Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Van Campen Inn

On Sunday the Frontier Guard set up a display at the Van Campen Inn in Walpack, NJ.  

The inn, at the intersection of  the old Military Road that ran from Elizabeth Town to the Delaware River and the Old Mine Road along the Delaware River, is a stone building that dates back to the 1740s, and thus was an important location on the frontier during the French and Indian War.   In fact, the Headquarters Fort of the Frontier Guard, Ft. Johns, was located on a rise directly behind the Van Campen Inn (Some sources claim that the Inn itself served as Fort Johns, but that doesn't quite square with the sketch of the fort Hampton drew).

The morning was crisp and windy, but it was sunny, and it warmed up a bit as the day went on.

It was good to see Dom, who retired from the active membership last year, fall in with us again.  He's a good guy, knowledgable about the era and a good person to muster with.

The senior corps of the Colonial Musketeers also attended, playing a nice mix of fife and drum pieces.  Our junior member certainly enjoyed the music, especially as he got to bang the drum with them.  

The Walpack Historical Society gave tours and sold books and refreshments.  There were demonstrations of corn shelling, cider pressing, and blacksmithing.  The crowds were large, and we were busy all day.  People enjoyed themselves, and it was a great event.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Wilson Contract Fusil

**Please note: all photos in this post are copyright Bill Ahearn and used with his gracious permission for informational/reference only.  Please respect his copyright. **

One of  the most impressive pieces that I have seen or handled is a fusil made by Wilson of London as part of a 1757 contract of 2,000 pieces for the Royal Province of New Jersey.  Made during the French and Indian War, this arm also saw Patriot use during the American Revolution, making it a significant artifact of American history.  As Mr. Ahearn has said, "I've been able to identify two other Wilson fusils but thus far the one I have is the only New Jersey marked fusil that I've been able to identify."

This is an exceptionally light and trim weapon, with a weight of approximately 6 1/2 pounds, a bore of .71 cal., and a barrel length of  approximately 38".  Unlike most civilian fowling 
pieces of the period, the stock ends approximately 
6" before the muzzle, allowing the use of a socket bayonet.  

The round-faced lock has an external bridle and is simply marked "Wilson."
The trigger guard resembles that of a Brown Bess and is drilled for a sling.

The sideplate resembles the Brown Bess plate, but given the smaller surface area of the lock panel, it looks proportionally larger.

The thumb plate, also patterned after the Bess, is engraved with the number 10.

The barrel bears both Crown proofs and Wilson stamps.

The stepped buttplate is engraved "New Jersey."  Mr. Ahearn notes that there were 2 contracts, one from 1748 and one from 1757.  The 1757 contract came after the loss of approximately 350 of the New Jersey Provincial Regiment, the "Jersey Blues," at Sabbath Day Point in 1757.
Some have claimed that there must have been three contracts, as buttplates bear three different styles of engraving, but according to Mr. Ahearn, there is no record of a third contract; it is far more probable that there were simply two engravers who worked on the 2,000 pieces.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quiet Valley Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival last weekend was one of the busier events the Frontier Guard has attended, packed with visitors, vendors, exhibits, and food.


It was good to see Adam is recovering, and we look forward to the day when he can again fall in with us.


The weather was beautiful, and our distaff members were busy showing off children's toys and games to large and enthusiastic crowds.

In between visitors, they also took a bit of time to do some needlework.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Touching a Piece of History

Last Thursday evening, noted collector and author Bill Ahearn came to Washington's Headquarters Museum and gave a talk on muskets of the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution.  The event, sponsored by the North Jersey American Revolution Roundtable, was well-attended, and Mr. Ahearn gave a very nice talk indeed, with excellent, detailed photos of long arms from Hudson Valley fowling pieces to rare 1730 pattern Brown Bess muskets,  and from a 1760 sergeant's carbine, to Wilson contract fusils.

Even better, he brought a large number of pieces from his collection:

A trio of rare Brown Bess muskets

A 1760 pattern carbine, most likely issued to sergeants...

A 1759 pattern Light Dragoon pistol

This was my favorite: a fusil made by Wilson of London. Part of a 1757 contract for 2,000 pieces for the Province of New Jersey,  this light and trim scaled-down musket saw service in both the F&I War and in Patriot hands during the American Revolution.

And yes, thanks to Mr. Ahearn's gracious nature, I not only got to examine the pieces, but to hold some as well.  My grin says it all.

Bill Ahearn's book, Muskets of the Revolution and French and Indian Wars has a wealth of detailed information on these pieces and many others.  It's a great source of information.  I suggest you pick up a copy; I have mine autographed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quiet Valley this weekend

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm near Stroudsburg, PA is having its Harvest Festival this weekend.  The Frontier Guard will be setting up a display there.  Hope to see you!