The Waynesville Mountaineer (Waynesville, … /
Oct. 9, 1941, edition 1 /
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THE WAYNESVILLE MOUNTAINEER
Of Early Rifles
"Regretted That Such A
Useful Gun Should Be
Dubbed Hog-Riflle", H. C.
Wilburn Points Out.
(By H. C. Welburn)
It is not generally known, even
among educated people, that Ben
jamin Franklin, the wise old phil
osopher that he was, recommended
and strongly urged, on the outbreak
of the Revolutionary War, that the
continental forces be armed with
the English long bow and arrows
instead of guns that were stand
ard equipment for European armies
of that day. Nor is it generally
known that, instead of following
Franklin's recommendation, George
Washington, the day after his ap
pointment as Commander-in-Chief
of the Colonial armies, in June,
1775, advised the Congress to issue
a call ior ten companies of expert
mountain riflemen. '
was adopted. Six of these volun
teer companies were raised in
Pennsylvania, two in Virginia and
two in Maryland. Sixty days after
the call was issued, the ten com
panies reported on the Boston Com
mon, carrying their individual
owned rifles, accoutrements and
other equipment, and were duly
incorporated with the forces al
ready assembled. ,
Prior to this time the different
colonies had raised armed forces,
and they had co-operated in sev
eral enterprises. The above men
tioned call for volunteers, however,
was the first effort by the newly
federated states to ; raise armed
: forces . for the common defense.
And this action constituted the
birth of the American armv which
had as its nucleus the ten com
panies of expert mountain rifle-
men. The imDortant consideration.
in so far as the purpose of this
story is concerned, is the fact that
the men of these volunteer compa
nies were equipped with home
made loner rifles forced out in hack.
woods blacksmith shops throughout
the Appalachian Mountains which,
at tnat time, constituted the front
ler of English sponsored settle
ments. These guns were, therefore,
tne birthright and characteristic
-weapon of the first American army.
And it was the effectiveness of
these weapons, in the hands of men
who knew how to use them, that
made a reputation and created a
respect for American infantry fire.
The reason back of Franklin's
recommendation regarding the bow
and arrows was that he was an
academic type of person, and had
.gained his knowledge of warfare
of that day from European his
tory. Guns that were standard
equipment for infantry of that day
were, at best, a large, smooth
bore flintlock, notable, mainly for
the amount of smoke and noise
it could make, thus creating panic
ana contusion in the enemy, Gen
erally, they were not '.'aimed" at
any definite object, but were fired
in volleys in the general direction
of the approaching enemy.
.. On. the other hand, Washington
had had valuable experience on
numerous scouting trips and war
parties into the French territory
m the Ohio valley. He had seen
expert mountain riflemen,"1 from
a vantage point behind a tree or
rock, pick off a lurking enemy by
a well aimed shot at a distance of
one or two hundred yards, and
sometimes up to four hundred
yards. Washington owed his, suc
cess on these trips and expeditions,
in a very large degree, to his guide
and assistant, Christopher Gist. It
is laid that Gist seldom, if ever
. missed a shot, whether aimed at
an animal or a lurking enemy. On
more than one occasion he saved his
illustrious ward from drowning or
freezing in the wilderness, or from
an unexpected enemy.
History records the fact that
u a result of Braddock's defeat
( combined British and Colonial
troops) by the French, at Fort Du-
quesne, now Pittsburg, in 1755,
five thousand, or more, families de
serted their exposed position on
the Virginia frontier and settled
in tne neamont section of North
Carolina and South Carolina
Among these were the Gists, the
Boones, the Walkers, and many
others who becam famous in their
new locations. It is interesting to
note that Nathaniel Gist, son of
Christopher Gist, soon after thin.
in the lata 1750s. settled n trad.
er among the Cherokees and became
the lather ox hall-breed Seauah
who was the inventor of the Cher.
okee alphabet and written lang
uage. Descendants of Gist, by a
later white marriage, still live in
the vicinity of the Cherokee Res
ervation and the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park.
History also records that as a
result of the deadly "aim" of the
American riflemen, there resulted
the wildest consternation in Brit
ish officialdoms A British states.
man declared on the floor of Par
liament that thev. the Americans.
were the most Drolific widow and
orphan producers in the annals of j
history. Th riflemen were trained
and encouraged to pick the bril
liantly uniformed officers and make
them the subjects of thir deadly
aim. They were usually found
with a small bullet hole in the cen
ter of their forehead or some other
well selected vital spot.
Several of the crucial battles of
the Revolution were won by rea
son of the effectiveness of the ex
pert mountain, riflemen. Saratoga
which was fought in the fall of
1777, brought to a tragic close the
British campaign in the North. It
was successful to the American
cause, mainly, on account of th pf
fectiveness of Daniel Morgan and
his Virginia riflemen. The defeat
ed British then shifted their efforts
to the South, and there follnwoH tha
disastrous fall of Charleston and
bavannah. and the almost, pom
plete subjection of South Carolina
and Georgia. The victorious Corn
wallis then started, in the summer
or iyu, across North Carolina
with the purpose' of subduing this
state, and rejoining recruited Brit-
isn lorces on the Chesapeake Bay.
He reached Charlotte, and had
out oi. erguson and Co . Tarl-
ton to scour the Piedmont back to
the foot of the mountains.
Ferguson was an able and dr.
ing officer, and it was his threat
to cross the mountains
the back-settlements that
the .vira of the leaders of these
uuiu ironuersmen, and lead to the
battle of Kings Mountain, Oct. 7,
1780. This battle was won enf.iro.
ly by expert mountain rifltmen
who carried their own guns and
ammunition, rode their own Wano
and gave their time without hope
of pay or reward, except having
done their duty. Ferguson and his
army were comnletelv destrnvprt
Cornwall is was forced to retreat
I rom Charlotte.
On January 17. 1781. Tarltnr,
Coinwallis other flanking opera
tor, was met at Cowpens by Daniel
Morgan and his riflemtn and
pletely : defeated. Cornwallis 'fin
ally reached the Chesaneukfi t
Yorktown, but hot through a de
feated North Carolina. Washing
ton, who had been watching the
progress of the events from his
post near New York, with the help
of the French navy, closed in and
soon brought the campaign to a
In the battle of New Orleans on
Jan. 8, 1815, twenty-six thousand
British were killed in twenty-five
minute by Andrew Jackson' long
riflemen, with a lns nf hi.
forces of but eight killed and thir
If the frontier riflemen could
have been keDt rnnfiniinnoi i- u
-x--. ui wir
Colonial army, the conflict would
in an probability, have been term
inated in a much shorter Hm
thoese hardy pioneers had little
nme and no patience with a slow
moving army and a long drawn
out camnaien. What thev
done in a dash and .they were soon
";," "me clearing their fields,
building their cabins, or driving
ever troublesome Indians back. In
less than three weeks they had
assembled at Sycamore Shoals on
tne Watauga River (near Eliza
k aw- "
I .cry W f
. " ia an asset to
, clerk, etenog-l
" . ' . 1-
, Your hand an
vel togetuer u,,
f erred ty vi
foe 1 I
' Tfio r.lonntainccr
bethton, Tenn.,) ridden some hun-
ArtA atiH Aftv nilA mAat.1v AVer
wilderness trails; mopped up the
enemy, and were back at their
homes. Not. many days later,
Sevier and nun fit the men that
had participated at Kings Moun
tain, were galloping down the
TenneftfutA river in tha nnnoaitp
direction, to fall uDon the Chero
kees who had planned to massa-
ce the settlers in their bnel absence.-.
' ' ; .
It waa some time about the 1700
that some settlers from the Swiss
Alns and from the. Palatinate area
of Germany began to make then-
appearance in what is now Lan
caster County, Pennsylvania.
Some ' of ' thesA mnnntnineers
brought with them crude, grooved
barrel puns which thev had fearn-
- o --
ed to make and use effectively in
their native land. By about 1725, a
backs t woods blacksmith by the
name of ."Roesser had an imnrnved
these Pima t.haf thev were in mnrh
B - v j .
demand by the frontiersman in his
efforts to keep meat in his cabin
and the lurking Indians at a safe
distance. The characteristics of
the Roesser guns were, a long
barrell, small bore, spiral grooves
inside the barrel and a close fit
Along about 1738 some clever
blacksmith who was nnaaihlv an
. .. - - i' - j
even better marksman, discovered
the idea of wrapping a piece of
soft, - talloWed cloth or buckskin
around his bullet. This insured a
closer bond for the eXDlodini? Erases
prevented "leading" of the grooves
by the passing bullet, and cleared
the barrel from the objectionable
residue left by the explosion of mi
By the end of the next decade
lonowing tnis simple, but tremend
ousiy valuable improvement, a
number Of irrinrnvements and re
finements had been worked out, and
makers, one or more of which
formed an essential part of every
irontier settlement. Most lmnor
tant of these improvements were
correct length of barrel; the num
ber of grooves to give the best
results; correct degree or "pitch"
ior tne grooves in the barrel; prop
er form and Dlacement of. the
sights: hair triccersr the mrreot
amount of powder and weight of
Dunet; and hnally, but not least.
correct form and "hang" of the
Stock. It was also nhnnt. this time
that the settlements began to push
soutnward and westward, and along
with them the stun maker and his
trade. : '
Thus, over a Deriod nf nhnnt a
nan century, these scientifical v
correct nrinciDles of fi re arms
were worked out by the slow and
tedious Drocess of trial and errrr
The blacksmith who Could nrndupo
the best gun had thn createst
number of customers and got the
most braise. The individual whn
used the best eun. toirether with
his own personal prowess and skill,
brOUCht in the most, o-nme ond wnc
most effective in defending his home
and that of his neighbor against the
ever lurking redskin.. Many times
the marksman and the black
smith argued over, and tried out
proposed change and improvement.
it speaks much for the American
pioneer that he was able to start
almost from "scratch" and pro
duce a weapon ideally suitable for
tne purpose at hand. That is to
supply his familv with moot
- - . uv.
tend it from enemies, and fin.
any to win his independence from
a mercenary and . imneriniioti.
motner country.: -
Followine the niirfh
Louisiana country in 1803 and other
important events in the next thir
ty to forty years, the western
frontier erupted, and there arose a
need for a different tvrw. f
The long, cumbersome small bore
oi tne mountaineer was not the
weapon for the hard-riding plains
man srallonincr after th Kflri
and chasing down the Indian
war parties. Saint Louis became
the center of much activity and a
point Ior outfitting westward
moving settlers, every party of
wnich needed arms. A man by
the name of Hnken
length, enlarged the bore and made
uu-er necessary changes in the
mountaineer' rifle, and thus lead
m the development of the famous
nwen itine which also had its
roie to play in American settle
ment and develnnment Tk.
r-... v. xucoc Bic
the guns that were carried by the
western Kangers such as
Jim Bridirer. Kit rr.,n
many Others ennall v..
- t ""ujiis, out
Consideration, of the foregoing
facts misrht lead to tha nnni.,o;.
that the name, "American Rifle."
wouia De appropriate for these
guns. But it must be remembered
that the modern Winchester devel
oped directly from the old Henry
Gunworks of Pennsylvania, which
had fts beeinninor
blacksmith shop. So, that name
would include th Winhe.t.
. . . .v, C0
well as other modern weapons. The
consensus of omninn- mnrr.t
writers on American arms is that
xne name, "Kentucky Rifle," is the
most aCCeDtablo and annrnnnot.
This grows out of the fact that
at tne time the. Kentucky country
was iiirurinv n larerelv in A
can frontier activities, these guns
were at tne height of their devel
opment ana use. The first ex
piorers and lonr-huntera in
area, such as Dr Jnhn xxrii.
winsiopner uist, Daniel Boone,
and many others, were dependent
5COTTS SCRAP BOOK
LAM. ,N CJC
-fitt. CSJWfeR. IANE. rVH.rASf,-(ROUqK TRAWIC?
MARK 'ii te ft vt? ' ;
ML UHPU (
- but rf is wurfftK ih
rtUORESCEMf IKK, AHt SOW$
ULfPA-VIOlif HKf I a.mt.u.
PJE $1fctt, UNttf
or ititfU ArneA,
CRAP1E amp HAY
upon the use of the long rifle in ground." .
their exploration and subjection of It is to be regretted that in
this "dark and bloody hunting the days of its degeneracy, that is,
after it had served its period of
major usefulness, it should be
dubbed, "hog-rifle." There is no
known explanation of this name.
It is assumed that it grew out of the
fact that in its later days and its
local use, it served only as a meat
getter, including hogs. This name
is only local, and has never ap
peared in literature.
As a result of newspaper nuhlir.
ity given to the activities of some
gun smiths in Haywood countv
about a year ago, some twenty-five
to thirty letters oi inquiry from
persons in nearly every state east
of the Mississippi River, exoont
New England, were received. Every
one oi inese inquirers wished to
have one or more aruns repaired, or
a new one made outright by the
oia patterns ana the methods. This
reveals the fact that there is still
vide spread and much interest in
Jiese funs. ' In all worthwhile i
- " - ' 1 v. vur
lections of American arms, atten-
lon is given to the "Kentuckv
Rifle." V .
A reasonablv renresjntat.ive and
complete set of specimens of these
uns, together with the tools and
ppuances usea by the blacksmiths
il the nark region: has heen made
i:id are now stored in several differ
;:it government buildings, It is
.0 be hoped that provision will be
made for an adequate museum
Best For CoW
For two weeks now V J
re has ,
. Thla week-end .k-uTl
forests at their beT 3
to forestry ei Jj
thev are tU,; , n"l
"""B aoout !
Some of the best fan J
leaves rip-ht k . . M
- -o-ii IVUttQ l.9t I
uap cove Creek Gap Q
area and up the Spring
building in whih !,..
may be worked into a ,
ized set of exhihit n,..
quately portray the me8n1
oiKiiiiicance nt tw.. .. ,
valuable relics of 8. no.
iorgotten, stage of AmeriJ
"ijf anu civilization.
Note: This ic
largely from nwinrv .'
wnere tnere is nM Q,.,...
iacuiLies; otnerwise more
statements might have bet
in a number of instance!.
To Support In Haywood A
Growing Farm Effort
Premium Beef-Premium Price;
Connection- Teabone Steak . $j
Tl-e County Agent Says- Sirloin Steak a, 68,
The stores and cafe who bought these JT J rf I Cfi
beeves at auction in Hendersonville paying MXOUtKjL jjICflfC lb
a premium price did so as boosters. ' - - ' ;;' ' - '
The prices paid went way beyond regular PvilYl Rtb jROflStlb. 4ft
market values, and in placing the beef on .. " ' " " ' ' ' '-: ; -j
sale, the stores must charge premium prices PiK Pin4
to avoid a considerable loss. JXLU XVOCioI lb. 0
The prices asked simply distribute the cost Tfilx CfJ.,.. )E
of producing these prize beeves. LlfiU Q LtslJV lb. mM
The Prize Winners-
THE BOYS AND THEIR BEEVES
White , faced Hereford raised bv
Reeves Ferguson, son of Sam Fergu
son, oh Fines Creek. Bought bv the
First Natinal Bank at 16 Vi e with weieht
of 1047 lbs.
White faced Hereford raised by Rob-
ert Buchanan on the Jack Hipps farm
in Cecil Township. Bought by Ray's
at 13c with weight of 874 lbs.
Black Pole Angus raised bv Wavne
Stamey on Pigeon. Bought by Ray's
at 13c with weight of 1044 lbs.
All of these calves graded "Choice"
' Rnvnn. o niuu nf this nrize winning
beef, puts you in the position of being
a Haywood booster.
It puts you on record as beHeving
that the farm boys and girls of a-v
wood are the biggest assets w "V
ii puis you on i etui u an -
the County Agent's Office.
ENJOY EATING WHILE BOOSTIG
. AY . The J I
Supeir astot $10
' St018 Buit By Service To Haywood County-
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