French Aid Influence, c. 1777-1783
This arm’s three American brass barrel bands with their rear-side springs copied the iron bands on the newly arriving French aid muskets. A British Long Land Brown Bess 1756 pattern, in turn, provided the lock (marked, “EDGE 1756”), trigger guard, side plate, escutcheon and barrel, which was shortened from 46” to approximate the French length of 44 3/4”. The colonists supplied a chestnut stock, a simplified butt plate resembling the English stepped design, and a hand-forged replacement cock still holding a crude locally knapped flint. As with many rebel muskets, no sling swivels were provided. Use as a hunting gun after the war is also apparent from the thinning of the bayonet stud to create a front sighting blade and a later dovetail near the breech to add a rear sight.
A Remounted Hessian Musket, c. 1776-1785
A cannibalized Germanic long arm furnished most of the parts for this example. Reused on a heavy ash stock was its flat/beveled German lock with the typical internal screw holding the frizzen spring, a faceted flash pan, and a squared frizzen top. The wide (2 1/8” across) buttplate is held by the original pair of rear projecting convex screws, plus two flush wood screws through the tang. Its pointed escutcheon with a center screwhead, the arrow-tipped trigger guard, plus the common Hessian barrel having a front blade sight and a bottom bayonet stud complete the transfer. The Americans added their own simple sheet brass sideplate and three plain rolled thimbles that supplemented a remounted, faceted Germanic bottom pipe for the iron button head ramrod. No raised carving was provided.
Complete American Manufacture, c. 1770-1800
Bulky in profile, this sturdy musket appears to be entirely constructed in the Colonies. Its heavy round barrel is marked, “new hampshire militia” (not official stamping). The flat beveled lock, in turn, resembles a popular period form in continental Europe, yet the extended tail and rounded pan with an exterior bridle suggest provincial manufacture. The locally created simple brass furniture also shows the design influence of Britain’s stepped butt tang (held here by two rear nails), France’s double-pointed trigger guard, and America’s penchant for triangular sideplates cut from sheet brass. The stock is thickened at its most vulnerable location, i.e., the adjacent lock cavity, side plate inletting, barrel breech, and side screws. An escutcheon and raised carving are omitted. Three sheet brass thimbles hold a hand-forged, iron button-headed rammer.
Mixed English Fowler Parts, c 1776-1780
The above musket is attributed to the American manufacturing town of Goshen in northwestern Connecticut near the state’s iron furnaces. That key site had numerous gunmakers and as many as 28 blacksmiths during the Revolutionary War. The sloping striped maple stock supports a minimum of abbreviated components, which suggests early wartime production. Its 44” barrel, for example, conforms to the state’s October 1776 specified length, while the lock is reused from a c. 1750 English Fowler, as are the straight-backed trigger guard and buttplate—both of which had their ends cut off to reduce inletting work. The plain sideplate was cut from sheet brass after tracing the outline of its lockplate. Three simple rolled sheet brass thimbles hold the wooden ramrod. The exposed muzzle mounts a bottom stud for a socket bayonet.
British Brown Bess Elements, c 1775-1783
Major parts from a British Long Land 1756 Pattern musket, which was still the primary arm of their infantry early in the Revolution, were remounted by the rebels on a maple stock to create this firearm. In doing so, they reused the lock, trigger guard, sideplate, and buttplate, but omitted the original escutcheon, fourth rammer pipe and raised beavertail carving surrounding the barrel tang. The lock area of the stock, in turn, was made thicker by the Colonists, probably to strengthen that most vulnerable location from fractures. The convex side plate is also inset deeper than normal. An American hand-forged iron ramrod includes a thick button head, while the original 46” Brown Bess barrel has been shortened by 5/8” reflecting the constant need to dress the muzzle walls as they became sharpened from prolonged rammer wear.
Early French Components, c. 1760-1780
A French Model 1717 musket furnished most of the elements remounted on this American cherry stock. It might have been an arm captured during the Colonial Wars with French Canada, or an early arm among the foreign aid shipments during our Revolution. Included is the distinctive M. 1717 lock with its vertical bridle, a typical French flat S-shaped sideplate, a double-pointed trigger guard, a long butt tang, and a 47” barrel. The double-strap upper barrel band from a French Model 1754 musket had a cone-shaped ramrod pipe brazed to the bottom by the Colonists who were probably influenced by similar Spanish and Dutch designs. The provincial restocker also provided a New England petal-type raised carving around the barrel tang.
A Club Butt Country Fowler, c. 1715-1750
Although technically a hunting gun with the fore-end of its maple stock reaching to the muzzle of a European barrel, this family fowler, which omits all but the basic components, is typical of many of the existing arms carried into the field by the American forces early in the Revolution and by the militia throughout the war. Its stock is the popular civilian club butt form, but the non-essential buttplate, escutcheon, sideplate, raised carving and bottom ramrod pipe are not included. The Queen Anne period, three-screw flat lock design with its reinforced cock has an unbalanced profile which suggests possible Colonist manufacture. An uneven, hand-forged iron trigger guard, however, is obviously American-made. The wooden rammer is secured in two upper, sheet-brass thimbles.
An Early Assembled Fowler/Musket, c. 1740
This American long arm, which predates the War for Independence, illustrates the Colonists’ early reliance upon reused mixed parts. Jacob Man of Wrentham, Mass., would later carry it as a Minuteman at Lexington/Concord and while a soldier in the 13th Massachusetts Continental Regiment through the New York-Trenton-Princeton campaigns (1775-1777), as well as at the Battle of Rhode Island (1778). The American stock mounts a bulbous Dutch lock, a convex French S-shaped iron sideplate, a cut-down British brass buttplate, an English trade pattern escutcheon and a crude locally cast brass trigger guard secured by four nails. A French pinned fowler barrel is stocked to the muzzle, indicating the early lack of socket bayonets. Its iron ramrod is held by three thimbles, of which the bottom one is an old Queen Anne ribbed pattern, and the others simple rolled sheet brass.