Given the long contentious history between France and England prior to the outbreak of the American War of Independence or the Revolutionary War, it is not surprising to learn that the French were selling weapons to the revolutionaries who were at war with their enemies. Among other periods, the British and French were also at war from 1793 to 1802.
The Charleville flintlock musket saw heavy use in the American War of Independence against the British from 1775 to 1783. It was named after the armory at Charleville-Mézières, Ardennes, France. The Charleville musket was designed originally in 1717, and went through a number of modifications until about 1777.
The Charleville musket was smaller and lighter than the impressive “Brown Bess”, a British flintlock musket used by both the Americans and the British in the war. Using the Charleville, skilled soldiers were able to get off as many as 3 shots in a minute, loading the powder and ramming the .69 caliber lead ball into the muzzle.
Even though smoothbore muskets were nowhere near as accurate as rifles, the rifle did not become a standard infantry weapon until well into the next century. The spiral grooves inside the barrel of a rifle spin the projectile, adding stability and accuracy that was lacking on smoothbore muskets. But what the musket lacked in accuracy, it more than made up for in brute force. A large lead ball shot out of a smoothbore musket definitely made for a formidable projectile, that did more damage than even today’s much more advanced weapons. Both the Charleville and Brown Bess muskets could be fitted with bayonets.
The Charleville musket was also used in the French and Indian wars Napoleonic Wars, and of course, the French Revolutionary wars.