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My new Rev War powder horn: Fishkill Supply Depot

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JB67

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I made a new powder horn to go with my Brown Bess flintlock. (The Brown Bess was the standard issue musket for British troops and also widely used by Continental forces during the Revolutionary War. ) It is a tribute to a bit of local history, detailed below and in the captions. All the shaping and finishing was done by hand. The scrim work was done with knives and ink.

A little background for those who don't know: Fishkill, NY, was home to the Fishkill Supply Depot. Established in 1776 after the Continental Army evacuated NYC, it was THE storehouse and depot for the Army for the duration of the Revolution. Fishkill lay at the crossroads of the Albany Post Road (today's US 9) and a major inland route of communication between New England and those colonies south of NY. Just a few miles from the Husdon River, protected by a 1500 foot high ridge to the west and Wiccopee Pass to the south, the flats just south of the village would be transformed into a military hub of storehouses, barracks, and hospitals. The Continental Congress met briefly in the Episcopal and Dutch churches before moving on to Kingston. The Marques de Lafayette spent tine recuperating at the Brinkerhoff home, which also hosted visits from George Washington. John Jay also resided nearby. Numerous mills served the area, and the Van Wyck home served as HQ for Washington and the Depot.

Today, much of the Depot has been developed, with more being threatened. The Episcopal and Dutch churches still stand, as does the Brinkerhoff home. The Van Wyck house was spared demolition when I-84 was built and is today home to the Fishkill Historical Society. Sadly, the John Jay house was demolished when IBM built a manufacturing facility in the mid 1980s.

It was customary for soldiers to personalize their horns. They were collected, refilled, and returned, so it was necessary to identify them in some form. It was also common to mark them with where they served, with rhymes, patriotic phrases, maps, or other artwork. My horn does not follow any particular one but takes inspiration from surviving examples. Having grown up in East Fishkill, which was part of Fishkill until the mid 1800s, honoring local history in this manner just seemed appropriate. (There is also a little Masonic symbolism, as some horns from Freemasons are known to have.)

For more history, google Fishkill Supply Depot.



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The following images show the map. The Hudson River lies west (left) of the ridge, but is not depicted here. (Mount Beacon is a formidable landmark, visible from bluffs for over 30 miles up the Hudson Valley. Signal fires were lit on its peak during the War.) The Dutch and Episcopal Churches are depicted on the left and right respectively at the crossroads where they still stand today. The Van Wyck house is just south of the village and across from the Depot, while the Brinkerhoff house is shown where it stands at the junction of Rtes 52 & 82 several miles east. The John Jay home was just a couple miles further up Rte 52. The Depot itself is represented by the rectangles along the Albany Post Road (now US 9). The southern end of the Depot had barracks and a couple batteries guarding Wiccopee Pass.
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Brothers will recognize the symbolism here. I placed it here out of convenience, but it seems appropriate to have Providence watching over the region.
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JB67

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I need to correct one thing, it was the NY Congress that met in Fishkill. My early morning brain said Continental...
 

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Brother Brian,

That's a good looking horn and I especially appreciate the scrimshanding was not done by an artist, as many horns used during the AWI were not.

Horns were inscribed so they could be gathered up in Militia or Military Camps and the powder quantity issue was placed in each one by a small group of men in what we may describe as a "detail" or "working party." That way there was no need for soldiers to stand in line "forever" to get their powder issue and could work on other things while that was going on. Then once the horns were filled by the working parties, they could easily be returned to their owners as their names or mark were on them. Such "military" horns were either inscribed by the owners or someone else who could do it in their unit, so they would normally not have been artists. Thus the skill of those who did the engraving varied a good deal from rank amateurs to those who may have had some skill, but would not look professionally done.

This is certainly not meant to criticize those people then or today, whose horn engravings are fine to excellent OR anyone who desires to have a well engraved horn. It is simply a matter of historic fact that many horns used during the AWI or other Wars or Military Campaigns, were not done by professional engravers.

Gus
 

JB67

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Brother Brian,

That's a good looking horn and I especially appreciate the scrimshanding was not done by an artist, as many horns used during the AWI were not.

Horns were inscribed so they could be gathered up in Militia or Military Camps and the powder quantity issue was placed in each one by a small group of men in what we may describe as a "detail" or "working party." That way there was no need for soldiers to stand in line "forever" to get their powder issue and could work on other things while that was going on. Then once the horns were filled by the working parties, they could easily be returned to their owners as their names or mark were on them. Such "military" horns were either inscribed by the owners or someone else who could do it in their unit, so they would normally not have been artists. Thus the skill of those who did the engraving varied a good deal from rank amateurs to those who may have had some skill, but would not look professionally done.

This is certainly not meant to criticize those people then or today, whose horn engravings are fine to excellent OR anyone who desires to have a well engraved horn. It is simply a matter of historic fact that many horns used during the AWI or other Wars or Military Campaigns, were not done by professional engravers.

Gus
Thank you...but who is Brian? That's my real name on the horn. ;) (Did autocorrect change "Hiram" to Brian? )

I must say, I'm surprised how hard the horn was. Trying to etch it in some areas was like trying to etch steel.I don't know if my horn was exceptionally hard, or perhaps old carvers woud warm a horn to soften it some before taking a knife to it.

I'm also impressed at the number of Brethren responding. :cool:

Fraternally,
Bro. Jeffrey Blaisdell, PM
Oblong Lodge 666
GLNY
 

Ames

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The horned toad says we should go to Mexico.
The whitest part of the horn tends to be soft. The opaque areas can be very hard, needing special care to avoid slips. I love working a horn with a needle and stippling, but it takes a lot of time when you hit the opaque stripes.
 

JB67

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The whitest part of the horn tends to be soft. The opaque areas can be very hard, needing special care to avoid slips. I love working a horn with a needle and stippling, but it takes a lot of time when you hit the opaque stripes.
That was my experience. As this was my first time, I wasn't sure. Now I have an idea what to look for in selecting horns for scrimming.
 

R I Jerolmon

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Thanks for posting this info. I wish I had been aware of this History the many times that I visited my brother in East Fishkill (Bob Patterson). The "All Seeing Eye" adds a touch of personal history as well.
 

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Brother Jeffrey,

I can't blame autocorrect for typing the wrong name earlier and you have my sincere apology. I got a phone call as I was typing the reply above and the name Brian stuck in my head, for some reason.

You may be interested in the fact the oldest artifact in the possession of THE Marine Corps Museum is a powder horn that was rather profusely engraved by a Continental Marine during the AWI. Two views of it are shown in the links below. Though there is a good amount of engraving, it was clearly not done by a professional engraver. Please understand I don't have an artistic bone in my body and can screw up "stick figure" people when attempting to draw them, so even the level of this engraving is beyond my ken. Also, Continental Marines aboard ship seem to have had less diversion and thus this horn is engraved more profusely.

This photo shows how it is displayed in an illuminated "shadow box" in the wall of the Museum.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qq73C4K8SD4/UTDmiqIFjuI/AAAAAAAADhM/Q6Kknj2MPqk/s1600/100_6743.JPG

This photo is at a different angle and clicking on it allows it to enlarge and allows one to see the details much better:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DhMn0xyXcAAEMLt.jpg

You may be further interested we U.S. Marines jokingly say we were born in a bar at Philadelphia's Tun Tavern on 10 November 1775. While it was true that Tun Tavern sold adult beverages and food, even many Marines don't know it was also the home of St. Johns Masonic Lodge #1. Our first Commandant, Captain and later Major Samuel Nicholas, sat in the East. Our first "recruiter," Captain Robert Mullins, sat in the West. So in fact the Corps was born "in or from" a Masonic Lodge.

Gus
 

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