those small arms, muskets dominated the Revolutionary War battlefield. Soldiers could load the gun swiftly and were able to fire three rounds a minute, the standard at the time. But what they offered in speed they lacked in accuracy. While muskets could hit a target up to 175 yards, they were most accurate at a range of only 25 to 50 yards. In fact, it’s estimated that only 20% of the lead fired from a musket actually hit the intended target. (In contrast, the flintlock rifle makes our list of the 18 deadliest weapons of all time.)
To compile a list of 13 guns that were used in the American Revolutionary War – on both sides – 24/7 Tempo reviewed several sites about the history of the war, including those of the American Battlefield Trust and the American Revolution Institute, and also the educational site Sutori.
Many American militias went into the fight with weapons brought from their homes, not arms issued by the Continental Congress. British, French, Dutch, and Spanish military muskets acquired during the early colonial period also armed American troops. And soldiers in the Continental Army seized whatever armaments they could, including a large haul of the British Pattern 1769 Short Land muskets. Because the Americans obtained so many of those muskets, in fact, it became the Americans’ most popular weapon. Nations sympathetic to the Americans’ cause also supplied weapons. France shipped 25,000 French Charleville muskets to the rebel soldiers in 1777.
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