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The Brown Bess is a nickname for the British Land Pattern series of muzzle-loading, smoothebore muskets. It was a standard-issue infantry weapon in the British Army from 1722 to 1838.


The 1st and 2nd Marine Raider Regiments both adopted this weapon upon their foundations in 1775 and 1776 respectively. It was the most readily available military-grade firearm in the American Colonies at the start of the American Revolution, and thus was the obvious choice for a standard-issue infantry weapon. Throughout the war, it was issued to frontline officers and enlisted personnel in the infantry battalions. Artillery crews were also often supplied with the weapon, though arming the infantry often took precedence due to supply issues. Recruits were required to be able to fire at least three well aimed shots in a minute, and were trained extensively in using the stock and bayonet in melee combat to great effect. Marine Raiders were also trained in the use of buck and ball shot, which was put to good use during many of the close-quarter engagements of the revolutionary war against British, Hessian, and Loyalist troops. The weapon served the marine raiders well as the standard-issue infantry firearm for the duration of the war, though it was later supplanted by the arrival of Charleville muskets from French supply.

After the revolution, the Brown Bess remained in partial service. The newer M1766 Charleville had largely replaced it, but some companies in both of the original regiments retained the weapon, using it in Shays's Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and the Northwest Indian War. The Brown Bess was a reserve arm during the Quasi War, but by this time it and the Charleville had been phased out in favor of the M1795 Springfield.


Long Land Pattern[]

The Long Land Pattern, invented in 1722, was the principle weapon of the marine raiders for most of the revolutionary war.

Short Land Pattern[]

The Short Land Pattern, which was introduced in 1740, was a supplementary version of the original musket. It was shorter, to allow for ease of handling, but also slightly heavier. It first found favor with artillery crews, who needed a shorter weapon but were not as affected by the weight. It was also popular with officers. The Short Land Pattern became more common near the end of the war.