Monday, April 17, 2017

Notes on the use of Wall Guns and Amusettes



Rappahannock Forge wall gun
http://museum.nps.gov/ParkObjdet.aspx?rID=SPAR%20%20%20%201155%26db%3Dobjects%26dir%3DCR%20AAWEB%26page%3D1


In period documents from the late 18th c in the Americas, we find large caliber firearms referred to as rampart arms, walls guns, and amusettes.  They were used by the Royal Artillery, Provincial Forces (Queen's Rangers), German troops, and even manufactured by American foundries for use as light guns in state navies and at fixed fortifications.  The following are a few selections on their existence and employment:


Statement of Arms and Men in Service, [29 January 1781]

Statement of Arms and Men in Service

[29 January 1781]

1. How many arms have we in the state fit for service, bayonets &c.
Muskets in good repair
Muskets out of repair
Beyonets fitted
Cartouch boxes
In the magazines
68.
2273
159.
161.
In the hands of the troops embodd. (to be retd to magazine)
Dispersed in counties much exposed
3315.
2. How many have we lent N. Carolina since the war. How many since the invasion of S. Carolina
This shall be answered under Qu. 4. because we consider What have been sent Southwardly as sent into Continental service.
3. What stock ammunition & military stores of all kinds have we in hand?.
With what has N. Carolina been furnished?
Return of powder in the States magazines Nov. 20. 1780.
Musket
Canon
Incertain which
Total
Fit for use
17,900.
16,200.
6,419.
40,519.
Wanted
remanufacturing
3,980
3,000
5,780
12,760
Total
21,880
19,200
12,199
53,279
Destroyed by the enemy, as nearly as we
can find & to be deducted 1779, Sept. 25. lent
to Congress 22,960. powder of which
perhaps 10,000. was their own
12,960
1780. June. 30. delivered to Colo.
Finnie for the Southern service
10,000
22,960
10,000
43,279
The accounts of other ammunition sent to N. Carolina from the state magazines are among the papers lost. The Fixed ammunition is remembered to have been somewhat Short of 100,000 cartridges. How much more loose ammunition is not remembered.

4. How many arms had we from Congress? Were they complete stands? How many have been furnished Congress since the war?
Arms (most of them complete stands) carried into Continental service by
The
3d Virginia regiment
627
4th
515
5th
270.
6th
673.
2d. state regiment
416
2501.
Colo. Porterfeild’s detamt. sent to S.C. 1780
200
Harrison’s artillery
25
225
2d. 10th. & 12th. none.
2d. 10th. & 12th. none. The 1st. 7th. 8th. 9th. 11th. 13th. 14th. 15th. & 1st. State from which I have no returns (forming an average from the 3d. 4th. 5th. 6th. 2d. State, & the 2d. 10th. & 12th. from which I have returns) may be supposed
2812.
2812
Sent to S. Carola with Colo. David Mason in 1779
1000
1000
Sent to S. Carola with Genl. Scott’s new levies in 1779.
Sent to N. Carolina in 1780. 2200 rampart arms & 1775 muskets & bayonets
3975
3975
We received of Continental arms in 1779, one half of which were rampart arms

5000
5. How many tents, or tent-cloth & other camp necessaries have we?
We had 230 tents in November last. They were delivered for the use of the militia & state troops during that invasion. After the invasion 75 were sent on with Cob. Green’s corps; some were reserved for the troops at Chesterfd. C. H. and the rest are in use with the state troops & militia now in the feud in this state. We have not at present a sufficient number of camp-kettles, but very shortly shall have. We were disfurnished of our canteens by the militia which went to the Southward, and now have very few.
6. What prospect have we of supplies of the above? Also blankets & cloth for Souldier’s clothes?
We have no prospect of any supply of tent cloth. Campkettles we have it in our power to procure from Hunter’s works. There are provided for the men at Chesterfeild C. house 400 suits of clothes, 400 pr. stockings, 200 pr. shoes, 800 shirts, & 200 blankets. The deficiency we have no means of providing, nor yet a single article for Colo. Buford’s corps. Colo. Taylor’s regiment is unclothed and no prospect of our cloathing them. Our Captives in Charlestown are in extreme distress, which nothing will enable us to relieve unless we could get permission to send tobacco to them.





7. How many men have we in the feud? and how many that cannot act for want of necessaries? & what are their principal wants?
for
the
war
for less terms,
or terms not
specified
Total
Gibson’s regiment at Fort Pitt Sep. 22. 1780
61
117.
178
Capt. Heath’s company at F. Pitt, No return beleivd about
30.
30
Taylor’s regiment of guards. Dec. 1. 1780
260
260
Taylor’s regiment of guards. Dec. 1. 1780
60
60
Colo. Buford’s command (cannot act for want of clothing)
500
500
500
Colo. Green’s command
400
400
400
At Chesterfd. C. house
500
500
500
Gibson’s State regiment (including Brent’s 30. men) Jan. 22. 1781
182
40
222.
White’s & Washington’s horse. no return, but said to be about
300.
300
Majr. Nelson’s horse
94.
94.
In captivity at Charlestown. May. 12. 1780
1392.
1392.
Militia in service in Carolina. Jan. 13. 1781
991.
Militia in service in Virginia, to be reduced to
2700
Summary view of this.

In the Feild.
In Captivity
Total
Regulars
2544
1392
3936
Militia
3691
3691
Total
6235
1392
7627
8. What stock of provision. What are our resources, & expectations as to them.
I hope we shall be able to purchase about 3000 hogs. The act of assembly will furnish 3000 beeves. We have engaged 10,000 barrels of flour &can engage more if necessary. The returns of short forage under the specific tax the last year amounted to about 100,000 bushels, and I suppose may be reckoned the same this year. Whatever more may be wanting, can be procured under the provision law. We shall be very far short of the Continental demand in spirits & salt. The pork, beef, & flour abovementioned excludes what we are now consuming.
How far are you
advised as to the wants of N. Carolina?
I have not the least information.



American manufactured wall gun in Rock Island Arsenal Collection





Virginia Delegates to Thomas Jefferson, 27 April 1781

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Jefferson

RC (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). Written by Theodorick Bland and signed by Bland, JM, and Meriwether Smith. Docketed, “Virga. Delegates Letter April 27th.—AD.”

Philadelphia April 27th 1781

Sr.

Having discovered that there were a considerable number of Rampart Arms belonging to the U. S. at this place, which have long lain dormant, (having been supposed useless for the Field,) we have found on enquiry that with a small alteration, and fixing Bayonettes to them they are capable of being renderd exceeding good Field Arms; & knowing the necessity of the State for a Supply of that article we have been extreemely desireous to have them alterd and Sent on with all possible dispatch; we flatterd ourselves that this might have been done expeditiously by the Intervention of some Virginia Merchants who had money in this City which they offerd to dispose of for the purchase of the Arms from the Continent; to have them fitted and transported at their own expence, and on their arrival in Virginia giving the State the offer of them upon terms yeilding them a reasonable Profit for their trouble and expence in so doing; but when they gave in their proposals to us in writing, we were extreemely sorry to find that what would yield them a profit, (far short as they informed us of what might be obtaind by vesting their money in other Articles of Commerce,) greatly exceeded any allowance we thought ourselves Justifiable in agreeing they shd. receive, especially when we considerd the low1 condition of the treasury of the State, and that we must engage the faith of the State for the Immediate advance of one half the Money, and the payment of the other half on the delivery of the Arms.2 This determined us to embrace an Alternative, which we hope in the End will prove more Eligible; we have in consequence of that determination procured an Order of Congress to the board of War to have two thousand Stand immediately alterd and fitted up for field Service, to be forwarded with all possible expedition to Virginia and the remainder to be sent to Maryland and North Carolina.3 In order to accelerate this operation, we must entreat your Excellency to devise some means of furnishing to the amount of 1,300 Pounds hard money or its Value in Paper,4 such as will Circulate in this State; without which we find it will absolutely be impracticable to carry into execution a measure which will be productive of the greatest advantage to the Southern States, for want of some fund in this City we have often found ourselves greatly embarrassed, and frequently absolutely prevented from expediting Succours of whose consequences we are fully apprized to the Southward, and are extremely mortified to find frequently that a very small Sum which would, by being advanced to Waggoners &.c. set them at work; it is neither in our power to advance nor procure, either on our own or the States Credit—it being absolutely impracticable to5 negotiate a Bill we cannot but think it highly proper to fix an Agent for the State in this City, to be furnished with remittances for such purposes, and to transact many other usefull pieces of Business for the State which not only lays greatly out of the line of the delegates duty, but frequently prevents them from bestowing the necessary attention to the more important interests of the State and of the Union in General. Your Excellency will be at no loss to concieve why a remittance of the above Sum for the present occasion is highly necessary and expedient when we inform you that from the tardiness of the States in general to pay in their arrearages of taxes, from the impediments to the Issuing the money according to the Resolution of the 18th of March 1780,6 and from the daily expenditures for carrying on the war the Public treasury is at this moment left destitute of a Single Shilling and has large demands on it which have anticipated what will probably come into it for some months.7

we are with the greatest respect Yr. Excy’s most obedt. Srts

James Madison Junr.

Theok. Bland


Virginia Delegates’ Agreement with Ebenezer Cowell, 27 April 1781

Virginia Delegates’ Agreement with Ebenezer Cowell

FC (Colonial Williamsburg, Inc.). Not in Cowell’s hand nor in that of any of the Virginia delegates, but signed by all of them. Endorsed, “Articles Between the Delegates of Virginia & Ebenezer Cowell about 2000 Ramport Muskets.” A copy made for Governor Jefferson by Theodorick Bland is in the Executive Papers of the Virginia State Library.

Philadelphia April 27th. 1781

Memorandum of an Agreement entered into this 27th of April 1781 Between the Honble The Delegates of the State of Virginia on the one Part, and Ebenezer Cowell of the City of Philadelphia on the other.1

The said Cowell doth hereby undertake to Cut and put in good Repair two Thousand Rampart Muskets, the Property of the Said State,2 in the same Manner, and of the same length as those now Shewn in the War Office, at the rate of Seven Shillings and Six Pence Hard Money, or the value thereof in Paper Money at the Time of Payment.

And the said Cowell doth hereby engage to finish Twelve Hundred of the said Muskets in Fourteen Days from this Time, and deliver the same to the orders3 of the said Delegates to be transported to the said State of Virginia—and the Residue before the day of Payment.

And the said Delegates do hereby engage to Pay the said Cowell or order the said Sum of Seven Shillings and Six Pence Hard Money or the real value thereof in Paper m[oney] for each Musket, in Sixty days from the day of the Date of these Presents; and they hereby agree that if it is not paid at that Day, that the Eight Hundred Muskets or so many thereof as shall be sufficient for the [pu]rpose shall be immediately sold to satisfy the said Cowell his demand according to this agreement.

James Madison Junr

Theok: Bland

M. Smith

Ebenezer Cowell

Ocr. 10th. 1781.4

It appears to Me by a Certificate given by Mr. George Nicolson5 unto the above Mr Ebenezer Cowell that this Contract has been on his part duly, and fully complied with, as will appear by the said Certificate in My possession.

Thomas Pleasants jr

C. A for the State of

Virga.6 in Philadelphia

1. The Bland copy (see headnote) has “of the one part” and “of the other.” Ebenezer Cowell was a flintlock musket maker at Allentown, Pa., from 1775 to 1779, and a gunsmith at Philadelphia from 1779 to 1782. On 3 September 1778 he had become an armorer for the Pennsylvania militia. He was still living in Philadelphia in 1790 (A. Merwyn Carey, American Firearms Makers … [New York, 1953], p. 24; Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. Pennsylvania [Washington, 1908], p. 238).

2. “Rampart muskets” were firearms, ranging from caliber 0.75 to 1.25, designed for use in defensive works and were seldom borne in the field because of their weight (sometimes exceeding twenty pounds) and their severe recoil (Edward S. Farrow, Farrow’s Military Encyclopedia: A Dictionary of Military Knowledge [3 vols.; New York, 1885], II, 633; Charles Winthrop Sawyer, Firearms in American History [3 vols.; Boston, 1910–20], III, 132–33). It is obvious, therefore, why Cowell should have been engaged “to Cut” the pieces. Apparently on 31 May the two thousand arms which might be purchased from the “Public Magazines” had become the property of Virginia (George Nicolson to Virginia Delegates, 28 May 1781, n. 3). On 26 April, Congress had directed:

“That the Board of War cause the rampart muskets in their possession to be repaired; and forward, with all possible despatch, to the executives of the States of Virginia and North Carolina, a quantity not exceeding two thousand, to each state, charging to the said states respectively, the value of the muskets, with the expence of repairing and transporting them” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 450; XXI, 923–25; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 204–5). For a significant modification of this resolution on 31 August 1781, with the unanimous consent of the Virginia delegates, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 923–25.

3. This word is “Order” in the copy made by Bland.

4. This certificate is not appended to the Bland copy.

5. George Nicolson (1758–1802) was an assistant of David Ross, commercial agent of the state of Virginia. In a letter of 15 April, Ross asked Governor Jefferson to request the Virginia delegates to help Nicolson, who was about to leave for Philadelphia, “procure some of the Stores wanted for the Army.” Jefferson most probably adopted the suggestion, but his letter, if any, urging the co-operation of the delegates, has not been found. Nicolson in 1790–1791 and again in 1799–1800 served as mayor of Richmond (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——).description ends , V, 458; VI, 27 and n.; Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 1 May 1781; Madge Goodrich, “The Mayors of Richmond,” typescript in Virginia Historical Society).

6. Thomas Pleasants, Jr. (ca. 1737–1804), of Goochland County was a planter and merchant who was serving as a commercial agent for Virginia (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (Richmond, 1931——).description ends , II, 471; III, 249).




On 26 April, Congress had directed:

“That the Board of War cause the rampart muskets in their possession to be repaired; and forward, with all possible despatch, to the executives of the States of Virginia and North Carolina, a quantity not exceeding two thousand, to each state, charging to the said states respectively, the value of the muskets, with the expence of repairing and transporting them” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 450; XXI, 923–25; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 204–5). For a significant modification of this resolution on 31 August 1781, with the unanimous consent of the Virginia delegates, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 923–25.


Original source: The Papers of James Madison, vol. 3, 3 March 178131 December 1781, ed. William T. Hutchinson and William M. E. Rachal. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963, pp. 86–87.]



From George Washington to John Hancock, 30 August 1777

To John Hancock

Wilmington [Del.] August 30th 1777.

Sir

Since I had the Honor of addressing you Yesterday, Nothing of Importance has occurred and the Enemy remain, as they then were. I was reconnoitring the Country and different Roads all Yesterday, and am now setting out on the same business again.1

Sensible of the advantages of Light Troops, I have formed a Corps under the command of a Brigadier, by drafting a Hundred from each Brigade, which is to be constantly near the Enemy and to give ’em every possible annoyance.2 I have the Honor to be with great respect Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

10 OClock. This Minute 24 British prisoners arrived, taken yesterday by Capn Lee of the Light Horse.3

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW franked the addressed cover of the LS. The postscript, which Harrison wrote on the cover of the LS, is not included on the other manuscript copies. Congress read this letter on 1 Sept. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 8:699–700).

"Advance at Thornberry Farm" by Pamela Patrick White



1. Howe’s aide Captain Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for this date: “At noon about 200 dragoons appeared in front of our jaeger picket; many of their officers are said to have observed our positions very closely, but without approaching us. It was possibly Washington or one of his first generals, reconnoitering. The officer of the jaeger picket lobbed a few shots from an amusette at them. They were too far away, but it caused them to withdraw” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 26; see also Scull, Montresor Journals description begins G. D. Scull, ed. The Montresor Journals. New York, 1882. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vol. 14. description ends , 444).

2. For the creation of this corps and the appointment of Gen. William Maxwell to command it, see the General Orders for 28 Aug. and this date.

3. Muenchhausen says in his diary entry for this date that “Again last night some of our men, while pillaging, fell into the hands of the enemy” (Muenchhausen, At General Howe’s Side description begins Friedrich von Muenchhausen. At General Howe’s Side, 1776–1778: The Diary of General William Howe’s Aide de Camp, Captain Friedrich von Muenchhausen. Translated by Ernst Kipping. Annotated by Samuel Smith. Monmouth Beach, N.J., 1974. description ends , 26).

“From George Washington to John Hancock, 30 August 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified October 5, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-11-02-0091. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 11, 19 August 177725 October 1777, ed. Philander D. Chase and Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001, pp. 93–94.]


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