Sons Of Confederate Veterans To Demonstrate Muskets At Syrup Festival
By BETTY WATERS
HENDERSON -- Descendants of confederate soldiers plan to demonstrate steps of loading and firing a musket every hour, on the hour, throughout the 21st annual Heritage Syrup Festival on Saturday.
Mark Bassett, commander, described the procedure this way:
They will take out a paper cartridge containing powder, which the confederates called a Paper Lady.
"Ours are blank because we can't fire a musket ball (at the festival)," Bassett said.
They will tear off the end and load from the top, pouring in the powder and then the paper. Next, they will punch a ramrod all the way to the bottom to ram the wadding and powder down and remove the ramrod.
Upon picking up the musket, Bassett said, they will cock the hammer back to half cock, take out a primer that goes over the nipple and once they are ready to shoot, they will cock it all the way back, aim and pull the trigger to fire.
The old term "don't go off half-cocked" originated from loading muskets, Bassett said, because the musket won't fire half-cocked.
The musket demonstration will be a new festival attraction enacted by members of Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 2107, called the New Salem Invincibles after an original group of confederate soldiers from the Rusk County rural community of New Salem near the Lake Stryker dam.
Thomas Jay, adjutant, said, "A real fast infantryman could shoot three rounds a minute."
Bassett said, "Back in the Civil War, many staffs disappeared. (Soldiers) would get in such a hurry they would forget to take the ramming staff out and shoot it down range."
The Invincibles will shoot one, maybe two, muskets every hour, depending on the size of the crowd, the commander said.
"If it's a big crowd, we'll shoot a couple," he said. "I'm going to bring my confederate colt Navy pistol. It's a reproduction and what they call a cap and ball pistol. We might load it up and show people how we shoot it, too."
A large part of the camp's activities promote education about the Confederacy and the Civil War, according to Bassett.
Attired in confederate uniforms, the Invincibles will answer questions and discuss the Civil War with festival-goers, Bassett said, as well as listen to them tell about their ancestors. Bassett will wear a Confederate Marine Corps uniform of white pants, a long gray coat and blue cap.
"A lot of people want to get their picture taken with us in uniform," he said.
The Invincibles' festival booth, set up in front of the pioneer house on the Depot Museum grounds, will consist of two tables displaying historic items, some picked up from battle fields, such as musket balls, and an 1862 edition of the field manual for the Confederacy. Birdhouses and squirrel feeders will be for sale.
In front of the tables will be a display of all the confederate flags, including the "bonnie blue" and flags referred to as the first national, the second national, the third national and the battle flag.
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