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Pierre Dupont de l’Étang: Regency Duellist

dupontPierre-Antoine, comte Dupont de l’Étang (4 July 1765 – 9 March 1840) was a French general of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, as well as a political figure of the Bourbon Restoration. His exploits, encountered during a 19 year long conflict with brother officer François Fournier-Sarlovèze, are the stuff of legends.

Born in Chabanais, Charente, Pierre first saw active service during the French Revolutionary Wars, as a member of Maillebois legion in the Netherlands, and in 1791 was on the staff of the Army of the North under General Theobald Dillon. He distinguished himself in the Battle of Valmy, and in the fighting around Menen in the campaign of 1793 he forced an Austrian regiment to surrender. Promoted Brigadier General for this accomplishment, he soon received further advancement from Lazare Carnot, who recognized his abilities. In 1797 he became Général de Division.

The rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he supported in the 18 Brumaire Coup (November 1799), brought him further opportunities under the Consulate and Empire. In the campaign of 1800 he was chief of staff to Louis Alexandre Berthier, the nominal commander of the Army of Peierve of the Ains which won the Battle of Marengo. After the battle he sustained a successful combat, against greatly superior forces, at Pozzolo.

In the campaign on the Danube in 1805, as the leader of one of Michel Ney’s divisions, he earned further distinction, especially in the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen (Albeck), in which he prevented the escape of the Austrians from Ulm, and so contributed most effectively to the isolation and subsequent capture of Freiherr Mack von Leiberich and his whole army. He also distinguished himself in the Battle of Friedland. Continue reading Pierre Dupont de l’Étang: Regency Duellist

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Load and Fire a Regency Weapon

Load and Fire a Regency Weapon

The Baker rifle (officially known as the Infantry Rifle) was a flintlock rifle used by the Rifle regiments of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first standard-issue, British-made rifle accepted by the British armed forces.

The Baker Rifle was first produced in 1800 by Ezekiel Baker, a master gunsmith from Whitechapel. The British Army was still issuing the Infantry Rifle in the 1830s.

The musket was fairly accurate at medium distances, but not at long range. To increase the odds of a hit, massed ranks of 60-80 muskets were fired in a volley which increased the chances of some musket balls hitting the intended targets, whereas the accurate Baker rifle was used by skirmishers facing their opponents in pairs, sniping at the enemy from positions either in front of the main lines, or from hidden positions in heights overlooking battlefields.

The accuracy of the rifle in capable hands is most famously demonstrated by the action of Rifleman Thomas Plunkett (or Plunket) of the 1st Battalion, 95th Rifles, who shot French General Colbert at an unknown but long range (as much as 800 yards according to some sources) during the retreat to Corunna during the Peninsular War. He then shot one of the General’s aides, proving that the success of the first shot was not due to luck.

The rifle as originally manufactured was not expected to be accurate much beyond 200 yards; that Rifleman Plunkett and others were able to regularly hit targets at ranges considered to be beyond the rifle’s effective range speaks for both their marksmanship and the capabilities of the rifle.

The Baker rifle could not usually be reloaded as fast as a musket, as the slightly undersized lead balls had to be wrapped in patches of greased leather, or more commonly greased linen, so that they would more closely fit the lands of the rifling. The average time to reload is dependent on the level of training and experience of the user; twenty to thirty seconds is often given as normal for a proficient rifleman. Using a hand-measured powder charge for accurate long range shots could increase the load time to as much as a minute. In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, riflemen used paper patched and even bare rifle balls when shooting in a hurry in battle, with an increase in speed of loading, but with diminishing accuracy.

In 1799 Baron Francis de Rottenberg wrote the British Army