Object Title

Model 1777 corrected Year IX Musket

Development

Throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic campaigns the great majority of infantry - both the French and their opponents - were armed with the smooth-bore flintlock musket of large bore. This arm, remarkably similar in all the armies, determined the tactics, training, and indeed the uniform the soldiers wore.

In France, the musket used was the Model 1777 and its slightly modified successor, the Model 1777/Year IX, was the model used at Waterloo.

The original Model 1777 musket succeeded the musket of the System 1763-1766 series, and was designed to be part of a system of small arms that covered muskets, carbines and pistols, developed in 1776-1777 by Lieutenant General Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval of the French Ordnance. In a royal decree of 26th February 1777 the specifications were laid down and manufacture began, continuing until 1819 for this model as well as its later variants. It was updated in 1802 (Year IX in the French revolutionary calendar) to become the Model 1777, later corrected to Year IX.

For both models particular attention was paid to the inter-changeability of parts from one weapon to another, the precursor to modern mass-production techniques. Unlike the pinned barrel of the British India Pattern musket, the original Model 1777's barrel was held on with three iron barrel bands. For the Year IX the 'corrections' were a redesigned frizzen, the addition of band springs that facilitated the dismounting of the barrel, a ramrod retaining spring, and riveted sling swivels.

The lockplate is stamped with the place of manufacture, and this particular musket was made at the arsenal at Versailles.

The arsenals manufacturing Model 1777/Year IX muskets in France and the French territories were:

  • Manufacture Impériale de St-Etienne
  • Manufacture Impériale de Tulle
  • Manufacture Impériale de Charleville
  • Manufacture Impériale de Maubeuge
  • Manufacture Impériale de Mutzig
  • Manufacture Impériale de Roanne
  • Manufacture Impériale de Versailles
  • Manufacture de Culembourg
  • Manufacture de Liège
  • Manufacture de Turin

Roughly 2 million Year IX muskets were produced, with another 5 million of the earlier Model 1777. The Year IX model was made between 1802 and 1819. The cost of each musket was 25-34 francs.

There was also number of variants of the basic Year IX musket:

  • Fusil d'infanterie de la garde Impériale mle 1777 Year IX
  • Fusil de dragon mle 1777 Year IX
  • Mousqueton de cavalerie mle 1777 Year IX
  • Mousqueton de gendarmerie mle 1777 Year IX
  • Fusil de marine mle 1777 Year IX

Many of these muskets were altered to percussion, and some of these conversions were recorded as being used in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Others were sent to Mexico for use during the first and second Franco-Mexican Wars (1838-39 and 1861) - which ultimately led to a French-imposed Mexico Empire under Maximilian I - and others were sent to the United States during the 1820s.

Use and Effect

The calibre of the Model 1777 was .675in, smaller than the British calibre. In extremes the British could use French musket balls, but this was not the case in reverse.

The Model 1777/Year IX cartridge had a 15.98 mm (.629in), 378 grain ball backed by approximately 12.20 g (188 grains) of powder. Reliability, ruggedness and accuracy were certainly on a par with the British India Pattern musket.

The durability and strength of the Year IX musket was marked. In tests carried out, 25,000 were fired through one barrel without damage.

Statistics

Barrel length 1137 mm (40 in)
Calibre 17.48 mm (0.69 in)
Country of manufacture France
Date entered service 1800
Loading Muzzle-loading
Overall length 1520 mm (55 in)
Weight 4.375 kg (9.75 lb)

Author

Mark Murray-Flutter