Sunday, April 23, 2017

John E. Geiger Flintlock Rifle.

John E. Geiger was born around in 1800, raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, by German immigrant parents, trained as a gunsmith in Williamsport, and settled in Towanda in 1830. 

The rifle has an "E. P. SMITH/WARRANTED" lock with typical style of accents, pierced fancy patch box without engraving and  two small side plates. A Roman nose stock profile popular on Pennsylvania long rifles.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 19, 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the sparks that ignited the American Revolutionary War.

Image result for battle of lexington and concord

Tensions had been building for many years between residents of the 13 American colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. On the night of April 18, 1775, hundreds of British troops marched from Boston to nearby Concord in order to seize an arms cache. 
Paul Revere and other riders sounded the alarm, and colonial militiamen began mobilizing to intercept the Redcoat column. 
When the advance guard of nearly 240 British soldiers arrived in Lexington just as the sun was rising, they found about 70 minutemen formed on the Lexington Green awaiting them.

Image result for battles of lexington and concord clipart
Troiani's  "Lexington Green"
Both sides eyed each other warily, not knowing what to expect. 

Suddenly, "the shot heard round the world", was fired.

The numerically superior British killed seven Americans on Lexington Green. The militia were outnumbered and fell back. 

The British regulars proceeded on to Concord, where they broke apart into companies to search for the supplies.

"Concord Bridge". 19th of April, 1775 , Minute Companies confront British regulars at Concord Bridge.
Troiani's, "Fight at the Concord Bridge"
At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 400 militiamen engaged 100 regulars of the King's troops at about 11:00 am, resulting in casualties on both sides. 
The outnumbered regulars fell back from the bridge and rejoined the main body of British forces in Concord. 
As the British retreated toward Boston, new waves of Colonial militia intercepted them. Shooting from behind fences and trees, the militias inflicted over 125 casualties, including several officers. The ferocity of the encounter surprised both sides.
Lord Percy, who led the British back into Boston after the defeat suffered at Concord, would later write to London, "Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob will be much mistaken." 
The bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, marked the beginning of the end of Britain's control of the colonies.  

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Revolutionary War Charleville Muskets

In 1717, the French infantry standardized their first flintlock musket to be issued to all troops. While it is more correctly called a French infantry musket or a French pattern musket, these muskets later became known as "Charleville muskets", after the armory in Charleville-Mézières, Ardennes, France. The standard French infantry musket was also produced at Tulle, St. Etienne, Maubeuge Arsenal, and other sites.

While technically not the correct name for these muskets, the use of the name Charleville dates back to the U.S. Revolutionary War, when Americans tended to refer to all of the musket models as Charlevilles.

The French began delivering sizeable caches of arms to the American rebels in 1777 and increased the supply further when they officially entered to conflict in 1778.
These Model 1766 muskets are sometimes referred to as "light Model 1763s" in period 
sources because they were a revised version of the heavier 1763 pattern.

Marquis de Lafayette is said to have personally delivered 25,000 Charleville muskets to General George Washington.
The 1766 Charleville was so influential that the first several patterns of muskets produced by American armories after the war were basically copies of the French pattern.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fighting in the Americas was the great challenge facing the 18th-century British army. Whether confronted with French, Spanish, native or colonial troops, they had to adapt to an environment very different from that of Western Europe. The old tactics would seldom lead to success on these unfamiliar battlefields, so they had to evolve quickly.

1. Training
The obvious response to new circumstances was to train the troops in dealing with them. It’s often overlooked that General Braddock, whose force was virtually destroyed by French and native forces on July 8th 1755, had tried to train his men specifically for the war they faced. His aim had been to prepare them to fight in the wilderness, rather than in the open battlefields and siege lines of Europe. However, lacking time, backing and a tactical framework to do a thorough job, he still led his men to disaster.

2. Tactical Innovation
Many in the army were disinterested in modifying their tactics to the new environment. Yet some officers aspired to innovate in the way they fought, and even wrote books about it – Robert Rogers’ Journals, Roger Stevenson’s Instructions for Officers Detached, and Major Robert Donkin’s Military Collections and Remarks among them. These focused on looser light infantry tactics.

3. Light Troops
Having seen the Austrians introduce light skirmishing troops, the British started using their own in America during the Seven Years War. At first, these were small groups of men with initiative and scouting skills who fought as part of existing regiments, protecting their flanks on the march. Entire regiments of light troops were later formed, such as the 60th Royal Americans.
These units were largely disbanded following the end of the Seven Years War. Light companies reappeared in the 1770s and became a fundamental part of the army.

Image result for Colonel Henry Bouquet
4. Self-sufficiency
Colonel Henry Bouquet, the commander of the 60th Royal Americans, made a number of innovations in the way British troops worked. One of these was a greater emphasis on self-sufficiency, learning to live off the land. This made soldiers less reliant on the baggage trains and supply lines that could make large formations vulnerable.

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5. Uniforms
Bouquet made his men’s uniforms more practical, breaking away from the stiff jackets and high collars used to encourage discipline in line formations of the time. However, these changes did not spread far. Hessian mercenaries working for the British during the American Revolution wore absurdly ostentatious uniforms that got tangled in trees and made them easy targets for snipers.

6. Rifles
Muskets were not extremely accurate weapons. Able to hit massed ranks of soldiers, they were much less effective against individual targets. For such sharp shooting, rifles were needed. Being more costly to produce and unnecessary in massed troop battles, rifles were not provided for most soldiers. However, a growing number were provided for light troops, with Colonel Bouquet giving them to the best marksmen in his units.

Image result for Robert Rogers
7. Using Locals
When commanders recognized the need for skirmishing and scouting skills their own troops lacked, they sometimes turned to local forces. Robert Rogers’ irregular unit of rangers provided Lord George Howe with experienced light troops for sharp-shooting and intelligence gathering, and Native Americans also filled this role. But few commanders were as open to the idea as Howe, and his death in 1758 set back these initiatives.

8. Relaxing Discipline
The hardships of war in a strange climate full of unfamiliar diseases could make it hard to recruit and keep troops. To reduce the risk of desertion or mutiny, discipline was often loosened, creating a less formal army than was kept at home.

9. Drinking
As part of this loosening of discipline, officers turned a blind eye to heavy drinking. This was especially true in the Caribbean, where isolated outposts stricken by tropical diseases made dreadful experiences for soldiers. Rum rations were increased or other alcohol permitted, and drunkenness was rife. While this created its own discipline problems, it helped to distract men from the horrors of their situation – a situation in which incurable sickness was a far greater risk than enemy fire.

10. Diet
The staple army diet of salt meat and biscuits was seldom adequate for troops anywhere in the world. For those stationed in the Caribbean, who could provide little for themselves and whose rations often went bad on the trans-Atlantic crossing, scurvy and malnutrition were rife, making men even more vulnerable to disease.
With terrible slowness, the government responded to the requests of doctors and began improving the diet in some stations. Though it took a long time, troops in Florida in the 1760s were eventually supplied with fresh meat, vegetables and spruce beer – a local drink useful in combating scurvy.

11. Supply Reform
Getting supplies to the troops could be problematic as the Americas lacked the extensive network of roads and ports that existed in Europe. Huge logistical support was needed, including road and bridge building, as well as organising the movement of food and ammunition over great distances.
Baker, Kilby and Baker, a London company, took over supplying the army in America in 1756 and did a great deal to improve logistics. Using their business knowledge and desire for profit through efficiency, they got five million rations to American troops over two years and made a tidy sum doing it.

12. Disease and the Limits of Change
Though the British army made some changes to cope with service in the Americas, they were never really adequate. The British army and government were conservative bodies, institutionally averse to change and ill-prepared to bring it about. Even when a change was agreed, it was slow to be put into effect.
The greatest problem was one they could not have addressed if they tried – disease. Without later advances in medicine, they did not understand the causes and cures for tropical diseases. This was a huge American problem to which the British could not adapt.

David Chandler and Ian Beckett (eds) (1994), The Oxford History of the British Army.
Geoffrey Regan (1991), The Guinness Book of Military Blunders.
War History Online.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

This is one of those well traveled rifles whose history has unfortunately been lost in time.

With no visible maker's marks it stirs the flint-lover's imagination. The early 19th century style lock has light engraving as does the brass and silver furnishings. 
The heavy barrel is equipped with traditional notch and blade sights. 
To add to the mystery, the stock has a long brass wear plate between the ramrod entry pipe and trigger guard. Could this possibility be to prevent (or repair) wear from traveling across a saddle? 


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Battle of Sideling Hill

Sometime in late March of 1756, a band of approximately 100 Delaware warriors left their village of Kittanning in Western Pennsylvania on the Allegheny River to raid the English frontier settlements to the east. The Delaware were allied with the French who provided them with supplies, arms, and ammunition. This band was led by their two most famous warrior chiefs, Shingas and Captain Jacob. 

At some point in their march they divided into two equal groups which proceeded separately. The plan called for the two groups to rendezvous at this same location after the completion of their bloody mischief for their return to Kittanning.
On April 1, 1756, one of the groups, believed to be led by Shingas, stormed Fort McCord in western Pennsylvania, where they captured or killed 27 settlers.

In response to the Delaware raid, a gathering of 50 militia, Commanded by Captain Alexander Culbertson, were sent in pursuit. Three days later near present day Maddensville, Pennsylvania, Culbertson's company caught up with the Delawares who were camped on Sideling Hill Creek, awaiting their rendezvous with Captain Jacob's band. 
At dawn April 4, Culbertson's group attacked. 
The timing of the rendezvous of Shingas and Captain Jacob could not have been more perfect for the Indians or any worse for Culbertson and his men. In a two-hour engagement the colonists were driven off by the arrival of Captain Jacob's reinforcements.
Twenty of the rescue party had been killed, including Culbertson, and another twelve wounded. Only five of the captives were able to escape.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Peter Neihart Golden Age Flintlock Pennsylvania Rifle

"This iconic American long rifle is pictured and discussed on pages 238-241 of George Shumway's classic "Rifles of Colonial America Volume 1." It is also on the cover and page 1 of "Kentucky Rifles & Pistols, 1750-1850" by the Golden Age Arms Company and James R. Johnston. Shumway notes: "A lot is known about Neihart from the research of Ronald G. Gabel. The name is variously spelled in the old records. . . Peter's father settled along the Lehigh River in North Whitehall Twp. in 1738 [he and two brothers arrived at the port of Philadelphia on September 26, 1737, on the St. Andrew Galley] and Peter was born in 1743. With whom he apprenticed is not known, but it is probable that he at least was influenced by the work of Andreas Albrecht at Christian Spring nearby. . . This rifle serves as a transition piece linking the Germanic style of rifle made at Christian Spring with the classic curved-butt Lehigh Valley rifles of the Federal Period and beyond. . . The two-piece engraved brass patch-box on this rifle, with the lid bearing the date 1787, has a finial of fleur-de-lis pattern. This is the earliest dated use of this pattern that we can be certain of. . ." It is also pictured in the "Bethlehem School" section of "The Kentucky Rifle" by Merrill Lindsay alongside two Herman Rupp rifles with very similar patch boxes and stock ornamentation. The barrel has a smooth bore, brass blade front sight, notch rear sight, and deeply cut "~PETER NEIHART~" marking in Roman style lettering on the top flat. The full length curly maple stock has a swirl pattern brass forend cap, an engraved and initialed silver thumb piece, wavy brass wire inlays and stud stock ornamentation, carved accents including a floral scroll pattern on the left rear, a cheekpiece with engraved silver star of Bethlehem inlay and molded edge, and an ornate engraved patch box. Several of the components also display engraving accents".

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