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Original US Surcharged Revolutionary War 1766/68 Charleville Flintlock Musket

1766/68 Charleville

General History

During the American War of Independence the French government supplied large quantities of muskets to the Continental army. Several arsenals in France produced muskets but the Charleville was the most common and soon all French muskets were referred to as "Charlevilles." In March 1777, some 25,000 Charleville muskets were received from France. George Washington implemented a resolution by the Continental Congress to stamp firearms as United States property to reduce theft.

From the American Society Of Arms Collectors:

Arms collectors have long been attracted to arms and accoutrements associated with the American Revolution, particularly those with surcharges. Surcharges are collectible both because of their rarity, and their documentation of an arms’ or accoutrements’ military use. The need to identify arms and accoutrements as continental property was based on a shortage of these items after the Spring of 1776. The shortage was multifactoral, and although a lack of production is usually cited by historians, important contributory factors included soldiers not maintaining the weapons, a lack of sufficient field armorers to perform repairs, and the need for short-term militia soldiers who had a propensity for taking their arms and ammunition home with them. General George Washington attempted to overcome these problems by borrowing arms from the States and purchasing weapons from private individuals. However, as the 1777 campaign commenced, weapons were scarce and foreign procurement of weapons remained problematic. Luckily, the crisis would be partially abated by the secret assistance of France and Spain. Washington and the Continental Congress could not count on this help at the start of the 1777 Campaign. To institute greater control over arms, on February 14, 1777, the Board of War recommended to the Continental Congress that all Continental Arms be stamped “U States”. On February 24, 1777, the Continental Congress resolved that Arms and Accoutrements shall be stamped with the words “United States”. All arms already made would receive the impression, and those hereunder to be manufactured to be stamped with said words on every part comprising the stand. This resolution was implemented by George Washington who on March 31 st , directed Benjamin Flower, of the Commissary general’s department, to have all arms stamped. On April 18th, Washington also issued a general order from his headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, directing that all arms in the hands of troops and in stores were to be marked immediately.

Period 1 — Brands
The earliest surcharges on muskets are brands, both United States and U States. These earliest surcharged weapons are only on the stock and are the rarest.

Period 2—Brands and Stamps
To conform to Washington’s order, U STATES brands in combination with U S lock and barrel stamps, are used. After the British evacuate Philadelphia, the Continental Armory returns and begins to stamp the barrels and locks of muskets which are coming into the Armory for repair under Joseph Perkin. These muskets are identified with both US brands and US stamps. An IP brand presumably Joseph Perkin’s inspector mark, appears on the stock.

Period 3—Stamps only
After the Revolution, there was prolific stamping of muskets stored in the armories. These included new French muskets, repaired muskets and re-repaired muskets. These stamps are post-Revolutionary surcharges stamped by Continental armorers on existing locks and barrels of muskets and bayonets. The muskets are identified by surcharges on the barrel and lock, and a small inspector’s mark branded on the stock, usually behind the trigger guard or adjacent to the side plate. John Nicholson, a continental armorer, brands some muskets on the stock or behind the butt plate with the initials (IN).

 

DETAILS OF THE 1766/68 Charleville Musket


Our 1766/68 Charleville has the US surcharge stamp at rear of the lock plate indicating it was in U.S. government hands. The exact year that it was applied is unknown. The musket is in original flintlock configuration and has its full length, 44-inch smooth-bore barrel firing a .69 caliber ball or buck-and-ball cartridge. The rear barrel band, like the middle and upper bands, is held in position by a band spring, instituted in 1768.  The bayonet lug is correctly in place on top of the muzzle, a position changed for the Model 1771 and returned to in the Model 1774.

 

The plate shows a light but visible “Charleville” marking forward of the hammer. The rear of the plate is stamped with a “US.” The location, size, and form of the stamp suggest it was applied while in Federal hands, among thousands of muskets turned in by discharged soldiers or still in government hands, that were maintained (more or less successfully,) cleaned, repaired, and sometimes assembled by government workmen. The application of the US stamp follows 1777 directions from Washington for marking government property and seems to have been applied to arms at various times from 1777 on depending on where the arms were located.

The stock has a nice, untouched, aged patina, with typically nice French contours, intended to help lighten the musket, particularly in the molded and carved buttstock with a deeply fluted, raised comb, producing a prominent handrail. The iron buttplate fits well. The stocks has good color and surface, though with handling marks and very old wear near the barrel where the hands of a soldier once held the musket during reloading. The lock apron has good edges, but does show a little shrinkage. The stock shows signs of damage above the lock due to the stock being cracked and repaired with a screw. The surface of the metal is fairly smooth, rust brown patina with some light pitting. The markings are good, especially for a musket passing through Federal hands where the metal was often aggressively cleaned before application of the US stamp. The barrel is generally smooth, brown metal with some thin crustiness along the edge next to the forestock and corrosion around the breech that is shared by the flash pan and frizzen.

The iron furniture is good with rust brown patina. The sling swivels in place which is often not the case. Band springs are in place. The band is the proper configuration however square nails were used in the original holes to hold the bands in place. The iron ramrod that looks like it has been with the musket forever is still in place, however it is not the correct one for this model. The sear spring needs to be replaced and the cock spring is weak as well.

 

 

This is owned by Fred E. owner of A. P. Inc / Maine Gun Dealer Hermon, Maine.

NOW ON DISPLAY IN THE SHOP. 

Not for sale

Charleville Musket Maine

The State Of Maine And The Revolutionary War

Resistance to the oppressive colonial tax policies of the British Parliament began early in Maine. In 1765 a mob seized a quantity of tax stamps at Falmouth (now Portland), and attacks on customs agents in the province became common. A year after the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773, Maine staged its own version of that incident when a group of men burned a shipment of tea stored at York. When open warfare finally erupted at Lexington and Concord, hundreds of Maine men actively joined the struggle for independence. The province saw plenty of action during the Revolution. In 1775, British warships under the command of the notorious Capt. Henry Mowatt shelled and burned Falmouth, an act intended to punish residents for their opposition to the Crown, but which only served to stiffen Maine's ardor for independence. The first naval battle of the Revolution occurred in June 1775 when a group of Maine patriots captured the armed British cutter "Margaretta" off Machias. Later that year many Maine men accompanied Col. Benedict Arnold on his long march through the north woods in a valiant but fruitless effort to capture Quebec. An ill-planned expedition by the American naval fleet to regain the British-held fortification at Castine in 1779 led to the most disastrous naval encounter of the war. The Revolution cost Maine dearly. About 1,000 men lost their lives in the war, the district's sea trade was all but destroyed, the principal city had been leveled by British bombardment, and Maine's overall share of the war debt amounted to more than would later be imposed upon it by the Civil War. Source Maine.Gov

 

THE BATTLE OF MARGARETTA

Following the outbreak of the war, British authorities enlisted Loyalist merchant Ichabod Jones to supply the troops who were under the Siege of Boston. Two of his merchant ships arrived in Machias on June 2, 1775, accompanied by the British armed sloop HMS Margaretta (sometimes also spelled Margueritta or Marguerite), commanded by Midshipman James Moore. The townspeople of Machias disapproved of Jones' intentions and arrested him. They also tried to arrest Moore, but he escaped through the harbor. The townspeople seized one of Jones' ships, armed it alongside a second local ship, and sailed out to meet Moore. After a short confrontation, Moore was fatally wounded, and his vessel and crew were captured. Source Wikipedia

THE BATTLE OF MACHIAS

The Battle of Machias (August 13–14, 1777) was an amphibious assault on the Massachusetts town of Machias (in present-day eastern Maine) by British forces during the American Revolutionary War. Local militia aided by Indian allies successfully prevented British troops from landing. The raid, led by Commodore Sir George Collier, was executed in an attempt to head off a planned second assault on Fort Cumberland, which had been besieged in November 1776. The British forces landed below Machias, seized a ship, and raided a storehouse.

The result of the raid was disputed. Collier claimed the action was successful in destroying military stores for an attack on Fort Cumberland (although such stores had not been delivered to Machias), while the defenders claimed that they had successfully prevented the capture of Machias and driven off the British. Source Wikipedia

SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL
https://america250.org


The United States Semiquincentennial, also called the Bisesquincentennial, the Sestercentennial or the Quarter Millennial, will be the 250th anniversary of the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence. The State of Maine has established a Semiquincentennial commission. Festivities will be scheduled to mark various events leading up to the anniversary on July 4, 2026.

https://www.maine.gov/sos/arc/about/advisorysemiquin.html
 

 

This original piece of history maybe on loan at museums during this time. I may take this to museum events as well. Museums are welcome to email us about the availability of this for loan.

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