1792 Contract Rifle in Original Flintlock

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I have an idea the US contract was a pretty important one. I am pretty sure Ketland would have provided a good value for the money in the interest of gaining more business.
Don't disagree, but they would have provided only as high a quality of lock that the government would have paid for. Again, even a plain lock does not mean it was not a good and serviceable lock.

Gus
 

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More on the Ketland locks that the US government purchased for Contract Rifles and Muskets

As mentioned before Tench Francis ordered 3,000 musket locks and 3,000 rifle locks from Ketland in a letter dated September 18, 1795. Given the time it took for communication to make it across the Atlantic and manufacturing of the locks and other likely bureaucratic delays, the delivery of the locks didn't start until 1797 and continued into 1800. Here is a table from Moller Vol 2 showing the dates and quantities delivered.

Ketland Contract Lock011.jpg


Moller writes:
Two slightly different rifle locks were furnished under this contract. One had a 6-1/16" by 1" lock plate with "KETLAND & CO" stamped in block letters. The other had a 6-1/4" by 15/16" plate with "KETLAND" over "& Co." engraved in script. It is speculated that these differences were caused by Ketland subcontracting the manufacture of these locks to more than one English lockmaker.
Understanding a little bit about the cottage industry of lock making in England at the time and the batch delivery over more than three years, I would expect many lockmakers were involved in filling the order. The fact that Moller was able to identify only two variants of the rifle locks might reflect the scarcity of surviving rifles and locks.

I tried to find as many pictures of guns with the Ketland Contract lock as I could to get a feel for what they looked like. Seems there are so few of the Ketland locks with the "UNITED STATES" stamped on the tail that have survived that I had trouble finding pictures of them.

Moller shows pictures of each of the two variants he described.

This is the one with stamped block letters.
Ketland Contract Lock008.jpg


This is the one with the name engraved in script.
Ketland Contract Lock007.jpg


This is a picture of one I found in James Hanson's Firearms of the Fur Trade.
Ketland Contract Lock009.jpg


This is another one from Firearms of the Fur Trade.
Ketland Contract Lock010.jpg

Note the lock above does not have any visible Ketland marks and may not be part of the Ketland contract. I would be curious if there are any marks on the inside of the lock plate. A picture of a musket lock that Moller showed had "UNITED STATES" stamped on the tail and "KETLAND" stamped on the inside of the plate.

Looking at Moller's dimensions of the lock plates for the Ketland contract locks, a lock that is over six inches long is a big lock. Few contemporary locks are that long. Chamber's Early Ketland lock is only 5.90" long according to TOTW catalog dimensions. Chamber's round face English Fowler locks are just a tad over six inches at 6.07" long.

Just for grins, I took the picture of Ed Flanagan's possible 1797 Contract Rifle he wrote about and illustrated in an ASAC article titled "1792 and 1807 Contract Rifles" and superimposed a picture of Chambers Early Ketland lock, trying to keep the images of both locks proportional to each other. Flanagan gave the present lock length as 5-1/8" and was possibly 5-3/8 or 5-1/2 inches originally (before the tail was squared off).

Here is what I came up with.
1792 Contract Rifle with Ketland lock overlay.jpg


Flanagan's rifle had been restocked and may have had different lock panels than what we see today, but the image above shows that fitting the larger Ketland lock within the existing lock panels would have been problematic and certainly not looked "right."

I don't think it would've been a simple matter of fitting a Ketland contract lock to the 1792 Contract Rifle.

One other thing that came to mind while working on this. If Ketland locks were sent to Harper's Ferry, why wouldn't musket locks been sent rather than the rifle locks? After all, the federal arsenals made a lot more muskets than rifles. At the end of 1802 and before Lewis arrived at Harper's Ferry, the arsenal had made 1,759 muskets and zero rifles. From 1801 to 1818, Harper's Ferry had made 92,407 muskets compared to 19,720 rifles.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Moller documents that Harper's Ferry began making musket locks for the Model 1795 Musket early, having made 2,746 musket locks between December 1, 1798 and December 31, 1800. The first production 1795 Muskets weren't made until the third quarter of 1801. By that time, they had made an additional 1,441 musket locks.

Obviously, they didn't need the Ketland contract musket locks for the muskets they were building, but then again, they didn't need the rifle locks either because Harper's Ferry made their own locks for the Model 1803 Rifle like they did for the muskets.
 

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Excellent research! I agree. The lock mortise would have cleaned up all around, but it would not look right. BTW is this the same size Ketland lock that would have been on the McCormick contract pistol?
 

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This must be the same Tench Francis we find on Wiki who was the purveyor of purchases as of 1795. Where was he based out of, does anybody know.
 

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More on the Ketland locks that the US government purchased for Contract Rifles and Muskets

Moller writes:
Two slightly different rifle locks were furnished under this contract. One had a 6-1/16" by 1" lock plate with "KETLAND & CO" stamped in block letters. The other had a 6-1/4" by 15/16" plate with "KETLAND" over "& Co." engraved in script. It is speculated that these differences were caused by Ketland subcontracting the manufacture of these locks to more than one English lockmaker.

Understanding a little bit about the cottage industry of lock making in England at the time and the batch delivery over more than three years, I would expect many lockmakers were involved in filling the order. The fact that Moller was able to identify only two variants of the rifle locks might reflect the scarcity of surviving rifles and locks.

Looking at Moller's dimensions of the lock plates for the Ketland contract locks, a lock that is over six inches long is a big lock. Few contemporary locks are that long. Chamber's Early Ketland lock is only 5.90" long according to TOTW catalog dimensions. Chamber's round face English Fowler locks are just a tad over six inches at 6.07" long.
Hi Phil,

Ketland Lock Plate Dimensions from text above:
6-1/16" by 1" lock plate
6-1/4" by 15/16" plate

Thought you might like to see a comparison of original 18th Century British Military Lock dimensions.

British Military Lock Dimensions from De Witt Bailey texts
Musket, 6 7/8 inch long by 1 ¼ inch wide
Carbine, Round Locks, 6 3/8 inch long by 1 3/16 inch wide
Carbine, "Extra" Flat locks, 6 1/4 inch to 6 3/16 inch long by 1 3/32 inch wide
Rifle, 6 inch long by 1 inch wide
Pistol, 5 3/8 inch to 5 ½ inch long by 15/16 inch to 1 inch wide

So it seems the Ketland Locks were pretty well in agreement with what the British Used on their AWI period rifle locks, considering the handmade nature of locks in the period and some expected variations from the norms.

Gus
 

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According to Moller's tables, of the 1,476 Contract Rifles delivered in 1792, only 121 came from Philadelphia gunmakers. Lancaster gunmakers delivered 825 rilfes, York gunmakers delivered 404 rifles, and Berks county gunmakers delivered 126 rifles. Of the 2,000 Second Issue rifles delivered in 1794, the lion's share, 1,493 came from Lancaster while 507 came from York county.

Of the Second Issue delivered in 1794, he has 292 rifles going to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 100 going to the Chickasaw Indians via Richmond, Virginia, and 541 going to Fort Cumberland, MD. The remaining 1,067 were sent to the Schuylkill Arsenal in 1795. An inventory conducted in January 1797 showed 1,060 rifles at Schuylkill. Small quantities were issued after that date and an inventory April 1801 show 923 rifles remained. Again, small amounts were issued over the next year and an inventory in March 1802 showed 911 rifles at the arsenal. Later that month, 500 rifles were sent to Mississippi Territory via New Orleans "to be sold to the Militia of said Territory." Some of these rifles were likely still in New Orleans and issued to Andrew Jackson's Kentuckians for the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
So as of the end of April 1802 (Only a year before Lewis visited Schuylkill) they had roughly 411 NEW or NEW OLD STOCK 1794 Rifles in inventory minus the few they issued in the following year before Lewis came, unless my math is bad. Of course even in that day, everyone from the Secretary of War on down would have KNOWN how many NEW rifles were in stock, plus or minus a small number.

Surely in the 300 to 400 NEW rifles they had in stock, there would have been 15 rifles made by the same maker WITH the exact same locks in them (even though there would have been some natural variation in the hand made locks). The importance of that is locks and spare parts made by Harpers Ferry could much more easily have been made to fit into the rifle stocks with almost a "drop in" fit, though not really totally interchangeable.

Even IF Lewis was going to have them modified, THESE rifles would have been the perfect ones to take to Harpers Ferry to be modified.

Yet unless I misunderstand, there is no record that Lewis was given these NEW rifles, all in the very best possible order and all as close to interchangeable as possible, to be further modified?

To me and unless such records have been lost that show he was issued them, that means Lewis would not have used Contract Rifles.


Moller doesn't list any 1792 Contract rifles going to Harper's Ferry after it became fully operational in 1801.

Not having access to Frank Tait's article, I don't know what his source is for 382 rifles being in Harper's Ferry when Lewis visited and how they are identified as some of the 1792 Contract Rifles. Moller was obviously aware of Tait's claim that Lewis & Clark had 1792 Contract Rifles with them as he included a paragraph touching of the subject, but opens the possibility that Lewis may have acquired them when he visited Schuylkill while he was in Philadelphia in May of 1803.

By omission, Moller seems to share you skepticism about the wisdom and practicality of 1792 Contract Rifles being shipped from Schuylkill to Harper's Ferry.

If some one has a digital copy of Tait's article, I would be interested in receiving a copy.
Well, even if 1792 rifles were at Harpers Ferry, they certainly weren't in NEW condition. The only explanation for them being there was because they were so severely damaged, it wasn't economical to have had them fixed at or near Schuylkill Arsenal. Harpers Ferry did not have the room, nor the mission, to store arms in serviceable condition. That was the mission of Schuylkill Arsenal to store and issue serviceable rifles and other equipment.

Further, unless a good sized portion of the 1792's (supposedly at Harpers Ferry) were all turned in from one place where they had been issued and later recovered; there would have been a mish mash of rifles made in different periods, by different makers and with different locks. That would have made making new locks and parts extremely difficult at best to darn near impossible to fit to the rifles and certainly not so they were close to a drop in fit.

More and more, it seems some kind of new M1803 type rifles were what was made at Harpers Ferry for Lewis.

Gus
 
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I have trouble with the 1803 L & C rifle. In the late '70's when I was finishing up high school, it was an accepted fact that the 1803 was THE weapon of the expedition. Now that new information has surfaced that the 1803 production was started too late, we have to rethink the subject. My trouble with the M1803 is that it was so different from any US rifles made before or after it. Lewis was a bug for anything new and improved it seems, and he never mentioned a thing about the M1803. A man like Kindig, Norm Flayderman or others would have spotted a contract rifle wearing an early M1803 lock at a gun show six tables away. I attribute the scarcity--read that as non existence--of any good L & C example to the idea that they looked enough like other working guns they got absorbed and used up. The M1803 sticks out as a very unique piece, even somebody who doesn't know that much about muzzleloaders will spot it. That is where I personally get stuck. Over and over I read that some of the contract rifles were supplied without locks. We have Ketland 3/4 scale contract locks in bins in the National Armories according to some light research on the McCormick pistols. I formed an idea, and have been pursuing it since.
 
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British Military Lock Dimensions from De Witt Bailey texts
Musket, 6 7/8 inch long by 1 ¼ inch wide
Carbine, Round Locks, 6 3/8 inch long by 1 3/16 inch wide
Carbine, "Extra" Flat locks, 6 1/4 inch to 6 3/16 inch long by 1 3/32 inch wide
Rifle, 6 inch long by 1 inch wide
Pistol, 5 3/8 inch to 5 ½ inch long by 15/16 inch to 1 inch wide

So it seems the Ketland Locks were pretty well in agreement with what the British Used on their AWI period rifle locks, considering the handmade nature of locks in the period and some expected variations from the norms.

Gus
Gus,

Thanks for the info on the military lock sizes. It helps to drive the point home I was trying to make. That is: the conventional wisdom is that the 1792 Contract Rifles were likely made with non-military locks just like the same builders were putting on their civilian arms. These are often in the range of 5 inches long. One of the "UNITED STATES" marked contract locks from Ketland would have been an awkward fit on one of these 1792 Contract Rifles that had been originally made with a non-military lock.
 

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Voucher No, 149, dated (6/ 14/1978 [1798], and signed John Harris,
storekeeper at Skuylkill Arsenal on one side and Robert McCormick,
pistol assember or artificer, on the other, shows that MrCormick
was issued:
40 Pistol Barrels
40 Pistol Stocks
40 Pistol Guards - Brass
40 Pistol Caps - Brass
40 Rifle Locks (for Pistols)


Another voucher, no. 83, dated 4/15/ 1799, signed Tench
Francis, Arsenal Storekeeper, shows the following individual
component parts issued to Robert McCormick:
100 Rifle Locks (Pistols)
100 Pistol Barrels
100 Pistol Stocks

From "The McCormick Pistol Mystery--An Update by Ed Bitter."

This led me to believe these locks went both ways. They are on the US Indian Musket, and they are of the 5 1/2 inch variety. I assumed they might fit pretty closely to an original contract rifle mortise.
 

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Oops make that contract rifles, pistols and Indian Treaty rifles per the Rifle Shoppe. The muskets used the larger lock I believe.
 

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Gus,

Thanks for the info on the military lock sizes. It helps to drive the point home I was trying to make. That is: the conventional wisdom is that the 1792 Contract Rifles were likely made with non-military locks just like the same builders were putting on their civilian arms. These are often in the range of 5 inches long. One of the "UNITED STATES" marked contract locks from Ketland would have been an awkward fit on one of these 1792 Contract Rifles that had been originally made with a non-military lock.
Phil,

Thank you for making the point originally and I was happy to add a little more info to support it.

To me, this is part of the huge "bugaboo" that many, if not most historians gloss right over. Most of them probably have no idea the difficulties of switching period locks, because they don't consider the differences in locks and don't know what is involved.

Gus
 

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Well let's see. If the new lock was pretty close to the size of the original inlet, the work would involve either deepening the mortise a bit or grinding off a bit of the inside of the pan and frizzen to get proper contact between the lock and the barrel. Of course enlarging the mortise as necessary. Filling and moving the sideplate bolt holes a bit maybe one, maybe two, maybe not. Fitting a new side plate if moved a lot. Either shortening the trigger blade to get proper sear engagement, or fitting a new trigger if it was already too short. That about does it. A day and a half labor without too many unforseen problems.
 

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The nice lady, Ruth, who is the correspondence person for the Air Force Academy collection has gotten back to me. I am sure she is busy, so I simply requested one of the color brochures for now, trying not to be annoying. Perhaps the gun is taken down periodically for a dusting or rust inspection, I will try to coincide with that time and perhaps get a simple answer, such as if the side plate is flush or not, a US stamp is on the breech, or if the push button patch box release is present. I will try to save time and energy to eliminate it early with what we can safely assume should be there. Of much interest to me is the 100 short rifle contract that was awarded to Martin Fry and others mentioned on this post. The guy is VERY elusive, I am finding information that he bought the third interest in the boring mill both before and after said mill burned down. He seems to be the barrel maker for the known 1792 contract rifle.
 
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Well let's see. If the new lock was pretty close to the size of the original inlet, the work would involve either deepening the mortise a bit or grinding off a bit of the inside of the pan and frizzen to get proper contact between the lock and the barrel. Of course enlarging the mortise as necessary. Filling and moving the sideplate bolt holes a bit maybe one, maybe two, maybe not. Fitting a new side plate if moved a lot. Either shortening the trigger blade to get proper sear engagement, or fitting a new trigger if it was already too short. That about does it. A day and a half labor without too many unforseen problems.
I don't think you realize what your suggested work schedule assumes is a number of things not shown to have been extant; I.E., locks and parts made on the interchangeable parts manufacturing system and readily available that we already agreed were not done, interchangeable side plates and of course the original rifles to be modified all made by the same maker with the same locks during the same time period.

If anything, the things you suggest would pretty much preclude the old and so damaged M 1792 rifles that could not easily be fixed, and that were stored at Harpers Ferry.

Now, if you mean the base line rifles used by Harpers Ferry were the NEW or NEW OLD STOCK M1794 rifles in storage at Schuylkill Arsenal and all picked to have come from the same maker with the same locks from the same lot of rifles delivered to that Arsenal, then your scenario is closer to what would have been necessary. The problem with that, though, is there has not yet been any paper trail reported to have been discovered to show that's where the rifles came from. There may be some period evidence that comes to light someday on that, though.

Having said that, I personally believe that IF any Contract Rifles were the ones that HF modified for Lewis, they would have to have come from the stocks of M 1794 rifles in inventory at Schuylkill Arsenal and carefully hand selected there.

Before I get into this, I wish to state that even though HF personnel had NO experience with doing such things from working at HF, I believe they were perfectly capable of doing them.

First of all, someone would have to have done a bunch of measuring with dividers and a basic drawing made up to ensure the lock plates were large enough to cover all the existing lock plate mortise holes, ensure the pan was in a place and designed so they could be used or modified for the vent hole in any and every rifle, figuring out where the plates could be drilled for side lock screws so they would work on any and all of the rifles, design the shoulder so it could hand filed to match any barrel (similar to what you mentioned), ensure the lock parts would not interfere with the barrels of all rifles and the sears designed and in position that they or the triggers could be modified to work in any and every rifle. (I'm probably leaving something out, but that gives folks an idea.) Now since the HF Master Armorer Perkins had been a lock maker before coming to HF and because of the high priority of the task, I'm pretty sure he would have been "the guy" to do these things.

After the design was worked out, then a lock plate die and dies for all the other parts had to be made in agreement with the newly designed lock.

I'm not sure if the existing side plates on the rifles would have worked for the side lock screw holes in such a newly designed, "somewhat close to being interchangeable" lock. If not, then a new and probably oversize side plate would have been designed and made to cover the existing side plate mortise holes. That meant making a template for and making at least the number of plates that needed replacing, if not all of them and of course installation and drilling them for the side plate holes.

Other work on the rifle stocks would have included the things you mentioned and most likely some additional inside work to ensure the lock mortises on the existing rifles did not allow the parts of the newly designed lock to bind up on the wood inside the lock mortises.


Gus
 

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Well Gus this is why I am so anxious to get a look at the Academy rifle. I would only add that here we are in 1795 or so, in the middle of an unprecedented government rifle order. Indian trouble is brewing so the government is needing them yesterday. As usual the lock suppliers are behind, so much so rhat the government is accepting rifles sans locks. A large lock order has been placed with Ketland for musket, rifle, and pistol locks apparently. What do you make from all of that? Could it be there were 1782"s in inventory that were wearing the Ketland lock already? We put in 15 new pistol/rifle size locks, we part out the old ones. Just a scenario.
 

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Well Gus this is why I am so anxious to get a look at the Academy rifle. I would only add that here we are in 1795 or so, in the middle of an unprecedented government rifle order. Indian trouble is brewing so the government is needing them yesterday. As usual the lock suppliers are behind, so much so rhat the government is accepting rifles sans locks. A large lock order has been placed with Ketland for musket, rifle, and pistol locks apparently. What do you make from all of that? Could it be there were 1782"s in inventory that were wearing the Ketland lock already? We put in 15 new pistol/rifle size locks, we part out the old ones. Just a scenario.
I'm sure you are anxious to look at the rifle in the Academy Museum. I would very much like to do it myself and even more so take the lock off to see if it is the original lock. Of course I doubt they would allow me to do that. :D

I really can't speak to the rifles being purchased sans locks and what they did with them. That's outside anything I've ever investigated and know next to nothing about them.

However, as far as needing rifles to combat NA's, I offer the following:

General "Mad Anthony" Wayne proved they didn't need rifles to combat Indians during this time period. He proved soldiers needed good basic training and they fought extremely well with muskets and bayonets.

"Under the direction of Washington's policies, Wayne battled American Indians he encountered, destroying their villages and food stocks before the winter in order to make them more vulnerable to the elements.[9] Washington placed Wayne in command of a newly formed military force called the "Legion of the United States", and Wayne established a basic training facility at Legionville to prepare professional soldiers for his force. This was the first attempt to provide basic training for regular Army recruits, and Legionville was the first facility established expressly for this purpose. Wayne then dispatched a force to Ohio to establish Fort Recovery as a base of operations at the location of St. Clair's Defeat, and the fort became a magnet for military skirmishes in the summer of 1794. Wayne's army continued north, building strategically defensive forts ahead of the main force.

A tree fell on Wayne's tent on August 3, 1794, at Fort Adams in northern Mercer County. He was knocked unconscious, but he recovered sufficiently to resume the march the next day to the newly built Fort Defiance.[25] On August 20, 1794, he mounted an assault on the Indian confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Maumee, Ohio, which was a decisive victory for the U.S. forces, effectively ending the war. Following the battle, Wayne used Fort Defiance as a base of operations, ordering his troops to destroy Native American crops and villages within a radius of 50 miles (80 km) around the fort.[26] Wayne then continued to Kekionga marching down the Maumee River, writing to Henry Knox that his troops were "laying waste [to] the villages and corn-fields" of evacuating natives.[9] After arriving at Kekionga, Wayne oversaw the construction of Fort Wayne.

Wayne then negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy — which had experienced a difficult winter – and the United States, which was signed on August 3, 1795. The treaty gave most of Ohio to the United States and cleared the way for the state to enter the Union in 1803. At the meetings, Wayne promised the land of "Indiana", the remaining land to the west, to remain Indian forever.[9] In the subsequent decades, settlers would continue pushing natives further westward, with the Miami people later saying that fewer than one-hundred adults survived twenty years after the treaty.[9]"

Gus
 

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Sorry, cut off my post a bit too early above.

I can't document this, but I think the success of Wayne's forces, right at the time when they were beginning production/receipts of M 1792 rifles; gave the government and the Arsenals more breathing space on procuring and making rifles.

Gus
 

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In order to get a grasp on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and what they.might have taken or not taken you must reach through the years and try to get a grasp on the man himself. He was not an arrogant man as near as I can surmise, Clark was granted inferior rank, a fact they concealed from the men, and treated each other as equals. I am pretty sure Lewis had Clark mostly in charge day to day. Lewis seemed to get into trouble left to his own devices. Planning and procurement though, that was all Lewis and I think he was awfully good at it. Both Lewis and Clark were rifleman. They would have had small use for the common musket in any circumstance in my opinion. Both would have been issued and had seen service with 1792 Contract rifles. Curiously, the expedition passed right by the Missouri community where Daniel Boone was living, and did not stop by. Probably you would have had to tie the old man up to get away without him. I don't know but it is an interesting tidbit of information.
 

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In order to get a grasp on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and what they.might have taken or not taken you must reach through the years and try to get a grasp on the man himself. He was not an arrogant man as near as I can surmise, Clark was granted inferior rank, a fact they concealed from the men, and treated each other as equals. I am pretty sure Lewis had Clark mostly in charge day to day. Lewis seemed to get into trouble left to his own devices. Planning and procurement though, that was all Lewis and I think he was awfully good at it. Both Lewis and Clark were rifleman. They would have had small use for the common musket in any circumstance in my opinion. Both would have been issued and had seen service with 1792 Contract rifles. Curiously, the expedition passed right by the Missouri community where Daniel Boone was living, and did not stop by. Probably you would have had to tie the old man up to get away without him. I don't know but it is an interesting tidbit of information.
OK, you seemed to be asking a general about rifles and my answer earlier remains the same.

Now specifically to the Expedition, yes, I strongly agree with them taking as many rifle armed men as they did. Besides, though Muskets were not the best fowling pieces, some Expedition Soldiers were armed with the muskets for a combined weapons force and those muskets could be loaded with small shot to harvest small game. IOW, Lewis had a combination of arms that could be used for anything they came across.

I got a kick out of your comment about leaving Lewis to his own devices and what might happen! :D Actually that is not so unusual for folks who dream things big. Like many dreamers, Lewis needed someone more grounded to say, "OK, the Boss said he would like this, now here is how we are going to do it."

Part of the reason, if not the main reason, Lewis shared command with Clark and they got along so well was they were both Fraternal Brethren in Freemasonry. Edited to add: I'm sure that also made both of them far better leaders of their men, when things got really rough.

Gus
 
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