On Friday, 16 January, Anderson House, the Society of the Cincinnati’s museum and library in Washington, D.C., will host a program of its American Revolution Institute on the Woolwich ballistic test charts.
The Royal Arsenal at Woolwich was the British military’s artillery training ground and laboratory east of London. In 1779 its experts compared the accuracy of a musket, a carbine, and a rifle in the most scientific manner possible in the period. Joseph Seymour, historian for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, will discuss the results and what they say about period weapons.
This talk is linked to the museum’s current exhibit “Homeland Defense: Protecting Britain during the American War,” describing Britain’s response to France entering the war:
For the first time in a generation, Britain faced the threat of invasion. With most of the regular army in North America, the ministry recruited militia “for the internal defence of this Country.” The army established special camps in southeastern England to train the militia along with regular soldiers, to protect the coastline, and to provide for the defense of London. A distant and increasingly unpopular war suddenly reached the British homeland.Joseph Seymour’s talk is one of Anderson House‘s “Lunch Bite” midday presentations, starting at 12:30 P.M. and lasting about half an hour. The event is free and open to the public (but you have to be nice to the receptionist at the door).
Contemporary novels and plays about military themes, new songs and poems celebrating British strength, and popular prints depicting the camps reflected public anxiety about the threat of invasion. They also reflected contemporary British opinion about the army at a moment when failure in America exposed it to satire and ridicule. The camps had a wide-ranging influence on popular culture. Fashionable ladies, for whom visiting the camps was a part of the social whirl, sported riding habits modeled on regimental uniforms. Cartoonists, meanwhile, took delight in poking fun at preparations for a foreign invasion that never came.