French Trade Musket

Trade goods between French and American Indians

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In the 1700s, the French frequently traded weapons to American Indians. This French musket is a good example of the type of gun they supplied to tribes.

As the French and Spanish made claims on the land that is now Texas in the 17th and 18th centuries, they encountered many tribes who were already the dominant powers in their regions. These tribes decided who they wanted to ally with and who they wanted to resist.

Tribes in the Texas region established successful trading relationships with the French as early as 1713. Both powers used their relationship to undermine the Spanish. Fear of France’s expanding influence convinced the Spanish to establish new missions and presidios in Texas. The Spanish were not able to stop French trade though, and they increasingly found that French traders were arming American Indians with French guns.

Wielding French muskets, in March 1758, two thousand warriors from 12 nations including Comanche, Wichita, Tonkawa, and Caddo surrounded and destroyed the Spanish mission at San Sabá. When the Spanish sent a force to retaliate against the Wichita and Tonkawa the following summer, they found the Wichita camped along the Red River flying a French flag and armed again with French muskets.

Muskets in the 18th century originally had flintlock firing mechanisms. After the percussion cap ignition system was developed in the early 1800s, many older firearms were converted to the newer system. Percussion mechanisms were more resistant to weather, faster to load, and offered more reliable ignition. This musket has been modified to the percussion system.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

French Trade Musket Artifact from Georgetown, TX
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