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.