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What gun for April 19, 1775?

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We need to keep in mind who these guys were. These were well settled area farmers. This wasn’t the frontier. Deer and Turkey were gone. These boys worked the farm and then worked some more. A night at the tavern or a game of kick on Sunday was their ‘time off games’
If they got a chance to hunt it was small game. Bird hunting or rabbits.
They were not ‘gun nuts’. Any gun they had was 1) home protection
2) Militia muster
3) bunny popping, or passenger pidgin
This area was ‘the Shire’ from lord of the rings.
Crime was almost nonexistent, indian or French threat was long passed.
Shooting sports was just a very minor part of their lives, guns were way down on list of needs.
Which is why the encounter at King's Mountain with the "Overmountain Men" was such a shock to the British troops.

These men were more of the stereotype of American Revolutionary War soldier that is portrayed in film and novel.

Rifle armed hunters and fighters whose skill had been distilled for years out in the wilds of the Carolinas and places further south. Even some brave souls who had travelled and hunted in Kentucky and Ohio.
 

Magungo1066

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We need to keep in mind who these guys were. These were well settled area farmers. This wasn’t the frontier. Deer and Turkey were gone. These boys worked the farm and then worked some more. A night at the tavern or a game of kick on Sunday was their ‘time off games’
If they got a chance to hunt it was small game. Bird hunting or rabbits.
They were not ‘gun nuts’. Any gun they had was 1) home protection
2) Militia muster
3) bunny popping, or passenger pidgin
This area was ‘the Shire’ from lord of the rings.
Crime was almost nonexistent, indian or French threat was long passed.
Shooting sports was just a very minor part of their lives, guns were way down on list of needs.
I have to disagree somewhat. Though turkey and deer may have been rare, shooting was still a very popular form of entertainment, especially on Sundays after church, when the militia would meet to practice (ie. shoot the shit and drink). Though these men did not live on the frontier, the idea of the frontier was still very deeply instilled in their psyche. Grandfathers and great grandfathers would have been familiar with the frontier, and certainly fathers and grandfathers, or uncles, would have served in the French and Indian war. I am not disagreeing with all that you said, just some of the finer points. Shooting was as popular back then as it is today, if not more so. Granted you are right, this did not equate to the average farmer shunning his work in the field to spend a day busting clays, but still, the enjoyment of shooting was there. Almost every "commoner" who came to the colonies commented on how they were shocked to the degree that the "average man" could hunt, and enjoy shooting, in America at a time in England when even private gun ownership was forbidden amongst the lower classes, and hunting nonexistent.
 
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FlinterNick

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So here’s the dark side of a re-enacting hobby. The re-enacting hobby often is also a muzzleloading hobby. When you think you want own a single muzzle loader for a single purpose you find an excuse to own another one of a different size, caliber, design or historical significance.

My very first muzzle loading gun was a Navy Arms Brown Bess, I didn’t need the Charleville but bought it a year later because i was trying to gear up for a 1777 representation. I soon found that he Charleville is a great all around hunting gun, because of its caliber, as Gus suggested 12-16 is ideal. .66 - .72 caliber.

14 guns later, I found my taste and likes amongst all kinds of muzzle loaders, and developed a desire to build locks and kit guns and leather work.

So finding one gun to cover all the baselines is rather complicated, which is why I fell back on the 20 gauge Fowler by Jim Chambers. You can do a lot with it, and I do. With patched round ball at .56 or .58 its pretty good at 75 yards. For shot, I agree with Gus on this, you’re limited but can make due with a tight sky chief cartridge and get some tighter groupings. 16 gauge or even 10 gauge would be more than ideal, Jim Chambers usually uses Rayal for those barrels, which would be a LONG wait.
 

tenngun

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I have to disagree somewhat. Though turkey and deer may have been rare, shooting was still a very popular form of entertainment, especially on Sundays after church, when the militia would meet to practice (ie. shoot the shit and drink). Though these men did not live on the frontier, the idea of the frontier was still very deeply instilled in their psyche. Grandfathers and great grandfathers would have been familiar with the frontier, and certainly fathers and grandfathers, or uncles, would have served in the French and Indian war. I am not disagreeing with all that you said, just some of the finer points. Shooting was as popular back then as it is today, if not more so. Granted you are right, this did not equate to the average farmer shunning his work in the field to spend a day busting clays, but still, the enjoyment of shooting was there. Almost every "commoner" who came to the colonies commented on how they were shocked to the degree that the "average man" could hunt, and enjoy shooting, in America at a time in England when even private gun ownership was forbidden amongst the lower classes, and hunting nonexistent.
All true. But my point was they weren’t ‘gun nut’, they wouldn’t be on our forum today.
There were gun nuts then. Boys that had to have the best and the latest.
While the revolution was brewing another revolution was going on in England. A gun revolution. Patent fever struck the land. And there was some new and wonderful invention every week
Some of the ideas that would come out were very good. Things like the frizzen rolling bearing, and patent breeches. Some were impractical. There was a complex set of arms and springs that changed the flint angle every time the gun was cocked.
Those boys at Concord weren’t gun nuts.
They might pop a bunny on a Sunday, but they didn’t care if they did it with a fifty year old club butt.
John Addams seemed never to have heard of a rifle, and had wrote a letter to Abigail in amazement of what he saw.
Across the farm stead’s of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island,-much of New York and Pennsylvanian guns were just tools. Brought out used cleaned and set away till needed.
Even Vermont,New Hampshire North Massachusetts (Maine) upstate Newyork had largely been threat free since ‘63 almost half an adults life as an adult.
Shooting and guns were less something on ones mind in 1774 Massachusetts then colonist in westren Virginia or North Carolina.
 

Magungo1066

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All true. But my point was they weren’t ‘gun nut’, they wouldn’t be on our forum today.
There were gun nuts then. Boys that had to have the best and the latest.
While the revolution was brewing another revolution was going on in England. A gun revolution. Patent fever struck the land. And there was some new and wonderful invention every week
Some of the ideas that would come out were very good. Things like the frizzen rolling bearing, and patent breeches. Some were impractical. There was a complex set of arms and springs that changed the flint angle every time the gun was cocked.
Those boys at Concord weren’t gun nuts.
They might pop a bunny on a Sunday, but they didn’t care if they did it with a fifty year old club butt.
John Addams seemed never to have heard of a rifle, and had wrote a letter to Abigail in amazement of what he saw.
Across the farm stead’s of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island,-much of New York and Pennsylvanian guns were just tools. Brought out used cleaned and set away till needed.
Even Vermont,New Hampshire North Massachusetts (Maine) upstate Newyork had largely been threat free since ‘63 almost half an adults life as an adult.
Shooting and guns were less something on ones mind in 1774 Massachusetts then colonist in westren Virginia or North Carolina.
All good points!
 

Artificer

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All true. But my point was they weren’t ‘gun nut’, they wouldn’t be on our forum today.
There were gun nuts then. Boys that had to have the best and the latest.
While the revolution was brewing another revolution was going on in England. A gun revolution. Patent fever struck the land. And there was some new and wonderful invention every week
Some of the ideas that would come out were very good. Things like the frizzen rolling bearing, and patent breeches. Some were impractical. There was a complex set of arms and springs that changed the flint angle every time the gun was cocked.
Those boys at Concord weren’t gun nuts.
They might pop a bunny on a Sunday, but they didn’t care if they did it with a fifty year old club butt.
John Addams seemed never to have heard of a rifle, and had wrote a letter to Abigail in amazement of what he saw.
Across the farm stead’s of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island,-much of New York and Pennsylvanian guns were just tools. Brought out used cleaned and set away till needed.
Even Vermont,New Hampshire North Massachusetts (Maine) upstate Newyork had largely been threat free since ‘63 almost half an adults life as an adult.
Shooting and guns were less something on ones mind in 1774 Massachusetts then colonist in westren Virginia or North Carolina.
I definitely agree most of the colonists who took part in the Battles of Lexington/Concord were not "gun nuts" as we define them today. Guns were hugely more expensive back then compared to the common farmer's or tradesman's income vs what they are today. Yes, guns were seen more of as a tool by them and since they often only had one gun, they were a bit more likely to shoot it within its limitations.

Two earlier computers ago, I had a great period quote from I think Connecticut and in the late 1760's on a farmer who noticed some turkeys landing in trees to bed down for the night. He went home, got a good night's sleep and came back with his gun before dawn. When there was just enough light to see the outline of one such turkey, he fired and took the turkey home for dinner. He wasn't worried about being "sporting" to take the turkey, he needed and I'm ensured he and his family enjoyed the meat.

I know you were exaggerating when you described the area during this time period as "the shire," but it wasn't that civilized yet, by a long shot. We modern folks tend not to know or forget they still had Timber Wolves to deal with during this period, as farm animals were still a good source of food for them. Also, while there were no doubt less deer than in earlier periods, the deer back then as now were not displaced by the relatively small numbers of farmers and the deer learned to hide a bit better, even close to the farms, to feed on some crops. I have never hunted in New England, but I think they still had grouse more commonly than today?

Also, about a decade ago when I first found the following link, I have to say I was extremely surprised about the huge numbers of Timber Rattlesnakes they still had in New York back then.

"Amongst all British regiments which served in America during the War for Independence, the 62nd Regiment had a unique, documented uniform modification made to the bayonet scabbards by some of its men on campaign, thanks to the general order dated Ticonderoga, New York, 6 July 1777: “The 62d Regiment to take possession of Mount Independence; the Regiment Prince Frederick to take possession of Ticonderoga; Brigadier General Hamilton to command the two regiments.” Before the name was changed to “Mount Independence” by the rebels in 1776, this 300 foot peninsular height overlooking the Lake Champlain Valley was known as “Rattlesnake Hill,” and with good reason: the place was famous for its overabundance of timber rattlesnakes. The European soldiers of Burgoyne's army were both terrified and fascinated with the snakes—especially rattlesnakes—found in America, and there is no end of correspondence by the officers upon the subject. This fascination took an unexpected turn with the soldiers of the 62nd Regiment, as expressed by Lieutenant James Green (26th Regiment), who had been sergeant-major of the 62nd Regiment in 1777, in a letter to his friend Mr. Bainton written on 26 January 1781:

With respect to the wild Animals of America, I never saw any except a Fox now and then. The Snakes indeed are terrible and numerous. I have killed several with my own hands. I have seen Rattle Snakes Seven feet long. They were in such plenty near Ticonderoga that the Men used to cover their bayonet Scabbards with the Skins.
Green was alluding to the fact that the 62nd Regiment, as a whole or in part, garrisoned Rattlesnake Hill from 6 July though 12 August 1777 before being ordered to rejoin Burgoyne's main army. The men no doubt served the rest of the campaign with their timber rattlesnake skin covered bayonet scabbards.

After the surrender of Burgoyne's army at Saratoga on 17 October 1777, an inventory of the articles surrendered to the rebels included “3477 bayonets without scabbards.” Certainly, the surrendering soldiers (apparently to a man), simply withdrew their bayonets and surrendered those with their muskets, leaving their bayonet scabbards hooked into their waist belts (which they retained). However, such would have been a technical violation of the Articles of Convention."


Though I have lived and hunted in places in CA that had a LOT of rattlesnakes, my skin still crawls every time I read the quote above.

Gus
 

Artificer

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Hey guys, I really appreciate the thought and effort put into answering a newbs question. Gives me a lot to ponder.
TW, I do want to bring up something I've not seen mentioned so far and that is barrel weights/contours of modern "fowler"/smoothbore barrels. The problem is I'm not really the person to discuss this very well, as I don't have nearly as much experience with these guns as do other forum members.

For example, some modern barrel configurations are fine in 12 gauge, but wind up having too much barrel wall in 16 gauge and that makes the barrels a bit clunky/heavy for "shooting flying" as they described it. Now, if you are primarily going to shoot round ball, then that can be useful, but if you plan on shooting more bird shot, that will make the gun less enjoyable to shoot.

For much better information on this, I suggest you go to the smoothbore section. They also have very useful information on loading shot loads.

However, I thought you and other forum members interested in this time period would enjoy reading a period document on " The Art of Shooting Flying: containing directions for the choice of guns: experiments discovering the execution of barrels of different lengths and....," Published in 1770 by T. Page in London. The following is a free link, but don't look at the first few pages and think there is nothing there. You have to keep scrolling down to get to the printing. Also, as was typical of the period, this is a bit difficult to follow unless you know they often used the letter "f" instead of an "s" at the end, start and sometimes in the middle of words.


Gus
 

Eterry

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Here is a link on a great article on this subject that ran in the American Rifleman back in the day. It’s hosted elsewhere.

Neumann Article
Based on Neuman's article, which I thought was well written, almost ANYTHING that went bang and was at least 67 caliber smoothbore would be fine to represent that day on the Green.

Or did I miss something?
 

FlinterNick

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All true. But my point was they weren’t ‘gun nut’, they wouldn’t be on our forum today.
There were gun nuts then. Boys that had to have the best and the latest.
While the revolution was brewing another revolution was going on in England. A gun revolution. Patent fever struck the land. And there was some new and wonderful invention every week
Some of the ideas that would come out were very good. Things like the frizzen rolling bearing, and patent breeches. Some were impractical. There was a complex set of arms and springs that changed the flint angle every time the gun was cocked.
Those boys at Concord weren’t gun nuts.
They might pop a bunny on a Sunday, but they didn’t care if they did it with a fifty year old club butt.
John Addams seemed never to have heard of a rifle, and had wrote a letter to Abigail in amazement of what he saw.
Across the farm stead’s of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island,-much of New York and Pennsylvanian guns were just tools. Brought out used cleaned and set away till needed.
Even Vermont,New Hampshire North Massachusetts (Maine) upstate Newyork had largely been threat free since ‘63 almost half an adults life as an adult.
Shooting and guns were less something on ones mind in 1774 Massachusetts then colonist in westren Virginia or North Carolina.
I’m not sure what constitutes a gun nut or enthusiast of the 18th century. Muskets and Rifles were very much. Muskets, Rifles, Fowlers etc was a hot industry, while most didn’t own more than 1 or 2, owning a musket or rifle was a privilege, past-time and to an extent defined status. There were no specified hunting seasons as there are today of course, no Cabellas or Track of the Wolf. Muskets and Rifles were almost the cars of todays society in terms of economics and or hobbies.

What constitutes a gun nut today, I tend to want to think that the guy with 5 AR-10’s and 10,000 rounds, a few Ak’s meets the definition of a gun nut or the guy who goes bankrupt on buying guns is.
 

tenngun

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The analogy of the is good. Every one has a car, or at least almost everyone, and people without them tend to be down town in big cities.
Some of us are car nuts. Antique car restorers, hot rod builders, off roaders, up to the newest and magical computer controlled functions. Some have a stable some have one but all pour the same amount of their lives in to cars.
I don’t.
As long as my car starts and gets me where I’m going I’m happy with it. I’ve never owned a car I loved or a functioning car I hated. Pickups to ‘girly cars’ make no never mind to me.
I maintain it, as needed but don’t care about it. When we get a new car nine out of ten times I inherit the wives old car.
Most of us have a computer there are computer nuts. All of us like good food, there are foodies
I’m a gun nut, but about a century long era in America. For self defense I have some suppository guns, I keep them maintained but I don’t care about them.
My real guns, well they are personal friends of mine.
I THINK that the farmers of Massachusetts would have regarded their gun the same way I regard my car. As the Brits retreated that day there was no doubt equipment dropped and picked up by the colonials. I’m sure much was given away with out the blink of an eye to out fit some one in need. I’m pretty sure no one picked up a kings musket and said ‘I got a bess Igot a bess’ and did a happy dance.
what’s a happy dance? Give me a bess and you will see.
 

Artificer

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Based on Neuman's article, which I thought was well written, almost ANYTHING that went bang and was at least 67 caliber smoothbore would be fine to represent that day on the Green.

Or did I miss something?
Hi Brother,

Actually, if it went bang, it was acceptable no matter what caliber, due to the way militia laws were written.

I've done some studying on early Militia Laws and Militia Musters. The militia musters ran the gamut from just social gatherings to more serious musters, depending on who the local commanders were and whether or not NA uprisings or Pirates or War was threatened.

One of the best stories I ever read was a muster after the FIW and before the AWI in a Virginia Militia Unit. Seems their local Commander was at least somewhat serious about the muster, because he had their Serjeant (18th century spelling) actually inspect the troops and fine those who were missing gear or their arms and/or accoutrements not "in good order." One Militiaman actually got fined for having corn in the barrel of his firelock. Now the quote did not make it clear if the corn was actually maize or was the generic term used back then for most types of grain/crop seed. I suspect it was parched corn, but it may not have been.

The first time I read that quote, I thought back to all the rifle inspections I had stood on active duty in the Marines and what no doubt would have surprised a period Serjeant immensely during the inspection. I could just picture the Serjeant exclaiming, "WTH is in the barrel of your firelock? Is that CORN?!! Why the (Heck) is there CORN in your barrel? Did you expect to Parch the corn in your barrel or pop it during firing practice?!!" I still think this may be one of the earliest documentations on a period Gomer Pyle. LOL

Gus
 

Eterry

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Howdy brother!
I understand they had a better turn out for monthly muster if there was a good supply of hard cider or other spirits. It seemed the "Troops" enjoyed a wee dram!
Some things never change.
 

oreclan

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I used the term in my post, but wish to clear it up a bit.
The Brits armed their ships with muskets adapted to ship board use.
Civilian ships were armed with nock offs of military arms. Any merchant ship and all privateers went about armed at this time, with guns bought to serve but were not Kings Muskets.
Generally shorter then normal and of a larger caliber then many Fowling pieces.
I don’t know if anyone at Concord had one, but such Brown Bess looking non National guns would have been found in any seaport with a chandelier.
I would think it would pass muster for a militia man.
French or Dutch made Buccaneer muskets were also common especially on ships and hence in and around seaports.
 

oreclan

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Hi Brother,

Actually, if it went bang, it was acceptable no matter what caliber, due to the way militia laws were written.

I've done some studying on early Militia Laws and Militia Musters. The militia musters ran the gamut from just social gatherings to more serious musters, depending on who the local commanders were and whether or not NA uprisings or Pirates or War was threatened.

One of the best stories I ever read was a muster after the FIW and before the AWI in a Virginia Militia Unit. Seems their local Commander was at least somewhat serious about the muster, because he had their Serjeant (18th century spelling) actually inspect the troops and fine those who were missing gear or their arms and/or accoutrements not "in good order." One Militiaman actually got fined for having corn in the barrel of his firelock. Now the quote did not make it clear if the corn was actually maize or was the generic term used back then for most types of grain/crop seed. I suspect it was parched corn, but it may not have been.

The first time I read that quote, I thought back to all the rifle inspections I had stood on active duty in the Marines and what no doubt would have surprised a period Serjeant immensely during the inspection. I could just picture the Serjeant exclaiming, "WTH is in the barrel of your firelock? Is that CORN?!! Why the (Heck) is there CORN in your barrel? Did you expect to Parch the corn in your barrel or pop it during firing practice?!!" I still think this may be one of the earliest documentations on a period Gomer Pyle. LOL

Gus
Semper fidelis from a fellow Marine.
 

Artificer

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Which is why the encounter at King's Mountain with the "Overmountain Men" was such a shock to the British troops.

These men were more of the stereotype of American Revolutionary War soldier that is portrayed in film and novel.

Rifle armed hunters and fighters whose skill had been distilled for years out in the wilds of the Carolinas and places further south. Even some brave souls who had travelled and hunted in Kentucky and Ohio.
The Overmountain Men were the stereotype frontiersmen, but they were much more than that on that fateful day.

What turned out to be one of his biggest mistakes of the war, Lord Cornwallis tried to keep the Overmountain Men OUT of the fighting, but he could not have done it in a worse way.

Cornwallis had Broadsides (Posters) printed up and nailed to everything they could in the area not far from the foothills to the mountains. On those Broadsides, he threatened "Fire and the Sword" to anyone who joined the fight against him. Major Ferguson, who commanded the Tories at King's Mountain, further sent a Whig prisoner named Samuel Phillips into the illegally inhabited mountains to carry forth a warning: if they didn’t lay down their arms and stop rebelling against the king, that he would march the British Army “…over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with fire and sword.”

Instead of scaring off the Over Mountain Men, they took the threat for the exact meaning of "with fire and sword" in the day. That threat meant after hanging the leaders, everyone else - man, woman and child would be killed, their livestock stolen or killed and their possessions stolen by the British Army and everything else burnt to the ground so nothing was left alive or standing. WOW, there could not have been a worse threat to people who already lived a hard frontier life. Imagine if you will, they fully believed Cornwallis would do that to their parents, their siblings, their wives and their children. The threat "raised the blood" of the Over Mountain men with a terrible and absolute FURY, many of us would find it hard to imagine. They came down out of the mountains in droves, with blood in their eyes, determined to get Ferguson and his troops.

Imagine further if you will that Ferguson was the ONLY British Regular in his force of around 800 Tories. They had ranged pretty much at will throughout the countryside with no significant force to threaten them. All of a sudden Ferguson gets the word that between 1400 and 1600 Over Mountain men - some of the toughest fighting men on the continent and most of who were mounted, were trying to run him down before he could rejoin the safety of another British Force. As Ferguson was in full retreat and looked like he ALMOST was going to win the race to supporting British forces, the Over Mountain Men sent between 900 and 1100 of their men with the fastest mounts, to run Ferguson to ground. So Ferguson was forced to take up a defensive position, instead of getting away.

The battle was pretty much a foregone conclusion before the first shots were fired. Ferguson was a "dead man walking" and I strongly suspect he realized it long before they got him. I actually find it amazing they took any prisoners from Ferguson's Tories at all, with their blood up as much as it was from the threats to their families.

Gus
 
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Since moving to Middle Tennessee a year ago June, I've been reading the history of our area, and I'm astonished at the difference between 1775 New England, and 1775 Watauga settlers.

It's hard to believe a shop keeper from New Jersey was the same species as a Long Hunter. And their arsenal was different as well.
 

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