Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19, 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the sparks that ignited the American Revolutionary War.

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Tensions had been building for many years between residents of the 13 American colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. On the night of April 18, 1775, hundreds of British troops marched from Boston to nearby Concord in order to seize an arms cache. 
Paul Revere and other riders sounded the alarm, and colonial militiamen began mobilizing to intercept the Redcoat column. 
When the advance guard of nearly 240 British soldiers arrived in Lexington just as the sun was rising, they found about 70 minutemen formed on the Lexington Green awaiting them.

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Troiani's  "Lexington Green"
Both sides eyed each other warily, not knowing what to expect. 

Suddenly, "the shot heard round the world", was fired.

The numerically superior British killed seven Americans on Lexington Green. The militia were outnumbered and fell back. 

The British regulars proceeded on to Concord, where they broke apart into companies to search for the supplies.

"Concord Bridge". 19th of April, 1775 , Minute Companies confront British regulars at Concord Bridge.
Troiani's, "Fight at the Concord Bridge"
At the North Bridge in Concord, approximately 400 militiamen engaged 100 regulars of the King's troops at about 11:00 am, resulting in casualties on both sides. 
The outnumbered regulars fell back from the bridge and rejoined the main body of British forces in Concord. 
As the British retreated toward Boston, new waves of Colonial militia intercepted them. Shooting from behind fences and trees, the militias inflicted over 125 casualties, including several officers. The ferocity of the encounter surprised both sides.
Lord Percy, who led the British back into Boston after the defeat suffered at Concord, would later write to London, "Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob will be much mistaken." 
The bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, marked the beginning of the end of Britain's control of the colonies.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Civil War era Warner carbine.

The Warner Carbine is an example of the many styles of innovative, breechloading, metallic cartridge arms that were procured in relatively small numbers by the US Ordnance Department during the American Civil War.
The brainchild of James Warner of Springfield, Massachusetts. Warner received two patents related to his newly designed carbine and after submitting samples to the Ordnance Department he was awarded a contract of 1,501 carbines. These carbines were manufactured for him by the Springfield Arms Company and delivery was completed June 23, 1864.
Apparently the Ordnance Department was sufficiently satisfied with the initial deliveries that in in the latter part of 1864 they contracted for 2,500 more of the guns. This second contract was manufactured by the Greene Rifle Works which were delivered in February and March of 1865 near the end of the war.
All told, Warner delivered a total of 4,001 carbines to the Ordnance Department in 15 months, a feat not matched by many patent arms manufacturers that contracted with the US government during the Civil War. Most (nearly 2,500 possibly including some of the 1,501 first contract carbines) were later sold through a New York dealer to the French government for use in the Franco-Prussian War.

The Warner carbine holds the distinction of being the only brass frame single shot carbine that was purchased by the Ordnance Department during the war.
The carbines produced by Springfield were in the original .50 Warner caliber, but the guns produced by Greene were in the newly adopted .50 Government rimfire caliber (.50 Spencer or 56-50).
The majority of the Warner carbines were issued to two US volunteer cavalry regiments, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry and the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry.

 The unique action featured a hinged breechblock that is opened by depressing a latch, on the left of the hammer and swinging the block clockwise. The extractor is manual and located on the underside of the forend. It had the typical carbine 20” round iron barrel.

A simple but elegant longrifle signed 'S Miller'.

This rifle was built either by Simon Miller or Samuel Miller of Pennsylvania as it is signed, "S Miller" on the top barrel flat. Similar rifles clearly crafted by one of the two men rather than both have been incorrectly identified over the years. It seems more likely that these near matching examples were all built by Simon, including this one, given the Kentucky Rifle Foundation notes, "His rifle design with the Roman-nose stock and a distinctive patch box design rarely varied."

It has a 42 inch .42 caliber barrel and interestingly, there are no wedge shields. The lock is marked "JAS GOLCHER/WARRANTED". It carries the distinctive Miller patch box and side plate, downturned silver crescent moon with engraved facial details on the cheekpiece, brass cheekpiece edge plate and Rococo style scroll carving on the left side of the butt.

The plain stock flats and inclusion of Rococo style carving suggest this was manufactured late in the flintlock era towards the end of the "Golden Age."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Battle of Sideling Hill

Sometime in late March of 1756, a band of approximately 100 Delaware warriors left their village of Kittanning in Western Pennsylvania on the Allegheny River to raid the English frontier settlements to the east. The Delaware were allied with the French who provided them with supplies, arms, and ammunition. This band was led by their two most famous warrior chiefs, Shingas and Captain Jacob. 

At some point in their march they divided into two equal groups which proceeded separately. The plan called for the two groups to rendezvous at this same location after the completion of their bloody mischief for their return to Kittanning.

On April 1, 1756, one of the groups, believed to be led by Shingas, stormed Fort McCord in western Pennsylvania, where they captured or killed 27 settlers.

In response to the Delaware raid, a gathering of 50 militia, Commanded by Captain Alexander Culbertson, were sent in pursuit. Three days later near present day Maddensville, Pennsylvania, Culbertson's company caught up with the Delawares who were camped on Sideling Hill Creek, awaiting their rendezvous with Captain Jacob's band. 
At dawn April 4, Culbertson's group attacked. 
The timing of the rendezvous of Shingas and Captain Jacob could not have been more perfect for the Indians or any worse for Culbertson and his men. In a two-hour engagement the colonists were driven off by the arrival of Captain Jacob's reinforcements.
Twenty of the rescue party had been killed, including Culbertson, and another twelve wounded. Only five of the captives were able to escape.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Battle of Fort Bull

In early 1756 French military leaders in Canada decided to send a raiding expedition to attack Fort Bull, which was built to defend a portion of the waterway connecting Albany, New York to Lake Ontario via the Mohawk River.  
On March 12, a company of men left Fort de La Présentation and began an overland trek toward the Oneida Carry. Under the command of Lieutenant Gaspard-Joseph de Léry, a Canadian-born seigneur, the force consisted of 84 troupes de la Marine, 111 Canadian militiamen, and 110 natives, mostly Iroquois. After nearly two weeks of difficult winter travel, they arrived near the carry on March 24.

Early on March 27, Léry's men captured twelve British men near Fort Bull. Learning from the prisoners of Bull's minimal defenses, he decided to immediately attack. 
As he had no field pieces, the only possibility was to attempt storming the fort by surprise. The fort's defenders managed to get its gate closed just before the French force arrived. The attackers managed to fire through loopholes in the fort's walls to distract the garrison, which responded by throwing rocks and grenades over the walls. 
After the defenders refused several calls to surrender, the gate was taken down by the use of axes, and the attackers stormed into the fort. Nearly all of the small garrison was killed and scalped. Léry's men set fire to the fort, which included several thousand pounds of gunpowder and destroyed the wooden fort.

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French In The Forest by Randy Steele