Thursday, December 29, 2016

Another dozen original patchboxes (# 2)


























If  you missed my previous post of  Original Patchboxes click here Original Patchboxes, #1

I also had a post of contemperory makers patchboxes HERE

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Victory at Trenton 1776

December 26, 1776


"Victory or Death" General Washington leads his army towards Trenton on the morning of Dec. 26, 1776. Alexander Hamilton and his artillery company are directly in the front of the painting. This is the final of the painting which has been viewed in various stages on the timeline.

After crossing the Delaware on Christmas day, General George Washington’s Continental Army reaches the outskirts of Trenton, New Jersey, and descends upon the unsuspecting Hessian force guarding the city. Trenton’s 1,400 Hessian defenders were still groggy from the previous evening’s Christmas festivities and had underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. The troops of the Continental Army quickly overwhelmed the German defenses, and by 9:30 a.m.Trenton was completely surrounded.
Although several hundred Hessians escaped, nearly 1,000 were captured at the cost of only four American lives. 
This victory greatly bolstered the sagging morale of the Continental Army and proved to the American public that their army was indeed capable of victory and worthy of support.

The Battle of Trenton, Hessian Colonel Rall is mortally wounded, Dec. 26, 1776

The Battle of Trenton, Hessian Colonel Rall is mortally wounded, Dec. 26, 1776


Paintings by Don Troiani

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Logistics of Washington’s Delaware Crossing



Washington gave his right hand logistics man, Colonel Henry Knox, the chore of overseeing the crossing. 
Knox first had to get all available watercraft on the Delaware to the southern bank by the date of the planned crossing, this would also deny the British the use of these craft, while making them available to the Continentals.
Not only did Knox have to get George across but also 2,400 Continentals soldiers, 18 cannon (3-Pounders, 4-Pounders, some 6-Pounders), horses to pull the carriages, and enough ammunition for the coming battle. Heavy artillery pieces and horses were transported on large flat-bottomed ferries and other watercraft suited to carrying that type of cargo. (The 6-Pounders alone would have weighed as much as 1,750 pounds each.)
Washington and the Continentals crossed the river in shallow draft Durham boats – strongly built cargo vessels, most between 40 and 60 feet in length, designed to move iron ore and bulk goods down the river to markets in and around Philadelphia. These stout craft with their high side walls were robust enough to survive the ice-choked Delaware.
It shouldn’t be surprising that most of Washington’s soldiers stood during the crossing since the bottoms of Durham boats were neither comfortable nor dry.
The 300 yard crossing started in a 30 degree drizzle that would turn into a driving rain and by 11 o’clock that evening, while the boats were crossing the river, a howling nor’easter made the miserable crossing even worse. One soldier recorded that “it blew a perfect hurricane” as snow and sleet lashed Washington’s army. The crossing would take 3 hours, next stop Trenton.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hero of the Revolution


Image result for Henry Knox

An ordinary man who rose to face extraordinary circumstances. Our hero’s life begins on July 25, 1750 in Boston, Massachusetts where Henry Knox was born. Growing up, the odds were stacked against him, six of his siblings didn’t survive to adulthood and his father abandoned the family. This forced Henry to drop out of school to make ends meet for his family. Despite these setbacks, Henry still managed to give himself an education by working at a Boston bookbindery, and eventually he was even able to save up enough money to open his own bookstore, "The London Book Shop". 

His passion for military tactics pushed him to read extensively on artillery and ordnance; he even taught himself to speak and read French to read books that hadn’t been translated on these subjects. Henry’s love for the military eventually led him to join the local militia, which gave him valuable experience before the Revolution.

Life, interrupted. On the heels of the battles at Lexington and Concord that formally ignited the colonists rebellion against the crown, twenty five year old Henry Knox abandoned his thriving Boston book shop to looters, and rode off to join the “rabble in arms,” spontaneously mobilizing just across the Charles River in Cambridge. 

At the same time, in Philadelphia, Continental Congress delegates were selecting Virginia representative George Washington to lead the newly forming forces. From the ranks of the 14,000 yahoos gathered in Cambridge that summer, 
Washington picked out the best two he could find to help him lead the new army: a Quaker with a limp named Nathanael Greene, and a “big, fat, garrulous, keenly intelligent man,” Henry Knox.

He earned the respect and lifelong friendship of George Washington, was his right-hand man throughout the war, stood beside him crossing the Delaware, served in his cabinet. 
Henry may not have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he sure did risk his neck to make it possible. 
According to author Jack Kelly, "Knox was really responsible for the patriots’ first victory when they forced the British out of Boston".
Tasked with transporting cannons from the recently captured Fort Ticonderoga, Knox managed to move the heavy artillery over 300 miles of winter terrain using enormous ox-drawn sleds until they pointed at the British from Dorchester Heights and forced their evacuation.
Knox was at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Yorktown, Brandywine and Valley Forge. Henry Knox was there. 

Knox served Washington well, first as Chief Artillery Officer in the Continental Army; then as General in the United States Army; and finally, as the first Secretary of War in President Washington’s cabinet in the newly minted United States of America.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Battle of Lake Borgne, War of 1812




After the British failure to take Fort Bowyer at Mobile, Alabama they decided to attack New Orleans hoping to cut off U.S. trade via land towards the Mississippi River. When the Americans began receiving warnings of a British fleet approaching Louisiana they set up a gunboat blockade at Lake Borgne. Lake Borgne is a lagoon of the Gulf of Mexico which would be the British doorstep to New Orleans. 


Anchored outside of the lagoon the British deployed some 1200 sailors and Royal Marines in forty-two longboats, launches and barges with one 12, 18 or 24 pounder carronade each, as well as three gigs, each mounting a long brass 12 pounder cannon.

At night on December 12, the British boats set off to enter Lake Borgne.




After rowing for about thirty-six hours, the British located the American vessels drawn up in line abreast to block the lagoon channel. The Americans in the gunboats saw the British rowing towards them and opened fire while the boats were still out of reach. The British were rowing against a strong current and under a heavy fire of round and grapeshot.
The Americans fired as many times as possible before the range closed. They were able to sink two of the attacking longboats and damaged many others. Eventually the range closed and the British sailors and marines began to board the American vessels. In the close quarters combat the two sides used cutlasses, pikes, bayonets and muskets. The British captured Gunboat No. 156 and turned her guns against her sister ships. The gunboat fired her broadsides and assisted the capture of the remaining American craft. One by one, the British took the other gunboats. Boarding and capturing the entire American flotilla.
Lake Borgne would become the landing zone for British forces preparing to attack New Orleans.



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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Dog Lock Trade Musket


An early 18th Century (circa. 1700) English Dog-Lock trade musket. The musket is light and simply made. The flat iron lock plate has beveled edges. The lock has flat, reinforced, hammer with a notch in the back. A small hooked safety latch or "dog" is mounted behind the hammer to engage the hammer notch and provide a 'half-cock' or safety. The lock has a detachable, faceted iron pan and a typical spear point frizzen spring. There are no visible markings on the lock.

The 42 1/2-inch barrel has an octagonal breech, two turned balusters and a slightly swamped muzzle. The barrel is fitted with an iron, half-moon, front sight and fixed, dove-tailed, rear sight. The top barrel flat is engraved: "MINORIES LONDON" in block letters, Minories being a parish in London. The left flat is stamped with oval London, "Crown/GP" and "Crown/V" proof marks. Right flat is stamped is stamped with a five-pointed star and a "RW" maker's stamp. The star/RW mark could possibly be either R. Wooldridge (1680-1739) or Richard Wilson. Wooldridge made dog-lock muskets in London in this period of time. Wilson was a London gunmaker (1681-1730).











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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fort Clatsop


Having spied the Pacific Ocean for the first time a few weeks earlier, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark cross to the south shore of the Columbia River (near modern-day Portland).
It was on this day in 1805, that they began building the small fort that would be their winter home.

For their fort, Lewis and Clark picked a site three miles up Netul Creek (now Lewis and Clark River), because it had a ready supply of elk and deer and convenient access to the ocean, which the men used to make salt. The men finished building a small log fortress by Christmas Eve; they named their new home Fort Clatsop, in honor of the local Indian tribe.
Image result for Fort Clatsop


During the three months they spent at Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark reworked their journals and began preparing the scientific information they had gathered. Meanwhile, the enlisted men and fellow travelers hunted and trapped-they killed and ate more than 100 elk and 20 deer during their stay.
While the stay at Fort Clatsop was peaceful, it was not entirely pleasant. The Clatsop Indian tribe was friendly, but Clark noted that the Indians were hard bargainers, which caused the expedition party to rapidly deplete its supply of gifts and trading goods, and eventually caused some resentment on both sides.
 


Most vexing, though, was the damp coastal weather–rain fell all but twelve days of the expedition’s three-month stay. The men found it impossible to keep dry, and their damp furs and hides rotted and became infested with vermin. Nearly everyone suffered from persistent colds and rheumatism.
The expedition departed for home from soggy Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806. History.com


The original Fort Clatsop decayed in the wet climate of the region but was reconstructed in 1955 from sketches in the journals of William Clark.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Peter White Flintlock



A nice example of the iconic American long rifle built in the shop of Peter White (1777-1834). He is believed to be the son of either Nicholas or John White who were both gunsmiths during the American Revolution.
Peter White was in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in 1800 and was likely a journeyman or apprentice under John Armstrong. By 1807, White was settled in Cumberland Valley Township. In 1819 he advertised that he had begun working in Uniontown “opposite the Market House”.
Though White died in 1834, one or more of his three sons carried on the family trade.
The barrel on this rifle is signed "Peter White", and the lock is signed "White/Peter". The latter indicated White likely crafted his own lock whereas many other gunsmiths and gunmakers of the day purchased imported locks or those made by local lock makers. The lock is also more slender than is often seen. As you can the rifle has standard blade and notch sights and a full length maple stock with mostly engraved brass furniture including the ornate patch box, gorgeous carving on the left side surrounding the cheek piece which has an oval silver inlay, and additional carving at the breech, ahead of the stock flats and behind the ramrod entry pipe.








Sunday, November 27, 2016

R&C Leonard M-1808 Musket








Manufactured by Rudolph and Charles Leonard of Canton, Massachusetts between 1808 and 1814, this is one of the approximately 4,208 muskets delivered on contract. 
The U.S. War Department contracted with independent gun makers, including the Leonards, to produce Model 1808 muskets due to fears of entanglement with the warring nations of England and France. These muskets were the Harpers Ferry pattern except they had a straighter hammer spur, (top jaw guide), as on the Springfield models. The lock plate has beveled edges with a pointed tip and integral fenced rounded flash pan. The trigger guard has pointed finials, a one piece bow and a separate sling swivel stud mounted ahead of the bow. The tops of the barrel bands are flattened, the upper barrel band has a brass front sight blade and the bayonet lug is mounted on the bottom of the barrel. The lock is marked "CANTON/1812" in a vertical curve behind the hammer and ahead of the hammer is an eagle and shield motif over "U.S." in an oval and "R.& C. LEONARD". The left side rear of the barrel is stamped with a "V", "Eagle head/CT" in an oval and "U.S." proof and inspection marks. The barrel tang is also stamped with a "V" inspection mark. 


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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Harpers Ferry Model 1805 Flintlock Pistol




The M-1805 has the distinction of being the only production pistol ever manufactured at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal in the 19th Century. 
The M-1805 was a product of an order issued in November of 1805 by the American Secretary of war to the Superintendent and Master Armorer of Harper's Ferry arsenal. The order called for 2000 braces of pistols, made in the style of the English Light Dragoon model.




The order specified the particulars, including basic dimensions and sight arrangement, the latter specifically "Tang V-Notched Rear Sight - Small Brass -Sight near Muzzle". An error in communication resulted in the pistols originally being made with no sights, and then some of the pattern guns (including this example) being made with the rear sight on the barrel instead of the tang. 
Only 4096 of these pistols would be made in total, making them highly sought after by collectors. Values well into the 5 digit figures.
The pistol has a 10 1/16-inch round, smoothbore barrel with iron rib that supports an iron ramrod ferrule. The barrel has a dove-tail mounted front sight with brass blade and a dove-tail mounted, iron, rear sight located two-inches ahead of the tang. The lock plate is flat with beveled edges and a pointed tip. The lock has a integral, fenced, iron pan and a flat-faced, reinforced cock. 
The barrel band, ramrod end-pipe, trigger guard, side plate and strapped buttcap are brass. The pistol has a hickory ramrod with brass tip. The wedge-fastened stock is black walnut.


















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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Santa Fe Trail

On this day in 1821, Missouri Indian trader William Becknell arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In an effort to recover from financial problems William Bucknell , lead a team of mules west from Franklin, Missouri. The mules were loaded with goods he planned to take through plains Indian territory (what is now Kansas) to the Mexican city of Santa Fe. The trip was long and hard but trading was good. Becknell returned home with money in his pockets and tales of the friendly people and the different lifestyle of Santa Fe. 
In 1822 and again in 1824 Bucknell, this time with wagons, he chartered his second course over the Cimarron Desert, which would later be known as the Cimarron Cutoff. Though the shorter this route provided less water, it saved the travelers ten days by cutting southwest across the Cimarron Desert to Santa Fe. 
"Santa Fe Trail, Cimarron Route" by Wayne Cooper
Travelers risked attacks by Native Americans in addition to the shortages of water. Despite the hazards, the shorter route would end up carrying 75% of the later Santa Fe Trail pioneers.
In 1825, Becknell helped map the trail for surveyors hired by the U.S. Congress. For his efforts in opening up an improved route for regular traffic and military movement, Becknell became known as the Father of the Santa Fe Trail.


In 1827 Becknell was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Saline county, Missouri. The following year he was elected to the first of two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. Retaining his rank of Captain, Becknell served in the Missouri state militia during a Native American uprising in 1829 and again during the 1832 Black Hawk War.

In 1835 Becknell sold all his Missouri property and business interests and moved to present-day Red River County, Texas in northeast Texas. During the Texas War of Independence, Becknell organized and led a cavalry unit known as the Red River Blues. Later he would serve briefly as a Texas Ranger and as a member of the legislature in the newly established Republic of Texas.

Becknell died on April 30, 1865, at his home. He is buried in a private family cemetery, a few miles west of Clarksville, Texas.


  


From 1825 until 1846, the Trail was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Great caravans of freight wagons dominated the Trail. Commercial freighting as well as considerable military freight hauling to build and supply the new southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history.
This undocumented photo is believed to show the Cimarron Cutoff on the left and the Mountain Branch on the right? (c. 1860?)


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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Johnson M-1836 Martial Pistol




These Model 1836 54 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistols were produced by Gunsmith / manufacturer Robert Johnson of Middletown, Connecticut. 




The M-1836 was an improved version of the Model 1826 and was the final U.S. martial pistol manufactured using the flintlock system.

It was was the primary handgun issued to the U.S. Dragoons and Mounted Rifles during the Mexican War and continued to be used into the early years of Civil War (usually after having been converted to percussion).

They have the distinctive features of a swivel ramrod with button-shaped head, barrel band with strap extension that joins the side plate and an integral back strap and buttcap. The barrel has a brass half-moon front sight and an oval rear sight is located on the tang and the lock has a detachable fenced brass flash pan. The pistol barrel and furniture are finished "National Armory Bright" and the lock has a dark case hardened finish and niter blue frizzen spring. The black walnut stock was oil finished.



Many collectors consider this model to be the best of all U.S. martial flintlock pistols for good reason: These pistols are refined and sturdy. The swivel ramrod is more useful and better looking than the hickory rods used with earlier martial pistols, and the pistols balance well in the hand. 


Johnson
 produced the M-1836 from 1836 through 1844. Contract prices ranged from $7.50 to $9 each. Johnson’s factory was insured for $30,000. It held 27 employees and six water wheels.





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