Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Battle of Monmouth was fought on this date in 1778, it took place in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

"Washington Rallying Troupes at Monmouth"

The Continental Army under General George Washington attacked the rear of the British Army column commanded by Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton as they left Monmouth Court House (modern Freehold Borough). 

Unsteady handling of lead Continental elements by Major General Charles Lee had allowed British rearguard commander Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis to seize the initiative, but Washington's timely arrival on the battlefield rallied the Americans along a hilltop hedgerow. Sensing the opportunity to smash the Continentals, Cornwallis pressed his attack and captured the hedgerow in stifling heat. Washington consolidated his troops in a new line on heights behind marshy ground, used his artillery to fix the British in their positions, then brought up a four-gun battery under Major General Nathaniel Greene on nearby Combs Hill to enfilade the British line, requiring Cornwallis to withdraw. Finally, Washington tried to hit the exhausted British rear guard on both flanks, but darkness forced the end of the engagement. Both armies held the field, but the British commanding general Clinton withdrew undetected at midnight to resume his army's march to New York City.


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Sunday, June 25, 2017

This late 18th century appearing long rifle has no markings, is it contemporary or is it original?





















The patch box, carving, and stock designs very similar to identified Lehigh Valley rifles and may have been built by John Moll or possibility a contemporary makers look alike. 

Note for example the incredibly similar patch boxes on the John Rupp and John Moll (also similar cheek piece inlay) on pages 176, 182, and 183 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" and the Peter Neihart and Herman Rupp rifles in "The Bethlehem School" section in "The Kentucky Rifle." Lehigh Valley rifles are noted for the rounded "Roman Nose" stocks. The rifle has all the other Lehigh style features, standard sights, a single trigger, and full length maple stock with brass furniture and intricate rococo carving at the ramrod entry pipe, stock flats, breech, and both sides of the butt. 

You be the judge, regardless of who, what or where it is a craftsman’s work of art.




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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Battle of Beaver Dams



On this date in an American column lead by Colonel Charles Boerstler of the 14th U.S. Infantry, marched from Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, in an attempt to surprise a British outpost at Beaver Dams, Thorold. Ontario. 
Billeting themselves overnight in the village of Queenston, Ontario. A resident of Queenston, Laura Secord, learned of the American plans, and had struck out on a long and difficult trek to warn the British at Decou's stone house near present-day Brock University. When the Americans resumed their march the next day, they were ambushed by 300 Caughnawaga and 100 Mohawk warriors and eventually surrendered to the commander of a small British detachment. About 500 Americans, including their wounded commander, were taken prisoner.
The loss of Boerstler's detachment demoralized the Americans at Fort George. From then until they abandoned the fort on 10 December, they rarely dared send any patrols more than a mile from the fort. To reinforce their fear of the Indians.


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Monday, June 19, 2017

Fort Presque Isle falls during Pontiac's War


In 1763, the Treaty of Paris brought the French and Indian War to a close, and all lands previously controlled by the French were now under British control. American Indians in the Ohio Country, Illinois Country, and Great Lakes region feared the loss of their French allies and the influx of colonists from east of the Appalachian Mountains settling on their land. To prevent the incursion of colonial settlers,  Odawa war chief chief Pontiac encouraged Ohio Country tribes to unite and to rise up against the British.

One event in Pontiac's War occurred on this day in 1763, when the British built Fort Presque Isle, present-day Erie, Pennsylvania, was assaulted by a force of about 250 Ottawas, Ojibwas, Wyandots, and Senecas. After holding out for two days, the garrison of approximately sixty men surrendered on the condition that they could return to Fort Pitt. Most were instead killed after emerging from the fort.
Is it estimated that by late fall of 1763, Pontiac's forces had killed or captured more than six hundred people. 





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Saturday, June 17, 2017

On this date in, 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was actually fought on Breed's Hill, took place.

"Bunker Hill" . The Patriot Militia prepare to fire at the oncoming British host during the Battle of Bunker/Breed's Hill , June 17, 1775




Some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe and Brigadier General Robert Pigot landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat.
After re-forming their lines, the British attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott’s men were now low on ammunition, though, and when the Redcoats went up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots’ gunfire had cut down some 1,000 enemy troops, with more than 200 killed and more than 800 wounded. More than 100 Americans perished, while more than 300 others were wounded.















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Sunday, June 11, 2017

The blunderbuss dragoon, was typically issued to troops such as cavalry, who needed a lightweight, easily handled firearm. In addition to the cavalry, the blunderbuss found use for other duties in which the shotgun-like qualities were desirable, such as for guarding prisoners or defending a mail coach, and its use for urban combat was also recognized.



























Richard Wilson manufactured firearms for the crown, Honorable East India Co. and Hudson's Bay Company.


John Hall's London shop was active from the early 18th century until around 1770 and was known to have manufactured brass barreled blunderbusses. 


Joseph Heylin was located at 48 Cornhill in London from 1757 until at least 1779. He was known for making very fine pistols.


Twigg dragoons with folding bayonets. These pistols would have been particularly suited to a naval officer or a dragoon. The latter's name actually comes from their use of "dragon" flintlock pistols which was an early name of these blunderbuss style pistols.


_____________________

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The work of Jacob Sell the Elder.







         
The Elder (1741-1825) was the patriarch of the Sell gunmaking family and almost certainly the father of Jacob Sell the younger (1780-1855) and Frederick Sell (1781-1869). The family is noted as among the best gunmakers of the early national period. Sell was active as a gunmaker from the era of the American Revolution through approximately 1820. Of the eight examples pictured in "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age," only two are signed like the example here. 
In the above work, Joe Kindig, Jr. states: "The earlier gunsmiths tried never to repeat themselves; they tried to make each gun different and finer than the one before. I like to see this because to me it exemplifies the spirit of a real artist. I think Jacob Sell the elder represents this type of workman. . . Jacob Sell the elder was a great artist. He was an extremely versatile gunsmith of the early period. Although his engraving and carving are not as fine as some of a slightly later period, they should not be belittled, because he probably was one of the first men to use these details so extensively on Kentucky rifles." 



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Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Siege of Fort Beauséjour


The fort was located on the Isthmus of Chignecto, a neck of land connecting present-day New Brunswick with Nova Scotia, Canada.
British Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton staged out of nearby Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia began the s
iege in early June, 1755, with the goal of opening the Isthmus of Chignecto to British control. 



Control of the isthmus was crucial to the French because it was the only gateway between Quebec and Louisbourg during the winter months. 
After approximately two weeks of siege, Louis Du Pont Duchambon de Vergor, the French fort's commander, capitulated on June 16, 1755. 


Camp of the British 43rd Regiment during the siege of Fort Beauséjour
Fort Beauséjour today

This marked the end of Father Le Loutre's War and the opening of a British offensive in the Acadia/ Nova Scotia theater of the French and Indian War, which would eventually lead to the end the French Empire in North America. The battle also reshaped the settlement patterns of the Atlantic region, and laid the groundwork for the modern province of New Brunswick.




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Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Jumonville Skirmish

                      
Jumonville Glen


In 1753, 1,500 French soldiers entered the disputed Ohio Valley area and established several forts, including Fort Le Boeuf, present-day Waterford, PA and Fort Machault, present-day Franklin, PA.

Concerned by reports of French expansion into the Ohio Valley, Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent Lt. George Washington on a mission to confront the French forces. Washington was to deliver a message from the governor demanding that the French leave the region and halt their harassment of English traders.

Washington departed Williamsburg, Virginia in October 1753 and made his way into the rugged trans- Appalachian region with Jacob Van Braam and Christopher Gist, an Ohio company trader and guide. On December 11, 1753, amidst a raging snowstorm, Washington arrived and was politely received by Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Fort LeBoeuf. After reviewing Dinwiddie's letter, Legardeur de Saint-Pierre calmly wrote a reply stating that the French king's claim to the Ohio Valley was "incontestable."

Responding to the defiant French, Lt. Governor Dinwiddie sent Captain William Trent and approximately 20 Virginians to build Fort Prince George at the forks of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Work began on the fort on February 17, 1754.
In March Dinwiddie then ordered the newly promoted Lt. Col. George Washington and approximately 160 Virginia militia to return to the Ohio country as part of a small force that was to construct a road to Fort Prince George and defend the fort upon their arrival. Washington was to "act on the defensive," but also clearly empowered Washington to "make Prisoners of or kill & destroy…" all those who resisted British control of the region.

On April 18, a large French force of five hundred strong arrived at Fort Prince George, forcing the small British garrison there to surrender. The French knocked down the tiny British fort and built Fort Duquesne, named in honor of Marquis Duquesne, the governor-general of New France.




Eager to send their own diplomatic directive demanding an English withdrawal from the region, a French force of 35 soldiers commanded by Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville was dispatched.

On May 26 Washington's road building had reached Wills Creek, in south central Pennsylvania, when he received news of the surrender of Fort Prince George as well as the approaching French party.

On May 27 the French diplomatic party camped in a rocky ravine not far from Washington's encampment.

Receiving word of the French approach and accompanied by Tanacharison, a Seneca chief (also known as the Half-King) and 12 native warriors, Washington led a party of 40 militiamen on an all night march towards the French position. 
On May 28, 1754, Washington's party stealthily approached the French camp at dawn. Finally spotted at close range by the French, shots rang out and a vigorous firefight erupted in the wooded wilderness. Washington's forces quickly overwhelmed the surprised French force and killed 13 soldiers including Jumonville and captured another 21. Both sides claimed that the other fired first.





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Sunday, May 21, 2017

This rifle is unsigned but is without a doubt the work of George Schreyer.



















Joe Kindig, Jr. identified Schreyer as active around the years of the American Revolution through around 1813. Kindig noted “this rifle has the earliest rattlesnake patch box that I have seen.”

The rifle is pictured in George Shumway's "George Schreyer Sr. & Jr.: Gunmakers of Hanover York County, Pennsylvania." Shumway writes: "This piece is notable for the patchbox finial engraved with a rattlesnake design. 

Most Schreyer guns are equipped with German locks, but this one has a lock of English style with rounded pan."

Aside from the unique patch box, the gun is a classic long rifle with a standard full length stock, brass furniture, and blade and notch sights. The stock has tear drop flats, a carved finial design at the breech, scroll carving around the patch box, and additional carved accents near the snake's head. The snake design has some cobra like attributes but is clearly inspired by a rattlesnake given the rattle on its tail. Snake designs are not common on golden age rifles especially compared to other animals such as eagles.














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Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Battle of Barren Hill



On May 20, 1778, The Battle of Barren Hill occurred during the American Revolution. British forces from Philadelphia attempt to trap 2,200 Continentals defending Valley Forge led by Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette, through skillful maneuvering, avoids the entrapment and the destruction of his forces. The encounter takes place at Barren Hill, now known as Lafayette Hill, just northwest of Philadelphia.
Washington had dispatched Lafayette and his men two days before to spy on the British in Philadelphia. The British learned of Lafayette’s mission and intended to surprise, surround and capture the encampment with a force of 7,000 to 8,000 men. Lafayette, in turn, learned of the British plan late on May 19.
Lafayette assigned 500 men and approximately 50 Oneida Indians armed with cannon to face the British onslaught and stand their ground by the local church, while the rest of Lafayette’s forces fled west over the Schuylkill River to safety. 

Before following the Continentals across the Schuylkill it is believed the Oneida warriors harassed the British as they marched back to Philadelphia. 


Marquis de Lafayette


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Friday, May 19, 2017

The Skirmish of The Cedars was a series of military confrontations early in the American Revolutionary War during the Continental Army's invasion of Quebec.


The skirmishes, which involved limited combat, occurred in May 19 and 20, 1776 in and around The Cedars which was a strategic landing point for anyone navigating the Saint Lawrence river to or from Montreal.
Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, commanding the American military garrison at Montreal, had placed a detachment of his troops at The Cedars in April 1776, after receiving rumors of British and Indian military preparations to the west of Montreal.
Continental Army units were opposed by a small number of British troops leading a larger force of Indians (primarily Iroquois), and militia.
The garrison surrendered on May 19 after a confrontation with a combined force of British and Indian troops led by Captain George Forster. American reinforcements on their way to The Cedars were also captured after a brief skirmish on May 20.
Forster’s scouts advised him of Arnold’s approach with a sizable force and all of the captives were eventually released after negotiations between Forster and Arnold.

The terms of the agreement required the Americans to release an equal number of British prisoners. However, the deal was repudiated by Congress, and no British prisoners were freed.

Colonel Timothy Bedel and Lieutenant Isaac Butterfield, leaders of the American force at The Cedars, were court-martialed and cashiered from the Continental Army for their roles in the affair.























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Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Lewis and Clark journey begins.



On this day in 1804, the Lewis and Clark “Corps of Discovery” with approximately 45 men left Camp River Dubois, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, for the American interior.
President Jefferson called the group the Corps of Discovery. It would be led by Jefferson’s secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and Lewis’ friend, William Clark.
Twenty-five hundred dollars had been appropriated to fund the Corps, whose mission was to explore the uncharted West. 
Most of the members were U.S. Army soldiers, chosen for their specific skills such as gunsmithing, hunting, or blacksmithing.


Over the next four years, the Corps would travel thousands of miles, experiencing lands, rivers and peoples that no Americans ever had before.


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The first American victory of the Revolutionary War, Fort Ticonderoga.


On this date in 1775, Benedict Arnold of Massachusetts joined Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont in a dawn attack on Fort Ticonderoga, surprising and capturing the sleeping British garrison. 



The fort, located on Lake Champlain in northeastern New York, served as a key point of access to both Canada and the Hudson River Valley during the French and Indian War. Although it was a small-scale conflict, the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga would give the Continental Army much-needed artillery.  In all, 59 pieces of equipment, which included cannons ranging in size from four to twenty-four pounders, mortars, and howitzers. All to be used in future Continental battles. 



















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Monday, May 8, 2017

The Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia


One of the most ignored events during the French & Indian War, is the Expulsion of 11,500 Acadians from the present day Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island —an area then known as Acadia. The Acadians were the descendants of of the original French colonists.
As part of the British military campaign against New France the British first deported Acadians to the Thirteen Colonies, and after 1758 transported additional Acadians to Britain and France.

The result of the Expulsion was the devastation of both a primarily civilian population and the economy of the region. Thousands of Acadians died in the expulsions, mainly from diseases and drowning when ships were lost.

Throughout the expulsion, Acadians and the Wabanaki Confederacy continued a guerrilla war against the British in response to British aggression which had been continuous since 1744.

One such event took place on this date in 1756, it was the Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Charles Deschamps de Boishébert (also known as Courrier du Bois, Bois Hebert), was a member of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine and was a significant leader of the Acadian militia's resistance to the Expulsion of the Acadians. He encouraged a militia of the Wabanaki Confederacy (Mi'kmaq and Maliseet) to attack a British settlement at Lunenburg. The native militia also raided two islands on the northern outskirts of the fortified Township of Lunenburg, Rous Island and Payzant Island (present day Covey Island). The Maliseet killed twenty settlers and took five prisoners. This raid was the first of nine the Natives and Acadians would conduct against the peninsula over a three year period during the war.

Boishébert also settled 
refugee Acadians during the Expulsion along the rivers of New Brunswick. At what is now, Beaubears National Park on Beaubears Island.


Charles Deschamps de Boishébert


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Author and Kentucky long rifle collector Joe Kindig, Jr. wrote: "Frederick Sell was one of the great masters of Kentucky rifle making. . ." the Sell family "is one of the most important families -- if not the most important family -- of Kentucky rifle makers.

This long rifle has a part round, part octagon barrel with "wedding band" transition signed by Frederick Sell (1781-1869) in a brass banner.  


Early records find Frederick Sell as a single freeman gunsmith in the Borough of York in 1807." By 1816 he was settled in Littletown and appears in records there until 1858. Tax records suggest he was devoted to gunmaking as he owned little else. 
Sell is the presumed son of Jacob Sell (1741-1821) and brother of Jacob (1780-1855); both were talented gunmakers in their own right and certainly greatly influenced one another. Sell adopted the aspects he liked of various other period makers as well to create a conglomerate style that was at once his own yet reflected aspects of many of the most talented Golden Age makers. 
His designs varied greatly which makes him a great maker for collectors and all identified guns by him are beautifully done. The detailed rococo carving has similar attributes to other identified Sell rifles including the example on page 420 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age."











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Friday, April 28, 2017

Battle of Sainte-Foy


The battle, sometimes called the Battle of Quebec, was fought on this date in 1760, on the road to Ste-Foy, a village just west of Québec. 
François de Lévis and his French force of 5000 engaged 3900 British troops under Col James Murray outside the city walls, soundly defeating them. Although a victory for the French it would also be their last victory of the French and Indian War.
Lévis went on to lay siege to the town while awaiting reinforcements from France. However, British ships arrived first and Lévis was forced to raise his siege and retreat to Montréal.

"Battle Smoke" by Randy Steele



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