Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Life of a soldier in the C18th

Life of a soldier at the Louisbourg Fortress

Most of the soldiers were recruited from the streets of France. They were promised lots of food, good living conditions, lots of money and lots of women, the reality was a little bit different. They were paid 9 livre a month but had to pay 7½ livre to the military for food, clothing and lodging. There were 6-7 men to every woman, so the odds were not in their favour. They got 4oz of vegetables a day, 4oz of salted meat and a pound and a half of bread. This was all put into a community pot and served up as a stew.

Where the single soldiers lived

The barracks were for single accommodations only. Three men were assigned to a bed, which were bunk beds. There with a number of bunks to a room, which accommodated 16-24 men. Two would share the bed at night while one would be on duty. The straw mattresses were changed once a year. There were 600-800 soldiers but Louisbourg was never fully garrisoned. 

the uniform of the Cannoneer

If you were lucky to go to Cannoneer school you were trained in mathematics and geometry. These soldiers were given a different coloured uniform. They could make as much as 26 livre a month compared to a regular soldier of 1.5 livre, so were much more popular with the ladies. 

Soldiers' bunks

A regular day would be going around checking cannons. They would look at all the angles of the cannon making sure they would be able to hit a certain target. You put it on a 25 degree angle and fill it up with 1/3 with powder and a ball and fire it. Where the cannon ball hit was called “point blank range”. They would mark the place the cannon ball hit in the field. Then they would know where this cannon was capable of firing during a battle. They would mark the platform and the wedging. The cannon would then have to be in the exact same spot to be able to fire where they anticipated. They would then re-fire and check to see if it hit the same spot. If they wanted to fire it further, they would elevate the cannon up.

Cannoneer's must have to learn to shoot as well

On Sunday afternoons, they did target practice. If they regularly hit their target they would get a bonus. They were lower class but high lower class, better than a soldier. They even drank with the officers which was rare in the C18th. A full uniform was issued every two years. A part uniform was issued every year. The hat, cravat, two shirts, one best coat, one pair of breeches and one pair of woolen socks. The uniform was hot in the summer and cool in the winter, a no win combination. You would have a powder flap or powder horn to keep your grains of black powder in. A sabre and a 3-sided bayonet.

Cannon practice

If they didn’t die from the bullet wound, you would die from the black powder. To load the musket, you pull the pan, take a cartridge and fill the barrel, pull out the ramrod and pack the powder. You put the hammer on and pull the cock. If the pan goes off but the musket doesn’t, that is called a “flash in the pan”. A good musketeer could fire 3-4 shots a minute.

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