Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Confederate Tarpley carbine.

"The breech-loading carbine was invented and patented in Greensboro, N.C. by Jere H. Tarpley. He received a C.S.A. patent on February 14, 1863, and his name appears on the barrel tang. 
He joined J. &F. Garrett & Co. to make carbines for the state of North Carolina. The carbines were made for about one year with their production amounting to only a few hundred. 
The carbine had a unique design which enabled this arm to be made with a file. The frame was unfinished brass with a copper color. The barrel was blued and the hammer was case hardened. The major flaw in the carbine was that it does not have a gas seal to prevent the escape of highly erosive gases between the breech-block and the barrel when fired. With each firing, the gap between the breech-block and the barrel would be larger. The carbine used paper ammunition. 
Although the carbine was made mainly for the state, it was also sold commercially. It is the only Confederate firearm sold to the public. The Tarpley was attractive in appearance, but it was not very serviceable. Clap, Gates & Co. was ten miles from the Garrett operation in Greensboro. The hammer and other parts could have been supplied by Clapp, Gates & Co." Dates of production, 1863-1864, total production, 'few hundred'." Anthony and Hills Pictorial History Confederate Longarms and Pistols.

A restored Lower Deep River School rifle of the Guilford County, North Carolina style.

The barrel is signed "J Shinks" on the top of the barrel.
Thought to have been made around the mid-19th century it has been restored by a contemporary gunsmith.

Original builder may have been a student/apprentice of Thaddeus Gardner as it has the Guilford Style twisted star style patchbox and the Jamestown style double set triggers. Features indicative to Gardner.

Note that the patchbox release is somewhat unique as it opens via from the left side, possibly part of the restoration. (?)

Contemporary updates include being reconverted to flintlock configuration with a refaced frizzen. The hardware company style lock has an unclear maker's mark over "WARRANTED," a semi-waterproof pan, frizzen spring roller, and a gooseneck cock. The curly maple stock rifle has a partially refinished dark brown patina. The barrel has new .40 caliber sleeve. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Victory at Trenton 1776

After crossing the Delaware on Christmas day, General George Washington’s Continental Army reaches the outskirts of Trenton, New Jersey, and descends upon the unsuspecting Hessian force guarding the city.

"Victory or Death" General Washington leads his army towards Trenton on the morning of Dec. 26, 1776. Alexander Hamilton and his artillery company are directly in the front of the painting. This is the final of the painting which has been viewed in various stages on the timeline.

 Trenton’s 1,400 Hessian defenders were still groggy from the previous evening’s Christmas festivities and had underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. The troops of the Continental Army quickly overwhelmed the German defenses, and by 9:30 a.m.Trenton was completely surrounded.
Although several hundred Hessians escaped, nearly 1,000 were captured at the cost of only four American lives. 
This victory greatly bolstered the sagging morale of the Continental Army and proved to the American public that their army was indeed capable of victory and worthy of support.

The Battle of Trenton, Hessian Colonel Rall is mortally wounded, Dec. 26, 1776

The Battle of Trenton, Hessian Colonel Rall is mortally wounded, Dec. 26, 1776

Paintings by Don Troiani

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Rogers & Spencer revolver

In 1863 the U.S. Ordnance Department contracted with Rogers & Spencer of Willowdale, New York, (which is near Utica), for 5000 of these revolvers,
1,500 to be delivered by the end of April 1865 and the balance by September of 1865.
There is no record of these revolvers being issued to the military, due to the Civil War ending in May of 1865.

All 5,000 of them were kept in storage at an arsenal in New York until 1901. At that time the entire lot of them were sold at auction. The highest bidder was the company of, Francis Bannerman and Son, who purchased the entire lot for around $ .50 each. Bannerman then sold the pistols throughout the first quarter of the 20th Century.

Occasionally these revolvers show up at auctions in very good  condition. The following example recently sold at auction for over 8 grand.

Bannerman and Son, "The ultimate Army-Navy store" is a story in itself. The Roger & Spencer purchase was just a "drop in the bucket". Read more about this amazing surplus store HERE.

The Logistics of Washington’s Delaware Crossing.

We are all familiar with Emanuel Leutze's painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, what about the artillery and equipment?

General Washington gave his right hand logistics man, Colonel Henry Knox, the chore of overseeing the crossing.
Knox first had to get all available watercraft on the Delaware to the southern bank by the date of the planned crossing, this would also deny the British the use of these craft, while making them available to the Continentals.
Washington and the 2400 Continentals crossed the river in shallow draft Durham boats – strongly built cargo vessels, most between 40 and 60 feet in length, designed to move iron ore and bulk goods down the river to markets in and around Philadelphia. These stout craft with their high side walls were robust enough to survive the ice-choked Delaware.
Yet as interesting as the Durham boats might be, there were 
18 cannon (3-Pounders, 4-Pounders, some 6-Pounders), horses to pull the carriages, and enough ammunition for the coming battle to get across. There were a great many other vessels involved in the crossing, the most significant being the several ferries used to haul the artillery across the river. 

It would take three hours to complete the 300 yard crossing which started in a 30 degree drizzle that would turn into a driving rain and by 11 o’clock that evening, while the boats were crossing the river, a howling nor’easter made the miserable crossing even worse. 
One soldier recorded that “it blew a perfect hurricane” as snow and sleet lashed Washington’s army.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Battle of the Mississinewa


In retaliation of The Siege of Fort Wayne, which was led by Potawatomi chiefs Winamac and Wannangsea, the Indiana territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, ordered Lieutenant Colonel John B. Campbell to lead an expedition into Indiana.

Campbell's objective was to destroy the Miami villages along the Mississinewa River. If possible, he was to avoid harm to the peaceful Miami chiefs Pacanne, Jean Baptiste Richardville, White Loon, or Lenape Chief Silver Heel.
In early November, Campbell assembled his men in Ohio, roughly 600 mounted troops, a mix of mounted infantry, Dragoons and Kentucky volunteers, and made for Fort Greenville to prepare their next move. 

In knee-high snow and harsh winter cold, they marched out of Fort Greenville on December 14. The adverse conditions were considered excellent for crossing frozen streams and hiding their movement from the Native Americans, but neither Harrison nor Campbell gave as much consideration to the effect on the soldier cutting his way through the drifts.
Campbell's force attacked Silver Heel's village on December 17 and took 42 Lenape prisoners.

Leni Lenape encampment by Robert Griffing

The mounted force then moved down the Mississinewa River, attacking at least two Miami villages. The Indians were taken by surprise and had not evacuated. A large number of Miami were killed, and 76 were taken prisoner, including 34 women and children.
Fearing that frostbite could cripple the expedition, had Campbell reconsidering the advisability of continuing the attack and returned to Silver Heel's village. However the next morning, December 18, a greater threat than frostbite emerged.
An estimated three hundred Miami warriors unleashed a counter attack. They were outnumbered, but fought fiercely to rescue their imprisoned families being held by Campbell. A joint cavalry charge led by Major James McDowell and Captains Trotter and Johnston finally broke the attack.
Still, the battle was a harsh hour of gunfire and bloodshed. Campbell lost twelve dead and 48 wounded. Over 100 of his own horses were killed. Campbell ordered his men to return to Fort Greenville. With so many horse casualties, many made the journey on foot, including the wounded.

It was a poorly conceived campaign and a costly victory. During the return trek, the American force was plagued greatly by frostbite, and by the time they reached Fort Greenville on December 28, Campbell had lost 60% of his unit's strength as casualties to war or weather. An entire regiment, under Colonel Simrale, was disbanded due to frostbite.

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.