Press-Republican

April 25, 2013

Rare musket given to Fort Ti

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — TICONDEROGA — A rare musket that may have been used at Fort Ticonderoga is now part of the historic landmark’s collection.

The Wilson musket was donated to the fort by an anonymous benefactor, fort officials said.

“The donation of this Wilson musket fills an important and longstanding gap in the collection,” Fort Ticonderoga Curator of Collections Christopher Fox said in a press release. “It is a type we know was used by troops who served at the fort.”

ON DISPLAY

The Wilson musket will be shown this season in the museum’s exhibit “Bullets and Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution.”

That display, featuring more than 150 weapons, tells the story of the use of military and civilian weapons in America during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Fort Ticonderoga’s collection of 18th-century military objects is celebrated as one of the best of its type in the world, Fox said.

WILSON MUSKETS

During the French and Indian War in the 1700s, London gun maker Richard Wilson produced muskets to arm the militias of several American colonies, including New York, New Jersey and probably Massachusetts.

“Though they bear similarities to muskets produced for the British army, the weapons produced by Richard Wilson are not army muskets; they are commercial or contract muskets,” Fox said.

“Their brass parts, stocks and barrels resemble British army guns but are simpler and lighter overall. Of the estimated 4,000 contract weapons that may have been produced by Wilson, only a handful has survived through today.”

PURCHASED FROM CITY

In 1758, British General James Abercromby was preparing his 17,000-man army for what became a disastrous attack on the French lines, he had considerable difficulty obtaining enough weapons to arm his troops. Among those he was eventually able to acquire were 1,000 muskets owned by the City of New York.

“These weapons had originally been purchased by the city from Richard Wilson in 1755,” Fox said. “While it is not known with absolute certainty, it is thought that at least some of those weapons were issued to New York Provincial troops. Many of those troops took part in the battle before the French lines on July 8.”

It is certain many of Wilson’s muskets were used at Ticonderoga, as numerous brass pieces of the guns have been recovered on the site during various periods of reconstruction, he said.

Fort Ticonderoga opens for the season on May 17 and will be open daily through Oct. 20.

Learn more at www.fortticonderoga.org.

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com