In the American Revolution, firearms were in an interesting place in their evolution, and many of the critical battles, strategies, and circumstances that made the war unique were a result of their firearm limitations and traits. Long rifles were the primary class of weapon used for battle, and at the time flintlocks were popular for both household and army use. They lacked the accuracy of later models and more advanced rifles of the time, which lent to the line formation of shooting utilized by both armies. By sending a hail of evenly spaced bullets, the soldiers did not need to aim accurately or follow targets, and the relative error of shot placement was nearly negated.
Compared to the traditional matchlock rifles, the flintlocks would rarely misfire, which was a great improvement even with the still limited accuracy. These rifles loaded from the front, and reloading was a precise and calculated effort. Because the line formations allowed for fired weapon holders to fall back, armies were able to keep a steady barrage of bullets raining on their opponents while giving others a chance to reload. Some army generals, often on horseback, would carry short-barreled versions of the traditional army rifles as one of their many weapons, with the intention of using it at short range after the initial lines of troops broke up and became disorganized. By the Civil War many years later, rifles had evolved to shoot cartages that eliminated the need for wads, gunpowder, and shot to be independently packed. Though the government feared that repeating rifles would increase the waste of bullets and cost more money, they eventually became standard issue due to the ever-improving technology that allowed for seamless rotations and few misfires. With the coming years to the entry of the twentieth century came the entry of the automatic weapon, along with a general increase in precision part manufacturing that allowed for fewer misfires and higher levels of accuracy.
- Neumann, G. C. (1967). The history of weapons of the american revolution. Harper & Row.
Sharpe, P. B. (1947). The rifle in America. New York.