Fairfax, Virginia - What with today being International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we asked the National Firearms Museum curators about any piratical elements in the Museum collection. Senior Curator Doug Wicklund – er, Cap'n Doug, that is – replied, with a seafaring tale:
It twere near Port Royal when I came upon a merchantman, brimming with Spanish gold. I boarded her with a cutlass and me two flints, a blunderbuss pistol and me trusty cannon-bore short musket. Some would say I had two blunderbusses, but narely a old salt like me can count that high …
Blunderbusses were favored choices for personal protection in an era where single shots and multiple targets abounded. The wide muzzle of the blunderbuss, whether in handgun or musket format, allowed easier loading, as the flared muzzle served as a convenient funnel to pour powder and shot down the barrel. Brass-barreled pieces didn't rust in the salt air aboard ships, but these short-barreled arms were also used by royal mail coach guards. Staring down the gaping barrel of one of these arms would put the fear in many a highwayman or pirate. But back to the tale …
The scuppers on that merchantman were filled with Sargasso weed, and I knew she would flounder on the wicked reefs nigh. So I set her ablaze after I had pillaged her proper. Ere today, buccaneers say on a warm night ye can see that shimmering galleon still wandering the waves and those unlucky enough to board will never make port again. But such is the curse of the Caribees.
The Museum's collection includes several blunderbusses. There's a British Sea Service Blunderbuss made around 1760 for the Royal Navy, featuring a weatherproof lock and a brass construction nearly impervious to sea spray. There's also a Spanish miquelet-lock blunderbuss made in Spain c. 1670:
Elsewhere in the Museum, you can find a Griffin and Tow Muzzleloading Flintlock Blunderbuss,
a J. Richards Muzzleloading Flintlock Blunderbuss, and
a Wilson Flintlock Blunderbuss Pistol, too.