(#1) Morristown National Park, Washington’s Headquarters,    Morristown New Jersey, U.S.A./ archival material, A.K Davis letters  and correspondence.

        (#2) The 33-inch iron Ferguson barrel (measured from the face of the breech) has a 1 in 58 twist with .020 deep round bottomed rifling.  This is .005 deeper than the rifling grooves (.015 with 1 in 56 twist)   found on the “rifled carbines”(Pattern 1776 rifles) – the standard  depth for a patched ball. The extra depth of the Ferguson rifling  kept the high velocity (1150 FPS at the muzzle) soft lead ball from  “skipping” in the bore. The chamber is 1-1/4″ deep, making the ball  travel for 31-3/4 inches until it exits the muzzle. These   specifications were all taken from the Morristown gun.

        (#3) Bailey, D.W., British Military Flintlock Rifles 1740-1840, Andrew  Mobray Publishers/ Lincoln, Rhode Island, 2002, 42.

        (#4) IBID, op. cit., 41. Author’s note: The numbering process and basic items needed for an accouterments set meets the 100-rifle figure. Each set consisted of two “plates”, one for the cross strap and  one waist belt plate, thus the “200” numbered pieces were enough to equip  only 100 men. The numbering of the rifles was done in three places: butt plate (on curved part – barely visible on the Morristown specimen from  wear), breech tang and trigger guard bow. Only 100 guns were numbered  accordingly, and the bill paid. Ferguson’s expectations of 200 guns never  materialized, probably due to the necessity of sending him to America  before this could be accomplished.

        (#5) At this time we believe the original 1776 “experiment” included the testing of bronze vs. iron plugs (as found on the Milwaukee specimen) – possibly a 50% split . The plug is the most critical part  for reliable functioning. Experiments with new rifles show that the bronze  plug performs slightly better than the iron plugs on extended firing. It resists rust (better for field use) and the bronze plug cools quicker than the surrounding iron barrel, allowing it to release easier from the upper breech area Both weapons are  original in all respects so the question of the types of plugs becomes interesting. Ferguson’s Smithsonian rifle mounts an iron plug as well as  many civilian versions. The India pattern rifles have a straight 10 start iron plug with only the forward flat cut – no “fouling” cuts per his patent. Our  SN 1 split at the top (about half way across the plug) in the area facing the bore (at about 1000 rounds) from the shock it received at each firing. This  repeated “hammering” from the shock of the explosion hardens the bronze in the same manner as actually striking it with a hammer.   We do believe the civilian models used iron plugs simply because it would   not have seen long extended use, being fired only a few times in hunting. straight plug design.  The “flat” referred to is cut on the front of the tapered plug facing   the muzzle when closed. This flat surface (equal to the flat surface of a standard fixed breech) directs the force of the explosion down the bore instead of around the threads.  The smaller vertical cuts were intended to scour the walls of the  breech as it opened depositing residue into the recess cut into the face of the breech plug behind the plug itself. It did not work any better than previous straight plug design. Of course such “fouling cuts” would serve no purpose on a tapered plug since it moves away from the walls of the breech as it opens. It is quite possible that the extremely crude cuts added to the Milwaukee plug were  done to make it into what people believed had to exist on the plug to make it a true “Ferguson”.  Little did they know that they were wrongly “enhancing” a genuine tapered plug military rifle.  No concrete evidence has ever surfaced to show that once Ferguson left England with his 100 rifles any more were ever built.  Barrington’s March 6, 1777 letter to General Howe confirms that only 100 men were being sent to him by order of the King with the new “Riffle Barrel pieces” and “that experiment should be made in the most proper manner as to their utility.”, and by Ferguson’s own letter of October,  1777 he admits to having less than 90 men on the field at Brandywine but a 90% effective rate was not uncommon for a 100-man unit.

    (#6) The Smithsonian accession records show that J.W. DePeyster loaned the rifle and bayonet to the War Department and then had it transferred directly to the Smithsonian in 1905. The rifle was also displayed at The Colombian Exposition in 1893. (Smithsonian Archives/ supplied by Mr. David Timpany by direct correspondence with David Miller, Assistant Curator,  Military History Department, Nov.21, 2006)

        (#7) Blackmore, British Military Firearms, 1650-1850, Greenhill Books, London/ Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, 81.

        (#8) WO 3/5, 16.

        (#9) IBID 46/10, 136.

        #11) “American Inventions and Improvements in breech-loading small arms”, Chaplin & Gould, 1880, Charles B. Norton, Pg.399(Appendix)

        (#12) WO 46/10, 400.

        (#13) IBID, 64.

        (#14) IBID 47/89, 111.

        (#15) IBID 47/88, 292.

        (#16) IBID 47/87, 533.

        (#17) IBID 4/88, 256.

        (#18) IBID 47/89, 102.

        (#19) IBID, 47/89, 126.

        (#20) Bailey, op. cit., 43.

        (#21) WO 47/88, p.106.

        (#22) Ferguson, J., op. cit., 63. SEE APPENDIX II for details.

        (#23) WO 47/89, 102.

        (#24) IBID, 4/99, 138.

        (#25) IBID, 47/89, 111.

        (#26) Bailey, op. cit., 43. Ed. Note: The “Superfine powder -SDS” supplied by Messrs. Bridges, Eade & Wilton” was also referred to simply as “Glazed Powder” in 1776. This term shows up in the Lewis & Clark expedition journals for use in the new U.S. Harper’s Ferry short rifle carried on his expedition in 1803. It is ironic that America’s first “military” rifle was dependent upon the use of this new powder from England. Prior to the mid-19th century the term “glazed” referred to “corned powder” (wet powder mixture forced through screens to produce small solid uniform pieces) that was naturally glazed by tumbling to produce a denser and more polished grain.  After 1850, graphite was introduced to the tumbling process to produce a shiny grained surface which was thought to make it less hydroscopic (Dupont  Archive Correspondence, July 2004).

        (#27) WO 47/89, 135.

        (#28) Bailey, op. cit., 44.

        (#29) WO 4/273, 227-8.

        (#30) Bailey, op. cit., 44. It is still unclear if all of Ferguson’s rifles accompanied him on his initial voyage.  We know that all 100 rifles were finished by the end of 1776, but a March 26, 1777 letter confirms that only 67 rifles (and 33 bayonets) were loaded on board his ship for North America.  Additional correspondence indicates that 33 of his rifles (with  40 bayonets) were loaded on a ship as late as June 22, 1777.  Ferguson set out from New York on the Philadelphia campaign (Head of Elk) on July 20 1777, so it possible that he did not have all 100 rifles at Brandywine. The number of breech loaders in hand may explain Ferguson’s comment about taking out various small groups (up to 30 at a time) of men from his “90 man” detachment. If he only had 33 rifles complete with bayonets, an important tool he put to good effect, he may have simply  rotated those weapons with each group he took to the front. In this way  every man in the unit may have gotten a taste of battle that day – a sort of the “on the job training”.  Any rifles arriving in New York after the Philadelphia campaign would have been put into Ordnance Stores (probably in New York) to await his need.

        (#31) Bailey, op. cit., 45

        (#32) IBID, 43

        (#33) IBID, 45

        (#34) IBID, 49. Ferguson’s reference to “Bays dead men” comes from a play  written in London around 1673 called “The Rehearsal”, in which “BAYES” (one  of the characters) states (after two soldiers kill each other) “all these dead men you shall see rise up presently at a certain note that I have made in Effaut flat, and fall advancing. Do you hear, dead men? Remember your note in Effaut flat”, and as music plays the dead men rise. Ferguson’s familiarity with the play by the Duke of Buckingham(2nd) comes from his Edinburg roots.  One of his requests in his letter to his brother is to confirm his achievements through a Capt. Burns of Wymess’s rangers,  who was the son of a tenant of the Duke at Dalkeith (just East of Edinburgh).  So probably both he and his brother George were familiar with  the local lore and plays of his roots.  Ironically, in a letter to Dr. Tenpenny written on Oct 6, 1780 on King’s Mountain, he refers to himself as one of the “Kings of Brentford” from the same play, writing, “Here we are Kings of King mountain – altho there is indeed another throne on ridge opposite us where Genl. Sumpter and your humble servant may like the Kings of Brentford reign vis-a-vis in day  light – but at night war shines”. Ferguson was ready and waiting patiently to do battle with the “King” opposite, with not only full confidence in his “partisan army”, but especially in his riflemen who had never let him down.

        (#35) IBID, 49/51. General Von Knyphausen reported that the ambush was by “300 rifflemen of the Ennemy”, explaining the heavy casualties from one  volley of fire received by the Wymess’s Queen’s Rangers. Ferguson’s return of casualties for the entire action was 2 men killed and 5 wounded (out of 70, which is not 25%), but he states that none of his men were injured in the morning ambush. The Queen’s Ranger Americans  under Wymess, who had 40 men total (30 privates) reported 17 casualties during the battle. If we add Ferguson’s 30 men to Wymess’s number (it is clear from Ferguson’s statement that they were fighting as a combined force), we have a total of 70 men.  A quarter of that comes out to 17, explaining Ferguson’s “1/4 casualties” remark suffered within this small detachment of mixed troops.  The old saying “it’s a small world” comes true here. Company “A” (Chamber’s Rifles) of the 1st Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, raised in Chambersburg, Pa. in 1776, were at Chad’s Ford opposite Ferguson’s  men and were most likely the riflemen that fired upon them, inflicting the        above casualties. They gave way (having no bayonets) and retreated in orderly fashion (on the run according to Ferguson) and continued to slow the British advance with rifle fire while the rest of Washington’s army escaped. It was also probably one of these riflemen who wounded Ferguson later that morning. They were all hardened frontiersmen, living on the Western Border of Colonial America since the 1740’s, fighting Indians constantly for survival, and all noted for being deadly marksmen.

        (#36) Bailey, IBID, P48. Many post war accounts give Count Pulaski and another officer as the men Ferguson saw that morning. Ferguson own account was “a Rebell officer remarkable by a huzzar dress passed towards our army  within 100 yards of my right flank, not perceiving us. He was followed by  another dressed in dark green or blue and mounted on a very good bay horse  with a remarkable high cock’d hat.” It was this second officer that was  within Ferguson’s range. Ferguson remarked about the incident that he  “seldom missed a Sheet of paper and could have lodged a dozen balls in or about him before he was out of my reach”. As Ferguson lay wounded in a British hospital the following day, another wounded Rebel officer informed  him that “Gen’l Washington was all morning with the Light Troops,  generally, in their front and was attended by a French officer in huzzar Dress, he himself mounted and dressed as above directed. The oddness of  their dress had puzzled me and made me take notice of it. I am sorry that  I did not know all the time who it was”. From his conversation with the wounded Rebel officer, Ferguson held the belief until his death that he had spared Washington’s life. Most historians, as do we, grant him the benefit of doubt.

  (#37) Ferguson, Adam, Biographical Sketch, or Memoir, of  Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Ferguson, originally intended for the British Encyclopedia, Edinburgh, 1817, Page 17.

   (#38) Bailey, op. cit., 51

        (#39) IBID, 51.

        (#40) IBID, 52.

        (#41) IBID, 54.

        (#42) IBID, 54.

        (#43) IBID, 55.

        (#44) With only seven “unserviceable” weapons left in Ordnance Stores in New York in March,1783 – where were the remainder?  The seven left behind confirms that the order for their return was complied with. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is the remainder of the arms found “serviceable” went back into combat. The actual number eventually returned  on the recall with all their accouterments is unknown.  Ferguson had only  70 “infantrymen” on King’s Mountain with which he made his numerous  bayonet charges against the rebels. This may have been the total number of returned rifles that still retained their bayonets. We can assume that if there had been more rifles with bayonets – they would have been on the  front line at King’s Mountain.

        (#45) Draper, Lyman, “King’s Mountain and Its Heroes”/ 1881, Reprint Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore MD, 1997, 55. One of the best books written about the King’s Mountain battle. Draper interviewed many relatives of the participants.

        (#46) IBID, 55.

        (#47) Ferguson, J., op. cit., 72.

        (#48) IBID, 73.

        (#49) Kemble, Stephen, Stephen Kemble’s Orderly Book and Journal, Collection of the New-York Historical Society, 1882,1883. NEW YORK, 1883,1884, 164.

        (#50) Ewald, Johann, Captain, Diary of the American War/ A Hessian Journal, 1979, translated and edited by Joseph P. Tustin, Yale University Press, Pg. 161.

        (#51) Pattison, James, Major General, Official Letters of major James Pattison, New York Historical Society, Part II/ 1875, 95.

        (#52) There seems to be confusion with historical arms writers as to the  size of British “carbine” and “pistol” ball. To standardize ammunition the British Board of Ordnance adopted weapons that fired three standard size balls – musket, carbine, or pistol. The Chatham barracks request for “carbine ball” in 1776 confirms that his rifle required a .650 carbine ball. Ferguson’s request for “pistol” ball along  with “rifle flints” and “carbine ball” now makes sense in that we discovered late in our research  that BOTH carbine and pistol balls could be fired successfully in his rifles.        Since our P76 rifle project showed that it requires a .610 pistol ball, we can easily conclude that this was the “pistol ball” size Ferguson also used. It is important to note that no two references seem to agree on standard ball sizes and weight per pound. Much of this confusion may have come from authors reading 18th century French documents and then converting “calibre “(ball size) to “caliber”(bore size). This difference in spelling is of French origin and was used to denote the difference  between BORE and BALL size in many 18th and 19th century writings.  The terms  are not interchangeable and caused a lot of problems during translations.  Each country had its own way of measuring balls and was dependent upon lead purity. The use of specific words in period correspondence (as shown in Ferguson’s request) and knowing the weapon for which it was intended, helps to settle the actual “calibre”(ball size) at the time of the writings. For our purposes we settled on the standard British military  ball sizes (approximately) as – “Musket” .690, “Carbine” .650 and “Pistol”  .610.  A 1740’s British ball chart listed in “The Queen Anne Pistol, 1660-1780, Burgoyne, 2002” shows a one-pound ball diameter at 1.690  inches, but the author noted that later charts used 1.671-inch diameter  for a 1-pound ball. He also notes that of 14 charts he had available for references, no two agreed on ball diameters in inches!

        (#53) ACADIENSIS, A QUARTERLY DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS OF THE MARITIME PROVINCES OF CANADA, VOL VI. No. 4, October,1906, 237-246. This article by Jonas Howe contains the names of the 123 officers and men raised from  The King’s American Regiment, The Loyal American Regiment, The First New  Jersey Battalion, The Second New Jersey Battalion, The Fourth New Jersey Battalion, and DeLancey’s Third Battalion. Howe notes that “As far as can be ascertained, nearly all members, except the commander, Major Ferguson, were native born Americans, and many descendants of the earliest European settlers in New York and New Jersey, specially chosen for that service – loyalty, intelligence and skillful marksmanship be requisite”.  He also notes that all were veteran soldiers, and had been in the British service from the beginning of the Revolutionary war in loyal regiments”.  This is a far step above his original recruits from England in the  Brandywine campaign, bearing out the fact that he needed better talent to  handle his breech-loading rifles. (See APPENDIX I for the roster)  A disposition of William Forbes dated 1776 at New York explained “that two hundred acres of land were offered by Governor Tyron of New York to  each man that would go into the King’s service, and one hundred to the wife, and fifty to each child.” This may help to explain why so many of Ferguson’s loyalists volunteered from the New York area, thus they are often referred to in many period articles as “New York Volunteers”. (See American Flintlocks, 2000, Daniel Hartzler/ James B. Whisker, Pg. 65).

        (#54) IBID, 240.

        (#55) The Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research, Vol III,

        1924, Printed by Gale & Polden, LTD, LONDON & ADERSHOT, 106.

        (#56) The Siege of Charleston; Journal of Captain Peter Russell, December 25, 1779, to May 2, 1780), 483.

        (#57) Chesney, Charles Cornwallis, Essay’s in Modern Military Biography/Chesney, Longmans, Green, and Co, London, 1874, 137.

        (#58) Ferguson, J., op. cit., 78. These actions with Tarlton are confirmed in a work entitled “Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain from 1727-1783 by Robert Beatson, Esq. L.L.D., Volume 4, published in London in 1804 where, on page 19, he states – “The activity. however, of Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton, in remounting his Majesty’s cavalry, was such, that by the time the army broke ground before Charleston, Sir Henry  Clinton was enabled to detach him with a body of horse into the country,  where, joining a light corps under Major Ferguson, they repeatedly fell in with, routed, and dispersed, several of the enemy’s detachments of cavalry  and militia, taking several of their men and horse, with a very trifling loss”. Ferguson’s men were probably serving as mounted infantry during these actions. This was exactly why Ferguson, anticipating such deployment adopted the “sword bayonet” for his rifle.

        (#59) IBID, 81.

        (#60) Draper, L, op. cit., 140.

        (#61) IBID, 139.

        (#62) Ferguson, J., 83, for specifics of his “orders”.

        (#63) IBID, 88. The second written proclamation from Denard’s Ford, Broad River, Tyron County, dated October 1st, 1780, reads: “Gentlemen: – Unless  you wish to be eat up by an inundation of barbarians who have begun by  murdering an unarmed son before the aged father, and afterwards lopped of  his arms, and who, by their shocking cruelties and irregularities, give the  best proof of their cowardice and want of discipline: – I say, if you wish  to be pinioned, robbed, and murdered, and see your wives and daughters, in four days abused by the dregs of mankind – in short if you wish or deserve to live and bear the name of men, grasp your arms in a moment and run to  camp. The Backwater men have crossed the mountains; McDowell, Hampton, Shelby and Cleveland are at their head; so that you know what you have to  depend upon. If you choose to pissed upon forever and ever by a set of  mongrels, say so at once, and let your women turn their backs upon you,  and look out for real men to protect them”. Signed Pat. Ferguson, Major, 71st Regiment.”(The Yelling Boys/ Russell B. Sorrells, 1998, P105 – great reading). I have no doubt this is correct language as it became known as  the “Pissing Proclamation” among the frontiersmen. Most 19th century writers (including James Ferguson and Draper) edited the words, using “be  degraded” in its place, due to Victorian ethics. The frontiersmen urinated  upon Ferguson’s body in retribution for the words in the proclamation.  Some old writings speak of the act, but not many, preferring to use the  word “defiled” when they do. This proclamation did more to incite the  frontiersman than his verbal warning, creating a thirst for revenge that  could only be quenched in bloodshed.

        (#64) Draper, L., op. cit., 247. Captain Abraham DePeyster participated in  the battle of Musgrove’s Mill in Laurens County, South Carolina, August 19, 1780, where about 500 combined British forces under Alexander Innes,   Abraham DePeyster and Daniel Clary faced a force of about 200 patriots under Isaac Shelby, James Williams and Elijah Clarke. Shelby’s force, many armed with rifles, waited behind a hastily erected breastwork while a small group of patriots attacked the main camp, then retreated to draw the enemy towards the waiting main force. Once in range the patriots rose up and delivered a devastating volley into the British ranks. The British immediately disengaged and began a hasty retreat with the patriots hot on their heels yelling like Indians. The running battle became an embarrassing rout of the British and Tory forces, with frontiersmen  chasing down their frightened foe for miles through the woods, killing  them with rifles, swords and hatchets. The battle was described as “one of  the hardest ever fought in the country with small arms alone”. The British  defeat was overwhelming. estimated casualties: British forces – 63 killed,  90 wounded and 70 captured and American losses 4 killed and 12 wounded. DePeyster must have had a cold chill run up his spine when he realized  they again faced those same “yelling boys”, thus his remark.        .

        (#65) Ferguson, J., op cit., 92.

        (#66) IBID, 108.

        (#67) Moss, Bobby, Uzal Johnson, Loyalist Surgeon, A Revolutionary War Diary, 2000, 75. A footnote remarks “Johnson is making a distinction at this point between the Provincials (New York and New Jersey Volunteers) and the militiamen from the Carolinas and Georgia”. The Provincials were Ferguson’s Corp of riflemen. He also mentions the “70” American Volunteers  acting as infantry – the ones who would have carried Ferguson’s rifles  complete with bayonet to make the charges down the mountain. He lived in Newark, NJ after the war and died in 1827.

        (#68) Draper, L., op. cit., 510.

        (#69) IBID, 237.

        (#70) Moss, B., op. cit., 74.

        (#71) Ferguson, J., op. cit.,109.

        (#72) Draper, L., op. cit., 270

        (#73) IBID, 237.

        (#74) Moss, B., op. cit., 75.

        (#75) Draper, L., op. cit., 261.

        (#76) This feat could mean the difference between life and death in a battle. Shooting a rifle without a patch was done simply by shaking in the powder from a horn (experienced frontiersmen could do it without using the measure) and then spitting a ball into the muzzle. A tap of the butt plate  on the ground would seat the ball against the powder. The “spit” would help seal the ball in the bore and give enough accuracy to strike a  man-sized target at 50 to 80 yards. There are accounts of frontiersmen  loading their rifles on a run in this manner. This was probably done more than we can imagine during the battle. The only drawback was that fouling  builds up rapidly (after 3 or 4 shots), requiring ramming a naked ball or perhaps shooting a patched ball to clean the bore.

        (#77) Draper, L., op. cit., 269-270.

        (#78) Ferguson, J., op. cit., 65.

        (#79) Draper, L., op. cit., 343.

        (#80) IBID, 510.

        (#81) IBID, 320/326.

        (#82) IBID, 326.

        (#83) Dugger, S.M., War Trials of the Blue Ridge, S.M. Dugger, 1932, Observer Printing House, Charlotte, S.C., 69/44. Dugger also uses the term “Provincial Lancers” when referring to Ferguson’s Rifle Corps, perhaps due   to the 25″ double sided bayonet which, mounted under the rifle, would give the appearance of a “lance” associated with cavalry units.

        (#84) Neal, W.K., “The Ferguson Rifle and Its Origins”. (Bulletin of American Society of Arms Collectors/Fall 1971)

        (#85) Draper, L., op. cit., 120.

        (#86) Ferguson, J., op. cit., 54 (opposite Ferguson’s portrait).

        (#87) IBID, 123.

        (#88) This is the same charge needed for the rifled carbine (P76). This made rolling powder cartridges a simple task on a campaign when both rifles were in use (such as Brandywine). Modern “Schutzen” powder works in the Pattern 76 carbines but not in the Ferguson.  Through experiments, we discovered that the best mixture to lubricate  the balls consisted of about 10% beeswax and 90% lard, materials readily available in his day. In addition, this mixture created a sticky surface  that would eventually dry and hold a cloth patch to the ball, creating a fixed bullet with patch for the pattern 1776 rifle, making it easy to start  into the muzzle to be rammed home with the steel  rammer. In the Ferguson, the bare lubricated ball reduced fouling. We have   been informed by Revolutionary War collectors that many belly boxes (carried by light infantry with rifles) of the Revolutionary War contained  an unknown greasy residue obviously left over from greased balls, loose  or patched. This residue, from our research, can now be explained. We also  believe this same mixture was used to lubricate the “plug” threads of the  rifle and could be applied to all metal parts of the gun for preservation  from the elements.   Books list “beef tallow”(Hindu) and “lard”(Muslim) as the cause of the Sepoy mutiny depending on the audience of the mutineers. The British claimed they used beeswax (they immediately switched to an oil-beeswax  mixture but too late). Our experience with pre-patched balls for the   “rifled carbines” (Pattern 1776 rifles) and greased naked balls for the  Ferguson proved a mixture of beeswax (25%) and lard (75%) to be the best. These ingredients were readily available anywhere on this continent or in  Europe. As explained, this combination adheres the patch to the ball for the  rifled carbine, making it suitable for undisturbed carry in the “belly box” used by the riflemen carrying the P76. Rolled powder charges could then be carried (less a fixed greasy ball) in the smaller specially designed  rifleman’s cartridge box. An 1842 manual called for “mutton-suet” (grease rendered from sheep fat) for patched balls but it would not set  up like the mixture we used that allowed the patch to stick to the ball.  Both the Ferguson the P76 used 75 grains of SDS powder – 10 for the pan (priming) and 65 for the main charge.

    Appendix I

          Roster of the 123 officers and enlisted men forming Ferguson’s last Southern Rifle Corps.  Source: Acadiensis/ Vol. VI, October 1906, No. 4., “Major Ferguson’s Riflemen – The American Volunteers”, by Jonas Howe. A journal published in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, where many of the Loyalists settled after the war. This article fully identifies the main body of Ferguson’s Corps of riflemen on King’s Mountain. It covers his unit from the time it left  Savannah on March 5th, 1780, to the disaster at King’s Mountain, October 7th, 1780. Much of it was taken from Draper and Allaire’s diary.   From the article it is worthy to quote one paragraph from page 241:

          “In all muster-rolls the corps is designated “Major Ferguson’s Corps”,   but Lt. Allaire writes of it as “The American volunteers, a name only applied in his diary. In a tabulated “general return” of all Loyalist Corps serving in South Carolina on September 1st, 1780, it is called “Major Ferguson’s Corps and the strength given is nearly the same as in the general muster. Among the mass of muster-rolls no separate roll has been found of Ferguson’s Corps. The corps was mustered at New York in the closing months of 1779 and officers and men prepared for the dangerous, on which they were  to sail, and on the 26th of December 1779, sailed from New York, with the  army under Sir Henry Clinton, and after a dangerous voyage arrived at Savannah, Georgia. The general muster on leaving New York, and which follows, includes the names of officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates, with the names of regiments and captains from which they were transferred”.  

                                     Unit composition

                    Surgeon             1

                    Captains            3

                    Lieutenants       4

                    Sergeants           8

                    Corporals           6

                    Drummer           1

                    Privates           100

                    Total              123

             As the article notes, nearly all the men on this roster, collected  from the surviving muster-rolls of the Loyalist Regiments that supplied them, were “native born Americans, descendants of the earliest European settlers in New York and New Jersey, specially chosen for their  service-loyalty, intelligence and skillful marksmanship being a perquisite.  The officers were selected by Major Ferguson from the Loyal American  Corps, and they selected only men from their regiments, and carried with  them the chosen spirits from their own companies. All were veteran soldiers, and had been in the British service from the beginning of the Revolutionary War in loyalist regiments”.

             This information alone tells us that these were no ordinary men intended to use muskets – they were riflemen, armed with as many of Ferguson’s breech loaders as he could muster (at least 93 if all were turned in as ordered – 7 were left in storage in New York as  unserviceable). Ironically, the 100 privates were the same number of men  in Ferguson’s first Rifle Corps and this was not by chance. He was reorganizing another unit to use his special rifles. We know this because  of the following well documented facts.

            That they were indeed “riflemen” cannot be disputed. Not only were they called “riflemen” in many period accounts, but Ferguson used  that exact word to describe them when summoning help at Kings Mountain. His “riflemen” were the only ones who made the “bayonet charges” down Kings  Mountain and his “rifles” are the only ones in the British Army that mount a  bayonet to make that feat possible.

            The fate of the men on this roster is basically unknown but future study may fill in these gaps. We have taken the liberty of adding additional information from other sources as it was found. Some may have not been on  the mountain due to various reasons, but 18 riflemen ended up in shallow graves on King’s Mountain and a few of the 33 wounded may have died later.

        We cannot put names to all of those killed, wounded or taken as prisoners.  They were simply Loyal Americans doing their patriotic duty to a country  to whom they felt allegiance. We can now at least put names to Ferguson’s   final Rifle Corps as they departed New York on 26th December,1779 with   Sir Henry Clinton’s Army headed for Savannah, Georgia.

        Commander – Major Patrick Ferguson, 71st Highlanders

        Second in Command – Captain Abraham DePeyster, King’s American Regiment  was from an old Dutch family in New York. Born in 1753, he died in St. John  in Feb 19, 1798 and lies in an unmarked grave in the Old Burying Ground in  that city.

                             *King’s American Regiment*

        Sergeant Asa Blakesly – Captain Thomas Chapman’s Company (survived and made his way back to British Lines)

        Drummer Francis Good – Captain John Wm. Livingston’s Company

        Private Jonah Cass – Captain Thomas Chapman’s Company

        Private David Jones – Captain John Wm. Livingston’s Company

        Private Samuel Cary – Captain John Wm. Livingston’s Company

        Private Silas Howe – Captain John Wm. Livingston’s Company

        Private Patrick Headon – Colonel Edmund Fanning’s Company

        Private Daniel Blue – Lieutenant-Col. George Campbell’s Company

        Private Noah Pangborn – Captain Isaac Atwood’s Company

        Private Peter Simpson – Captain Isaac Atwood’s Company

        Private John Dalton – Captain Robert Gray’s Company

        Private David Fraser – Major James Grant’s Company

        Private Christopher Nicholls – Major James Grant’s Company

        Private William Miller – Captain Abraham DePeyster’s Company

                            *Loyal American Regiment*

        Lieutenant Anthony Allaire, the historian of the unit was born at New Rochelle, New York on February 22, 1755, Of Huguenot descent, he died at Fredericton, New Brunswick on June 9, 1836. He escaped the prisoner march   on November 5th, 1780 and eventually arrived at the safety of Fort Ninety-six on the 23rd of November and eventually found his way to Charleston on the 29th.

        Lieutenant Duncan Fletcher – died at St. Andrews, New Brunswick

        Sergeant David Ellison – Captain Simon Kollock’s Company  (Survived and made his way back to British lines)

        Private John Fratingsburg – Colonel Bev. Robinson’s Company

        Private Samuel Sharp – Colonel Bev. Robinson’s Company

        Private James Campbell – Captain William Fowler’s Company

        Private John Strong – Captain William Fowler’s Company

        Private Thomas Donelson – Lt. Colonel Bev. Robinson’s Company

        Private Sylvanus Cronk – Lt. Colonel Bev. Robinson’s Company

        Private David Duff – Lt. Colonel Bev. Robinson’s Company

        Private Samuel Roan – Captain Christopher Hatch’s Company

        Private William Kemp – Captain Christopher Hatch’s Company

        Private Stephen Williams – Captain Christopher Hatch’s Company

        Private Francis Turner – Captain Christopher Hatch’s Company

        Private Stephen Chapple – Captain Simon Kollock’s Company

        Private Henry Smedgel – Captain William Howison’s Company

        Private Jordan Morris – Captain William Howison’s Company

        Private William Longstaff – Captain William Howison’s Company

        Private Ahamerus Terwilliger – Major Thomas Barclay’s Company

        Private Nathaniel Chambers – Major Thomas Barclay’s Company

                         *First New Jersey Battalion*

        Surgeon Uzal Johnson – captured at King’s Mountain,   (Apr 17, 1757 – May 22, 1857)

        Captain John Taylor – wounded at King’s Mountain, settled in Nova Scotia  (May 15, 1742 – Nov 13, 1822)

        Sergeant John Campbell – Captain Garrett Keating’s Company

        Corporal John Evans – Captain John Taylor’s Company

        Corporal Samuel Hibber – Captain John Cougle’s Company

        Corporal Christopher Sheek – Captain Joseph Crowell’s Company

        (Survived and made his way back to British lines)

        Private Levi Hall – Captain John Taylor’s Company

        Private Peter Hawn – Captain John Taylor’s Company

        Private Ebenezer Darwin – Captain John Taylor’s Company

        Private Malaciah Bowhan – Captain John Taylor’s Company

        Private John Hazen – Captain John Cougle’s Company

        Private Henry Mills – Captain John Cougle’s Company

        Private James Matthews – Captain John Cougle’s Company

        Private James Barclay – Captain John Cougle’s Company

        Private Eliagh Quick – Captain Joseph Crowell’s Company

        Private Robert Erwin – Captain Joseph Crowell’s Company

        Private Daniel McCoy – Captain Joseph Crowell’s Company

        Private Henry Berger – Captain Joseph Crowell’s Company

        Private Michael Miller – Colonel Joseph Barton’s Company

        Private Joel Daniels – Colonel Joseph Barton’s Company

        Private Joshua King – Major Thomas Millidge’s Company

        Private Clement Masters – Major Thomas Millidge’s Company

        Private Boltas Snider – Major Thomas Millidge’s Company

                        *Second New Jersey Battalion*

        Lieutenant William Stevenson – fought at King’s Mountain, died at Weymouth, Nova Scotia in about 1818.

        Sergeant James Causlin – Captain Norman McLeod’s Company

        Corporal Randle Ensley – Major John Antell’s Company

        Private Henry Horn – Captain Norman McLeod’s Company

        Private Nicholas Myzin – Major John Antell’s Company

        Private Hugh Jones – Captain Donald Campbell’s Company

        Private Edward Donnelly – Captain Donald Campbell’s Company

        Private John North – Captain Waldron Blaan’s Company

        Private Conrad Kingstaff – Captain Waldron Blaan’s Company

        Private John Worth – Captain Waldron Blaan’s Company

        Private John Hurley – Colonel John Morris’ Company

        Private Mordecia Starkey – Colonel John Morris’ Company

                           *Fourth New Jersey Battalion*

        Captain Samuel Ryerson – wounded at King’s Mountain, paroled Oct 13, 1780  at Walker’s plantation, moved to Canada after the war.

        Captain Martin Ryerson

        Sergeant Charles Brown – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Sergeant Richard Terhune – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Corporal Thomas Mulvain – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Corporal Ralph Burris – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private George Dickerson – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private Martin Wolohan – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private James Crab – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private John Troy – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private Ezekiel Pulsifer – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private Zopher Hull – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private Thomas Wilkens – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private William Vaughan – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

        Private Robert Thompson – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Private John Hayes – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Private Joseph Westervelt – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Private Peter Spear – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Private Jacob Westervelt – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Private Joseph Pryor – Colonel Abraham VanBuskirk’s Company

        Private John Shetler – Captain William Van-Allen’s Company

        Private Caspaures DeGraw – Captain William Van-Allen’s Company

        Private Sylvester Ferdon – Captain William Van-Allen’s Company

        Private William Van-Skiver – Captain William Van-Allen’s Company

        Private Benjamin Furman – Captain William Van-Allen’s Company

        Private David Dobson – Captain William Van-Allen’s Company

        Private John Crane – Captain Philip VanCourtland’s Company

        Private William Thompson – Captain Philip VanCourtland’s Company

        Private Laurence Kerr – Captain Philip VanCourtland’s Company

        Private Samuel Babcock – Captain Philip VanCourtland’s Company

        Private Samuel young – Captain Philip VanCourtland’s Company

        Private Patrick McQuire, Snr – Captain Philip VanCourtland’s Company

        Private Noah Killohan – Captain Samuel Ryerson’s Company

                            * Delancey’s Third Battalion*

        Sergeant Henry Townsend – Captain Edward Allison’s Company

        Captain Allison was hit by three balls at King’s Mountain

        Sergeant James Cocks – Captain Charles Hewlett’s Company

        Private George Innis – Captain Edward Allison’s Company

        Private George Boodle – Captain Edward Allison’s Company

        Private John Gleoron – Captain Edward Allison’s Company

        Private Noah Gildersleeve – Captain Edward Allison’s Company

        Private Alexander Cain – Captain Thomas Lester’s Company

        Private Daniel Wanzer – Captain Thomas Lester’s Company

        Private Abraham Nichols – Captain Thomas Lester’s Company

        Private Frederick Cronckite – Captain Thomas Lester’s Company

        Private John Hevaland – Captain Charles Hewlett’s Company

        Private John Banack – Captain Charles Hewlett’s Company

        Private John Gibbs – Captain Elijah Miles’ Company

        Private Moses Olmstead – Captain Elijah Miles’ Company

        Private John Sherman – Captain Elijah Miles’ Company

        Private John Sharpe – Captain Elijah Miles’ Company

        Private Paul Wooster – Captain Elijah Miles’ Company

        Private George Weekly – Captain Gerhardus Clowes’ Company

Appendix II

6th Regiment “Light Infantryman” Sketches  by Philip Jakob de Loutherbourg,  Anne S.K Brown Military Collection, Brown University, (John Hay Library) 

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Full Painting
Inset of Ferguson’s men


    ABOVE- Full painting with bottom close-up of Ferguson’s men in lower left corner.  A detailed study of the painting shows that it depicts Ferguson’s men using  previously prepared sketches in Fig. 1 & Fig.2.  

   Philip Jakob de Loutherbourg (1740-1812) was an English artist of French   origin. He came to London in 1771 as an established and renowned artist. As such, he become painter to the court and, as court military artist and accompanied the King on excursions, especially where military affairs were involved. Many of his sketches exist with soldiers of various regiments depicted. The “6th regiment” identified soldier is just one of those  many sketches but is of particular interest to the Ferguson story.  Though our research on the special equipment used by his men, we were  able to shed some light on these sketches that show up in many books and  articles misidentified just as a “British Light Infantryman” but from the circumstances under which we now know they were created we learn it is something very special. The artist identifies the above drawings as a 6th Regiment Light Infantryman  but if we study them carefully we see a weapon and  equipment that is was not used by normal light infantry soldiers. It becomes  apparent that it is one of Ferguson’s “volunteers” from the 6th Regiment  specially outfitted for his rifle demonstration before the King at Windsor   on Oct 1, 1777 carrying a Ferguson rifle and special equipment. This would   have been his once in a lifetime chance to sketch these men if full gear.   These sketches were later used to create his painting “Warley Camp: The Mock  Attack” which is now part of The Royal Collection in which Ferguson’s men   are clearly depicted in the lower left-hand corner. The detailed figures in  the painting match his sketches. Loutherbourg attended the “battle” at the  military camp at Warley near Brentwood in Essex along with the King and  Queen on October 20, 1778. Lieutenant-General Pierson commissioned the  painting and presented it to King George III in 1779, after which it was  exhibited at the Royal Academy. By 1807 it was hanging in the Music Room  in the Dutch House in Kew. It is signed and dated 1779, oil on canvas,  measuring 122.9 X  184.0 cm. We were graciously presented with a photograph of the painting, taken by Stephen Chapman in 1996, in honor of our Ferguson  Rifle research project. Our project was well known and respected within  English gun collecting circles.

           The 6th Regiment of Infantry (1 Warwickshire) arrived in New York in  November of 1776 after spending four years in St. Vincent, West Indies. The men were all so sick that within a month those who were fit were drafted to other units and the remaining 158 men set sail for England in early 1777, landing at Deptford in March. The unit had to be totally rebuilt over the next year. It was during that time Ferguson was  instructed to recruit his men from this unit (along with the 14th Regiment  who traveled the same road as the 6th) while they were at Chatham   barracks.

           The first clue that this is not just a “Light Infantryman” is that Light Infantry at that time had no “specialized” accouterments or weapons. They just lightened their loads (especially packs with the intent to live off the land) to move rapidly through rough terrain as flankers and skirmishers, plus conduct raids on enemy camps, without the normal baggage  carts. They often fought Indian style warfare avoiding line tactics,  allowing more maneuverability in battle. The soldier depicted has  specialized equipment, a special uniform coat and his shorter weapon is  not a musket but one of Ferguson’s rifles.

           The second clue to his identity showed up in a recent article in Arms &   Armor Magazine, Vol. 5, No.1, 2008, 69-77, entitled “The Honor of Firing Before His Majesty – Patrick Ferguson’s Will and the Royal Armories’ Ferguson Rifle” by M.M. Gilchrist. The following information was derived from that article. (see APPENDIX III)

           We learned that Ferguson’s demonstration before the King on October 1, 1776 was no accident – it was all carefully planned and carried out by Ferguson. In his own words -“Knowing that the King retires there three days a week & I having some acquaintances in the Reg. which mounts guard on him I proposed to Fottheringham (Pouries Son Macleods Nephew) who happens to command there, that I would bring down some rifles & teach his  men the use of them, in hopes his Majesty might hear of them. I had been three days at work with my Disciples when yesterday morning I had a  message from the King by Col. Egerton to inform me that his Majesty meant to see them at five in the afternoon.”

           At the appointed meeting, Ferguson had his men fire at 100-yard marks  but they did not “acquit” themselves properly, to which Ferguson remarked  to the King that his soldiers “were more disturbed by his presence than  they would have been by that of their enemy”.  As Ferguson was proceeding  to fire, the King asked how many shots he could fire in a minute. His reply was that he could fire 7 shots randomly but could only bring down 5   of his Majesty’s enemies.  He then demonstrated the rifle, firing 9 shots  in two minutes, three on his back and another six as fast as he could  standing, putting 5 balls in the black spot and the other four within 4  inches of it.

           He goes on to write – “The King was pleased afterward to examine my   equipment, as well as a dress calculated for Service which I had brought into the field upon another man on purpose and after considering the  lightness certainty and expedition of the Rifle Gun with the quantity of ammunition a man could easily carry he was pleased to observe in my hearing ‘he is an army in himself'”.

           The special uniform, rifle and accouterments worn by his prepared soldier is what inspired Loutherbourg to make his sketches. The artist  was certainly well acquainted with common infantry uniforms and accouterments, but this soldier was quite unique, making him worthy of special attention and captured in the details of his sketches.  Most noted were the new accouterments this soldier displayed for use  with the new rifles which were unlike any other soldier of his day. The way in  which his rifles were loaded and fired demanded new items since nothing  in the British inventory at that time was suitable for a rifleman. Careful examination of the equipment in the sketch tells us a great deal about  this soldier and his identity.

           The figures show this special equipment for use with his rifles.  We noticed that some of the equipment is worn in different locations on the  figures, viz. the cartridge box (on cross belt in several and right side at waist in another) and “ball bag” (depicted on both waist belt and cross  strap). The various manner of equipment placement may represent modes of  “march”, viz. for column and field march (for comfort) and another as worn when   in combat. We know he had his men had been prepared “in a dress well   calculated for service” and he probably explained all of this as well as  each piece of equipment, placement and modes of dress in detail to the King.

        Knowing Ferguson he would not have missed this unique opportunity to “sell” his project.  Some of the highlights in the sketches are as follows:

          #1. The weapons depicted is not a standard musket. Note its length and that the sling is not attached at the trigger guard (it touches  at the center of the trigger bow). The Ferguson rifle sling attaches  to a swivel mounted opposite the lock so it would not have been visible  to the artist. These were the details he captured. Two of the light  pencil sketches show the very long sword-bayonet mounted UNDER the muzzle which is unique to his rifle.

          #2. The “LIGHT INFANTRY” Cartridge box. Collectors first recognized it  as only a “Light Infantry Box”, erroneously  attributing it to the 1777 time period, but it’s size and configuration tells us it was designed  in 1776 for use with the new 1,100 rifles (1000 pattern 76 rifles and 100  Ferguson rifles). It was removed from British inventory (and use) in June of 1784 at the end of the American Revolution. If it was just a “Light Infantry” box it would have remained in British inventory since  the light infantry concept continued beyond that period.  The size and lightweight box design is not suitable for use with any weapon firing a “fixed cartridge” (rolled cartridge with ball attached).  This new “rifleman” box was designed only to carry pre-rolled powder  cartridges for use with pre-patch P76 pistol balls or the naked greased  pistol and carbine balls capable of being used in the Ferguson rifle.  The P76 (pre-patched pistol balls) and greased Ferguson .650 carbine  balls were carried in a “belly box”. The greased pistol balls, also capable of being fired in the Ferguson for rapid fire, were carried in a special “ball bag” shown in the sketches in several places.   From the 2 original boxes (they are rare) that have survived in collections, we know it utilized a 5-compartment metal tray on top  and a lower tray to hold spare cartridges. One other example had an 18-hole wood block on top with the metal lower tray. It may have been  modified at some point with the block replacing the tray.

          #3. New small sized “BELLY BOX” shown in the drawing on his waist belt to carry greased .650 carbine balls.  Since the cartridge did not contain a fixed the “ball”, another box  was needed so a new smaller “belly box” appears on the scene  without the wood block as found in the standard musket “waist box”. These  two items are now found in period correspondence to distinguish between them.

           The 71st Regiment (Ferguson’s unit – 3 Battalions) and 1 Battalion of the 42nd Regiment made up the new 4th Light Infantry Battalion. History notes that these 2 units now carried “belly” boxes and were issued 50 pattern 76 rifles. If the Battalion Company strength was 50 men (which is not unusual), the entire 4th Light Infantry may have been riflemen. This would have given them a combined minimum effective strength of 200 riflemen (2 Battalions Companies with P76 rifles and two with Ferguson rifles). This is only a conjecture.

          There are surviving “belly” boxes that contain grease residue which until this study was a mystery. We now know these were “riflemen” pouches for carrying these naked greased or pre-patched rifle balls.

          #4. Light Infantry POWDER HORN shown on right side.   Another new piece of rifle equipment was the powder horn. Our United  States 1808 rifle manual allows men to load with powder and measure,  reserving rolled cartridges for rank firing. The British used the same  tactics, allowing the horn to be used for loading without the cartridge or  re-priming with the cartridge use. The painting clearly depicts one  figure with a powder horn only used by riflemen.

           The new “SDS” fine powder, upon which all three rifles relied, was suitable for priming directly from the rolled cartridge. The entire  “rifle” project was carefully thought out by the British Ordnance   department. It is no accident that all rifles (Ferguson and P76) use the  same powder charge of 75 grains, allowing 10 grains for priming. This  made the cartridge universal for all riflemen, regardless of which weapon  they carried.

           Ferguson did have bullet molds supplied with his rifles, but by using standard ball sizes he could draw upon the supply system when practical,  just as he did in for his unofficial 2nd Rifle Corps during his 1778-1779 New England campaigns.

          #5. “BALL BAG”, shown on right front of belt.   History mentions the use of ball bags by riflemen. We now know that  Ferguson’s men carried the smaller pistol balls in this pouch. This would have given   his men a large powder (cartridges and horn) and ball supply (belly box  and ball bag) which is what probably sparked the King to say “he is Army  in himself”.

          #6. The coat (jacket) carries the “wings” of the Light Infantry and the special “rifleman’s” lace shown on the tails is not that of any other   unit. This was a special uniform designed by Ferguson to distinguish his men on the battlefield. The cap is that of the light infantry. Two styles  are shown – one with rear “bill” (early) and one without. The details of the jacket tails and light infantry “wings” along with the early light  infantry caps are seen on the figures in the painting.

         #7  Sword bayonet. This was designed by Ferguson so that his men could  act as “mounted infantry”. The bayonet would take the place of a sword  in that situation. Notice on Fig. #1 & #2 (7) that he corrected the tip of the bayonet scabbard to be blunt (semi-squared) rather than pointed as   found on the standard infantry socket bayonet scabbard. These small details  of his sketches help identify the figures as Ferguson’s riflemen. If we  study the painting in detail we notice the rifles do not mount bayonets but the bright metal tip of the long bayonet scabbard carried on the left  side (and thus out of sight) can be seen on the soldier with the powder  horn. Some of the faint sketches on the right side of Fig. #2 show the   extra-long bayonet mounted under the rifle.

           The new Light Infantry Regiments of 1776 were formed by drawing men  from the Light and Grenadier Flank Companies of existing Line Regiments.  The term “Flank Company” was only used on the American continent.   The actual number of “rifled carbines” (P76) issued to each company is  unknown. The “Short Land Pattern” musket was retained for all other men  not equipped with rifles, mostly the grenadiers as they were by tradition   the taller and bigger men to act as shock troops when needed. The  smartest and youngest men drawn from the Light Companies were given the rifles.

           The combined arms of rifles and muskets, made a very strong fast moving  force, unencumbered by baggage carts or camp followers, with the Grenadier  in the main body and the Light troops (riflemen) protecting the front,  flanks and rear.

           The only difference between these units and the previous Flank Companies  was their lightness of loads and massed firepower of rifles making it impossible for the enemy to form ranks and attack the main body  with standard line tactics. The fast loading rifles could decimate ranks of men before they could get within volley or bayonet range. This whole idea was formed to combat the effectiveness of the American riflemen firing upon their ranks with impunity from beyond musket range. Now the British were a match for the American tactics and could not only stand their ground but hold them at bay until the Grenadiers could form for an assault with their bayonets. Ferguson’s unit became part of this elite force acting as an independent unit serving where needed. The Brandywine Campaign of 1777 was a perfect example of their intended use, acting as a  forward screening and flanking party to keep enemy riflemen away from the main force.

       Reconstructed accouterments set as used with the Ferguson Rifle. Waist belt has the “ball bag” (pistol ball) on left with “belly box” (carbine ball) to the right. The standard British issue canteen is covered in the same green wool we know he brought to America to make jackets for his men.

  Uniform jacket of Ferguson’s riflemen (as light infantry) as we believe it appeared at the Battle of Brandywine in 1777 along with the early Light Infantry cap. We believe he made the uniforms either on board the ship (if possible) or shortly after landing in America.


               A BRITISH RIFLEMAN’S HORN of the American Revolution

          All “priming horns” (originally designed for Artillery priming) were made from Scottish Highland cattle horns, which are white with black tips. Each is mounted with 3 inch rolled sheet brass tip with decorative line turnings (that can vary in number) topped with a brass spring charger. Wood base plug is quarter sawn European Oak with a threaded filling plug made of Beech with a few decorative line turnings. I have always been fascinated with these type of horns and wish to share what I have learned about them. 

           Priming horns were an important part of the rifleman’s kit, so a horn of small size had to be found to accompany these 1,100 rifles.  For almost 200 years collector’s and historians have speculated on what type of horn they procured.  With the discovery of an “artillery” style priming horn marked to the 63rd Regiment of Foot, a portion of that mystery may have been resolved.

  This small priming horn is engraved with a “63rd” with two small dots below the “nd”. It bears no other markings, not even the “broad” arrow found on much of the military equipment throughout the 18th century.

  The 63rd Regiment of Foot was raised in 1758 and arrived in Boston in1775.  It consisted of the usual eight regular (or Battalion) companies along with one Light and one Grenadier Company, all of 60 men each. The Light Infantry Company (reestablished in 1771 in all line regiments by Sir William Howe), marched along the flanks and in front of the main infantry  column to prevent a surprise attack and keep enemy riflemen at a respectable distance.  It was to these light companies that the new 1000 Pattern 1776 rifles were distributed at a rate of 5 per company.

  The breech-loading “Ferguson” rifles were kept with Ferguson’s 100-man Rifle  Corps and did not find their way into the Light Companies until after he was wounded at Brandywine in September of 1777.  All riflemen, regardless of the type of rifle carried a priming horn.

  This 63rd marked priming horn would have been carried by one of the 5 riflemen in the Light Infantry Company of that unit. It makes perfectly good sense that rather than design and build a special horn, the Ordnance Board simply drew upon the supply of artillery priming horns already available in quantity from government stores and issued them with the rifles.

  Blackmore, (work cited above), gives a brief history of the broad-arrow mark. It is mentioned as the British “arrowhead” as early as 1386, but not specified in official papers until 1699 when an Act of Parliament was passed to stop the “embezzlement of stores” by applying  “The “King’s Cipher in whose reign they were made and the Rose & Crown on the Barrels, and sometimes the Broad Arrow”. The Broad Arrow now used for marking Government Stores still did not come into general use until the reign of Queen Anne. It was during her reign that the Royal Cipher, with a broad arrow added beneath it, appeared, on gun barrels.

  The lack of a broad arrow on many known pieces of British equipment from the 18th century shows that many Government items carried no markings. The only explanation can be that these items were never officially received into a government military storehouse to be marked and “issued”, being shipped directly from the maker to the intended recipients for whom they were ordered. As the group of horns pictured below shows, unmarked items returned to government stores for any reason were appropriately marked with the mark of that time before being reissued. The  well-known “BO/Broad-arrow” mark appeared in the late 18th century and  disappeared in 1855 with the adoption of the “WD” marking.

  The 63rd marked horn had a long battle career. The 63rd Regiment of Foot served as a flank company in the Bunker Hill battle and participated  in the Long Island campaigns of 1776. In September of 1777, the Light Infantry was engaged at Chad’s Ford beside Ferguson’s riflemen and participated in the frontal attacks on the Brandywine heights. Afterward, they went into winter quarters at Philadelphia, 26 miles from Valley Forge. When Cornwallis evacuated Philadelphia in 1778, the 63rd Regiment returned to New York. The Light Infantry Company, along with the Queen’s

Rangers turned the left flank of the Americans at Monmouth Courthouse. In  1779, they landed at Stoney Point, NY (a campaign under the direction of Patrick Ferguson after his recuperation of his Brandywine wounds) and participated in the capture of the rebel fort. They were not at the Fort when it was recaptured by the rebels on

July 15, 1779, but came back to recapture it on the 19th of the same month.

  They then joined the campaign to take Charleston, SC, landing there on March 29 of 1780 and taking part in the siege and surrender of the city. At this point, a large portion of the 63rd became mounted infantry under Major Wemyss (a task suitable to the Light Companies) and served under Tarlton. They fought at Fishdam Ford, Blackstock’s Hill, Hobkirk’s Hill, and Eutaw Springs. Their service in America ended with Ferguson’s defeat at King’s Mountain in October of 1780, after which they  were sent to the East Indies.

  To date, this is the only British horn to surface that can be directly connected to a British rifleman of the American Revolution. It shows that the lowly British “artillery priming horns” played a major role in outfitting these new riflemen.

* British horns – a short study *

   One cannot tell the age of a horn by its markings. They had a long service career spanning a century or more as the above horns indicate being in service through the flintlock period in the British military. Of the eleven horns pictured, seven are unmarked, one is  broad-arrow only marked, two are “BO/Broad-arrow” marked (one twice) and one is broad-arrow and “WD/Broad-arrow”. This proves that markings on horns do not indicate their age, only the fact that they were in and out of stores during their long use. They were updated with the latest markings (additions) to only show serviceability for reissued. The horn in the 3 O’clock position is American built with salvaged British hardware. Notice the different color of the American horns under the red lead paint put on for waterproofing.  The first ordnance stores mark was just a broad arrow that dates back into the early 18th century. The second marking (“BO”) came into use in the late 1790 period and the last (“WD”) was adopted in 1855. As stated previous many are unmarked, showing that they were obviously sent directly to the units without going through stores (which I believe happened with the P76 and Ferguson rifles in high demand for the front). The 63rd horn is a prime example bearing no ordnance markings. A few of those pictured are American reworks of salvaged or captured British horns.

Original Pre -1790’s broad arrow mark. Note tips do not touch. This goes way back to its adoption and is the first type mark used. From study of the horns we believe the tips started to touch together in the 1790’s period.

BELOW – two views of a single horn

  The above horn has double “BO – broad arrow ” markings meaning it was issued once, the returned to stores and re-inspected during the same time period 1799-1855. It is the only one we encountered with double markings that are identical. Seems an odd thing to do.

 Above – An interesting horn that retains its original “broad-arrow” of the late 18th century with the addition of the 1855 “WD” markings. This one missed being returned in the 1799 to 1854 time frame during the “BO – broad arrow” period.


Ferguson’s and Chaumette’s Patents

           We now know that Ferguson did not “invent” the Ordnance Rifle. He only  tried to improve  Chaumette’s patent but without success. He has erroneously  been given credit for “inventing” the gun for well over 200 years. He tried  unsuccessfully to explain this for posterity in his patent paragraph No.1  of page 2, but without success. His death on King’s Mountain secured this  myth and it continues today. We can, however, give him full credit for   securing the rifles’ place in history. To understand this long standing   error , we only need to study his patent.

           Ferguson’s Patent papers, No. 1139, submitted December 2, 1776 explained  four basic improvements within the STRAIGHT PLUG breech system of   Chaumette’s patent No. 434 of August 12, 1721. The most important   improvement was the first – being the addition of “various channels cut  across the outside of the screws of the plug in such directions as not to communicate and occasion any part of the charge to blow out”. These cuts  were intended to scour the threads clean on each opening but not allow gas to escape at the extreme top or bottom of the plug.

           The second and third improvements a flat cut on the forward face of the plug to act as a breech face to force as much of the explosion down the bore as possible instead of around the plug where the next improvement, a  “hollow” behind the plug on the face of the breech, could trap and hold all fouling from the shooting and turning of the plug.

           The last improvement extended the plug seat so that the plug could be cleaned without completely removing it from the barrel “by which means the  difficulty, loss of time, and embarrassment of hitting the proper groove  (in occasions of hurry or danger), to reenter the plug is avoided”. Each  rifle is unique and plugs are not interchangeable. In fact, it is VERY difficult, from experience, to re-insert the plug if it drops out during use.

           Additional improvements are on a breech mounted sight (omitted on the military rifle in favor of a barrel mounted leaf sight), and new 4-groove rifling also dropped in favor of the normal 7-groove.   To date, no arms writer has taken the time to study and compare the Ordnance Rifle construction and design against the actual patent drawings, otherwise they would have also seen that Ferguson’s patent had nothing to do with the 100 military rifles brought to America. Cuts on a tapered plug  serve no cleaning purpose since the plug moves away from the outer wall as  soon as it breaks free from the top barrel threads.   The straight plug with fouling cuts were his admitted “improvement” (of Chaumette’s patent), but it was obviously unsuccessful, thus he was forced to accept and use an apparently old-style tapered plug design that worked for his 100 military rifles.

           His patent (on the straight plug design) was not approved until March  29, 1777 after he sailed for America.  Ferguson was granted his patent  based solely upon the “improvements” outlined above. Many breech-loading rifles were made in England by various gunsmiths long before Ferguson came  upon the scene based upon both Chaumette’s straight plug patent and the  older tapered plug. Ferguson had an exclusive contract with Egg to make  his “patented” rifle and a number are found with “FERGUS” marked on them.    Realistically, these guns would not have been manufactured nor marked as such until after the patent was filed and oficially approved.

           Below is Chaumette’s Patent drawing along with the full Ferguson Patent  documents from the British Patent Office. I decided to show them in full   since most collectors have never seen them in their entirety.

           Books are full of pictures of “plug” guns like Ferguson’s rifle, but unfortunately no details are ever given as to the “type” of plug in those rifles  – viz. straight or tapered, with or without “cuts” on the plug. Perhaps one of them has a tapered plug that has eluded us as to how early  it was used, who actually designed it and was it ever patented. The fact that the British took and used it tells us that it may never have been patented.  That is a part of this story that still needs to be told. It appeared out of “nowhere” and gained fame with Ferguson’s riflemen in America.

      Above –  Chaumette’s patent drawing ( Blackmore, op .cit., Page 81).

Below – Ferguson’s Patent Papers

* Appendix V *

   The Honor of Firing Before his Majesty –   Patrick Ferguson’s Will and the Royal Armories’ Ferguson Rifle. M.M. Gilcrist, Arms and Armor Magazine/    Volume 5, No.1, 2008, pages 69-77

           This article, which came to us after our initial writing, introduced some new information on Ferguson’s rifle projects. It does not change the basic concepts outlined in the story, but it adds to, and confirms, some  of our finds pertaining to his “experiment”. This section and its quotes  are dedicated to that new information in the article.  The main content of the article is to connect the Royal Armories Ferguson rifle (serial number 15 made by Durrs Egg) to Ferguson himself  based upon a will leaving a “Silver mounted rifle Gun with which I had the honor of firing before his Majesty” to his brother. This statement raises some questions – which rifle was he speaking about? Was it really silver mounted or just iron mounted.

           The rifle, made by Durrs Egg, has “FERGUS” and serial number “15” markings. It would have been made under Ferguson’s exclusive agreement with Egg to build his rifles. An error is made in the article that his patent was approved on Dec 2, 1776. It was submitted on December 2nd,  1776, but not approved until March 29, 1777, after Ferguson left for America.

           The rifle in the article is identical to another one serial numbered  “2” pictured in Dewitt’s book (footnote #3) on page 37. They both carry  the straight plug (clearly seen) of his patent and possibly the fouling cuts which cannot been seen. These two rifles show that at least 15 were built using enough of his patent to require such markings.   His business arrangement with Egg is first mentioned in his letters of   April and May of 1778 to Alexander Scrymgeour from Philadelphia where he  was recovering from his wound received at Brandywine in September of 1777.  He writes that he had struck an exclusive deal with the “…….Gunsmiths Hunt  and Egg who are under articles to make arms…….Egg is bound under a penalty to rifle some hundred Barrels per month if wanted, Hunt to furnish everything else, the goodness specified and the price”.  Only rifles built   under this agreement with Egg would have been marked “FERGUS”. This raises the question as to why any of his rifles would have been so marked when his patent had not yet been approved. If this is true, then the rifle he speaks of is different one that has yet to surface – one that would not be  marked “FERGUS”.

       Our main interest in the article lies in other statements regarding his gun projects and not to question a rifle we cannot examine.

For our purposes of trying to understand his TWO gun projects in works at the same time the best we can do is draw conclusions using his letter and other  statements based upon our research and knowledge gained by building and shooting his rifles for many years. These conclusions can only be confirmed by yet undiscovered letters or documents. We do know that he began by attempting to make a straight plug work for a military rifle that would require prolonged shooting. He never succeeded. They were designed for  sportsmen who would only require a few shots and for this they were  perfectly suitable.   We did draw one certain conclusion from this new information – he is  writing about two different rifle projects.  First – his own improvements upon Chaumette’s straight plug design. which caused him many problems; second – his military rifle project based upon a tapered plug not  connected to his patent that eventually succeeded. The CIVILIAN and  MILITARY rifle projects are distinctively different and easy to confuse as the reader. Knowing one worked and the other did not, we can draw the  conclusion that when he is writing about problems with the “rifle” it  involves his civilian patent and its chances for success since the tapered  plug of the military rifle was NOT of his design and caused no problems. The fact he adopted the tapered plug is all we need to know  to draw that conclusion .

            The civilian guns and the military guns have two distinctively different type of threads. The 100 MILITARY Ferguson rifles have an 11 start TAPERED plug, whereas his CIVILIAN models (including Egg’s rifles  built under his patent and the “India” contract rifles) have a 10 start  STRAIGHT plug seen in his patent drawings. The type of plug (straight or tapered) and number of threads is KEY in identifying the military and civilian models. The 11-start thread is much more difficult to make but  probably gave a tighter gas seal.

            Exactly when and where the tapered plug idea originated remains unknown. It had obviously been used on earlier guns since Ferguson made no attempt to patent it. Once the tapered plug proved successful for his military purpose, Ferguson’s gun took a back seat. The  rifle in the Smithsonian (believed to be one of the two made for him by  the Crown) is a straight plug. This brings into question how it performed well enough to have been successful in all of his early  demonstrations? Did he have another gun with a tapered plug?   The prototype made by Egg was available  for the April shooting for Lord Townshend. Considering that his project  started in March of 1776 (General Harvey’s reply), this was amazing, but the “100 rifles” promised to follow were to be of the new tapered plug.

   We also believe the introduction of German SDS powder had a profound effect  on his military rifle project. Ferguson was sent to  the same shops that were producing the Pattern 76 rifles (dependent upon SDS powder) to oversee the production of his military rifles which were ALSO dependent upon it. This was no coincidence. Exactly when he recognized the advantage of the SDS powder we do not know but it allowed the barrels of the his military rifles to be lighter and shorter than his prototype. It apparently solving his loading and fouling problems but did not save his straight plug project that was doomed from the start just by its design . This all happened in a very short period (April, when his demonstrations were successful enough win a contract from the Ordnance Board), to June,1776 when production began on his 100 tapered plug rifles.

Just how important the was the new powder?   The British were unfamiliar with SDS powder prior to the Pattern 1776  rifle project. It is confirmed by a letter from Colonel Faucit, dated February 28, 1776, stating that without the SDS powder, the 200 rifles to be made in England “would be useless unless they are supplied with a Powder  Superior in Quality and Fineness to the ordinary kind used by the  Infantry”. By April of 1776, the British obtained the formula to make SDS  powder for their Pattern 1776 rifles, ordering 5,000 pounds from an  English powder mill set up expressly for that purpose. 

     Now we come to his letters and his writing about his problems being overcome and  gaining full confidence in the abilities of his rifle. He has to be referring to  the military project in general – that of having a a breech-loading rifle accepted for combat. He may not go into detail, but we can read between  the lines and feel comfortable with that conclusion that he has accepted the fact that the tapered plug  rifle design won out out over his straight plug design and he now has confidence in the end result.

The first mention of his rifle in this new-found correspondence is in a letter written two days after his successful April 27, 1776 trials  before Lord Townshend. He states -“on tuesday next we are to have a second  trial; in the meantime, I am getting one or two properly made here.  Indeed the execution of mine is so very bad that the invention appears to terrible Disadvantage”. Was it possible he decided to have two additional rifles made with tapered plugs since his design did not work to his  satisfaction for military use but never followed through?   One noteworthy fact is that he never  complained in any correspondence about a different plug style being  accepted over his design. Instead he threw himself into the tapered plug  project, accepting the fact that his design was unsuitable for his envisioned Rifle Corps armed with breech loaders. That vision outweighed any desire for his rifle project to be a part of it. He was   that sort of patriotic individual.

           Even with the “disadvantages” mentioned above, he writes on May 30, 1776 that his Rifle is in a “fair way” and that Lord Townshend talked of “hundreds” being made.  We believe he is talking about two different       rifles in this letter – his own design (being the “fair way”) and the military ones with tapered plugs (hundreds being made).   He also states that every defect is now got the better of & those faults which served as “Jibs”(ed. note viz. – hindrances) to the whole now being   corrected, I have nothing to fear.”  We believe he is again talking about  the tapered plug and the advantages of using SDS powder.

           He wrote – “By the By, I have a Custom of exercising myself in my room with my Rifle-gun, to keep my hand in, which makes them shake afterwards”.  He practiced constantly to be able to fire his famous seven shots a minute – a very difficult task. The way in which he fired his rifle is   strenuous.  We can fire four shots safely and comfortably, but loading from a flask (a measured charge) directly into the chamber is how he managed seven shots. We also have discovered that two size balls can be fired successfully from the rifle, the smaller ball being used for rapid fire, the larger ball for slower accurate fire. Loading from a flask into  a hot chamber is far too dangerous in my opinion to attempt duplication of his feat. The fact that he mastered the use of his gun was sufficient for  us.

           He also writes that he intends to have a patent taken out on his design, stating that “altho the invention is not entirely my own … moreover, there are several original improvements (without which it will  not Answer) which are entirely mine”. Although he had settled on the  tapered plug design for his military model, the letters go on to tell us that he still maintained a strong desire to proceed with his original patent improvements for STRAIGHT plug commercial guns.

           Now we come to Ferguson’s description of firing before the King. It is worthy of printing in its entirety, being the best description to be found anywhere and the only instance mentioned where we KNOW he was using the new tapered plug rifle design.

        Oct 2, 1776, London, letter sent to his parents:

           “Yesterday I had the honor of exhibiting various experiments with my Rifle Gun before their majesties in Windsor forest, which happened in the following manner. Knowing that the King retires there three days every week & having some acquaintances in the Reg. which mounts guard upon him I propose to Fotheringham (Pouries Son Macleods Nephew) who happens to command there, that I bring down some rifles & teach his men the use of them, in hopes that his Majesty might hear of them. Forther.m of course was glad of the opportunity & so set out last friday morning. I had only been three days at work with my Disciples when yesterday I had a message from the King by Col. Egerton to inform me that his Majesty meant to see them at five in the afternoon. Altho my Six associates were by no means masters of their business, yet the three days practice had made them at  least a match for four times their numbers of Grenadiers so I took the field with a tolerable opinion of my Troops and some confidence in my own Generalship. At the hour appointed their Majesties came arm & arm into the field and as the design had been kept secret they were not troubled with mob. I begun by making the men fire at a Target at 100 yds. As they were alarmed by the Kings presence they did not acquit themselves so well as they had done by themselves, but still well enough to shew the rifle. After they had finished I took the liberty of observing to his majt. that the soldiers were more disturbed by his presence than they would have been by that of the enemy. When I was proceeding to fire his Majesty asked me  how many shots I could fire in a minute. I answered that I had fired 7. he said Lord Townsend had told him so I took the liberty of adding that altho I could fire that number of random Shots yet I could not undertake to bring down about five of his Majesties Enemies in that time. he laughed very heartily & went back to the Queen who was some paces behind & upon his repeating this there was a second general laugh. His majesty had expressed ueasiness whilst the men were firing of some people who were standing within a few yds of the mark. I took the liberty of assuring H.M.  that I would without hesitation stand within a yard of it and after they  had a fortnights practice offered to hold the Target in my hand. He said it was better let alone. I fired nine shots viz. three upon my back and the other six as fast as I could standing and put five balls into the black spot and the other four within four inches of it. The Emperor of Germany would have given me a Diploma constituting me Archrifleman throughout his Empire had I done this with the assistance of the best rest and taking five minutes to each shot. I felt that it was impossible to fire ill before the King but this was beyond my hopes. This was done in less than two minutes. The king was pleased afterward to examine my equipment as well as a dress calculated for Service which I had brought  into the field upon another man on purpose and after considering the  lightness certainty and expedition of my Rifle Gun with the quantity of ammunition a man could easily carry he was pleased to observe in my hearing “he is an army in himself”. I had mentioned to him that to have all balls go with truth & force, they require to be smaller than the bore of the Gun & that untill this method of loading occurred, the loss of time more than counterbalanced that advantage but that now we had the certainty of the one with double the expedition of the other. He conceived my meaning instantly (which not one man in a thousand would have done) and explained it to those about him, before he left the field he expressed the highest approbation; observing that some had objected to this new invention, but that he saw everything for it, and nothing agt it.. He afterwards ask’d Col. Egerton if I was not Gen. Murrays Nephew & I told him I had been recommended to him by Gen. Howe when with the Light Company at Salisbury, I took the liberty of presenting the King with a Sketch &  description of the rifle Gun, in which its advantages are touched upon in a few words as I could contrive.”

           This letter gives us a lot of information to reflect upon and opens several doors for additional study. He mentions “6 associates” so he had 6 guns on site which had to be the new tapered plug rifles. He is comparing a muzzle loader to the breech loader, referring to the fact that muzzle loaders were slow to load and inaccurate due to undersize balls. His rifle loaded at the breech (faster) and the oversize balls, being forced through the rifling, were more accurate – “..we had the certainty of the one  (accuracy) with double the expedition of the other (loading”). The letter also mentions:

           #1. His participation in Howe’s Light Infantry school (started in 1772) and the fact that Howe spoke favorably of him to the King. It puts to rest the long-standing rumors that Howe harbored any ill will or jealousy toward Ferguson and his rifle project, in fact, to the open minded  scholar, it hints that Howe favored and encouraged his rifle project for the advantages it might give to the Light Infantry idea, enough so that he  made it a point to mention Ferguson to the King.

           #2. We now know that two sizes of balls can be fired in his rifle. A smaller size ball (pistol – .610) for speed loading and the standard (carbine – .650) ball for slow fire.  Our experimentations with the “pistol” ball showed that  at the normal battle range (line tactics – 50-60 yards), the undersize balls were deadly enough to strike a man with every shot. They compressed from the shock of the explosion and showed traces of rifling marks. Even at longer ranges they still performed better than any smooth bore musket  and would wreak havoc in massed ranks which could possibly change the outcome of a battle.  A soldier could place 4 or 5 balls in his mouth and  literally “spit” the naked ball into the chamber followed by the powder  charge from the cartridge box. The extra “ball bag” carried with his equipment( and shown in the sketches) we believe carried the pistol balls since the carbine balls were carried in the belly box.

           This information casts new light upon the King’s Mountain Redcoat “firing rapidly” in the prone position with his “mouth full of balls” and  may explain Ferguson’s request for “pistol and carbine” balls on his New England campaigns of 1778-1779. The amount of ammunition they could carry,  along with the fact that the rifle would not foul like a musket after about half a dozen shots, rendering  it useless except for a bayonet charge, could be why the King made the remark that a single soldier armed with his rifle was “an Army in themselves”.

           Ferguson could have used the .610 pistol ball when  speed loading for  his firing demonstrations. The small size ball would always roll forward into the chamber to stick against the breech, whereas  the.650 ball might require seating when the chamber becomes fouled. This  may also be why he  doused the bore (with a .650 ball seated in the chamber) and breech with water during his demonstrations – to clear the fouling from the .610 ball  and then fired a seated .650 ball for longer range accuracy. Much of the technique he used while demonstrating the rifle is still a mystery.

      #3. A special uniform with very specialized equipment brought onto the field by Ferguson – as shown in the 6th Regiment soldier sketched by De Loutherbourg. It would have been worthy of special attention at that time.

        We also learned that his 6 “disciples” were NOT his men, but rather Fotheringham’s, thus they did not perform so well during their shooting. Ferguson mentions a two-foot bullseye, which was the standard military size target of his day set on a 6-foot square. From our shooting experiences it would not have been difficult for a skilled shooter such as  Ferguson to perform the task he writes about in his letter. The Baker  rifle manual shows a two-foot bullseye on a 10-foot round target superimposed with a man for target practice at 200 yards, so we can assume  that this was the target used by him that day. Two feet was the width and  height of a man’s chest. Any hit in this area would be deadly, which is exactly what his rifles were intended to accomplish.

**********     Appendix VI – The Smithsonian Ferguson Rifle

           Very little was actually known about this famous rifle until Ernie Cowan and Andrew Neuman made a trip to the museum to photograph the rifle  in 2015.

           Our reputation for building exact copies of the Military Ferguson opened the door for us to make a detailed study of the weapon. For the first time  in its history we were given permission to disassemble, study and photograph the rifle in detail for the purpose of re-creating the gun. We learned a few things that the museum was unaware of – most notedly that every part carried a batch number “III” (also called assembly numbers) markings. This means that there was at least three made at the same time (possibly more) and that it  was not built as a single assembly. We decided to share the information gained for those who have an interest in this rifle. I only had hard copy photographs to work from.   

           Also – there exists a bronze plaque (never displayed with the rifle that we are aware) that had originally been fixed to the left side of the butt stock  detailing its history. Below are some of the photographs obtained. I hope  the reader will enjoy them.

 Ernie with the Smithsonian Ferguson  

               Andrew with the same rifle – closer view of the breech

      Brass plaque originally fixed to the rifle (details below)

           Rifle disassembled – Major components

                Left side of stock repair

               Right side of stock repair


             Rear lock details

            Center lock center details

              Lock mortise

Stock breech relief area

           Barrel marking

        Special two leaf sight

              Side view of breech plug assembly

              Front view of breech plug assembly

            Barrel breech with “III” assembly marking

           Stock channel assembly marking “III”  

              Sword bayonet

           Bayonet mounted on rifle

    * Appendix VII *

           Fired Ferguson Rifle ball recovered from Kings Mountain Battlefield

           Just as we were finishing this story I was made aware of the recovery of a fired Ferguson Rifle ball found at King’s Mountain battlefield by a  team from Florida University in 1995. It carries the distinctive rifling marks that could only have been made by a breech-loading Ferguson Rifle. No other weapon, on either side of the battle, could have produced such markings. It is the final piece of hard evidence needed to place his rifle on that mountain during the battle.

           It is now time for the Park to recognize the role these rifles played  at King’s Mountain and educate the thousands of visitors drawn to the park because of this unique military rifle.  I am extremely grateful to the person who gave me this incredible  information: William Paton – “”/ 907-230-3600.

        The rifling marks on this fired ball are unique to the Ferguson rifle.  It could have struck a rock or was chewed by a hog thinking it was an acorn before spitting it out. The remaining lands and grooves  are indisputably from a breech-loading Ferguson Rifle firing a .650 ball. After the battle it was said that no one would eat the meat from  any of the wild hogs that infested the area since they had dined upon  the corpses of the hastily half-buried dead.

Top photo: Smithsonian Ferguson rifling, looking directly down the bore of the rifle.

Bottom photo: Muzzle showing the distinctive .020 deep rifling as found on the fired ball recovered at King’s Mountain. A ball fired from one of our rifles fits perfectly into the bores of both the Smithsonian and Morristown Ferguson rifles.         

                 Credits and Acknowledgements on the 3 rifle projects

   I would be remiss if I did not mention the individuals who helped on our gun projects without whose assistance they could not have happened. Martyn Clarke of Kingston upon Hull, England, who spent countless hours in the archives (Public Records Office) researching the documents pertaining to our Ferguson Rifle project.  Mark Thomas, a wonderful craftsman, who did all of the hand engraving wherever needed on all of our guns. Colin Currie in England (airgun project), Phil Schreier of the NRA and Mike Carrick for their help on the airgun and M1800 rifle projects. Morristown National Park for allowing us to do what was required to duplicate their original military Ferguson rifle. Also the Smithsonian Institute who allowed us to do the only detailed study of their famous Ferguson Rifle. There are many more who helped in many small ways. They all know who they are and we will always be grateful. This was one of the most difficult, challenging and enjoyable projects we ever undertook but thanks to a lot of people it was a success and hopefully fills in a lot that we never knew about this amazing rifle. I know the story is long but there was no short cuts if we were to do it justice.

Richard H. Keller June 21, 2021 update