Will Braddock, the protagonist in Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book One, is exposed to many different firearms throughout the trilogy. He would have learned how to shoot a rifle musket as a normal course of events for a boy growing up on a farm in Iowa in 1867, the year his quest commences. Today’s stigma of owning a gun did not exist in the middle of the nineteenth century. Hunting was still a necessity for many, not just a sport. In Chapter 1 of Eagle Talons, which you can read by going to the Books Tab of this website, I describe Will contemplating taking the family musket with him when he makes his decision to leave home and head west.
I purposely did not specify a particular model of musket in Chapter 1, because that detail would not have contributed information needed for the advancement of the story. Later, in the same chapter, I describe in more detail the revolver he does take, because that gun will remain with him throughout the trilogy. The reader will learn how this pistol works as the novel progresses. With respect to the description of weapons, clothing, and various period articles used by the characters in my books, I pattern my writing style after that of Bernard Cornwell. One of my favorite authors, he makes a point of explaining to the reader how things work. When experiencing unfamiliar historical facts, I consider such detail to be both educational and entertaining, as long as it is not over done.
[media-credit name=”College Hill Arsenal” align=”aligncenter” width=”300″][/media-credit]The above photo of a Whitney Connecticut Rifle Musket is similar to what Will would have been taught to use by his father. It is a single-shot, muzzle-loading, rifled-barrel musket. Note the ramrod, shown in the carrying position beneath the barrel, the detail of which also reveals the rifling of the barrel. The ramrod forced the bullet down the barrel after the black powder charge had been poured in first. This excellent illustration shows details of the hammer in a cocked position ready to strike a percussion cap which sits atop a hollow “nipple,” whose opening allows the spark from the cap to pass into the back of the barrel, igniting the powder charge that fires the bullet out the end of the barrel. The percussion cap is about the size of a pea. Click on the illustration for an expanded view.