"sling arms" (not in OED2) -- why not before 1824?

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon Apr 21 16:07:27 UTC 2014

On 4/19/14, 12:01 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> However, we still have long arms, that might be slung, "painted
> around 1622-25". The flintlocks seen by Wikipedia are resting on the
> ground (or perhaps are some other type of musket).  Like Jon, I find
> it interesting that "sling arms" (in various forms) can't be found in
> ECCO.   I would have supposed that "sling arms" as a command was
> spoken at musters with muskets in the 18th or 17th centuries.  If so,
> why isn't it manifested in the militia manuals?  (Forgive me -- I've
> been overdosing on M&M's.)
I have to admit that I have not seen slings on the reproduction 1600s
matchlock or doglock muskets
that I see regularly. Nor do I recall them from similar period pieces in
the Higgins collection, but I haven't seen those in a while.  I don't
think you see them in the Rubens' Bellona painting, but I think that's
tangential to figuring out the meaning of "slung arms" in the poem. I
can check with the reenactor I know who does the 1600s musket drill re:
any "sling" command.

I have seen slings on 1700s flintlocks, period and reproduction.

Your poem is from 1749 and OED has "sling" for the long arms from 1711,
pre-dating the poem by a good bit, so "slung" from the sling for the
firelock is likely, I think.

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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