Author Topic: Harpers Ferry Model 1803  (Read 18581 times)

Offline DaveM

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2013, 11:51:32 PM »
Another interesting angle, with regards to rifle transactions in the procurement period for Lewis at Philadelphia 1803.  Bear in mind this is all complicated, and not totally fleshed out in my mind - this could be a good dialogue if anyone out there has their own info to share to help me out or correct me - but here goes:

Who's who in March - June, 1803 at Philadelphia, Lancaster and York:
Israel Whelan - purveyor of public supplies.  Basically he was the army's purchasing agent, who was responsible for obtaining materials for Meriwether Lewis per the direction of Henry Dearborn's in Dearborn's March 14, 1803 letter.
Tench Coxe - replaced Whelan as purveyor later in 1803
William Irvine - superintendent of military stores at Schuylkill arsenal
Gratz brothers - Philadelphia merchants Hyman and Simon Gratz 
Joseph Simon - trade agent / merchant in Lancaster PA
Solomon Myers - trade agent / merchant in York, PA

Summary of rifle trade and US rifle procurement 1792 - 1803 in Philadelphia / Lancaster / York - Gratz Bros, Joseph Simon and Solomon Myers:
This was a close-knit and interrelated group of jewish merchants / traders that worked between York = Lancaster = Philadelphia.  Their trade worked westward, with the Indians, but also eastward.  These agents / merchants worked with, and coordinated at least some of the efforts of the Lancaster and York rifle makers to provide contract rifles for the US government at Philadelphia (Schuylkill Arsenal). Joseph Simon actually for a long time was partner with William Henry  of Lancaster, going way back to the 1750's or earlier, and actively obtained / delivered 1792 contract rifles (Moller), who in turn delivered them to Philadelphia.  The Gratz Bros. were also key merchant for US arms from Lancaster / York.  For example, when US muskets were manufactured by Jacob Dickert in 1798, his deliveries were coordinated with the government by Simon and Hyman Gratz (Papers of the War Dept).   Solomon Myers was brigade inspector for York county, and he held the main role of delivering the 1792 / 1794 contract rifles from York to the US government, and delivered indian rifles made in York to the government in Philadelphia in 1803. 

Indian trade rifles:  Up to late 1803, while a good number of 1792 / 1794 contract rifles were still in storage at Schuylkill arsenal, indians usually received 1792 / 1794 contract rifles (Moller).  It was not until roughly September, 1803 after  Tench Coxe replaced Whelan, that the US appeared to begin contracting for new rifles made for indian trade in appreciable numbers (few known before that per Moller).  for example in the fall of 1803 Coxe was in direct communication with Lancaster and Solomon Myers at York for indian rifle procurement.

Meriwether Lewis procurement period (March-June, 1803) in Philadelphia: 

March 14, 1803 - Henry Dearborn, sec. of war, has his chief clerk write to Israel Whelan to obtain any materials that Lewis may require.  He does not mention rifles, or anything specifically.  On March 24, Dearborn follows up with a letter to Whelan an indicating that he will send a check for $1,000 to obtain equipment for Lewis.  apparently Whelan would have no idea that Lewis was obtaining any guns at HF - perhaps assuming that rifles would be part of what he will supply to Lewis.   

May 6, 1803, the Gratz brothers at Philadelphia receive payment for 20 new rifles at $13 each (Moller).  These are paid for directly by Whelan, and delivered to William Irvine. Based on what we know from above, these could well be Lancaster or York made rifles.  In George Moller's book, he assumes these rifles are intended for Indians, and possibly imported, since he never heard of the Gratz Bros. We do know that there were rifles traded to the Indians through this same period, but as Moller notes they had used rifles in public storage at the arsenal.  A letter written by Dearborn in this same period talks about Whelan obtaining rifles for the Indians from Irvine (therefore from public stores).  So why would Whelan go through the Gratz bros. unless the government wanted brand new rifles for a more important reason (if they still had plenty of 1792's)?
May 7, 1803, Lewis arrives at Philadelphia from Lancaster - he then works with Whelan to obtain everything he needs.  According to the receipts, some of Lewis' purchases were paid for out of the indian dept.   Lewis purchases his gun slings (perhaps for the 'new" rifles he sees at Schuylkill arsenal), and other riflemen equipment in Philadelphia.  His purchases shown on receipts include 10 packing boxes for rifles.  Does each box possibly hold two rifles?  At the same time, he obtains boxes for swords - though he never mentions buying swords in Philadelphia, he must have since they were included on the expedition.  Therefore this could explain why additional rifles were not listed either.

This could all be coincidence, but who knows?  Why else would Lewis take 10 rifle boxes from Philadelphia?  Did they not have boxes for rifles at HF?  I don't know why not since they shipped from there for the government.  I am convinced he obtained guns at HF, but as Mike notes above also, it is likely that other rifles were obtained also.  After all when he left HF the first time, he went through York and Lancaster and would have seen what the makers have to offer.



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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2013, 08:36:36 AM »
  Great stuff. There are tons of documents from the war department on the contract rifles I'm reviewing, unfortunately they only go to 1800.
  I don't have my copy of Jackson's "Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition" handy, but will offer some points from my 2000 Muzzleloader article (which took two years to go to print, sheesh)-

March 14th, 1803- Letter from Secretary of War Henry Dearborn to Harpers Ferry master armorer Joseph Perkin stating "You will be pleased to make such Arms and iron works, as requested by the bearer Captain Meriwether Lewis, and to have them completed with the least possible delay" (Jackson, 75).

May 18, 1803
Items delivered from the Philadelphia arsenal to Israel Whelen in Pittsburgh-

15 powder horns
18 tomahawks
15 scalping knives and belts
15 gun slings
30 brushes and wires
15 cartouch box belts
15 painted knapsacks
500 rifle flints
125 musket do. [ditto]
50 lb best rifle powder
1 P. horseman's pistols
420 pounds sheet lead (Jackson 98).

On April 20th, 1803, Lewis writes to Jefferson from Lancaster stating he was detained at Harpers Ferry for a month overseeing the manufacture of his arms and iron frame boat, and that "My Rifles, Tomahawks, and knives are preparing at Harpers Ferry, and are already in a state of forwardness that leaves me little doubt of their being in readiness in due time (Jackson 37-40).

May 25th, 1803- Dearborn sends his letter to Harpers Ferry Master Armorer Joseph Perkin ordering the manufacture of "short rifles". Dearborn's letter is too long to transcribe, but it describes the Model 1803 with iron rib, iron ramrod, etc. He also states "I have had such convincing proof of the advantage the short rifles has over the long ones (commonly used) in actual service as to leave no doubt in my mind of preferring the short rifle, with larger Calibers than the long ones usually have and with stiff steel ramrods instead of wooden ones-"

June 16, 1803- Dearborn replies to Perkin about adding bayonets to the rifles, and that it's "not expedient" (Hicks, 25).

July 1, 1803- invoice from contractor Joseph Thompsen for 35 packing boxes, including ten for rifles, received by military storekeeper Joseph Engels at the Philadelphia arsenal (Jackson, 98).

July 8, 1803- Lewis writes to Jefferson from Harpers Ferry stating "Yesterday I shot my guns and examined the several articles which had been manufactured for me at this place; they appear to be well executed (Jackson, 107).

December 2, 1803- Dearborn suggests minor improvements to the short rifle, including a larger bell mouth entry pipe, band on the forestock, and a wider aperture in the rear sight.

Specific mention of the short rifles in the journals-

Lewis, April 12, 1806
Ordway, June 18, 1806
Lewis, August 11, 1806

  Too bad they never took an artist along on such a historic endeavor.

Yours, &c.


Offline DaveM

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2013, 08:04:10 PM »
Mike, I appreciate your info and assistance - one minor point, Israel Whelan was at the Schuylkill Arsenal in Philadelphia.  Israel was the person in charge of working with Lewis to purchase his goods.

The rifle packing boxes were obtained by Lewis, from Israel Whelan at the Schuylkill arsenal.  The invoice listed "10 packing boxes for rifles".  They were part of a longer packing box invoice of boxes for other items like instruments, stationary, 2 boxes for swords and belts (obviously from Philadelphia also), horseman's cloths, 6 boxes for musket ball, 1 box for "slow match" and 1 box for sundries.  The invoice had the note "for Capt. M. Lewis's goods".  Israel Whelan provided the boxes to GW Ingels. and the invoice was endorsed by Joseph Thompson of the Ordinance Dept.  Ingels was the storekeeper of the Schuylkill arsenal.


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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2013, 10:03:46 PM »
  Thanks, I'll have to dig out my well worn copy of Jackson's "Letters", it's packed away somewhere along with my Moulton edition journals.
  In an August 20th, 1798 memo in the War Dept record book, Perkin wrote an extensive list of tools to include "2 Plate moulds for Lock forgers" (Charleville pattern musket).

Of course we know that Lewis had locks manufactured at Harpers Ferry to include parts, etc-

Journal excerpts (Codex C, journal sent back from Ft. Mandan, noted by Moulton)-

List of goods packed away at Fort Mandan, from the "Bailing Invoice of Sundries, being necessary Stores Vizt.

Bale 1 (excerpt)- 3 Setts Rifle Locks

Bales 2, 3, and 4 contained the same contents, with bale 4 containing 1 pr trousers and 1 flannel shirt less.  
Bale 5- one set of Gunlocks
Bale 6- same as 5 - excepting some minor clothing and goods.
Bale 7- Capt: Lewis Gunlock
Box- Sundry iron works for guns
Primg. wires & Brushes
Capt: Lewis Gunlock

Recapitulation of Seven Bales & 1 Box of necessy Stores Vit. [viz.]

30 Blankets
15 fine Cloth jackets
35 flannel Shirts
11 pr Russia Over Alls
6 pr Cloth    Ditto
26 frocks
18 White Shirts
925 flints
11 Spike Gimblets
8 Small    Do
63 pr Socks
8 tin Boxes with memm. Books
2 [lb?] Col[ore]d thread
  [lb?] Nuns thread
11 Romall Handkf
4 papers Ink powder
6 pces Catgut
14 Setts Gunlocks
5 Screw Drivers
2 pcs Silk Handkf
9 quires fools Cap paper
18 half quires post
8 Sticks sealing Wax
3 vices
2 nippers
4 Watch Coats
4 pr. ox hide Shoes
1 pr English Do
2 Gro Awls
1000 fish hooks
1 fancy handkf.
1 Drawg. Knife
 the Glue
3 screw Augurs
62 files difft Sises
5 Chisels
18 Axes
2 howels
1 adse

Lewis, 20 March 1806-
"The guns of Drewyer and Sergt. Pryor were both out of order. the first was repared with a new lock, the old one having become unfit for uce; the second had the cock screw broken which was replaced by a duplicate which had been prepared for the lock at Harpers ferry where she was manufactured. but for the precaution taken in bringing on those extra locks, and parts of locks, in addition to the ingenuity of John Shields, most of our guns would at this moment been untirely unfit for use; but fortunately for us I have it in my power here to record that they are all in good order."

Yours, Mike
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 12:24:55 AM by Mike463 »

Offline DaveM

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2013, 03:24:37 AM »
Mike, thanks - your note about them not having an artist is a good one.  I looked into the etchings that were created from Patrick Gass' sketches.  He is supposed to be the only one whose sketches were translated into illustrations. Supposedly the original original hand sketches that Gass made in the field are long gone.  I have seen in books on the subject where the authors ridicule the sketches as a later primitive attempt to portray the men - to some extent I agree, especially with some of the ones added in later editions of the Gass journals that were published.  However, somewhere I saw a reference that indicated that some of the uniforms were remarkably accurate in one of the early published editions of the journal.  This inspired me to study them further.   I suspect that some of the earlier sketches, such as "shooting at bears" may depict the rifles in much more accurate fashion than is generally believed.  I tracked down that particular image, and found that there is more than one version.  I was apparently retouched subsequent to original publication.  I was able to get a high definition digital scan copy of the early version from a university that had an early edition of the journal - on the one rifle that is featured somewhat prominently, there appears to be a distinct attempt to show a patchbox with a patchbox head.  Many may look at this and think I'm crazy but that is what it looks like to me.  The majority of the versions of this particular illustration that you will find published are the later retouched one, with dark cross hatching on the butt of the gun.  And even the earlier ones it is too hard to see this tiny unless it is a very high quality digital scan.  By the way, this is stuff I looked into awhile ago, just sharing while on the subject.  who knows!


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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #30 on: July 31, 2013, 05:55:20 AM »
  I was thinking about an original or earlier drawing from Gass the other night!

  Located some pics of rifle number 15, I'm suspicious of the stock since it lacks a patchbox- the cutout is there, but nothing to show it had a 1803 style brass work. It's on a site called "Little Johns Auction House", Lot 691, 12CODY10-1 US MOD 1800 #15   (2012 auction). Yours for only $75,000 starting.

  I think before outlaying that much cash, I'd have the impression marks and barrel x-rayed, carbon 14 dating on the stock, and mass spectometry analysis of the soldered parts (buttplate and rib, since they are of two or more parts). 

I'll transcribe the notes on parts and post later.

  Also, there is a pic on the site from a copy of "The Gun Report" dated October 1978 with an article by Roger N. Conger entitled "The Guns of the Lewis and Clark Expedition"- anyone ever read it?

Yours, Mike

Offline DaveM

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2013, 04:14:55 AM »
Mike, that rifle at auction is neat, but in my opinion very likely latter 1803 production.   

I am re-reading some of the letters that Lewis wrote about packing his goods and shipping them, including a new letter that was just discovered a few years ago that someone was generous enough to share with me.  When the wagon that left Philadelphia got to Harpers Ferry, the wagoner thought his horse team was already at maximum load capacity and according to Lewis he just kept going on his way to pittsburg.  The share of goods from Phila weighed far more (2800 lb)  than combined goods that the wagoner was instructed to pick up at Lancaster, Frederick and HF combined, including the iron boat (Lewis said under 700 lb more total from these places). 

The wagoner's instructions from Lewis did include picking up these articles that were ready at Lancaster and Frederick and HF along the way.  But Lewis did not mention to the wagoner the he would need to carry empty rifle boxes, leave them on top so they could be pulled out for access for packing, or whatever.  That would not make sense to me.  In fact at Phila his instructions specifically stated that there would be no special order or arrangement to packing the wagon except to be careful with certain things and to use the expedition's blankets to separate more fragile items (not the exact quote but basically says this). 

I am feeling more convinced that the 10 rifle boxes from Phila had rifles in them, it just would not make any sense at all to purchase empty boxes in phila to use in HF.  Even if Lewis had 15 rifles from HF, another 15 or 20 for a total of 30-35 rifles that is about right for the number of men along with a few guns for trade.  They did end up trading a short rifle to an indian - then later traded a "shortened" short rifle (cut off at the muzzle) to the same indian later to get the full length short rifle back.  And the other items listed for the boxes in the same invoice at Phila don't sound at all like HF items.   

Who knows - maybe Dearborn had Whelan order Pennsylvania-made short rifles in March, not knowing or having enough confidence that HF could really produce new rifles in a form that Lewis needed - and since Dearborn liked the short rifles to begin with based on his experience.  That could explain why Dearborn's later letter at the end of May 1803 (a month after Lewis said his rifles were in a state of forwardness at HF) to Perkins at HF sounds more like new information to Perkins (basically Dearborn explaining to Perkins why HF should look into making a short rifle prototype after the muskets they were working on as of May).  And why did it take HF from the end of May 1803 until later that fall to even prepare for Dearborn a prototype rifle?  Is this all wildly confusing?  I hope no one is offended with my wild theories and rambling, just thinking on different angles.


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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #32 on: August 03, 2013, 10:15:59 PM »
  Looking through some ordnance correspondance I noticed several things. When they issued rifles from stores, they noted whether they were inspected, wrapped, and packed in boxes (the sizes varied). One thing I did notice is that Lewis requisitioned 10 packing boxes "for" rifles, not "of" rifles as is usually written in correspondance from the purveyor of public supplies. I have no doubts they took along some contract long rifles (in addition to what is known by journal entries regarding muskets, rifles, pistols, etc.). It's rather odd that there is no arms list by s/n or marking, or issue to each member in the expedition's journals.

 There is mention of Lewis cleaning his goods on Sept 17, 1803-

"...I determined to spend the day and to open & dry my goods which I had found were wet by the rain on the 15th notwithstanding I had them secured with my oilcloths and a common-tent which I had as well as it was possible and the canoes frequently bailed in the course of the day and night    I found on opening the goods that many of the articles were much Injured; particularly the articles of iron, which wer rusted very much    my guns, tomehawks, & knives were of this class; I caused them to be oiled and exposed to the sun    the clothing of every discription also was opened and aired, we busily employed in this business all hands, from ten in the morning untill sun seting, when I caused the canoes to be reloaded, having taken the precaution to put up all the articles that would addmitt of that mode of packing to be put in baggs of oil-cloth which I had provided for that purpose and again returned to their severale casks, trunks, and boxes

  Will find my copy of Jackson's "Letters" and see how Lewis had his goods packed.

  We know Lewis had rifles made at HF, he mentions this in his letters to President Thomas Jefferson. I'm not convinced that rifle 15 was used on the expedition in it's current form, too many inconsistencies in my humble opinion (the barrel perhaps, but not the stock- who knows how many times it was modified after 1806).

Yours, Mike



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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2013, 08:29:59 AM »
Does anyone have pics of the original patchboxes from the purported "1792/1794" contract long rifles which are said to resemble 1803 patchboxes?

  Searched the web and no joy, have a few pics of early Peter Gonter and J. Dickert patchboxes; they have the same basic shape but are obviously not 1803 types.

  Also, if no one has ever read Dearborn's May 25th, 1803 letter ordering production of the short rifles I will transcribe and post...

Yours, Mike

Offline Longknife

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #34 on: August 05, 2013, 04:18:07 PM »
Mike, This Contract rifle is signed Messersmith...

« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 04:19:06 PM by Longknife »
Ed Hamberg

Offline DaveM

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #35 on: August 05, 2013, 07:53:29 PM »
Mike, below is a transcription of the box invoice.  I appreciate your questions as that debate helps better understand these complicated documents.   The way I read this, boxes were purchased by Israel Whelan from the maker Thompson, for the storekeeper at the arsenal (Ingels) to use in packaging Lewis' goods.  The note at the bottom regarding  endorsements appears to indicate that these boxes were subsequently provided by Whelan to G. W. Ingels, the storekeeper of the arsenal for his use in packing. As noted above, Whelan was in charge of purchasing the goods for Lewis at this time.  This is not an invoice or list of what was actually packed onto the wagons in the boxes, rather it is one individual purchase receipt of the boxes themselves that were to be packed.

the U. States Military Department                              To Joseph Thompson Dr.
March 21-June 30

to 6 packing boxes for stationary & etc.       @$2 ea          $12
    5   "                  for instruments                                   $5.85
    2   "      "           for swords & belts etc                          $4.62 1/2                                       
    1   "      '            for horseman's cloths                          $1   
    6     "     "           for musket ball                                   $3.25
    1   "      "            for slow match                                   $1.25
    1   "      "            for sundries                                        $1.25
    10   "     '           for rifles                                             $12.50
    30                                                                              $41.72 1/2

"No. 13 Josh. Thompson 48 47/100.    Ordnance Dept June 30, 1803"
"U. States Arsenal July 1, 1803.  Received of (from) Israel Whelan Esq. the above specified packing boxes.  G. W. Ingels."
"For Captn. M. Lewis's goods"

It also notes that several other boxes were added to the list.


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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #36 on: August 05, 2013, 09:45:33 PM »
  Thanks for taking the time out to post that document, I still can't find my copy of Jackson's "Letters" (still packed away in moving boxes). Thanks Longknife for the pic also!
  It appears one or two of the Lancaster contractors designs influenced the stock of the "short rifles". There is a nice pic in Hartzler and Whisker's "The Southern Arsenal" with an 1803 with what appears to be a Gonter style patchbox. Will post in a few.

Yours, Mike


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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #37 on: August 05, 2013, 11:24:00 PM »
Picture from "The Southern Arsenal" by Daniel D. Hartzler and James P. Whisker, p. 101, showing non-standard patchbox on an 1806 lockplated rifle. Also note engraved design on buttplate.


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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #38 on: August 06, 2013, 04:10:35 AM »
Dearborn's May 25th, 1803 letter to HF master armorer Joseph Perkin directing construction of the short rifles (Model 1803)-

  There being a deficiency of rifles in the public arsenals, and those on hand not being as well calculated for actual service as could be wished.

  It is considered advisable to have a suitable number of judiciously constructed rifles manufactured at the armory under your direction.
You will therefore take the necessary measures for commencing the manufactory as soon as may be after completing the muskets on hand.

  The barrels of the rifles should not exceed two feet nine inches in length and should be calculated or carrying a ball of one thirtieth of a pound weight- the barrels should be round from muzzle to within 10 inches of the breech and not of an unnecessary thickness especially in the round part- the stock should not extend further than the tail pipe, from then to within two inches of the muzzle, an iron rib should be substituted for that part of the stock-the ramrod should be of steel and sufficiently strong for forcing down the ball without binding.

  The butt end of the ramrod should be concaved suited to the shape of the ball- the locks should be light and well executed- the mountings should be of brass- there should be at least two thousand of these rifles made. If you should be of opinion that any improvements may be made on the above construction or any parts thereof, you will be pleased to inform me of such improvement as you may think may be useful.

  I have had such convincing proof of the advantage the short rifles has over the long ones (commonly used in actual service as to leave no doubt in my mind of preferring the short rifle, with larger calibers than the long ones usually have and with stiff steel ramrods instead of wooden ones- the great facility which such rifles afford in charging, in addition to their being less liable to become foul by firing, gives a decided advantage to men of equal skill and dexterity over those armed with the common long rifle.

Quoted in the L&C journals-

Lewis, 12 April 1806-

"... after breakfast all hands were employed in taking our baggage over the portage.    we caused all the men who had short rifles to carry them, in order to be prepared for the natives should they make any attempts to rob or injure them."

 "Wednesday 18th June 1806.    cloudy    Drewyer and Shannon Sent on a head to go to the villages of the pel-oll-pellow nation    they took one of the Short rifles in order to git a pilot if possable to go over the mountn. with us."

Lewis, after being shot by Cruzatte on 11 August 1806-

"the ball had lodged in my breeches which I knew to be the ball of the short rifles such as that he had, and there being no person out with me but him and no indians that we could discover I have no doubt in my own mind of his having shot me." 

Yours, Mike

Offline arlen

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #39 on: March 16, 2019, 07:04:06 PM »
I know that there has been plenty of controversy about the Model 1803 and the Lewis and Clark expedition, but I wondered if anyone has ever seen an 1803 lock plate with an actual 1803 date.  Most of the repro locks have an 1803 date.

Here is a pic of the lock and a pic of the barrel of the 1803 Harpers Ferry rifle in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West Museum and is on display at the Cody Firearms Museum. The 94 stamp on the barrel is the serial number.

Another 1803 stamped lock Harpers Ferry is in the Smithsonian.

« Last Edit: March 16, 2019, 07:14:20 PM by arlen »

Some days it's just not worth the effort of chewing through the leather straps

Offline Bill Paton

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #40 on: March 17, 2019, 03:12:06 AM »
Is there any chance we could see the thumb-nail images from the bottom of your 1803 images? I would love to look at them.

Bill Paton
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Offline Skirmisher

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2019, 02:48:28 AM »
Regarding problems with early M1803 barrels, I once owned a rifle dated 1804.  The barrel, however, was not of the earliest type and was likely made 1806 or later.  My supposition was that the original barrel had failed.  As regards the contract rifles, I am under the impression that no 1792 contract pieces are known to survive.  I believe the rifles we have all seen by assorted Pennsylvania makers are from an early 19th century contract, more or less contemporary to the early production of M1803 rifles. 

Offline Don Stith

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #42 on: March 18, 2019, 03:25:42 AM »
I doubt anyone will ever convince all concerned about the actual rifles used in the L&C expedition

  However, there definitely are surviving 1792 contract rifles.  Frank Tait wrote a well researched paper on the 1792's that was published in Man at Arms magazine, I believe in 2003.  A copy still lives around here somewhere.  He identified them being transferred from the New London , VA arsenal to Harpers Ferry. Any that were not utilized for earlier purposes(ie. L&C) were outfitted with 1812 dated HF locks and issued for use in the war of 1812.  Frank located 7 of those rifles.  The patch boxes were not all identical, but closely resembled the 1803 HF boxes. They were made by Dickert and other Lancaster makers. I got to handle 4 of the 7. All were 49 cal,or 40 to the pound as specified

Offline Longknife

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #43 on: March 18, 2019, 04:27:17 PM »
Richard Keller and Ernest Cowan have done extensive research on the "Short Rifles" and documented 11 short rifles with 1803 dated locks.  Four of these rifles appear to have been made before Dec. of 1803 as they do not have the changes requested by Dearborne in his letter to Perkins. The lowest Ser # is 15 and the highest is #567. Ser # 359 is the highest "pre- Dec" 1803 dated rifle. The lowest Ser # of 1804 dated rifle is 708, shown in the link below......Ed

P.S. The #94 rifle listed above is on his list.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 07:31:36 PM by Longknife »
Ed Hamberg

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Re: Harpers Ferry Model 1803
« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2019, 09:11:39 PM »
Don- I recall many years ago seeing a couple of longrifles displayed featuring The military style locks and the 1812 dated Harper's Ferry locks.  I presume these must have been some of the rifles to which you refer.