Author Topic: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???  (Read 22721 times)

Offline Jim Filipski

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2011, 03:37:57 PM »
 Just some  Historical notation based on this thread :

On maps from the 1600 through the 1700's there were many "Great Swamps"
We were talking about Northeastern PA so That means the Great Swamp to the East: The Pocono Barrens; The "Shades of Death" as it was known at that time. This was the Great (NEPA) Swamp

School by 1774 in the Wyoming Settlement: why yes, The Connecticut setters were intelligent people with  5 years of settlement at that time, there should be a school
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loco219

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2011, 03:58:10 PM »
You are right on the money there Bob. Settlement was eradicated by the events of the "Big Runaway" as it was called. Hundreds killed outright, thousands displaced for almost two years, everything settlers built burned to the ground. Settlement in the region was not possible again safely until post 1780. The natives were not dumb, as they watched the Susquehanna valleys fill with settlers they knew they would soon be unwelcome. This was there last large offensive in the region, and it was extremely successful. As stated above, Washington let loose General Sullivans campaign to eradicate their villages and food sources, and so he did.  There are many towns and villages in this part of Pa founded 1780 or shortly after, because thats when it was safe to come back to the area. At that point in history in this region, you could open up a gunshop without the fear of being killed for the priviledge!

Bob Smalser

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2011, 04:33:55 PM »
Quote
There was no substantial killing of non-combatants and almost no inhabitants were injured or molested after the surrender.[7] John Butler wrote : "But what gives me the sincerest satisfaction is that I can, with great truth, assure you that in the destruction of the settlement not a single person was hurt except such as were in arms, to these, in truth, the Indians gave no quarter."[8]

That's complete BS, of course.  A spinmeister from 1778.  The whole purpose of attacking frontier farms and settlements was to terrorize families sufficiently so the militiamen would be forced to remain at home to guard them rather than fight organized battles elsewhere.

And the guy who approved and even cheerleaded the massacre of noncombatant British subjects was King George III.

Quote
Recognizing that hiring native tribes to murder noncombatant British subjects might be controversial, General Gage had been lobbying British Secretary of War William Wildman (Lord Barrington) via letter since early June, 1775 for crown authorization to incite tribal allies.  Wildman and others demurred, and it was hardliners King George III and (later) the new Secretary of State for America George Germain (Lord Sackville) who quickly bought into Gage’s erroneous claims that Washington had unleashed his “savages” against British forces, and gave the approval.  Germain favored a strategy of Screcklichkeit, or instilling terror among the civilian populace that he had observed as a soldier serving in Central Europe, not understanding that the effect in America would be more rage than terror.  While the arrival during July of a sunburnt Thompson’s Rifle Regiment dressed like natives played a minor role, misreporting them was part of a continuing conversation between Gage and his superiors in Britain.  This added emphasis to a decision already made but not yet in the hands of Gage, who continued to argue for terrorizing families on the frontier as a means to keep the militiamen at home.

 Governors and Indian Superintendents were told in a crown letter of 17 July 1775, “….it is His Majesty’s pleasure that you lose no time in taking such steps as may induce (the Indians) to take up the hatchet against His Majesty’s rebellious subjects.”  signed King George III

Fortunately it took the British two years before the policy would have an effect because there was no shortage of key officials who, appalled at the idea, stalled implementation.  This group included General William Howe, who soon replaced Gage (Fischer Washington’s 75; Nester 70-71).

« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 04:35:02 PM by Bob Smalser »

Offline Rootsy

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2011, 08:00:28 PM »
As I noted earlier in this thread my ancestors were some of the early CT settlers of the Wyoming Valley.  They later migrated up the Susquehanna to Bradford Co.  The following are letters and recorded dissertations of their lives in the Wyoming Valley, focusing particularly on the time frame of the massacre of 78 and the years before and after.   The one is quite long and for that I apologize...  These are easily found via the net if you search for the Gore family.  I hope to not kill this thread with this posting as I find the discussion very enlightening.

Quote
Obadiah Gore Jr. to Nathaniel Gallup

Westmoreland 7th March 1779

Sir:

I have been in the Continental Service Ever since the beginning of August 1776 and was at the White Plains when the Emeny _ist* off this place last July. You doubtless have heard the particulars of the Action in Which I lost three of own brothers. viz: Silas, Asa, and George, and two brothers in law Timothy Pierce and John Murphy --- Daniel and Samuel was in the battle but escaped, --- Our families were all drove out from this Settlement without the help of horses and cattle, and with no more than what they could carry out throught the wilderness on their backs. And our buildings all burnt and our household Furniture and clothing all carried away or destroyed, but we have got the possession again and have about 140 Continental Soldies here, besides a number of Inhabitants that has returned, and we have a very strong fort with Artillery and provisions plenty ....... Father moved back his family in Nov. Last and he took the small pox of which he died the 10th of January last. --- Mother and the children has had it by inoculation and recovered and now live with me. Daniel and his family & Silas widow and her children are here, --- Asas, widow and her child is a Preston, Hannah and her children is at Plainfield, Lucy and her children are at Canaan*.... It is a healthy time with us at present. We have no news or nothing, nor nothing new happened here since the 10th of last month when a party of Indians came down & and killed 3 men, and wounded another who has since recovered. The Indians lost one killed dead on the spot and two others badly wounded as apparent by the blood, but we could not catch them ---- I desire to be remembered to Annl* and all my cousins. Mother desires to be remembered to you and your family.

I remain yours,

Obadiah Gore


Quote
Obadiah Gore Sr. to Nathaniel Gallup

Westmorland June 22nd 1778,

Dear Brother and Sister

After our love to You and your children these few lines may inform you of our health through the Divine Goodness. It is a time of health in general though some difficulty with the Indians and torys. About 30 miles up the Susquehannah there has been a number taken by the Enemy and carried to Niagery fort - perhaps 20! and we have had some suspicion of some of that number Killed, but not certain. 16th Inst Capt Robins son Miner [?] and one Joel Phelps and four more went up the river about the afor mentioned distance in two canoes, and came near a number of Indians and torys, the number not known, who called to them and bid them surrender but our men thought not best to be made prisoner - made off in the Canoes as fast as possible! The indians shot at them a large number of Guns, and wounded the aforesaid Robbins and Phelps, and shot a great many bullets, which struck the canoes and paddles, and the four other men remained unhurt: they came down the River, and the next morning Mr Robins died - being shot through the belly, and Phelps was shot more on the side - there seems some hope of his recovery. We have forts. We Keep a watch and have sent to the Board of war for help - My two oldest sons are in Continental service. Obadiah a Lieut in Col [?]yth's Regiment, [?] of Daniel Lieut in a Company raised for our defense here, under Capt Detrick Hewitt. Remember my love to brother Hobart and family, and all inquiring friends: I take it a good deal hard of you that you never write to me. - I want to know whether you ever hear from brother Samuel or Moses and want to hear of any thing that is remarkable. So no more at present but remain your sincere friend and loving brother.

Obah Gore.





Offline Rootsy

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2011, 08:05:16 PM »
Obadiah Gore Sr's Daughter (Obadiah Gore Jr's sister) dictated a biography to her daughter and it is quite long, too long to post here in one shot or even multiple replies.  It can be read at the following URL, the Tri-County Genealogy website (Bradford, Tioga and Chemung Counties).

http://www.joycetice.com/families/hanagore.htm
« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 08:06:37 PM by Rootsy »

mkeen

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2011, 08:24:45 PM »
Just some  Historical notation based on this thread :

School by 1774 in the Wyoming Settlement: why yes, The Connecticut setters were intelligent people with  5 years of settlement at that time, there should be a school


The Wyoming Valley and a lot of northeastern PA came under the control of the Penn family in 1768 as a result of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix.

Mart Keen

J1776

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2011, 12:08:45 AM »
Yeah, but that 1770-1780 melting pot melted as fast as it had congealed with the Wyoming Massacre of 1778, wiping out all white settlement for some time.

One of the largest Indian incidents ever in Pennsylvania.  302 scalps taken and over a thousand homes burned.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wyoming_Massacre

I'm not 100% sure what befell Nanticoke after the Wyoming Valley Massacre.
I know Nanticoke did not vanish all of the sudden.... though it was incorporated as a village in 1830.

Referring to one of my earlier posts regarding this:

A few "firsts" for that town as it took strides forward specifically include the following:

1774  The first school teacher was William McKarrichan.

1776  The first two "great roads," Middle and River Roads, were staked out.

1780  First weekly mail from Wilkes-Barre.

Also, we see "Harvey creek", draining Harvey lake and, going south, falls into the river at West Nanticoke. This is joined by Pikes creek in Jackson township. This lake was named for Benjamin Harvey, who located near its junction in 1775.... now known as "Harvey's Lake".

So, I'm guessing after the massacre everything just vanished????

This is a link to the Nanticoke, PA history website,.. not a huge amount there, but a good amount.  It mentions quite the settlement in the early 18th century,...a Grist mill, Iron Forge and sawmill by the Susquehanna rapids of that area of land.  Quite an interesting bit of info. I have yet to find any writings that record where all that was "completely" abandoned after the Wyoming Valley massacre took place?  I see where it says in 1780 the grist mill was guarded by armed settlers. Wish there was more out there! 
http://www.nanticokecity.com/history.htm


« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 12:31:25 AM by J1776 »

J1776

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2011, 12:20:53 AM »
Just some  Historical notation based on this thread :

On maps from the 1600 through the 1700's there were many "Great Swamps"
We were talking about Northeastern PA so That means the Great Swamp to the East: The Pocono Barrens; The "Shades of Death" as it was known at that time. This was the Great (NEPA) Swamp

School by 1774 in the Wyoming Settlement: why yes, The Connecticut setters were intelligent people with  5 years of settlement at that time, there should be a school

Ah!,... The Shades Of Death,... I completely forgot about that swamp area!!!

Offline Luke MacGillie

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #33 on: May 28, 2011, 11:13:04 AM »
"400 Virginian volunteers, all armed with rifles, and excellent marksmen, and dressed alamode de sauvages, with painted shirts and fur-caps stained with paint."

Scots Magazine, October 1764

This was relating the dress of the Virginia Militia going west with Bouquet, The same expedition that many of us know about because of the description of the oilcloth shirt.....

400 Riflemen in 64....Thats a lot of rifles for that early according to the "Conventional Wisdom"

Bob Smalser

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2011, 03:23:03 PM »
"400 Virginian volunteers, all armed with rifles, and excellent marksmen, and dressed alamode de sauvages, with painted shirts and fur-caps stained with paint."

Scots Magazine, October 1764

This was relating the dress of the Virginia Militia going west with Bouquet, The same expedition that many of us know about because of the description of the oilcloth shirt.....

400 Riflemen in 64....Thats a lot of rifles for that early according to the "Conventional Wisdom"


If they were actually rifles as opposed to a mixture of rifles, muskets, fusils and fowlers...is a big if.  Primary sources then were no more accurate than primary sources now.

Quote
Today most infantrymen are “riflemen”, and we use the term casually, with occasional sources extending it to the writing of history in error.  There were never many organized rifle units serving in the war; most soldiers were armed with smooth-bore muskets, fusils (a lighter, shorter musket), or fowlers (shotguns) shooting ball, buckshot, or a combination called “buck and ball”.  In 1775, Pennsylvania raised nine companies of true frontier riflemen; Maryland two, and Virginia two, with strengths ranging from 60 to 90 men each.  New England had few rifles anywhere in 1775.  Then in early 1776, Pennsylvania raised an additional 12 companies of 72 or more riflemen each under Colonel Samuel Miles, and Virginia and Maryland six more under Colonel Hugh Stevenson.  There were certainly rifles here and there in the militia regiments south of New England where men often owned their own firelocks, with the southern militias and units raised from frontiersmen probably having a higher percentage of rifles.  The ratio of 350 rifles to 1500 muskets confiscated from 2000 Scottish settler households after the 1776 Battle of Moore’s Creek, North Carolina was probably representative.   (Although probably a greater density of firearms than were present in German households - unlike many Scots, Palatines and Alsatians brought little experience with firearms with them to America, and wouldn’t acquire them until necessity demanded it.)  Colonel Peter Kachlein’s Northampton County Militia (Kachlein was from Easton) is also an example. Battle histories refer to them as “Kachlein’s Riflemen”, although likely under half were armed with rifles.  The “overmountain men” from Appalachian frontier settlements at the 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain are another example; they certainly had a high percentage of riflemen.  But the major rifle units available to Washington in 1775-6 were only the units I list – approximately 2300 riflemen in a force larger than 20,000 (PA Archives Series 2 Vol X; Russell 83; Stroh Thompson’s 13-15).

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2011, 11:01:20 PM »
"400 Virginian volunteers, all armed with rifles, and excellent marksmen, and dressed alamode de sauvages, with painted shirts and fur-caps stained with paint."

Scots Magazine, October 1764

This was relating the dress of the Virginia Militia going west with Bouquet, The same expedition that many of us know about because of the description of the oilcloth shirt.....

400 Riflemen in 64....Thats a lot of rifles for that early according to the "Conventional Wisdom"


If they were actually rifles as opposed to a mixture of rifles, muskets, fusils and fowlers...is a big if.  Primary sources then were no more accurate than primary sources now.




While it is a valid question,  are you asking it to grind an anti-rifle axe or to find the truth?
Since the document states ALL ARMED WITH RIFLES we have little choice but to accept it at face value. It possible that some were no rifle armed but any assumption of this is revisionist history SINCE THERE IS NO PROOF OR MENTION OF THIS.
We have to look at the fact that some native tribes were heavily armed with rifles by this time. In fact they had been using rifles for about 2 decades by the 1760s.
While its currently the "in thing" the disparage the use of rifles due to a great many reenactors who often do not shoot live ammo much if at all and thus think the SB is cool because its light and their friends, some of whom could not function in the 18th century due to limited skill sets, think its cool too.
Someone living on the frontier populated by rifle armed natives who know how to use them will have difficulties in countering them if only armed with a musket or fowler. In fact its nearly impossible for the musket/fowler to effectively deal with the rifle outside linear European infantry tactics. The natives were not dumb enough to fight this way so rate of fire meant very little and the bayonet only works if you can get close.
A decent rifleman with a reasonably accurate FL rifle of 45-50 caliber can kill or cripple a man every shot at 150 yards. Its EASY. So if the bayonet armed musket toter gets gut shot at 150 yards his ability to use the bayonet or load rapidly is "degraded".
The musket or fowler is just a noise maker at this distance unless shooting at "area targets". Why 150 yards? BECAUSE IT IS MENTIONED as a shooting distance for rifles in the 1750s. If I am out in the woods at daylight with a good rest I can shoot a musket armed farmer at his cabin door with perfect safety. They are not a significant threat.

Given the way the natives made war the smoothbore was largely useless against the rifle as was beautifully demonstrated by Morgan's Riflemen at Saratoga where the French allied native and French Canadian scouts virtually all returned to Canada rather than try to confront Morgan's men. This from the writings of BRITISH OFFICERS who were "boots on the ground" with Burgoyne.
The people on the frontier, if not hampered by a pacifist religion or distorted reading of the 10 Commandments, needed rifles by the F&I War just to counter the rifles in Native hands. 
But this in another truth that is uncomfortable for people who want the 18th Century to fit some mould they created to match their "persona". As a result conflicting information its either ignored or questioned when there is no valid justification for the question other than trying the discredit a source dead for 250 plus years in many cases which as a result cannot be refuted. If we only accept the information that WE want.
We cannot judge everyone on the frontier by one group of people who are so ignorant and trusting as to live on the fringe of a warlike group of people, who as a group kill people for fun and profit, apparently unarmed.
This is a "Darwin Award" scenario.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline JTR

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2011, 12:37:34 AM »
Well written Dan!
John
John Robbins

Bob Smalser

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2011, 01:09:16 AM »
I’m interested in separating lore from ground truth via available evidence instead of demagoguery that does little more than restate the lore.

“All armed with rifles” doesn’t ring true because the evidence doesn’t support it.  Virginia Militia…mostly farmers and not professional hunters/trappers ala Natty Bumpo…supplied their own weapons, and to assume all those cash-strapped, first-generation subsistence farmers in 1764 owned a rifle costing 6 pounds as opposed to a fowler costing 3 pounds isn’t supported by the preponderance of evidence.  In turn, the ratio of 350 rifles to 1500 smooth-bores confiscated from 2000 Scottish settler households after the 1776 Battle of Moore’s Creek, does ring true (and for a welcome change is period evidence presented by someone who knew what he was looking at).  That’s not to say Bouquet didn’t have a healthy percentage of skilled riflemen, or that he didn’t use them effectively…he did, and Washington would later emulate him by asking for dedicated frontier rifle units in 1775…but casual statements from secondary sources should always be challenged.  In fact, it’s probably fair to call Bouquet the progenitor of the dedicated American rifle units that were so successful in 1775 and 1776, as some of the 1775 battalion and regimental commanders had been junior officers under Bouquet in the two previous conflicts.

Further, given the inaccuracies inherent in casual reports, accepting these statements at face value only perpetuates the inaccuracies.  For example, “Kachlein’s Riflemen” of lore circa 1775 was in real life the Northampton County Militia…more farmers…where the evidence suggests they were hardly all armed with rifles like Morgan’s Thompson’s, Miles’ and Stevenson’s purpose-organized rifle units.  Same with the lore about early Christian Springs’ rifles. While their riflemaking school may have begun in 1757, the evidence suggests few of their neighbors were armed with anything other than farm implements during the Indian attacks of 1763, and the Moravians didn’t begin producing rifles on a for-profit, production basis until 1762, a year or so before John Moll arrived after the 1763 Whitehall Massacre.  Hence the default answer for whether Moll or Albrecht had greater influence on Northampton gunmaking probably shouldn’t tilt toward Albrecht, who was only a part-time gunmaker from 1757 to 1762 and was gone entirely by 1766.  

Same with the natives.  While I’m sure Natty Bumpo’s Mohican companions were armed with fresh, well-maintained long rifles costing 6 pounds or more with which they could shoot into a 7-inch circle at 250 yards 10 times out of 10, I’d like to see some evidence that the overwhelming preponderance of the firearms in tribal possession…when they owned them at all…weren’t poorly-maintained, 2-pound smoothbore trade guns.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 01:39:32 AM by Bob Smalser »

Offline JTR

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2011, 01:45:22 AM »
I’m interested in separating lore from ground truth via available evidence instead of demagoguery that does little more than restate the lore.

“All armed with rifles” doesn’t ring true because the evidence doesn’t support it.  Virginia Militia…mostly farmers and not professional hunters/trappers ala Natty Bumpo…supplied their own weapons, and to assume all those cash-strapped, first-generation subsistence farmers in 1764 owned a rifle costing 6 pounds as opposed to a fowler costing 3 pounds isn’t supported by the preponderance of evidence.  In turn, the ratio of 350 rifles to 1500 smooth-bores confiscated from 2000 Scottish settler households after the 1776 Battle of Moore’s Creek, does ring true (and for a welcome change is period evidence presented by someone who knew what he was looking at).  That’s not to say Bouquet didn’t have a healthy percentage of skilled riflemen, or that he didn’t use them effectively…he did, and Washington would later emulate him by asking for dedicated frontier rifle units in 1775…but casual statements from secondary sources should always be challenged.  In fact, it’s probably fair to call Bouquet the progenitor of the dedicated American rifle units that were so successful in 1775 and 1776, as some of the 1775 battalion and regimental commanders had been junior officers under Bouquet in the two previous conflicts.

Further, given the inaccuracies inherent in casual reports, accepting these statements at face value only perpetuates the inaccuracies.  For example, “Kachlein’s Riflemen” of lore circa 1775 was in real life the Northampton County Militia…more farmers…where the evidence suggests they were hardly all armed with rifles like Morgan’s Thompson’s, Miles’ and Stevenson’s purpose-organized rifle units.  Same with the lore about early Christian Springs’ rifles. While their riflemaking school may have begun in 1757, the evidence suggests few of their neighbors were armed with anything other than farm implements during the Indian attacks of 1763, and the Moravians didn’t begin producing rifles on a for-profit, production basis until 1762, a year or so before John Moll arrived after the 1763 Whitehall Massacre.  Hence the default answer for whether Moll or Albrecht had greater influence on Northampton gunmaking probably shouldn’t tilt toward Albrecht, who was only a part-time gunmaker from 1757 to 1762 and was gone entirely by 1766.  

Same with the natives.  While I’m sure Natty Bumpo’s Mohican companions were armed with fresh, well-maintained long rifles costing 6 pounds or more with which they could shoot into a 7-inch circle at 250 yards 10 time out of 10, I’d like to see some evidence that the overwhelming preponderance of the firearms in tribal possession…when they owned them at all…weren’t poorly-maintained, 2-pound smoothbore trade guns.

"400 Virginian volunteers, all armed with rifles, and excellent marksmen, and dressed alamode de sauvages, with painted shirts and fur-caps stained with paint."

Scots Magazine, October 1764

In your post above, the words "all armed with rifles" is what was written in 1764. The remainder of that post is simply your opinion.
Are you suggesting that something written at the time is incorrect, and that your opinion, 247 years after the fact, is correct?

I sincerely hope you're not in the business of writting history books!
John
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 01:50:51 AM by JTR »
John Robbins

Bob Smalser

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #39 on: May 31, 2011, 01:57:26 AM »


Scots Magazine, October 1764


The report could be entirely true...all I'm suggesting is more evidence is required for definitive conclusions.  

Henri Bouquet commanded the 1st Battalion of the 60th Royal American Regiment, and is credited with introducing the rifle (without official blessing) and open-order tactics.  But nowhere I've seen in the major sources states all his (farmer-volunteer) troops were armed with rifles, and local economic facts suggest they probably all weren't.  Further, even if Bouquet was supplying his troops with weapons (which he wasn't), where would he get 400 rifles in the late 1750's?  Was Virginia producing rifles in those kind of quantities then?  Was Pennsylvania?  Imported from Germany to Philadelphia?   All questionable.  And if we know or have insight into those answers, I'd be grateful for the sources.

At the time the article was written, Bouquet was commanding 1500 militia and regulars on a punitive expedition against tribal forces in the Ohio Valley.  Perhaps the 400 mentioned were his riflemen, gleaned from the 1500...the ratio rings true...but without corroborating evidence, we don't really know that.

« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 02:35:36 AM by Bob Smalser »

Offline spgordon

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2011, 03:13:59 AM »
The rifles used in the French and Indian War seem to have been a mix: some colonial-made, some imported.

One source that any writer about the weapons available during the French and Indian War to the British or provincial troops should consult is: Jim Mullins, Of Sorts For Provincials: American Weapons of the French and Indian War (2008). Mullins cites plentiful primary documents about large batches of imported arms.

There were also large collections of old arms in the colonies. In 1758, William Henry of Lancaster was brought to Winchester, VA, to inspect a large shipment of arms sent there from Williamsburg. He reported to William Byrd that “he does not think the old Guns, (about 320) are fit for Service, for they have been in the Magazeen…ever since the Reign of King William.” In this instance the guns weren't fit for service (and were likely not rifles). But Henry repaired other batches of weapons, including rifles, in 1756 and again in 1758: in 1756, he took "a great deal of pains to rectifie [the arms of Pennsylvania troops], & [to] bore & straiten the Barrels." One might expect that other gunsmiths were similarly involved in making older weapons, including rifles, ready for service in 1756-63.

I realize the above quotations don't give us any information about the number of rifles, new or old, available for British, Pennsylvania, or Virginia companies during the French and Indian War. But they do point out, clearly enough, that we simply do not have the sort of information that could support generalizations about how many soldiers in any company were or were not supplied with rifles. It's basically guesswork.

I've disagreed with Bob elsewhere about the unsupported and unsupportable notion that "the evidence suggests few of [the Moravians' Northampton County] neighbors were armed with anything other than farm implements during the Indian attacks of 1763." I won't repeat all that here--only state again that there simply isn't enough evidence to ground such a conclusion.



Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Bob Smalser

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #41 on: May 31, 2011, 03:25:48 AM »


I've disagreed with Bob elsewhere about the unsupported and unsupportable notion that "the evidence suggests few of [the Moravians' Northampton County] neighbors were armed with anything other than farm implements during the Indian attacks of 1763." I won't repeat all that here--only state again that there simply isn't enough evidence to ground such a conclusion.


Except, of course, Governor James Hamilton and professional soldier Colonel James Burd, a protege of Bouquet.  Burd being a first-hand witness who had at least a vague idea what he was looking at.
 
Quote

                              NORTHAMPTON TOWN, the 10th, this instant, October, 1763.

To the Honorable JAMES HAMILTON (1710-1783), Esq., Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania,
   
   We send greetings:  As I, Joseph Roth of Northampton Town, Church Minister, on the ninth of October, as I was preaching, people arrived in such numbers I was obliged to quit my sermon, and as Colonel James Burd (1726-1793) was in town, I spoke to Colonel Burd concerning the Indian affair.
   We found the inhabitants that had neither Guns, Powder nor Lead, to defend themselves, and that Colonel Burd  …would assist them with guns and ammunition, and he requested of me to write to your Honor, because the inhabitants of the town had not chose their officers at the time he set off, so we, the inhabitants of the said town hath unanimous chose George Wolf, the bearer hereof, to be Captain, and Abraham Rinker (1741-1820, later brother-in-law to gunmaker Johannes Moll) to be Lieutenant; we whose names are underwritten, promise to obey to this mentioned Captain and Lieutenant, and so we hope his Honor will be so good and send us 50 guns, 100 pound of powder, and 400 pound lead, 150 stands for the guns… JOSEPH ROTH

                                     LANCASTER, October 17th, 1763
   
   Sir:  (Governor Hamilton) I arrived here on Monday night from Northampton.  I need not trouble your Honor with a relation of the misfortune of that county, as Mr. Horsfield told me he would send you an express, and inform you fully of what happened.  I will only mention, that in the town of Northampton (where I was at the time), there were only four guns, three of which were unfit for use, and the enemy within four miles of the place.
                     Respectfully yours,
                     JAMES BURD

Like I said.   Evidence, not more romantic lore about the Moravians based on a few pretty relics and a utopian dream.

And thanks for the leads.  Henri Bouquet is my next area of interest.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 03:36:51 AM by Bob Smalser »

Offline spgordon

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #42 on: May 31, 2011, 03:44:20 AM »
Bob:

How large was the town of Northampton at the time? And Northampton County? So you've mistaken one thing for another, no? Or at least you've made a claim about all the Moravians' Northampton County neighbors when, really, you had a single piece of evidence that refers to Allentown alone. Do you really have any evidence whatsoever about how many rifles were owned by Northampton County or Lancaster County farmers? I'm afraid a single count of weapons in Allentown in 1763 doesn't quite pin things down.

Also: even good evidence requires interpretation and understanding. Why were there only 4 guns (3 of them unfit for use) in Allentown in October 1763? Is it possible (indeed, probable) that the town had more guns earlier but many had left with the militia men who owned them or had been taken by authorities for use by soldiers between 1755-1763? My point here is that, even if entirely accurate, this count of guns at this snapshot of time needs to be explained and understood before it's (mis)used as representative of how many guns existed in the entire county.

Since we've covered all the Moravian stuff before--feels more like Groundhog Day than Memorial Day--I won't take the bait here and just say that nothing that I wrote in reply to the most recent posts had anything to do with Moravians. I used the word only because you did--all I'm really saying is that you have no information whatsoever about the prevalence of weapons in Northampton County. Whether the Moravians were making many or few weapons at the time is totally beside the point.




« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 03:58:54 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Bob Smalser

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #43 on: May 31, 2011, 04:14:07 AM »
The Indian raid Hamilton and Burd were discussing cut a 10-mile swath through Allen and Whitehall Townships with 23 killed and several more seriously wounded…mostly women and children.  

Of the eight or so farmstead families, one inn and one mill attacked, only one had a gun besides the inn where local ranger company commander Captain Jacob Wetterholt was assassinated as the initial  target of the raid.  By the end of the day a force of “20 armed neighbors” had assembled to engage the war party, but the report (based on interviews with surviving witnesses as well as newspaper and archive accounts) doesn’t state what they were armed with.  Perhaps all were armed with firearms (unlikely, because the next day the same group requested 50 guns from the province), but even if so, that’s 20 men among at least 200 who had been alerted by then.  Nor did the 12 Indians (counted from a rooftop while crossing the river) all have firearms.  Their attacks would have been a lot more devastating if they had.  Northampton Town was a new settlement, but the two townships involved and nearby Craig's Settlement had been settled since the early 1730’s, and as the Lehigh Valley had such desirable farmland, were relatively densely populated by 1763.

Further, in October 1763 the only local "militia" was a 50-man ranger company stationed at Ft Allen on the other side of the Lehigh Water Gap only since the previous July.  Here is their by-name roster:

http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~marier/Roster.htm


Again.  Evidence, not lore.

Sources:

Clarence M.Busch,  Report of the Commission to Locate the Site of the Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania, Vol 1.  (State Printer of Pennsylvania, 1896), 142.

Joseph J Mickley, Brief account of murders by the Indians, and the cause thereof, in Northampton County, Penn'a., October 8th, 1763. (Philadelphia: Thomas William Stuckey, Printer, 1875) 11-19.    

 C. Hale Sipe, The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania. (2 vols. 1929: Bowie, Md; Heritage Books, 2000) 456.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 04:40:28 AM by Bob Smalser »

Offline spgordon

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #44 on: May 31, 2011, 05:01:52 AM »
I don't think I've offered any "lore": I've questioned the conclusions you draw from the few snippets of primary sources you cite.

I would think the population of Allentown at the time would be important to your researches if you're drawing conclusions about the prevalence of weapons there. What was it?

My point about the source you cited is that you presented it as evidence of the scarcity of guns in the well-populated counties but actually it described only the count of guns in what you now suggest was only a new (and lightly populated?) town.

Any way to know anything about the representativeness of those 20 armed men? Why are you assuming that they were the only "arms" available at the time? Perhaps only 50% of the men with arms showed up? Or 5% How can we know?
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 05:33:22 AM by spgordon »
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline Luke MacGillie

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #45 on: May 31, 2011, 01:50:09 PM »
I think they were all riflemen, but prior to the invention of the time machine, we have nothing but the written accounts and internet arguments.

If the account said 400 New York Militia all armed with rifles I would discredit it, but 400 backwoods Virginians dressed as Indians, something we see again and again in Virginia rifle units units (64, 75, 79X2) the evidence leans toward their actually being riflemen.

I for sure do not subscribe to the "Hiding behind rocks and trees armed with rifles killing the evil commie brits" line that some folks who sell M14 stocks like to use for why we won the Revolution,

I do see the influence of Riflemen spreading out, Parr's Riflemen being stationed in Schoharie, and Tim Murphy settling there after regular service dischare and serving in the militia has morphed into the "Fact" that the Schoharie Militia was a rifle unit, same with Nick Stoner, who was a musician in the NY Line during the Rev war has morphed into he was a rifleman.....

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #46 on: May 31, 2011, 07:29:37 PM »
I’m interested in separating lore from ground truth via available evidence instead of demagoguery that does little more than restate the lore.

“All armed with rifles” doesn’t ring true because the evidence doesn’t support it.  Virginia Militia…mostly farmers and not professional hunters/trappers ala Natty Bumpo…supplied their own weapons, and to assume all those cash-strapped, first-generation subsistence farmers in 1764 owned a rifle costing 6 pounds as opposed to a fowler costing 3 pounds isn’t supported by the preponderance of evidence.  In turn, the ratio of 350 rifles to 1500 smooth-bores confiscated from 2000 Scottish settler households after the 1776 Battle of Moore’s Creek, does ring true (and for a welcome change is period evidence presented by someone who knew what he was looking at).  That’s not to say Bouquet didn’t have a healthy percentage of skilled riflemen, or that he didn’t use them effectively…he did, and Washington would later emulate him by asking for dedicated frontier rifle units in 1775…but casual statements from secondary sources should always be challenged.  In fact, it’s probably fair to call Bouquet the progenitor of the dedicated American rifle units that were so successful in 1775 and 1776, as some of the 1775 battalion and regimental commanders had been junior officers under Bouquet in the two previous conflicts.

Further, given the inaccuracies inherent in casual reports, accepting these statements at face value only perpetuates the inaccuracies.  For example, “Kachlein’s Riflemen” of lore circa 1775 was in real life the Northampton County Militia…more farmers…where the evidence suggests they were hardly all armed with rifles like Morgan’s Thompson’s, Miles’ and Stevenson’s purpose-organized rifle units.  Same with the lore about early Christian Springs’ rifles. While their riflemaking school may have begun in 1757, the evidence suggests few of their neighbors were armed with anything other than farm implements during the Indian attacks of 1763, and the Moravians didn’t begin producing rifles on a for-profit, production basis until 1762, a year or so before John Moll arrived after the 1763 Whitehall Massacre.  Hence the default answer for whether Moll or Albrecht had greater influence on Northampton gunmaking probably shouldn’t tilt toward Albrecht, who was only a part-time gunmaker from 1757 to 1762 and was gone entirely by 1766.  

Same with the natives.  While I’m sure Natty Bumpo’s Mohican companions were armed with fresh, well-maintained long rifles costing 6 pounds or more with which they could shoot into a 7-inch circle at 250 yards 10 times out of 10, I’d like to see some evidence that the overwhelming preponderance of the firearms in tribal possession…when they owned them at all…weren’t poorly-maintained, 2-pound smoothbore trade guns.



We have good evidence that the Natives of PA and Western NY were armed with rifles to a significant extent by the 1740s. We have a written account that the Indian Allies that accompanied Braddock were rifle armed. The quote reads "very dexterous with a rifle barrel gun and tomahawk" this from an nameless eyewitness according to Bailey.

I am not sure the assumption that the poor did not own rifles due to cost will withstand scrutiny.
There is a quote in pg 76  “British Military Flintlock Rifles” By Bailey
It states that the very poor are selling rifles to the Creeks at “monstrous price” and that the gun is the greatest part of their estate.





This seems to refute the idea that the poor did not own rifles. At least in SC.
Which also raises the question of who was making rifles in SC in 1756?
But then rifles were being imported from England in the 1750s and probably before. So making rifles here is irrelevant. Just because there is no documentation for making rifles in any part of Colonial America is no proof there were no rifles. Rifles (and smooth rifles) purchased in London were for sale in America, documented, in 1757 I am sure these were not the first.
I would assume that selling the rifle at a profit resulted in the "very poor" eventually becoming less poor. But this is speculation. 

 
The Gov’t agents, north and south, were trying to keep rifles from native hands by the mid-1750s. But it was not possible according to Bailey.
Did all natives have rifles? No. Just like the whites some did not like them or could not use them to best effect. A smoothbore is as good as a rifle to the poor shot. A good shot that tries a rifle or learns to use one has little use for a SB.
There is an account of a flatboat being overrun along the Ohio in 1790 “Incidents Attending the Capture, Detention, and Ransom of Charles Johnston of Virginia”.
Johnson states the Natives, a considerable war party, were rifle armed. Being from various tribes from Ohio,  “friendly” eastern tribes and some Cherokees or other southern tribe.
Rifles would make sense when attacking boats on a wide river. Were they REALLY ALL rifle armed. Unlikely. But most could easily have been.
But some surely were. Also, part of the booty he was forced to carry into Ohio was a very heavy rifle barrel.
He does state that he and his fellow travelers were armed with “nothing better than common fowling pieces” except for one who had a "small neat rifle".
This seems to indicate 2 things, fowling pieces were used but were apparently not thought to be the best choice but merely “sufficient”.
But given the foolishness that lead to their being attacked no firearm would have made any difference.

As someone else pointed out you seem determined to force the witnesses of the past to conform to your current opinions. The fact that you are so unwilling to accept documentation from the past concerning firearms types and uses makes me question everything you write as probably being biased toward whatever you want things to be rather than what the WERE in reality.
OF COURSE SBs outnumbere rifles. Most people, considering the general population, not only did not know how to use one they HAD NO NEED for one. I suspect that a great many firearms owners of the Colonial period only had what was needed for militia use and never used it in any practical sense unless ordered to do so.
The true riflemen are rare even today. Most are gun owners, if that, and are not serious shooters even if they own firearms.
So rifles are going to be relatively rare ESPECIALLY in the more settled areas. A store keeper in 1776 Philladelphia is not likely to be sniped by a rifle toting native while standing in the door of his house. Someone living on the western frontier might be as safe.
If 10% of the natives have rifles and know how to use them, and accounts of the 1750s say they did. HOW DO YOU COUNTER THEM WITH A MUSKET. Answer? Its impossible. The rifle was a much more effective weapon from the military standpoint other than in LINEAR EUROPEAN tactics which the Natives were never dumb enough to emulate. If a couple of natives with rifles are 100 yards from the door its not possible to open it. If you have  rifle you can shoot from a loop or crack without exposing yourself with some hope of killing them or at least causing them to seek easier prey. At 100 yards the typical smooth bore is little more than a noisemaker in this context. Read the accounts of accuracy testing of the typical musket well into the 19th century.
We have accounts that the rifle was effective at 150 yards. Its EASY to hit a man at this distance with a rifle over 36-40 caliber.  The Musket is USELESS at this distance for point targets. The bayonet is not of much use at even 50 yards. Especially if the rifleman using a tree for rest shoots the musket armed enemy in the guts at 150 yards.  Shooting your enemy at a distance is always an advantage.
The rifle is documented as being in Militia use in America from at least the 1680s (500 foot and fifty riflemen) about 10%.
Then we have the question of where did the 1740s natives learn of the rifle? Why would they want one?
One simply cannot counter the evidence by saying people were to poor. This is irrelevant when its a NEEDED item for survival.
I would also point out that Natty Bumpo is fictional, sort of a 18th century superman and trying to use a character of this sort to belittle other people's arguments is a form of insult.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline bgf

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #47 on: May 31, 2011, 08:18:49 PM »
Two things at play here: facts and tradition.  The facts are fairly sparse, either way.  The tradition is clear.  Whether the tradition follows the facts precisely or not, it is clear that there is little to emulate in poor settlers living unarmed or inadequately armed in dangerous areas.  I tend to believe most of the tradition, but what little study I have done focuses on SW Va. into Tn. and KY, where the settlers were apparently well-armed (I suspect with a high percentage of rifles -- e.g., King's Mountain) and not prone to shirk a fight, regardless of their ethnic origins, financial status, or religious background.  I have also grown skeptical of the absolute origin of the rifle and propagation from PA only -- several examples of rifles from south do not bear any great resemblance outside basic function to PA rifles, and quite a few look positively European in concept, especially the step-toe group from SW Va, so that I'm liable to wonder if they weren't built by immigrants trained in or influenced by their native arms as much as or more than anything from PA.  Of course, we "know" now that few Germans ever had guns, so it is a mystery :).  All that is to say I agree with Dan on this one.

Offline rich pierce

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #48 on: May 31, 2011, 08:54:28 PM »
I don't see much point in reasoning that folks could afford or not afford this or that, as a basis for "deciding" the prevalence of rifles in any place or time.  Poor folks today have all found some way to have internet and cell phones with the latest technology.  Folks find a way to get what they want or need, and if rifles were the "new thing" you can bet a young man saved to get one like a kid in the 1960's saving for his first car.  It's human nature.

Regarding Pennsylvania versus Southern roots for longrifles, there's no argument that there were both independent influences and cross-pollinations going on.  So much has been published of Pennsylvania rifles all the way back to the 1960's that there's much more known about them and perhaps more surviving specimens than Southern examples.

But the elusive question continues to be, who first introduced a rifle culture to the back country in the forst half of the 1700's so that Indians desired and became armed with rifles?  Totally speculative.  We still have no idea whether none, some, or most of these were imports and what their origin was, what they looked like.  But rifle guns with 4 foot long barrels are mentioned very early, and it seems that demand must have exceeded what a few colonial gunsmiths could provide (thus imports seeming likely, as was the case with smoothbores).  Total speculation.
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Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: Rifles of the Northeastern Pennsylvania area in the 1700s???
« Reply #49 on: May 31, 2011, 11:35:03 PM »
Why do we assume there were only a few gunsmiths in the Colonies?  I just finished reading an original letter from John Tobler (German- Swiss)who was settleing in a new village of Savannaton (Beech Island) SC, about 5 miles down river from Augusta, GA. He asked that the next installment of settlers include gunsmiths and they also bring a plentiful supply of muskets and powder and lead.......he didn't say shot(?)  If they were bringing gunsmiths to this little frontier settlement and they did because in an account of the 1760 Long Cane Massacre people evacuated to Tobler's Fort where there was a gunsmith....... why is it not likely that many other, especially German -Swiss settlements didn't have gunsmiths???

heavens, they mihght even have been making southern guns in the early 1700s............... :o :o ;D ;D
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 11:36:44 PM by Dr. Tim-Boone »
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