Sharpe teaches the South Essex to increase their rate of fire by simply dropping the musket ball down the barrel and tapping the butt on the ground to jolt it down, rather than using the ramrod. However, this method would only be used in an emergency as it badly affects the accuracy and power of the musket. It is perfectly possible to fire three to four rounds a minute using the ramrod, with practice. (Having said that, it is possible Sharpe taught them the shortcut because of the extremely limited time Simmerson allowed him to train them). See more
God, Hogan. Horse, foot, cannon... the French outnumber us three to one. Does he know something we don't?
He knows three things, Lawford. He knows that on his left, the French will not attack the fort. He knows that on his right, Simmerson will run. And he knows that in the center, that Daddy Hill will stand. Means nothing to me either, Lawford. That's why he's a general, and we ain't.