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Old November 22, 2012, 08:28 AM   #1
indy1919
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WHat Firearms did the pilgrims bring

Just in time for Thanksgiving, What guns did the Pilgrims pack..


The 1st link is pure fun.. The Second is just eye candy to impress the kids .. The THird is a pretty long hard core read but great to help the Turkey digest..

Happy Thanksgiving all...

Guns of the Pilgrims

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MayflowerHistory.com


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Firearms in Plymouth Colony
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Old November 22, 2012, 10:12 AM   #2
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Happy Thanksgiving all!

Thanks for the links. Wheel-locks for the high end crowd and match-locks for others.

Jamestown, while a little later, also provides valuable insights into that period.
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Old November 22, 2012, 10:26 AM   #3
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Uh, Jamestown was earlier.
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Old November 22, 2012, 12:18 PM   #4
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Yup!
Jamestown was arrived at/first settled on May 14, 1607
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Old November 22, 2012, 12:25 PM   #5
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The two are close and the firearms would not have changed.
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Old November 22, 2012, 01:13 PM   #6
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Second link won't open for me
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Old November 22, 2012, 05:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
The two are close and the firearms would not have changed.
So "later" is no different from "sooner" as long as they're close?
Wow I love precision.
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Old November 23, 2012, 06:10 PM   #8
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If you want to see one of the original firearms that belonged to the Massachusetts colonists, the NRA museum has a wheellock musket that was found inside a wall in some old house in Massachusetts. It is impressive and is in excellent shape, probably not having been touched in 300 years. Likewise, there was an old helmet dug up in the 17th century settlement of Wolsetenholmtowne, near Williamsburg. It is also referred to as Martin's Hundred. The settlement was abandoned after the Indian revolt in 1622. The settlement was located almost directly in front of the house at Carter's Grove.

In fact, after referring to some references I have on the subject, there were two helmets found, both of the closed style (face entirely covered). You can imagine what shape they were in having been in the ground a stone's throw from the James River, yet they were restored and are on display somewhere. I thought of those when reading posts about those who have found firearms, or the remains of one, somewhere in the ground.
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Old November 24, 2012, 11:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Quote:
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The two are close and the firearms would not have changed.
So "later" is no different from "sooner" as long as they're close?
Wow I love precision.
No major change in technology. Gonnes evolved a lot slower back then and Charles Darwin wasn't around to help with natural selection.
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Old November 24, 2012, 05:15 PM   #10
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Charles Darwin wasn't around to help with natural selection.
So, you're saying, like, that there was, like, no "survival of the fittest", like before Mr. Darwin "invented" it?

Isn't that a bit like denying gravity before Sir Isaac Newton "invented" it?

How do you explain the failure of the James river colony attempt without Darwinism?
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Old November 24, 2012, 05:23 PM   #11
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And remember, the wheellock was the "assault" rifle of the day.
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Old November 24, 2012, 08:42 PM   #12
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Wogpotter - they weren't on the James River. They were on the peninsula side opposite of the York River. Had Darwin been with them, he could explain why they were dropping like flies and how if they kept two guns in close proximity to one another they would eventually multiply and produce a better gun. Its proven to work in our gunsafes nationwide. Mind you, despite long evolutionary progress, defects (name the brand here) do show up and something ugly does appear now and then.
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Old November 24, 2012, 08:51 PM   #13
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Peterson wrote a book about this period : "Arms and Armor in Colonial America 1526-1783"

Not much on the Pilgrims, but they did have match locks and a few had flint arms, which were snaphaunce locks.

The book shows a snaphaunce lock excavated at Jamestown.

Peterson also wrote : "Arms & Armor of the Pilgrims"

He says there are no records which positively state wheel locks were at Plymouth and no relic wheellocks survived. It is a could be for wheellocks. The Pilgrims used "fowling pieces" and pistols. In 1677 the Plymouth General Court outlawed the matchlock, so Peterson concludes the snaphaunce was the principal ignition system by then.

Some stuff here:

http://www.pilgrimhall.org/C-arms.htm

I would say, just look at the arms of the British Civil War and you will see the same equipment at Plymouth.
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Old November 25, 2012, 06:48 AM   #14
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Since Peterson's book, there was a wheellock found, as I mentioned earlier. It is on display at the NRA museum not far from where I live. I suspect, however, that they didn't have many, the wheellock being an expensive weapon. At the rebuilt Jamestown fort, matchlocks are used for shooting demonstrations. Don't know if they have a working wheellock.

While Jamestown was a little earlier than Plymouth Colony or Massachusetts Bay Colony, so also was the Quebec colony and the Spanish colony in New Mexico. They don't teach that in Virginia history but they make a big deal of Pocahontos.
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Old November 25, 2012, 10:08 AM   #15
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Well, not to argue but when I was there taking these pictures in 2006 it absolutely was on the James river. I don't know what else to say.

The pics are the foundations of what the map refers to as the "4th statehouse" & you can see the James River & it's ferry in the background. The foundations are literally right on the bank of the river as is the reconstructred stockade for the fort. The archaelogicalo dig in thr ruins of the governors house is only about 25 yards from the bank as well so this is the correct site for the Jamestown colony.


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Old November 25, 2012, 05:09 PM   #16
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I was only kidding about the York River. I've been on that Peninsula many times and even caught that Hwy 31 freebie ferry. My mistake was that I should have returned by ferry boat rather that get caught up in the automobile traffic that's around Fortress Monroe. The National Park Service at Jamestown has a glass blowing foundry and I bought a bottle that I gave my sister-in-law.

I went to Yorktown because of two sieges (Revolutionary War and the Civil War) and sharpshooting stories that arose from them. I even tried to find a little known battlefield (Spencer's Ordinary which is in Freedom Park). The Virginia State War Museum and the Mariner's Museum are nearby too. The latter has the USS Monitor and the former has an 8" railroad gun outside. The Seven Days' Battle was fought there as was Seven Pines and Drewry's Bluff. If one gets tired of the Peninsula, there's Petersburg with its Siege Museum and battlefield and Richmond with all its historic sites (Chimborazo, Museum of the Confederacy, Belle Isles, Tredagar Iron Works, Marshall House, Valentine Museum, State Library).
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Old November 25, 2012, 06:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
They don't teach that in Virginia history but they make a big deal of Pocahontos.
My family has a lot of history in Jamestown and Henrico County in general beginning in 1634. We once owned Varina plantation of Pocahontas fame.
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Old November 25, 2012, 09:00 PM   #18
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Not a problem, Gary. Its just that so much joking in the net becomes "fact" when re-quoted elewhere.
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Old November 25, 2012, 09:07 PM   #19
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good topic. there's a good account of the firearms actually used by the plymouth adventureist writen by Capt.Miles Standish. on Dec 8th,1620, a group of colonist landed at what became known as wellfleet bay. a skirmish broke out immediately with local natives. in Standish's account, he says they used their snaphunce muskets to hold the savages at bay while members of the landing party ran back to the shallop(landing boat) to bring up the extra matchlock muskets left in the shallop. he also states that every man be equiped with a musket sword and corslet. corslet is a period term for light armor. edged weapons were also brought along, halberds, pikes, broad swords, rapiers. nothing dealing with the prilgrims at this time mentions pistols, other than those carried by M.Standish. detail study indicats they may have been scottish snaphunces pistols. there is no mention of wheelocks. in coloinal america it seems wheelocks don't show up in arms inventories much past the 1620s. having used wheelocks, I can understand why colonists would be reluctant to have them. cost is a big factor. then as now,there is a limit to how many times they can be consecutively fired. the best I ever did was 12 shots befor the wheel jammed up. priming powder residue and pryrite debre lodge between the wheel and lock plate making the wheel unspanable or slowing it down till it won't give fire . finally, the high maintenance, the chain drive stretches and breaks, sears wear down not allowing the wheel to hold. ect. not to mention losing the spanner. without this tool the wheelock is useless. it is what is used to wind the lock. by the way, they only wind a quarter of a turn. as for the wheelock in the nra museum, its Italian 1630-1650s and it is from the work shops of Brescia. supposably restocked in america oak. the stock style is classified as a club butt. this style didn't appear untill the 1660s. while the gun may have been used in colonial times it was probably much later in the 17th century. perhaps by Brewster's decendants, hence starting the story. I digress, hope this helps answer your question.
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Old November 26, 2012, 07:52 AM   #20
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I suspect that wheellock pistols and carbines were used more by mounted troops than others until replaced by some form of flintlock, mainly because of the difficulty of using a matchlock while mounted. Although they were expensive, acquiring and maintaining a horse was probably more expensive.

I have heard of Harold Peterson and his books starting in the 1950s but I'm not sure I've actually ever read one. I think he also wrote a book entitled "The Last Mountain Man" about a character in Montana, whose name escapes me at the moment.
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Old November 26, 2012, 08:31 AM   #21
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One of the neat parts of this is that the written record is spotty at best... But then the further confusion come into play with firearms being converted.

Even the wheel-lock that John Alden had, there really did not seem to be any "proof" that he had that at the time of the landing, other the it was in his house some years later.. Of course always in history there has to be a little guessing and assuming...


Does anyone have an idea at that time frame what a Matchlock, Wheel-lock and
snaphunce cost?????

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Old November 26, 2012, 03:39 PM   #22
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Chances are it belonged to Miles Standish anyway.
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Old November 27, 2012, 12:41 AM   #23
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need to make a correction on my thread of Nov.25 8:07. The wheelock in the nra is from the Alden family, not Brewster, my mistake. there is an English gun maker cost sheet dated 1631, describing wheelocks, snaphunce and matchlocks and there accouterments. I don't understand the monetary conversion though. its in a book, 'The Age of Firearms' by Robert Held 1957 #56-8764. while wheelocks had mechanical issues, they were well suited for hunting and use on horseback. nobility hunting in eruope only needed to fire a few shots per hunt. becuse the wheelock has no hammer to fall and the wheel runs through the priming pan, the sparks are generated in the priming powder. the ignition is so fast the priming charge is still a light as the ball is leaving the muzzle. calvery in the late 16th and 17th century carried braces of wheelock pistols and were used as shock troops. here, they fired their pistols into the opposing line to break it up, then road off. in europe, both civilian and military wheelocks were maintained by military articifers or skilled gunsmiths on retainer by the noble huntsman. not so in colonial America. before leaving the 17th century and wheelocks here's something of interest. in 1645 Peter Kaltoff built 100 wheelock magazine repeaters. they were issued to picked marksmen of the royal danish foot guard. they saw heavy use in the scandinavian war of 1675-79. these rifled guns were 38 cal. and held 30 rounds worth of powder and ball held in tubes in the stock. the trigger guard operated a series of square valves, gears and cams that moved powder and ball to the breech/chamber. also it used the same gears to wind the wheel and dispense priming powder from a seperate magazine in the dog(thats the appendage that holds the pryrite). this was all accomplished by tilting the muzzle downward and swinging the trigger guard horizontally half a turn out and back. modern arms scholars believe these guns could be fired as rapidly as a henry rifle. though no one in modern time has tried this. Kalthoff also made these military repeaters in miquelet and flintlock, these were made in 1667 and in 52 cal. none of these ever saw use in the Americas. but in 1756 John Cookson of Boston was making 20 shot flintlock repeaters. there is a advertisement for them in the april 1756 edition of the boston gazette with a full description of there capabilities. there is one of the boston made cookson repeaters in the vault of the Milwaukee Public museum. its frame is cracked and there's a split in the barrel, but the mechanics of it still work. having working the action on this one, I do believe it could fire nearly as fast as a henry! how cool would that be to bring out to the range, I mean one that was sound to shoot. as always, hope you found this informative.B.C.
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Old November 27, 2012, 12:59 AM   #24
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just remember what my professor taught me a long time ago: there is no place for revisionist history in history.....all kinds live whether stalin taking people out of pictures he liquidated to people claiming berkley started thanksgiving.

yes, and I am willing to debate because the truth of the matter is: thanksgiving today started with the pilgrims. it doesn't mean someone didn't give thanx in 1619, it means the traditions evolved from the pilgrims led us to our thanksgiving holiday. like all traditions, some is myth and some is truth(example: the first meal might have been more fish and beans but they kept meeting and having that meal.......)
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Old November 27, 2012, 03:24 PM   #25
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yes, and I am willing to debate because the truth of the matter is: thanksgiving today started with the pilgrims.
Afraid it goes back much further than the pilgrims. The pilgrims got the idea from the English form of the "harvest festival". The pilgrims didn't start it, but they did bring it to American with them.
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