Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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. Native Americans in the Ohio Country, Illinois Country, and Great Lakes region feared the loss of their French allies and the influx of colonistsm from east of the Appalachian Mountains, settling on their land. To prevent the incursion of colonial settlers, Ottawa war 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. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Confederate Robinson and Richmond Sharps carbines.

Samuel C. Robinson was a prominent businessman and property owner in Richmond, Virginia at the outbreak of the Civil War. He, with the technical help of and John H. Lester, founded the S.C. Robinson Arms Manufactory, Lester becoming superintendent.

Late 1862 the Confederate Government entered into contract with Robinson Arms for as many carbines, fashioned after the Robins & Lawrence, Hartford-made M-1859 Sharps carbines as the firm could produce.

Robinson Arms manufactured around 2000 carbines thru March of 1863.

The factory was taken over by the Confederate Government sometime after March of 1863.
As the war pressed on and the need for Cavalry weapons increased the fabrication of weapons was rushed and many of the later Robinson Sharps gained a bad reputation among the troops.

Collectors feel that approximately 3500 made while under Confederate Government control.
Author John Murphy, “Confederate Carbines and Musketoons” has researched the Robinson carbines and based on his research the lowest serialized S.C. Robinson carbine known to exist is “11” and the highest is “1909” whereas the lowest serialized Confederate produced carbine is “1925” and the highest is “5463”.

Robinson Carbines measure a total of 38 ½” with barrels that are 21 ½” long. They are .52 caliber and are rifled with six lands. The carbines made prior to Government takeover had lock plates marked “S.C. Robinson / Arms Manufactory / Richmond VA/ 1862” in four lines behind the hammer, the serial number was stamped on the tail of the lock plate. The Government produced carbine lock plates are unmarked except for the serial number and the barrels are marked with Richmond VA behind the rear sight.

The Robinson carbines generally resemble the Model 1859 Sharps Carbine but has some significant differences; (1) the barrel has a tapered iron front sight, (2) the rear sight is a fixed V-notch, (3) there is no provision for a pellet primer, (4) the lock plate has a low profile, (5) the sling bar is attached to an iron plate inletted into the left side of the stock and the edge of the receiver and (6) the stock does not have a patch box. The forearm has a brass barrel band.

Workmanship on Robinson and Richmond Sharps carbines typically lacked the refinements found on Hartford Sharps carbines.

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.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Manhattan Revolvers

The Manhattan Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1856. The company's goal was to take advantage of Colt’s patent for revolving firearms that was due to expire in 1857. 
While waiting for Colt’s patent to expire, Manhattan first made copies of other American firearms that no longer had patent protection. 
The initial Manhattan product line consisted of a variety of single shot percussion pistols  in .31, .34 and .36 calibers with bar hammers. They also produced a line of double action percussion pepperbox pistols. These pistols helped to establish the company and were produced from the beginning of business in 1856 through the late 1850's. 
In 1858, Manhattan introduced their first traditional single action percussion revolver, a .31 pocket model whose design closely copied the Colt M-1849 Pocket model.

Pocket Model
Shortly thereafter, they turned their attention to making Colt-style Navy revolvers in .36 caliber. Manufacturing began in Norwich, Connecticut and in 1859 moved to Newark, New Jersey. One notable feature of the Manhattan is their patented extra set of cylinder safety notches and can be easily identified by the many notches on their cylinders.
Although the .36 caliber “Navy” revolver was a late comer to the Manhattan Firearms Company’s product line, it would become the mainstay and would eventually represent more than 50% of the total output of the company during their 12 year lifespan. 
During their existence, Manhattan Firearms produced approximately 175,000 pistols. Only Colt, Remington, and Winchester produced more guns during this era in which included the Civil War. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Gwyn & Campbell Carbine

The Gwyn & Campbell carbine, also known as the 'Grapevine Carbine", was the invention of businessmen Edward Gwyn and partner Abner C. Campbell and manufactured circa 1863-1864.
There were two types of this 52 caliber carbine manufactured. Type I and Type II, for a total of 8,202 produced.
A main difference between the Model I and Model II Gwyn & Campbell carbines was cosmetic. Model I’s hammer and guard lever curved more than Model II and were considered more “serpentine.” Model II sported a flatter handle and a slightly-rounded lever. Also, the two models’ lockplate screws entered the lockplates at different sides: from the right on Model I and from the left on Model II. Pictured here is the Type II.
The U.S. Ordnance Department granted over a dozen contracts to Gwyn & Campbell.

The breech end of the barrel is octagon and is fitted with a folding leaf rear sight graduated to 600 yards. Sling bar and ring on the left side of the receiver. The rear lock plate screw enters from the left side of the stock wrist. The hammer is flat with beveled edges and the lever is the shorter Type II pattern with the vertically mounted claw-like latch.

Many Cavalry Regiments were issued the Gwyn and Campbell with a few being the 2nd and 3rd Arkansas; 5th, 6th and 16th Illinois; 3rd and 4th Indiana’s; 4th and 8th Iowa; 2nd, 6th and 14th Kansas; 10th, 12th, 14th and 40th Kentucky; 4th and 8th Missouri; 5th and 8th Ohio; 7th Tennessee; and the 3rd Wisconsin.

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.

Monday, May 28, 2018

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.