The Baker Rifle in Service

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Had occasion to ask a dumb question about the Baker Rifle today.
A Google search found me this deep dive into the weapon's history. There may be other small arms nerds out there
In January of 1800 Colonel Coote Manningham received a letter, from the Adjutant General of the Army, which informed him that the Duke of York intended to give him command of a Corps of detachments from 14 Regiments of the Line. This was for the express '...purpose of its being instructed in the use of the Rifle and in the System of Exercise adopted by soldiers so armed.' (WO 3/21 cited in Blackmore, 1994). This Corps of Riflemen, at Woolwich, as Manningham was informed was not a distinct or permanent unit but was a '...Corps of Experiment and Instruction.' (WO 3/32 cited in Blackmore, 1994).

During the first week of February a series of rifle experiments were conducted at Woolwich near London. Apart from the words of Ezekiel Baker, and the recorded travel expenses of the Master Furbisher, no report of the rifle tests exists. The trials of many submissions resulted in Ezekiel Baker's barrel being adopted as the first issue British rifle.


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As Baker himself opined
'In the year 1800 the principal gun makers in England were directed by the Honourable Board of Ordnance to procure the best rifle possible, for the use of a rifle corps (the 95th Regiment) raised by the government. Among those who were selected on this occasion, I was desired to attend: and a committee of field officers was appointed for the purpose of examining, and reporting according to their judgement. There were also many rifles from America and various parts of the continent produced at the same time. These were all tried at Woolwich; when my barrel, having only an quarter of a turn in the rifle, was approved by the committee.' (Baker, 1823).

The initial design was not innovative but reflected the better features of continental examples.

Baker's first two submissions were rejected by Manningham because they were of musket size and bore and believed too cumbersome, but the third model was approved and this eventually became the first rifle pattern adopted by the British army.

As Baker himself said

'When the 95th Regiment was first raised, I made some rifles of equal dimensions of the muskets, in order that they might be supplied with ammunition, if necessarily supplied, from any infantry regiment that might be near them. They were, however, strongly objected to by the Commanding Officer, Colonel Manningham, as well as all the officers of the Regiment, as requiring too much exertion, and harassing the men from their excessive weight. They were consequently immediately relinquished, and twenty to the pound substituted.' (Baker, 1823).
 
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Had occasion to ask a dumb question about the Baker Rifle today.
A Google search found me this deep dive into the weapon's history. There may be other small arms nerds out there
Goat, I have not fired a baker, but have fired other muzzle loaders.
Yes, if you play with them a bit, and get meticulous, they can be accurate as f...
But you'd have to work with it for weeks to get a familiarity.
Battle loading and usage would be very much a skill we cannot appreciate
 
Had occasion to ask a dumb question about the Baker Rifle today.
A Google search found me this deep dive into the weapon's history. There may be other small arms nerds out there
In January of 1800 Colonel Coote Manningham received a letter, from the Adjutant General of the Army, which informed him that the Duke of York intended to give him command of a Corps of detachments from 14 Regiments of the Line. This was for the express '...purpose of its being instructed in the use of the Rifle and in the System of Exercise adopted by soldiers so armed.' (WO 3/21 cited in Blackmore, 1994). This Corps of Riflemen, at Woolwich, as Manningham was informed was not a distinct or permanent unit but was a '...Corps of Experiment and Instruction.' (WO 3/32 cited in Blackmore, 1994).

During the first week of February a series of rifle experiments were conducted at Woolwich near London. Apart from the words of Ezekiel Baker, and the recorded travel expenses of the Master Furbisher, no report of the rifle tests exists. The trials of many submissions resulted in Ezekiel Baker's barrel being adopted as the first issue British rifle. As Baker himself opined 'In the year 1800 the principal gun makers in England were directed by the Honourable Board of Ordnance to procure the best rifle possible, for the use of a rifle corps (the 95 th Regiment) raised by the government. Among those who were selected on this occasion, I was desired to attend: and a committee of field officers was appointed for the purpose of examining, and reporting according to their judgement. There were also many rifles from America and various parts of the continent produced at the same time. These were all tried at Woolwich; when my barrel, having only an quarter of a turn in the rifle, was approved by the committee.' (Baker, 1823). The initial design was not innovative but reflected the better features of continental examples. Baker's first two submissions were rejected by Manningham because they were of musket size and bore and believed too cumbersome, but the third model was approved and this eventually became the first rifle pattern adopted by the British army. As Baker himself said 'When the 95 th Regiment was first raised, I made some rifles of equal dimensions of the muskets, in order that they might be supplied with ammunition, if necessarily supplied, from any infantry regiment that might be near them. They were, however, strongly objected to by the Commanding Officer, Colonel Manningham, as well as all the officers of the Regiment, as requiring too much exertion, and harassing the men from their excessive weight. They were consequently immediately relinquished, and twenty to the pound substituted.' (Baker, 1823).
Goat, I have not fired a baker, but have fired other muzzle loaders.
Yes, if you play with them a bit, and get meticulous, they can be accurate as f...
But you'd have to work with it for weeks to get a familiarity.
Battle loading and usage would be very much a skill we cannot appreciate
Gents may I recommend for your reading pleasure Rifles by Mark Urban. Tells the story of the 95th and the Light Division during the Peninsula War, through diaries and letters sent home by the troops.
The book also explains recruiting and training, and has some amazing prints from the period.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
The museum where I volunteer has a rifle on display which I took to be a Baker, and was poised to take a photo to illustrate this post - but it is actually a percussion cap (rather than flintlock) weapon which was a Militia service weapon.

My dumb question to another member of the Staff was

' When did the Baker rifle go out of service with the British Army ? ' ANS: 1838.

@CaptainRidiculous - if you have £10.5K to spare....

Circa 1810’s Baker Rifle Muzzleloader None Rifles- Gunstar


Working forward, the Baker was replaced in service by the Brunswick Rifle:

Brunswick rifle - Wikipedia


0.70 cal !
 
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@CaptainRidiculous - if you have £10.5K to spare....

Get yourself a replica at a more modest price, get down the range and burn some powder.
 

Get yourself a replica at a more modest price, get down the range and burn some powder.
Oh for a spare 800 odd nicker to get that and the other bits!!!!
 

Ex_crab

Old-Salt
Gen question. What would you use for ammunition nowadays, leather covered ball or a Minie or is there.something more modern?
 
If you're interested in that sort of thing, have a look at this guy's Youtube channel. He has somewhere between a dozen and two dozen videos on the subject, including the history, kit, drill, and training exercises. He has loads of other videos on late 18th, 19th and early 20th century British military firearms.

It's well represented and all very thoroughly and carefully researched.

 
Gen question. What would you use for ammunition nowadays, leather covered ball or a Minie or is there.something more modern?
Good question indeed.
You can buy modern casted ball, which is harder than the lead balls used during the period, and also uniform in shape, unlike the rough cast stuff of Sharpes' day.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Dad used to cast his own lead fishing weights (sea), he managed get a drop on his knee once, suffered with it till he went.

<cough>....melting down battery plates and casting it in those little bicycle puncture repair kit tins.....


If you're interested in that sort of thing, have a look at this guy's Youtube channel. He has somewhere between a dozen and two dozen videos on the subject, including the history, kit, drill, and training exercises. He has loads of other videos on late 18th, 19th and early 20th century British military firearms.

It's well represented and all very thoroughly and carefully researched.


Thanks Terminal - that is a find.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
<cough>....melting down battery plates and casting it in those little bicycle puncture repair kit tins.....




Thanks Terminal - that is a find.

Say farewell to several hours of your life - enjoyable and informative hours, but hours nonetheless
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
Not sure I am that much of a small arms nerd....I already know sufficient to bore the pants off the average Museum visitor !
 

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