Back in April, Tom Brown of Plymouth, Vermont contacted me to ask if I would come to his house and dowse for water. I went up later and located three well sites. When I finished Tom invited me into his house to show me something. It was the musket you see with this article.
I instantly recognized the musket as being 18th century and soon recognized its importance. It has an old paper string tag attached to trigger guard and the stock is stamped with additional history. The musket was carried by Lt. Nathaniel Brown in the Revolutionary War.
Nathaniel Bowman Brown was born July 1, 1737 in Lexington, Massachusetts and died in Plymouth, Vermont July 30, 1806. On March 3, 1776 Brown was commissioned Second Lieutenant in Captain Joseph Bellows Company and Colonel Abijah Stearns Regiment, known as the Worcester County Regiment. Later that same year Brown was made First Lieutenant with John Rand as colonel.
Brown family history claims Nathaniel Brown carried this musket at the Battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777. Family tradition further claims that Lt. Brown at the Battle of Bennington assumed command of his company when his superior officer was wounded.
Revolutionary War records are far from complete but I was able to access pay records for Lt. Brown. These Continental Army records create a paper trail making it possible to see where a soldier was.
The records show General John Stark and Colonel Warner made an alarm call for troops to be sent to Bennington. Most of the men responding were New Hampshire and Massachusetts men. Others would include the Green Mountain Boys. General Stark left Old Fort #4 with 1,200 troops and marched to Bennington. As Stark’s troops marched through small towns on route to Bennington it is known that militiamen from these towns joined Stark’s force. Some of the Chester men fell in.
The Worcester County Regiment, which included Lt. Brown answered Stark’s call and marched to Bennington. It appears the regiment arrived too late to share in Stark’s victory. A document I located states the regiment marched 90 miles to Bennington only to be dismissed by General Lincoln.
Another document shows the regiment at Saratoga, New York. The Battle of Saratoga took place September 19 through October 7, 1777. At Saratoga the Worcester County Regiment did see action and was on the field when British General Burgoyne surrendered.
Burgoyne had been tasked with launching an invasion from Quebec south to gain control of the upper Hudson River Valley. As Burgoyne marched south he captured Fort Ticonderoga. Soon Burgoyne began encountering difficulties. One difficulty was his supply line, which forced a delay at Fort Edward.
Burgoyne knew that he could replenish his supplies at Bennington. The American victory at Bennington cost Burgoyne 1,000 men killed or captured. Saratoga was the final defeat for Burgoyne.
The string tag tied to the trigger guard reads: “This gun was used at the Battle of Bennington by my great, great grandfather N. Bowman Brown. Pres Coolidge gave it to me. In some way it fell into his family. Blanche B. Bryant.”
The stock of the musket near the butt plate is neatly stamped with additional historical information. These stamped markings read: “Lt. Nath. B. Brown Plymouth VT., Battle of Bennington. Retuned to B.B. Bryant by Calvin Coolidge.”
You’ll notice Calvin stamped “retuned” instead of returned. I bet the day Calvin was stamping the gun and noticed his misspelling he said something like “Oh ****.”
I cannot over emphasize the importance of this musket in American history. I have bought and sold these weapons for 45 years. While I have owned many Rev War muskets none of them were as well documented. To have a rock solid provenance as we have on Brown’s musket with a Presidential gift is unheard of.
It has survived 250 years in completely original condition including finish. The only damage is a broken hammer and a missing frizzen over the frizzen pan. I urged Tom Brown not to replace the missing parts. This musket is a rare survivor and should remain so.
Blanche Brown Bryant married William Leroy Bryant. Mr. Bryant was the founder of Bryant Chucking Grinder Company in 1909, in Springfield. August 16th is 239 years since the Battle of Bennington.
Don’t forget the Chester Historical Society Gala Reception this Friday, August 12th from 5 p.m. till 9 p.m. Come and enjoy great food, Peter Farrar’s presentation and music by Erik Johansson. You’ll see our museum and projects we are working on. We also want to thank Grafton Cheese for supplying the cheese.
This week’s old saying. “Don’t go off half cocked.” This does not refer to being drunk but the position of the hammer on a gun. In the old days a hammer was called a “cock.” There was full cock for firing and half cock for safety.
Look for this article online with more photos!