Tag Archive | firearms

Why quality control is a good idea

From Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Ormonde, preserved at Kilkenny Castle, New Series, Vol. VIII (London, 1920), 162.

Abstract of a letter from John Cutts to the Duke of Ormonde:

Concerning the test of the firearms of the troops at the camp. The Major of the Artillery began with the writer’s regiment of dragoons, supposed to be the best armed. Out of the first 130 that were proved 53 burst, upon which they stopped. Then they proceeded with Lord Orrery’s regiment, in which 195 burst. Major-General Langston then put a stop and sent the writer an express to know if he would have them go any farther; he replied that to do so would be to expose the weakness of the army and make half the troops go to quarters without arms in their hands. Tells his Grace in plain English that here Majesty’s forces there are in effect unarmed, since arms that will not bear firing are worse than none. Proposes steps to be taken in order that the soldiers may have good arms.

John Stapleton (soon to be a book!) notes that the weapons sent with English forces to Flanders in 1689 were sub-par and required replacement with more reliable Dutch models. Shoddy English manufacturing?

Latest Journal of Military History

For those early modernists yet to receive your April 2012 issue of the JMilH, there are a few pieces worth mentioning.

First up: Probasco, Nate, “The Role of Commoners and Print in Elizabeth England’s Acceptance of Firearms,” Journal of Military History 76 (April 2012): 343-372.

Even though commoners comprised the great majority of Elizabethan England’s fighting men, their role in the nation’s transition into the firearms age remains unclear. Common citizens and local officials generally protested the costs and dangers of firearms, and when they did purchase them, they often transgressed Elizabethan weapons statutes. The debate over firearms also played out in print, and many gun advocates relied upon dubious information to promote them, which, along with governmental backing, allowed guns to overtake longbows. Firearms became established among the populace, however, only after they agreed to accept the new technology due to an impending Spanish invasion.

[Sounds interesting, adding to the argument that the adoption of military technology requires an examination of the social context.]

Second: Parker, Geoffrey. “A Soldier of Fortune in Seventeenth Century Eastern Europe.” Journal of Military History 76 (2012): 545-548.

[A review essay summarizing the first two volumes of an English translation of the Scottish mercenary Patrick Gordon’s career in Russian service: Fedosov, Dmitry, ed., Diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries 1635-1699. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 2009-2010. The remaining two volumes will eventually be published in English. Excerpts from a faulty version were published in 1859 as Passages from the Diary of General Patrick Gordon, and reprinted by Da Capo in 1968.]

On a tangential note, and to my fellow early modern European military historians in the academic world particularly: WTF? I can’t attend the upcoming Society for Military History annual conference this year because I’ll be in England, and there isn’t a single panel on early modern military history at the conference??? Kudos to Sheldon Clare for presenting a paper on the siege of Landau 1704 (which Sheldon is free to post up here if he wants additional feedback from our readers), but really, why can’t we EMEMHians get our act together? I could understand if there had been a conspiracy against EMEMH by the SMH conference committee, but I doubt it, since last year we had at least three panels on the period. We EMEMHians really need to raise the visibility of our subfield which equates into greater activity – we are far outnumbered by even the Ancient and Medieval military historians. That’s a sad statement of how little we manage to publish and present. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t published with great frequency, but surely there are enough of us to have at least one panel every year at the SMH? Otherwise, it’s a crap shoot as to whether one should even attend the SMH, if there won’t even be any other early modernists there.

Thoughts as to how to improve our little corner of the field would be appreciated. I’m more than happy to have this blog play any role it can. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I started it. Perhaps this blog might have to host its own online ‘conference’ for EMEMH.