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Northumberland County Belt Axe

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Thimble Farm

32 Cal
Sep 8, 2023
Reaction score
White Plains NY
Northumberland County 1775. A Call Goes Out…

The Congress makes a call to Virgina, Maryland and Pennsylvania for rifleman to rush to Boston to assist with the rebellion in the aftermath of Lexington and Concord, April 1775.

Pennsylvania answers Congress’ call with volunteers; primarily rifleman from the frontier counties such as Northumberland. Besides being equipped with long rifles making these crack shots the proverbial “window makers” of British officers, the men carried belt axes since their rifles were not equipped to hold bayonets, as a secondary weapon.

Two rifle companies were heavily recruited from Northumberland County, the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment (“Thompson’s Rifles”) and the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment. These men would see heavy combat throughout the war, fighting at Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton and Brandywine, among other combat details.

I have attached images of a late 18th century rifleman’s belt axe from Northumberland County with period haft, from my collection. It is identical to Figure 25 in Hartzler’s Chapter on Rifleman’s Belt Axes in Indian Tomahawks and Frontiermen’s Belt Axes.

What service did this axe see? Was it on Chatterton Hill when the Hessians advanced beyond the Bronx River at White Plains? Did it cross the Delaware with Washington before the upset at Trenton? What did it witness?

If only it could tell us.


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