Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 31
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Before the American Revolution, the colonies were not very
advanced in an industrial sense, and most of the manufactured
goods that were needed came from the Old World, especially
firearms. Gunmaking in America didn't really commence on a
large scale until the start of the Revolution. However, soon there-
after, the gunmaking trade spread because of the demand for fire-
arms during the Revolution and after the war to satisfy the needs
of the new and expanding country.
Firearms consist of three basic parts; lock, stock, and barrel. The
lock is the hammer and trigger assembly used to fire the piece;
the stock is the wooden handle that mounts the lock and barrel;
and the barrel is the iron tube that holds the powder charge and
shot. This powder charge, when ignited through a small hole at
the rear of the barrel, causes the explosion that fires the gun and
projects the shot out of the barrel.
In Revolutionary America, the only part of a firearm that was
readily available was the stock. The supply of wood and the num-
ber of craftsmen were endless, but locks and barrels had to be im-
ported from Europe. In the early 1770s, when colonists began to
arm themselves for the coming conflict, their only source for these
iron musket parts were ones that had been salvaged from guns cap-
During the French and Indian War, which took place in North
America between 1754 and 1763, American colonists fought
with the British against the French and Indians. New Englanders
participated in the two sieges of Fortress Louisbourg on Cape
Breton Island, Nova Scotia (the first in 1745 and the second in
1758). On both of these occasions hundreds, if not thousands of
muskets, were captured from the French and sent back to New
England. These guns were stripped of their iron parts, which
were then recycled and used to build muskets for the colonial
militias, consisting of citizen soldiers. The result was a unique
musket with a French lock and barrel and an American stock
made of native wood, mostly maple and cherry.
The weapon pictured at the top of page 30 is one of these New
England Militia Muskets, and this particular gun is especially impor-
tant because the history of its Revolutionary War owner is known.
This musket has a lock from a French Model 1746 military
musket and a barrel from an even earlier French Model 1728
musket. The hammer, or cock, is a crude copy of a French model
1763 musket cock. The stock is made of New England maple.
The owner of this musket was Major Jesse Curtis, who was a
member of the Connecticut State Militia during the Revolution-
ary War and one of those soldiers who "answered the Lexington
alarm" in April 1775. He also participated in the Siege of Boston
in May and June of 1775 and in the most important battle of the
Revolutionary War at Saratoga, New York, in October of 1777.
Curtis answered the call again in July of 1779 at the Battle of
Ridgefield, Connecticut. See Image 3 on opposite page.
This musket is marked with its owner's name on the top of
the barrel and is stamped with a U.S. surcharge or property
mark at the rear of the barrel as were all muskets in U.S. ser-
vice, by order of George Washington. See Image 4, above.
The left side of the stock is marked "SC" for State of Con-
necticut, and the brass side plate on the left side of the stock
is decorated with 13 stars. See Image 5, below.
There will be many more old guns discussed in future edi-
tions of this column, but few if any will hold such an impor-
tant place in United States history as this old firearm. Had it
not been for muskets of this type and the patriots who car-
ried them against the British, we might all be singing "God
Save the Queen."
Tom Power, of Utopia, researches, collects, and sells antique and
Author' note: Readers with questions about old guns are in-
vited to submit them to admin @texashistoricalfoundation.
org. Please be advised that answers to these questions may be
printed in future Old Gun columns, for everyone' benefit.
HERITAGE Volume 3 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/31/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.