Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Battle of Cowpens

Relying upon strategic creativity, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and a mixed Patriot force rout British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and a group of Redcoats and Loyalists at the Battle of Cowpens on this day in 1781.

Commander in chief of the Southern Army, Major General Nathaniel Greene had decided to divide Patriot forces in the Carolinas in order to force the larger British contingent under General Charles Cornwallis to fight them on multiple fronts—and because smaller groups of men were easier for the beleaguered Patriots to feed. Daniel Morgan took 300 Continental riflemen and 740 militiamen with the intention of attacking the British backcountry fort, Ninety-Six.

In response, Cornwallis dispatched Tarleton with 1,100 Redcoats and Loyalists to catch Morgan, whom he feared might instigate a broad-based backcountry Patriot uprising. Morgan prepared for the encounter with Tarleton by backing his men up to a river at Cowpens, north of Ninety-Six.

As Tarleton’s men attacked, Morgan instructed the militia to skirmish with them, but to leave the front line after firing two rounds. The British mistook the repositioning of the Americans as a rout and ran into an unexpected volley of concentrated rifle fire coupled with a cavalry charge and followed by the return of the militia. Tarleton escaped, but Morgan’s troops decimated his army.

American riflemen, scorned by Britain’s professional soldiers, proved devastatingly effective in this engagement. The British lost 110 men and more than 200 more were wounded, while an additional 500 were captured. The American losses totaled only 12 killed and 60 wounded in the first Patriot victory to demonstrate that the American forces could outfight a similar British force without any other factors—such as surprise or geography—to assist

The Battle of Cowpens by Don Troiani

A few side notes about Daniel Morgan;

In Jack Kelly’s book “Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence.” he wrote of Morgan, “Daniel Morgan was a natural fighter, he grew up on the frontier and for fun fought in no-holds-barred brawls.”
Nicknamed “Old Wagoner” for his teamster work driving supplies during the French and Indian War.
In the summer of 1775, the rowdy Virginian answered the call for volunteers and commanded the first troops specifically recruited for a national army by the Continental Congress.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The mysterious Confederate, Augusta Machine Works, revolvers.

Revolvers attributed to the Augusta Machine Works have long been a source of discussion, among collectors of Confederate revolvers.
Like so many Confederate revolvers, they are a close copy of the Colt Navy 1851, with the same octagonal barrel, a brass trigger guard and backstrap, and a Colt Navy-type loading lever catch. The rifling is six lands and grooves, clockwise twist , with no gain. The trigger guards have a deep oval shape, the hammer spur is finely checkered, the hammer has a roller and the wedge has a spring.

Specimens are known with a 6-stop cylinder and others with a 12-stop cylinder. The 6-stop cylinders have safety pins between the nipples, and a slot in the hammer head.

None of the revolvers are marked with a maker’s name or serial numbers. They bear all sorts of assembly marks. Some are marked with cryptic letters and others with numerals. These numbers and letters found on both types are not all visible until the revolver is disassembled and are usually of a single character. Collectors estimate that about half of the guns were marked with assembly numbers, the other half with letters.

They also feel that about fifty percent have the 12-stop cylinder, the rest having the 6 stop cylinder. They do feel certain that both 6 and 12 stop revolvers are of the same origin; machine-tools have left the same traces on them. Why the two systems were made, remains unknown.

The brass parts of some of them show the pink colorations, due to excessive copper content in the brass alloy, which is typical only on Confederate arms. Also the thread pitch on the screws is American not of European origin.

Albaugh/Benet/Simmons, authors of Confederate Handguns, arrived at the 'Augusta' origin in 1963, based on some of the aforementioned points, yet, as of today, there is still no definitive proof of the origin other than they are probably American. However, the hypothesis established by these authors has prevailed, and hence the "Augusta Machine Works" designation.

A letter written in 1918 by Samuel C. Wilson, secretary, Department of Public Health, Augusta does indeed state that a Confederate Government factory producing pistols existed late in the war.
So it is most probable that these revolvers were manufactured in Augusta, still without conclusive proof they will remain a mystery.

This Northwest trade gun was manufactured in 1875, it gives us a view of how widely used the trade gun was from the late 17th century through the end of the 19th century.

The Northwest trade gun evolved from earlier European hunting guns like the fusil de chasse and were distinct from other forms by 1750. They earned the nickname "Northwest Guns" because they were initially traded in large numbers in the Great Lakes region or in the Northwestern portion of British held territory after 1763. Throughout their long period of use, these multi-purpose smoothbore fowling pieces remained largely unchanged and were used in nearly every significant North American conflict of the 18th and 19th century by Native Americans and some white and metis traders. For example, late production trade guns like this are known to have been used in considerable numbers during the Battle of Little Bighorn the year after this gun was manufactured.

Used longer and more widely than any other firearm in American history and was the primary firearm of the fur trade from the late 17th century through the end of the 19th century. Most were manufactured by gunmakers in Birmingham and London.

This long period of use means they were introduced before the iconic Brown Bess muskets and American long rifles and were still being produced well after metallic cartridges and repeating firearms were introduced in the mid-19th century.

This example is typical, a part round/part octagon smooth bore barrel with an iron front sight, and the oversized iron trigger guard and trigger, some say for mittened hands while others say for use with a two finger pull. (Your choice)

The lock plate is stamped with the vertical date "1875" followed by "BARNETT/LONDON" in a half curve behind the reinforced cock, an integral iron pan, and bridled frizzen. John Edward and his sons supplied the Northwest Company and then Hudson Bay Company from 1842 to 1875. 

It is stamped with the Sitting fox over "EB" (Edward Bond), these markings are commonly found on trade guns manufactured for the Hudson Bay Company from 1790 to the 1890s.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Battle of New Orleans, War of 1812

On December 24, 1814, Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty in Ghent, Belgium that effectively ended the War of 1812. News was slow to cross the pond and on January 8, 1815, the two sides met in what is remembered as one of the conflict’s biggest and most decisive engagements. 
In the bloody Battle of New Orleans, future President Andrew Jackson and a motley assortment of militia fighters, frontiersmen, slaves, Indians and even pirates weathered a frontal assault by a superior British force, inflicting devastating casualties along the way, the British suffered over two thousand casualties (killed, wounded and captured), the Americans suffered fewer than fifty. 

The victory vaulted Jackson to national stardom, and helped foil plans for a British invasion of the American frontier.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Another interesting longrifle without any firm makers history.

The barrel rifle is marked "W'PJ" on the upper flat which (?) could be that of William Johnson (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1830s-1840s and/or Philadelphia, late 1840s).

The rifle was pictured in a Walpole Galleries catalog from September 1921 and appears to be in the same state as pictured suggesting any alterations are from the period of use, and it was likely relined to the current .39 caliber for target shooting in the late 19th century.

The "JOSH C RANDALL/WARRANTED" marked lock (1847-1861) has floral and bird patterns, a semi-rainproof style pan, and a roller on the frizzen spring.

As you can see the patch box has crosshatch, dash, and floral engraving. 

The Roman nose stock has been finished to resemble curly maple. 

The Civil War era Ball repeating carbine.


Patented by Albert Ball of Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1864, and manufactured by E. G. Lamson & Company, Windsor, Vermont. 
Filling a Federal Ordnance contract, approximately 1,000 were delivered in May, 1865, after the close of the Civil War.



The seven-shot .50 caliber carbine, which was chambered for the .56-50 Spencer rimfire cartridge, operated on the same principle as the later Winchester repeating rifle.

ball2.jpgTo load, cartridges are fed through an opening in the right side of the receiver frame and into a tubular magazine located under the barrel. The magazine was tensioned by a long spring, which had to be compressed and retained to allow loading. This was accomplished by pulling a long rod that resembled a cleaning rod, out from the right side of the forearm of the carbine.


When the rod was fully extended, the spring was compressed and was captured by a small catch at the end of the forend. Once the magazine was fully loaded, the catch was released and the spring tensioned the magazine to push the cartridges towards the action and into the lifter.
Closing the trigger guard lever feeds a cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. As the action could only be opened when the carbine was cocked, it was now ready to fire.
The carbine has the typical sling bar and ring on the left side of the receiver, and two leaf folding rear sight graduated to 600 yards.

The left side of the receiver is roll stamped "E.G. LAMSON & CO./WINDSOR. VT./U.S./BALLS PATENT./JUNE, 23, 1863./MARCH, 15, 1864."

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Battle of Princeton

British General William Howe, became deeply concerned by General Washington’s victory at Trenton and Assunpink Creek.

Washington at the Battle of Princeton, 1777 by Don Troiani

He dispatched General Charles Cornwallis with 8000 troops to Trenton. Cornwallis arrived with his troops on the evening of January 2 and prepared to overwhelm Washington’s 5,000 exhausted Continentals and militia the following day.

Washington knew better than to engage such a force and Cornwallis knew Washington would try to escape overnight, but he was left to guess at what course Washington would take. Cornwallis sent troops to guard the Delaware River, expecting Washington to reverse the route he took for the midnight crossing on December 25. Instead, Washington left his campfires burning, muffled the wheels of his army’s wagons and skirted the flank of the British camp. At dawn, January 3, as the Continentals were heading north they met the straggling British rear guard just outside of Princeton. A battle ensued and forty Patriots and 275 British soldiers would be killed during Battle of Princeton.

After that additional defeat, General Howe, along with brother Admiral Richard Howe, would chose to leave most of New Jersey to Washington and concentrate all of their forces between New Brunswick and the Atlantic coast.