Developed in conjunction with the use of muzzle-loaded firearms, bandoliers, or collar of charges, were worn throughout Europe in the seventeenth century to increase the speed at which a gun was loaded. The bandolier consisted of a cross-torso belt with attached cylindrical objects, known as boxes or bottles, which held pre-measured charges. Premeasuring powder into the bottles allowed the wearer to load the powder in the gun and quickly complete the rest of the process before firing.
Bandolier bottles sometimes occurred in groups of twelve and came to be called the “twelve apostles” in the nineteenth century. Though constructed of various materials including copper, iron, wood, or leather, only iron and copper cylinders have been recovered from James Fort. To date, well over 400 have been found. This large number supports historical records that describe the demographics of the Jamestown colonists; many were soldiers. Firearms were critical in the early years of James Fort both for defense and for hunting to supplement inadequate food stores sent from England.