Sunday, December 17, 2017

A well traveled colonial longrifle, possibly of the Emrich (PA) school.

The rifle exhibits many of the early features that identify it as being pre-Revolutionary War, the most apparent being the wide buttstock, typical of the German rifles that preceded this era.  The 43 inch .58 caliber heavy octagonal barrel indicates that the original owner intended for it to be used for large game (or more than likely British soldiers!).
There are no visible makers marks overall.

The Palmer Carbine was the first metallic cartridge bolt-action weapon accepted by the Ordnance Department for issue to the U.S. Army.

Manufactured circa 1865, the Palmer carbine was manufactured by E.G. Lamson & Co., of Windsor, Vermont, under the W. Palmer patent secured December 22nd, 1863. 

The Ordnance Department contracted for 1001 Palmer carbines late in the Civil War. The carbines were delivered in June 1865, after the fighting ceased, thus were un-issued. 

The carcines ended up being sold to Bannerman's for cents on the dollar, sometime around 1870-75. 

The carbine was chambered in .50 rimfire. It featured a short handle at the rear of the receiver; a quarter turn of the bolt handle counter-clockwise unlocks the bolt and pulling it to the rear extracts the fired case and opens the chamber. The hammer is cocked manually before opening.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Battle of Lake Borgne

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.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Southern style (?) longrifle of an unknown maker.

I'm calling this rifle a Southern style for fact that I have no idea where it was made or who made it. Just another one of those longrifles that stirs the imagination.

 The lack of a butt plate, the iron forged trigger guard, the faux patchbox and the large amount of  simple carving on the stock speaks Southern to me. 

I see no clear engraving on the lock but appearance indicates it is a market item. Barrel is .36 caliber and 38 inches long with no markings of any kind.

We can be sure it was someones pride and joy so if anyone can shed some light on this one please do.

The First Sharps, the Model 1849

Christian Sharps was issued a patent for his design of a breech-loading rifle on September 12, 1848. 
It would become known as the Model 1849 Rifle and/or the 1st Model Sharps.

Sharps did not have the manufacturing facilities to produce his new rifle so in 1849 he contracted with Albert S. Nippes of Mill Creek, Pennsylvania, for the production.

It was a breech loader that used paper cartridges. The rifle features the distinctive brass circular disk automatic capping device on the right side of the breech. To operate, the hammer was set at half cock and the lever lowered which dropped the breech block. When the breech block, which also contained the nipple, was dropped the capping device would automatically cap the nipple, cartridge would be inserted, breech closed and you were ready to full cock and fire.

Very few Sharps Model 1849 Rifles were manufactured; estimates of total production range from 50-150 rifles.

The top of the barrel is roll-stamped: "MANUFACTURED/BY/A.S. NIPPES/ PHILADA PA" in four lines behind the rear sight. "C.SHARPS/PATENT/1848" is stamped in three lines on the top of the breech.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lewis and Clark began construction of Fort Clatsop on this day in 1805.

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) and begin 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.

During the three months they spent at Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark reworked their journals and began preparing the scientific information they had gathered. Clark labored long hours drawing meticulous maps that proved to be among the most valuable fruits of the expedition.
Meanwhile, the enlisted men and fellow travelers hunted and trapped-they killed and ate more than 100 elk and 20 deer during their stay.

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.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Model 1859 Berdan Sharpshooters Sharps

The pictured Sharps New Model 1859 Rifle were manufactured as part of a 2000 rifle contract executed by the Ordnance Department on January 27 and February 6, 1862 to arm Colonel Hiram S. Berdan’s  1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooter Infantry Regiments. 

The Berdan Sharpshooter's M1859 Sharps Rifles were specially fitted with double set-triggers and had angular socket bayonets. 

Berdan, of New York state, began recruiting men for the first Sharpshooter regiment in 1861. He recruited men from New York City and Albany and from the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan and Wisconsin. The volunteer recruits had to pass a rifle test in order to qualify to be a member of the Sharpshooters; each man had to be able to place ten shots in a circle of 10 inches (250 mm) in diameter from 200 yards (180 m) away. They were able to choose a rifle and position of their preference for the test.  For a man to become a Sharpshooter, it took cool nerves in order to be able to estimate their target carefully, determine the high trajectory needed and to take in consideration the effect that any current wind may have. 
In the beginning, the men of the Sharpshooters regiment were armed with various types of rifles, including the Sharps rifle, the Whitworth rifle, sporting arms, and various other custom-made privately owned target weapons. 
Some of these rifles weighed up to 30 pounds. Some were fitted with the first breed of telescope sights. At first, many of the Sharpshooter riflemen used their own weapons, but this began leading to problems when it came to ammunition supply. 
As a result, Berdan made a request to receive issuance of Sharps rifles to his men. 

On May 8, 1862 the sharpshooters were finally issued their Sharps rifles on May 8, 1862. Nevertheless, many of the men still continued to use their own rifles.  
In mid-1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton came to believe that regiments made up exclusively of sharpshooters were too unwieldy for tactical use, and the riflemen would best be organized as companies or squads, or even just as individuals, in regular regiments, to be deployed as the field commander chose. This became the practice for both Union and Confederate armies for the remainder of the war.



A Jacob Kuntz Longrifle

The rifle is inscribed “JK” on the silver thumb plate. Although not documented it most likely represents Jacob Kuntz (1780-1876) of the Philadelphia School. A similar lock and side plate are found on a Kuntz rifle on page 105 of "Kentucky Rifles & Pistols, 1750-1850". The basket weave checkering on the wrist is also similar to some identified Kuntz rifles. The elaborate carving on the right side of the butt is similar to the Jacob Kuntz rifle in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection but also has additional desirable details including a patriotic bald eagle and shield motif. As you can see the full length stock has a "Roman nose" profile and slender wrist.
The engraved C. Bird & Co. lock rifle dates to 1812-1820.

Kuntz came from a family line of gunmakers and many of in his extended family were manufacturing rifles and other firearms throughout his lifetime and influenced one another's work. Some of his family members were also politically connected or held fairly high offices which no doubt helped him find clientele that could afford his highest grade work.

The Kentucky Rifle Association notes that: "Kuntz’s better rifles are viewed today as some of the finest representations of regional utilitarian art." Many such as this example have beautiful engraving and carving.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Gibbs Carbine

Lucius H. Gibbs, an inventor and gunsmith from Ohio, applied for and received a patent for his “single shot, percussion breech loading arm”, on January 8, 1856.

Gibbs’ design was not particularly revolutionary, in the greater sense of “invention”, but was more of an “improvement” upon existing designs and was patented as such. The Gibbs system used a lever under the breech to push the barrel away from the breech face of the carbine and tilt it down for loading.

The Gibbs patent, was probably influenced by the patent for the Maynard Carbine (May 1851), where an under lever design unlatched the barrel from the breech face and tilted down for loading and unloading.

Gibbs received a government contract for 10,000 carbines but had no large scale manufacturing capabilities so was forced to outsource the carbines. He contracted no fewer than four times before it went into production, and experienced major delays in manufacturing. Finally in 1863 the Gibbs Carbine went into production by Marston’s Phoenix Armory of New York City.

Only 1,052 Gibbs carbines were ever produced. Manufacturing ended when the Phoenix Armory was destroyed by fire during the New York draft riots of 1863.

These events combined to make the Gibbs one of the scarcest of the US contract Civil War carbines to see issue.

Gibbs carbines have been documented as being issued to the 13th and 16th New York Cavalry (who were issued 95 and 111 carbines respectively) and the 10th Missouri Cavalry (426), for a total confirmed issuance of 632. Others were likely issued as well, although the carbine was ill thought off in service, especially when compared to the Sharps and Spencer.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

On this day in 1783 the last British soldiers depart the United States from New York.

Nearly three months after the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City, the last British military position in the United States. After the last Redcoat departed New York, U.S. General George Washington entered the city in triumph to the cheers of New Yorkers. 

The city had remained in British hands since its capture in September 1776.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Confederate Crocheron Light Dragoons

Some of the only Colts that were actually issued to a Confederate unit were a group of 3rd model Dragoons which were sold to John J. Crocheron a wealthy planter from Elm Bluff, Alabama in early 1861. Crocheron, volunteered to purchase arms and equipment to outfit a newly organized cavalry company commanded by Robert W. Smith in Dallas County, Alabama. Therefore the name "Crocheron Light Dragoons". 

This company would later become part of the 3rd Alabama Cavalry which most of its command was utilized to protect commanding generals as escorts. The C L Dragoons were the personal escorts of Gen. Braxton Bragg early in 1862 en route to his command in Corinth, Mississippi just prior to the Battle of Shiloh; where this unit saw action and Capt. Robert W. Smith as commander was cited for "personal gallantry and intelligent execution of orders, frequently under the heaviest fire". This unit continued as escorts and couriers for Bragg in the battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. When Gen. Joseph Johnston replaced Bragg as Commander of the Army of Tennessee, this unit continued as his personal escort. Late in 1864 when Confederate President Jefferson Davis impatient with Johnston's actions he placed Gen. John Bell Hood in charge of the Army, again the "C. L. Dragoons" remained as Hood's personal escort.

It seems that while the enlisted men of the CLD's were armed with .44 caliber Colt 3rd Model Dragoons, the officers of the company each received a Colt Navy from the Governor of Alabama.
All these guns are engraved "C.L.DRAGOONS" on the barrels.
The following is a Model 1851 Navy  marked C. L. Dragoons.