FIREARMS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION – Committee of Safety Muskets
Committee of Safety Muskets. In the spring of 1775 the many committees of safety throughout the thirteen colonies were greatly concerned to provide guns for the inevitable war. As a general thing each committee detailed at least one member to attend to the manufacture or purchase of arms. These men engaged the gunsmiths — there were at least 200 in the Colonies, mostly south of New England — and many blacksmiths, to make arms under contract. Perhaps 50 per cent of all the gunsmiths in the Colonies were in the middle Colonies, but probably the first muskets made for use against England were made in Massachusetts, which was the Colony where the principle of "liberty or death" was first most aggressive. Following the act of Great Britain in 1774 prohibiting the exporting of firearms to the Colonies, Massachusetts appointed Richard Falley (also spelled Foley), of Westfield, Massachusetts, Thursday October 27, 1774, as master armorer. He was already locally celebrated as a gun maker. He established at once a factory of considerable output. The next Colonial factory was established by act of the Assembly of Virginia in June, 1775, at Rappahannock Forge near Fredericksburg, Virginia. This armory was destroyed by fire before 1780. Then came Pennsylvania, which established in February, 1776, a gunlock factory in Cherry Street under Peter de Haven, master. This "lock" factory quickly developed into a full-fledged armory, and the records of the time mention constantly the manufacture and repair of guns there. In the "Minutes" of Wednesday, August 20, 1777, it is called the "Factory of Muskets and Other Arms." It was then at French Creek in Chester County, and on October 3, 1777, the Council of Safety voted to move it to Hummels Town in Derry Township. It was abolished in 1778, and an order was issued December 17,1778, to auction the tools and parts of incompleted firearms. Apparently there was no bidder, for January 10, 1779, Mr. Stiles, Commissary of Military Stores, was ordered to receive the following stores and give his receipt to Mr. de Haven: 139 sets complete and finished gun mountings; stamps and brands; 113 gun locks; 237 gun barrels; 141 new muskets lacking only bayonets and ramrods; 25 new muskets lacking only ramrods; 18 new muskets complete; 300 gun stocks.
Beginning October 27, 1775, Mr. Robert Towers was directed to prove all the muskets made in Philadelphia for the Provincial Service and to stamp them P. In the "Minutes" there is constant mention of the purchase of brass for "mounting the Provincial muskets." Copper, of which to make brass, is mentioned July 19, 1776. The name "firelocks" occurs repeatedly for flintlocks. The muskets made at the "factory," and also by gunsmiths, were, after the 5th of December, 1775, supposed to be made in accordance with a pattern musket, but the rule was not enforced; anything that was serviceable was acceptable. According to the recommendations of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, July 3, 1775, muskets were to have barrels 3 ft. 8 in., bore 17 balls to the pound. July 18, 1775, gun makers were recommended to make substantial muskets with barrels 3 ft. 6 in. long, to carry an ounce ball, and to have bayonet and steel ramrod." Valley Forge supplied muskets modeled after the Charleville 1777 pattern. Their lock plates were stamped "V. Forge" and the date of manufacture.
Sawyer, Charles. Firearms in American History. Boston: The Author,
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