The Long Rifle and the American Revolution

 

The sheer beauty of this rifle, made with forged steel and curly Tiger maple was unsurpassed in the 1700’s and hard to own, often costing a half years salary. During my research I learned much about the Long Rifle and its many names.

Below is the same rifle built by Davide Pedersoli see the website:

http://www.davide-pedersoli.com/scheda-prodotto.asp/l_en/idpr_99/rifles-pennsylvania-pennsylvania-dixie-percussion-model.html

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The Long Rifle was first made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania around 1705 to 1710 by a man named Martin Mylin who was of Swiss – German descent. A collegiate report below documents the stone built gunshop and the confusion over Martin’s father of the same name.

http://www.millersville.edu/archaeology/files/mylin-gunshop-site-report.pdf

The Dickert or Deckard Rifle made by Jacob Dickert of Lancaster Pennsylvania some similar rifles appeared in the 1730’s and much later with Dickert who had a contract with the Continental Army for the quality Long Rifles during the Revolution. This rifle had other names too such as the Kentucky Rifle when Pennsylvanians made the rifle for those exploring and settling Kentucky such as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

The rifle is more correctly known as the Pennsylvania Rifle. Other craftsmen such as the Swiss, and Germans, some were Mennonites and French Huguenots, who created similar rifles over the mid to late 1700’s. This was the first one that utilized rifling such as “lands and grooves” in the barrel to impart spin to the round ball thus providing bullet stability essential for long distance accuracy. Rifling did not catch on until much later for military use but was used for long range hunting with great success.  The barrel was inordinately long at 40 inches or so and used a round ball from .32 to .45 caliber in most cases for Squirrels to Big Game.

It was later used in the American Revolution by General Washington who instructed Colonel Danial Morgan who’s men already earned the title “Morgan’s Sharpshooters with the Long Rifle, to form a Provisional Rifle Corps with the Long Rifle. Other units contributed sharpshooters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan%27s_Riflemen

 

Morgans first task from General Washington was to pick off leadership and harass the troops of Colonel William Howe’s retreat through New Jersey. This was a new tactic of sniping the enemy. Morgan assigned 500 of his Provisional Rifle Corps to the task and did it safely from long range.

Here is the surrender (courtesy of Wikipedia) of General Burgoyne. Morgan is in White.

Below is a paragraph from website:

http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2009/09/history-long-range-shooting.html

“The most celebrated of Morgan’s riflemen was Pennsylvania rifleman Tim Murphy. Tradition has it that Murphy was ordered to kill a British officer astride a gray horse. Perched in a tree and steadying his aim on a strong limb he missed with his first shot. With his second he mortally wounded General Burgoyne’s Aide de Camp, Captain Sir Francis Clerke, at a range of some 300 yards. Reloading, he next drew a bead and downed General Simon Fraser. Clerke and Fraser lingered for hours in agony before succumbing and were buried on the battlefield. In the end the British losses were twice that of the Colonial forces with rifle fire contributing greatly to the American dominance of the battlefield.” End Quote

As a hunting rifle in Kentucky it was unsurpassed in bringing home game for whole villages or families that created a homestead.

There is a Long Rifle Museum in PA below that you can visit.

http://jacobsburg.s481.sureserver.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/PA-LR-Museum-1.pdf

If you are interested in building your own Long Rifle you can go the website below to get started.

http://www.americanlongrifles.com/Books_frame.htm

The most celebrated book is The Gunsmith of Grenville County below that you can purchase on Amazon.com for $44 dollars.

 

For a Long Rifle weapons rundown by the History Channel go to:

http://www.history.com/shows/top-shot/videos/weapons-rundown-kentucky-long-rifle

Have Fun and Be Safe!

 

 

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About Ed Hale

I am an avid hunter with rifle and Bow and have been hunting for more than 50 years. I have taken big game such as whitetail deer, red deer, elk, Moose and African Plains game
such as Kudu, Gemsbok, Springbok, Blesbok, and Impala and wrote an ebook entitled African Safari -Rifle and Bow and Arrow on how to prepare for a first safari. Ed is a serious cartridge reloader and ballistics student. He has earned two degrees in science and has written hundreds of outdoor article on hunting with both bow and rifle.