Thursday, August 22, 2019

Notes on 18th century Rifles in North Carolina

Early references to rifles in North Carolina are somewhat rare, and completely absent from a 1755 list of arms used by the coastal Hyde County militia company of Henry Gibbs. Below are a few scattered references that I hope to add to as I find more.

Moravian Rifles

Edward Marshall’s Rifle- further discussion can be found here

Moravians arrived in North Carolina from Pennsylvania to establish a settlement and industry at their land termed "Wachovia" as early as 1753 (first establishing a village at Bethabara and subsequently Salem). The community included gunsmith Andreas Betz, his apprentice Joseph Muller, the gun-stocker Johan Valentine Beck and locksmith/gunsmith Johan Jacob Loesch (Jr.); who are discussed in Eric Kettenburg's excellent article Moravian Artisans in North Carolina. Having local gunsmiths did not end the importation of Moravian made rifles from Pennsylvania (likely due to the demands of other projects in the new settlement):

 "1757 May: Sundry Accounts...Dr ye Locksmith (at Bethlehem) Abraham Steiner for a Gun for Jacob Steiner in Wachovia. £3.10." (Moravian Gun making of the American Revolution p. 24)

Kettenburg's article notes a "1758 request to provide Betz with his own gunsmith shop (separate from the smithy) indicates an increased need for repair work, possibly amongst the arms off the Brethren themselves but also very likely amongst the increasing number of 'strangers' utilizing the services of the Moravian tradesmen."

Arthur Dobbs mentions "thirty men on horseback armed with muskets and rifled guns" in a 1762 letter from Brunswick.

War of the Regulation

The Journal of William Tryon's journey to Hillsborough

 "Deep River Camp, Fryday 16th Sept: 1768.

The Guard upon His Excellency's Quarters and camp guards to be furnished by the Mecklenburg Battalion and to mount as usual.

The Captain of each Company to inspect the Arms and Ammunition of the men and to see that the lead that was delivered to them is run into bullets of a proper size for their rifles. As this is an essential duty the Governor recommends it to them to observe it with great punctuality, and make report to-morrow morning of the condition of the Arms and Ammunition to the commanding Officers of their respective regiments who will make report of the same to His Excellency to-morrow morning before the Troops march."

An account of the battle of Alamance in 1771 (SC Gazette May 30, 1771) mentions Regulators "Sculking being Trees and Bushes with their Rifles loaded..."  Rifles were present on the side of Governor Tryon's forces as well, and compensation was requested for several rifles that were lost in the battle.
Pennsylvania sources

In an older post I discussed the flow of goods from Pennsylvania to the Southern back country via the great wagon road (vs the water route to Kentucky via Fort Pitt).  William Sample Alexander operated a wagon train between Mecklenburg County, NC and Chester County, Pa. (tip of the hat to the "Clothing the Carolinas" Blog for posting the link). Two entries from the William Sample Alexander Diary (1770-1778) provide some interesting info as to the possible source of a 1770s rifle manufactured in Pennsylvania that was purchased through Alexander and delivered to a North Carolina customer (these two may be different purchases but I suspect the pricing discrepancy is from conversions between currency in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

"For Capt Jas. Alexander1 ryfal [rifle] gun 
3 feet 7 Inches Inches long light and handy received 4 dollars-"
William Sample Alexander Diary #1504-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 "...4£ 10/ to dickert for gun..." 
William Sample Alexander Diary #1504-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Kentucky Rifle Foundation  display of Jacob Dickert rifles 2019 Eastern Pa. Longrifle show

The Pennsylvania gunsmith involved was most likely  Jacob Dickert of Lancaster, a prolific and popular gunsmith. Dickert's career (and excellent full color images of the rifle shown below) is covered in Moravian Gun making of the American Revolution p124-129.

J. Dickert Signature on a rifle barrel

Early Dickert Rifle from Rifles of Colonial America Volume 1

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Glenn F. Williams Lectures

I recently had the opportunity to hear a lecture on Dunmore's War by Glenn F. Williams, Ph.D.; author of the excellent book "Dunmore's War: The Last Conflict of America's Colonial Era", and found it highly informative and enjoyable. Williams did an admirable job explaining a murky and confusing topic. The author has a few additional speaking dates on his schedule and I highly recommend attending if you can.

-September 12  6:30 pm, 245-year Dunmore's War Commemoration Evening, John K. Hale Lecture Series, Giles County Historical Society, 208North Main Street. Pearisburg, Virginia 24134

-September 21 North HouseMuseum Lewisburg, WV

-September 22 Green Bank Observatory, Green Bank, WV (Fort Warwick) (more info TBA) 

-October 10 11:00 am, "Point Pleasant to Camp Charlotte," Dunmore's War Symposium,  Fort Pitt Museum, Point Park, Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Colonial Williamsburg Weapons Conference

Weapons of War: Military Arms in Revolutionary America

October 11-13, 2019


Rappahannock Forge Musket Colonial Williamsburg 

" In 1754, British and French soldiers arrived in America in numbers never seen before on North American soil. Thousands of European soldiers joined colonial militias and Native American allies in nine years of bloody fighting—the French and Indian War. With these soldiers came the first large-scale influx of military weaponry into the American colonies. Before then, the colonists’ arms were a mix of the obsolete, the old and the odd. Most firearms were privately owned and suited more for shooting game than combat, while others were outdated weapons captured in previous conflicts.

The social and economic repercussions of this war contributed directly to the onset of the American Revolution 12 years later, when many French and Indian War veterans would fight once again to decide the fate of the British colonies. A fresh wave of cutting-edge military weaponry arrived with the American Revolution, adding to the diverse assemblage of arms types already in existence in 18th-century North America.

Weapons of War offers students, military historians and antique collectors the chance to learn about the various types of arms and accoutrements that came to America during this formative period. From the archaeologically recovered fragments which tell us what was really used during the Revolutionary period to the conservation of surviving artifacts, we will explore a diverse array of materials and ways of appreciating them through modern eyes."

"Some presentations at the conference include (Virginia Gazette Article):

  • “Multiple Pathways and Different Lenses: Interdisciplinary Work at Knox’s 1778-1779 Winter Cantonment of the Continental Army” lecture by keynote presenter John L. Seidel, associate professor of anthropology and environmental studies and Center for Environment and Society at Washington College director.
  • “Selected Virginia Weapons of the American Revolution,” presented by Giles Cromwell.
  • A discussion about the battles of Lexington and Concord by Joel Bohy, "Antiques Roadshow" appraiser and director of historic arms and militaria with Skinner, Inc. of Marlborough, Mass. (a CWF blog post by Joel Bohy can be found here ).
  • “‘Small Arms of The Dutch Fabrick’ in 18th-century British America” by independent researcher Jim Mullins.
  • “‘For the Defense of the Colony:’ Tracking ‘New Jersey’ Wilson-contract Muskets from the Seven Years War to the Revolution,” presented by curator Mark A. Turdo of the Museum of the American Revolution."

Erik Goldstein Senior Curator of Mechanical Arts & Numismatics 
 Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Colonial Williamsburg offers a closer look at the arms of the American Revolution

"Who would you recommend this conference to?

Anyone with an interest in the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars will love this conference, as it’s got something for all areas of interest. With such a diverse group of speakers, Weapons of War will appeal to arms collectors, historians, educators, museum professionals, living historians and the generally curious."

Register By
September 20, 20195:00 PM

While there visit the new exhibit  “To Arm against an Enemy: Weapons of the Revolutionary War”

Model 1763 Infantry Musket
Maker: Royal Manufactory at Maubeuge, Origin: France, Maubeuge
OL: 61" musket; 18" bayonet, Iron, steel and walnut
Learn more here

Now Open at The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Virginia Militia clothing and equipment in Dunmore's War, 1774

An often overlooked late colonial era campaign, "Dunmore's War" culminated in the October 10th, 1774 battle of Point Pleasant between Virginia Militia and a force of largely Shawnee Indians in modern day West Virginia. Sometimes controversially referred to as the first battle of the American Revolution, the campaign led to further friction between Virginians and Royal Governor John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds - John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore - Google Art Project

An in depth discussion of the causes and politics behind the campaign are a bit involved for a blog post, but I highly recommend the recent scholarship on this campaign by Glenn F. Williams, author of Dunmore's War: The Last Conflict of America's Colonial Era. Additionally the Documentary History of Dunmore's War has a large amount of primary source information.

The Virginia militia was embodied in two wings, Andrew Lewis commanding the men who fought at Point Pleasant and Dunmore personally commanded the Northern Wing which was in the field but not present at the battle.

1774 Virginia Militia Clothing

 Gordon Riots London militia 1780
1863;0214.774  British Museum

Generally speaking, Virginia militia was not uniformed, and wore their civilian clothes for service (typically a coat, waistcoat and breeches). Hunting shirts of various colors were favored by the "Back Wood's Rifleman" as described by John Ferdinand Smyth Stuart:

"Their hunting, or rifle shirts, they have also died in a variety of colours, some yellow, others red, some brown, and many wear them quite white...Sometimes they wear leather breeches, made of Indian dressed elk, or deer skins, but more frequently thin trowsers. On their legs they have Indian boots, or leggings made of coarse woolen cloth...”

A 1777 watercolor of a Virginia rifleman attributed to Lt. Richard St. George Mansergh St. George of the British 52nd Regiment of foot.

However, some companies received issued osnabrigs (unbleached natural colored linen) hunting shirts and blue wool leggings for the expedition and would have been fairly uniform in appearance.

August 28th, 1774

"Dr. Colo. I have got as fare as Mr. Branders with a handful of Men out of my own Company.  I think our Number of private Men is thirty one....the Men I have, are fit for the business, but are badly fix'd, for want of Hunting shirts, and Blankets; but as I hear Mr. Branders Waggon,is on this side New River; I hope we shall get supply'd...I shall be glad Sir., if it can be done, to have a Gun provided against we come down, as I have a very good Hand without: when I was in the service before, there was near twenty press'd Guns: which the Country freely pay'd for, and I doubt not, but the same necessity will be allowed now..."

Both hunting and body shirts were procured at McCorkle's store in what is now Pulaski county Virginia by officers commanding companies on the expedition. Individual soldiers purchased cuttoe knives, printed hankerchiefs and wool cloth.

 [Col. William Christian to Col. William Preston. 3QQ89] Head Of Rich Creek, Septr. 3: 1774
"I am informed that Men & provisions were moving from Stanton Wednesday and thursday was a week and that several Compys were at the Warm Springs. It is also said Mathews dont propose taking out all the flour at once, but to send back the pack horses from the mouth of Elk. That LA. Dunmore wrote to Ch. Lewis that some of his men had taken some little Towns & killed three or [four] people & that his Lordship was at fort Pitt. The above news came by one of the Woods's. He says also that there is Jents plenty and all goods necessary for the men such as Shirts Blankets Leggons."

In addition, the "Northern" Wing serving directly under Dunmore may have used cockades. "My Brother Jams went with Dumore as a Lieutenant.  He raised some of his men in our county.  They had Cockades of red ribond. I admired the looks of these soldiers so much I would have been glad to have went with them if I had been old enough." (Westward Into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue p42). Immediately after the battle Dunmore was described as "dressed in a Dutch blanket" which may refer to him using a blanket as a matchcoat or perhaps as a blanket coat.

1774 Virginia Militia Arms

 Although the Militia law had expired, the general framework seems to have been followed.

That every person so as aforesaid inlisted (except free mulattoes, negroes, and Indians) shall be armed in the manner following, that is to say: Every soldier shall be furnished with a firelock well fixed, a bayonet fitted to same, a double cartouch-box and three charges of powder, and constantly appear with the same at the time and place appointed for muster and exercise, and shall also keep at his place of abode one pound of powder and four pounds of ball, and bring the same with him into the field when he shall be required.

Dutch musket sideplate from Fort Ashby, WVa. 
Dutch Musket private collection
Archeological evidence and primary source documents point to the many of the muskets in use during this period as King's Pattern Long Land "Brown Bess" style or Dutch muskets, both of which were imported in sizeable numbers during the French and Indian war. Primary document use of the generic term "gun" suggests the very common fowling piece or shotgun was in the mix, and many of the men under Lewis seem to have been armed with rifled guns.

 Va Gazette (Rind) August 4, 1774 page 3

As noted, in Glenn Williams' detailed scholarship, the Northern wing's arms were augmented by 300 muskets with bayonets and cartouche boxes from Williamsburg. Further confirmation of this comes from the Journal of the house of Burgesses v6 p223 June 13 1775:

"It appears to your Committee from the Deposition of John Frederick Miller, keeper of the Magazine, that in June last [1774] there were thirty barrels of Gun Powder, containing each about fifty weight, in indifferent order; that, by the Governor's directions, he sifted twenty seven barrels, out of which he made up twenty six Casks and better, the other three he left unsifted; That the President, soon after, sent to the Governor, then on the Frontiers, eight of those he had sifted, three hundred Muskets,
 Bayonets, Cartouch boxes and Carbines, which have never been returned; That one hundred and sixty of the said Muskets were furnished out of the Palace, and soon after replaced out of the Magazine; That the said Miller, by order of the President, also delivered out about fifty stand of Arms, to some Gentlemen of this City, which have not been returned."

1770s rifle by Adam Haymaker of Winchester Virginia.

The troops under Lewis were described by William Preston as "being mostly armed with rifle guns, and a great part of them good woodsmen, are looked upon to be at least equal to any troops for the number that have been raised in America. It is earnestly hoped that they will, in conjunction with the other party, be able to chastise the Ohio Indians for the many murders and robberies they have committed on our frontiers for many years past."

Ammunition was in short supply, and Maj. Arthur Campbell wrote to Col. William Preston that "..I make no doubt but your last supply of Ammunition will encourage the Inhabitants much, as I think every Man have 1/2 doz shoots a piece having direct[ed] the Powder to be divided by their Gun-Measures."

 1774 Virginia Militia Camp Equipment

Both linen tents and tin kettles were in use by the men of the expedition.

[Captain John Floyd to Col. William Preston. 33S42, 43.]
    Sept. 18th 1774...
    I am in hopes we shall make out pretty well about kettles we are also allowed 60 yards of tent cloth for a company...” p. 206-07.

      [Col. William Christian to Col. William Preston. 3QQ146.]
    “Camp Union Septr. 12, 1774...
    The kettles and Tents were chiefly distributed before I came  I could get but 16 or 17 battered tin kettles for all Fincastle & but few Tents  But I am told oxen brigs [unknown symbol or doodle here] enough for Tents will be brought with the Pack horses to morrow  If the major is not marched
when you get this Intelligence I really think we ough[t] to send over the whole Country and try to beg or borrow kettles for to do withougt[sic] is very hard almost [im?]possible
 It will presently make men sick to live on Roasted meat without broath.” p. 198. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Brief notes on 18th century Shawnee Material Culture

Although the transient Algonquian speaking Shawnee Indians were protagonists in the 18th century struggle for control of the Virginia back country and Ohio Country; comparatively few museum artifacts are attributed to them. The compilation of information below is far from exhaustive  and I am indebted to those who have shared and published this information before. I hope to add more sources as they come to hand. For further reading on the Shawnee, I recommend Warren's The Worlds the Shawnees made.

Primary Descriptions of the Shawnee:

Reverend David Jones 1773
"I WOULD dismiss the subject about these Indians, only it will be expected that some description of their apparel should be given* In this respect they differ nothing from most of other Indians. ...The men wear shirts, match-coats, breechclouts, leggings and mockesons, called by them mockeetha. Their ornaments are silver plates about their arms, above and below their elbows.  Nose jewels are common.
  They paint their faces, and cut the rim of their ears, so as to stretch them very large.  Their head is dressed in the best mode, with a black silk handkerchief about it; or else the head is all shaved only
the crown, which is left for the scalp.  The hair in it has a swan's plume, or some trinket of silver tied in it.  The women wear short shifts over their stroud, which serves for a petticoat.  Sometimes a calico bed-gown.
 Their hair is parted and tied behind.  They paint only in spots in common on their cheeks.  Their ears are never cut, but some have ten silver rings in them.  One squaa will wear five hundred silver broaches stuck in her shift, stroud and leggings. Men and Women are very proud, but men seem to exceed in this vice.'Tis said that they suffer no hair to grow on their body, only on their head. Some pull out their eyebrows."

Nicholas Cresswell 1774

"Wednesday, December 7th, 1774. Went to Winchester...Saw four Indian Chiefs of the Shawnee Nation, who have been at War with the Virginians this summer, but have made peace with them, and they are sending these people to Williamsburg as hostages. They are tall, manly, well-shaped men, of a Copper colour with black hair, quick piercing eyes, and good features. They have rings of silver in their nose and bobs to them which hang over their upper lip. Their ears are cut from the tips two
thirds of the way round and the piece extended with brass wire till it touches their shoulders, in this part they hang a thin silver plate, wrought in flourishes about three inches diameter, with plates of silver round their arms and in the hair, which is all cut off except a long lock on the top of the head. They are in white men's dress, except breeches which they refuse to wear, instead of which they have a girdle round them with a piece of cloth drawn through their legs and turned over the girdle, and appears like a short apron before and behind. All the hair is pulled from their eyebrows and eyelashes and their faces painted in different parts with Vermilion. They walk remarkably straight and cut a grotesque appearance in this mixed dress. "

 Trade Lists  and Clothing

When David Jones wrote that "some description of their apparel should be given* In this respect they differ nothing from most of other Indians..."  he drove home the point that speaking broadly, Indian consumers from Georgia to Maine purchased and were given many of the same types of goods, and as Edmund Atkin noted in 1755, the Shawnee were "the greatest Travellers in America".

Goods fit for a Present to the Six Nations. 1752 (Virginia House of Burgesses)

"...Goods fit for a Present for the Six United Nations together with the Shawanse, Delawares, Twigtwees, Picts and Windotts
Strouds...Duffils....Halfthicks....Garlix (to be made into plain shirts for be made into shirts for men, ruffled with Muslin...flints...Gartering and Bedlace, the gartering scarlet and Star...Ribbon, deep red, blew, and green...Striped Callimancoe lively colours, Mens's large worsted caps...cuttoe knives...100 Guns, small bored, and 25 pr pistols... 5 doz. Cutlasses...square Indian Awl Blades, Brass kettles...wire..Beads small white...50 Meddals with His Majesty's picture on one side and the British Coat of Arms on the other...with a loop to put a ribbon through..."

Fort Johnson 25 Janr?. 1757.
 The Papers of Sir William Johnson, Volume 9 p592

Another Belt to the Shawanese King returning him thanks for the early Intelligence he sent me and desiring he would constantly accquaint him of the Enemies Motions in that part of the Country, also exhorting him & his Nation to adhere firmly to the Treaties & Friendship subsisting between them & the English which they would find to be their Interest & with all giving them a hearty Invitation to come & join His Majestys Arms when called upon. Sr. Wm. gave the Messenger 10 Dollars, a fine Scarlet Blanket with several Rows of Ribband on it, a fine Ruffled Shirt a Silver Arm Band for the Kings Son — Pipes, Tobacco, Powder & Ball & a pair of Snow Shoes — so parted

1757 Janry Brought over

To an Express sent to me by the Shawanese King with News of a Body of French and Indians coming from Mississippy...4/-/-
To a Do. a Scarlet Strowd with Ribbons to it...3/-/-


Thomas Rideout An Account of my Capture by the Shawnee Indians on the River Ohio in 1788 
  "My Dress consisted of a calico shirt, made by an Indian woman without a collar, which reached below the waist; a blanket over my shoulders, tied round the waist with the bark of a tree; a pair of good buckskin leggings, which covered almost the thighs, given me by the great war chief, a pair of moccasins, in which I had pieces of blue cloth to make my step easier; a breech-cloth between my legs; a girdle round my waist; and a small round hat, in which the Indian placed a black ostrich feather by way of ornament (the smaller the hat the more fashionable)." 

The 1922 Guide to the Heye Foundation Museum of the American Indian includes a reference to a pair of "Shawnee Deerskin Leggings" but I have not been able to find images or a contemporary location for this item.

Tecumseh's Headdress ( no later than 1813)


In addition to trade lists with French and English "trade" guns, a few indications of the types of weapons used by 18th century Shawnee warriors can be found in primary sources and through archaeology. 

Edward Marshall’s Rifle further discussion here

1752 at Bethlehem PA- "...Daniel Kliest repaired a rifle for a Shawanoe/Shawnee chief who visited Bethlehem that summer, and Albrecht "stocked a rifle to his complete satisfaction..." p21 Moravian Gunmaking 2 Bethlehem to Christian's Spring by Robert Paul Lienemann Kentucky Rifle Foundation

Artifacts from the Bentley site in Kentucky, also known as Lower Shawnee town (abandoned in 1758 due to flooding) included a French fusil fin sideplate, an English cuttoe knife fragment and a kettle fragment with a sheet brass ear/bail lug. The fusil sideplate is very similar to the mounts on an intact Thollier fusil with a long gilt decorated barrel that is in a private New England collection.

Shawnee town of Wakatomika (1st village of that name which was destroyed in August of 1774) goods including a possible limestone "Micmac" pipe bowl and what is likely a French trade fusil lock and rammer pipe from Dresden Ohio.

War Party Plunder from the Battle of Point Pleasant 1774

"* * * told that of 430 Shawnese Warriors or upwards that came out, only 200 had returned, as they were Assisted by the Mingoes, Tawas & Wiandots. and perhaps had several Delawares with them, it confirmed the Judgement we formd £ found to be 23 Guns 80 Blankets 27 Tomahawks with Match coats Skins Shout [shot] pouches pow[d]erhorns Warclubs &c. The Tomhawks Guns & Shout pouches were sold & amounted to near 100 1..."
"Our men got upwards of 20 scalps, 80 blankets, about 40 guns, and a great many tomahawks; and intended in a few days to go over the river, to meet the Governor, 20 or 25 miles from their towns. The Indians the Governor lately concluded a peace with, it is assured, were in this battle. We suppose they have had the other struggle before this time, and are very impatient to know the issue. "

Amateur Archeologist Greg Shipley's Shawnee artifacts portions are from pre-1787 contexts at McKee's Town, Wapatomica [2nd] and Moluntha's Town.

Techumseh's Galloway pipe Tomahawk ca. 1795

Tecumseh's Adena pipe tomahawk ca 1807 

Techumseh's Bow ca. 1812

Proctor Techumseh pipe tomahawk ca 1812 

Russell Techumseh pipe tomahawk ca 1812

Techumseh's Powder horn ca. 1813

Pipe Tomahawk with Shawnee attribution (acquired in 1882 via Kansas) from the British Museum

Ethnographic Objects

Shawnee town of Wakatomika (destroyed in August of 1774) goods including a possible limestone "Micmac" pipe bowl and what is likely a French trade fusil lock and rammer pipe from Dresden Ohio.

A possible 1790 reference to a Shawnee quilled tumpline or hoppis from "Incidents attending the capture, detention, and ransom of Charles Johnston of Virginia"  (the war party in question was "fifty-four Indians, consisting chiefly of Shawanese and Cherokees") is discussed in RS Stephenson's excellent article The Decorative Art of Securing Captives in the Eastern Woodlands.

Possible Shawnee Figural Pipe

Tecumseh's Headdress (no later than 1813)