Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More on Muskets

Here's a thought I just had - the original pirates of the Caribbean were largely recruited from the Cow Killers. These were hunters who shot wild cows left on the islands by early Spanish colonies. The colonies were abandoned as new sources of gold were found and the cattle released into the wild.

By the 2nd quarter of the 17th century a group of non-Spanish had moved into the islands. They were largely English and French. They shot cattle and dried the meat over a slow fire. The process was known as boucaning. It is the root word for barbecue and buccaneer (boucanier - someone who boucans).

Every now and then the Spanish would try to clear the cow killers off of "their" islands. The main place for displaced cow killers to go was Tortuga.

When the English recruited people to raid the Spanish they got a lot of men who had been cow killers, enough that the French word for the cow killers became synonymous with pirates.

So, we have a significant portion of pirates who used to make their living shooting animals with their muskets. They were good shots, too. Are these men going to toss their muskets into the ocean and switch to blunderbusses? I doubt it.

So the people who insist that pirates had no use for long weapons haven't really thought about where the pirates were recruited from.

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