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Thread: Researching an engraved Revolutionary War powder horn

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  1. #16
    us
    Dec 2012
    lower hudson valley, N.Y.
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    York and Allentown PA are not really near Philadelphia at all.
    Ya won't find nuthin' if ya don't hunt

  2. #17
    us
    sprailroad

    Jan 2017
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    Very well done Red Coat, there was some time and effort involved in your research, enjoyed reading it.
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  3. #18
    Charter Member

    Aug 2019
    Formerly Ohio, now south
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    I would swear I've seen this horn somewhere before. Probably 10-15 years ago. Trying to remember where.
    AUhills likes this.

  4. #19
    us
    Jun 2017
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    Here is a video I just took to give a better visual of the piece. It was hard to get the camera to focus on details this small so this was the best I could do in a couple of tries. I might try to do a better one once I figure out how to use my camera correctly lol.

    Notice the whole horn above the name, date, & place is a map that includes the Schuylkill River, Delaware River, and their tributaries for reference. It's actually a relatively accurate map. Just don't know where York Co. comes into play because this isn't a map of York County? That is why the one expert I have spoken with and myself assumed that it probably stood for York Co. Militia but further research hasn't yet shown there was a W. McAllister ever registered with that militia. I'd bet when it is determined for sure exactly who this Serjt W. McAllister was there will probably be a good answer for why it is marked York Co. next to his name & date. It could just simply be where he was the day his name & date was engraved, isn't that most likely?

    I can imagine a soldier sitting on a log next the campfire, it is 1778 and they are camped in York County. He just got this new powder horn and he was personalizing it with his Name, Date, & Place plus a map of the territory where he had been fighting during the Philadelphia campaign. Not to much of a stretch is it? York Co. is probably just a record of where he was when he engraved it.
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  5. #20
    us
    Jun 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red-Coat View Post
    I tried to check if Serjeant McAllister of the 17th was “W. McAllister” (if so, my bet would be that he was a “William”). Unfortunately, his record isn’t in the UK National Archives: “General Muster Books and Pay Lists 1730-1898” which means either that the documentation hasn’t survived or hasn’t yet been digitised for the archive available on the net.
    I've been doing some more research and here are the two records that will have Serjt McAllister's first name in them:
    17th Foot 1st Battalion | The National Archives
    17th Foot 1st Battalion | The National Archives

    The good news is the reports exist, the bad news is they haven't been digitized and the National Archives are closed at least until the end of June because of the virus. I've done a lot more searching for a Serjt McAllister in the Revolutionary War and this is the only one that comes up. I'm really thinking it must be him.

    Too anyone that wants to see his prisoner record here is the link, once on the page just hold ctrl-f to pop up a search window, search McAllister.
    https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a491107.pdf

    I'm still open to suggestions if someone else has a lead but now there appears to be to much evidence to be a coincidence suggesting that the Serjt W. McAllister on my horn is going to be confirmed this Serjt with the 17th Regiment of Foot. It all makes sense when you look at all the little clues on the horn also. Not just the locations and date but the British flag being more detailed than the American flag, British Royal Navy Ship in the Harbor flying it's pennant, and the abbreviation of Sergeant as Serjt. Now all we need is to see what is in the National Archive's General Muster Books and Pay Lists Records for the 17th during that period and the mystery will likely be solved. Might take a little patience now until the Archives are open and I get access to the records but hey @Red-Coat, beers on me if this lead pans out! I'll owe you one for sure!
    Last edited by AUhills; May 14, 2020 at 07:22 AM.
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  6. #21
    Charter Member
    us
    "WP"

    May 2012
    13,308
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    Don't let me cool your ardor...
    Many replica horns exist. And living history/re-en-actors enjoy them thoroughly.
    If not lazy I'd dig one out for pictures of forts and such mapped on one that a builder sold me with a rifle he'd built. The extended "ear" on the plug end that was used to tie too in the 1600's era was broken and removed. Changing the appearance of what era it may have been copied/influenced from. (Though still a replica).

    The oldest horns I've handles were in bad shape. Time on those keratin bodies is hard on them without just the right storage conditions.
    Cracks,worm holes , as much as half the horn gone ect. But ...That can be faked too.

    Another horn I possess and used for quite a while was found (outside the hundreds of shooters and events that made the rounds back then) in tired condition with many fine cracks. Crude staples to hold ties, an un dwelled on spout ect. that was a no frills worker. But still had personal flare in it's having been heated and partially pressed and a gunstock butt type plug.

    Personal touches (and touchmarks/initials or similar) have been used to find early makers. At least a couple of the more popular ones.


    And...To muddy the waters more , British often carried rolled cartridges in cartridge boxes. Pre-rolled paper cylinders with powder and ball. Bite of the end ,pour powder...I'll let whoevers interested look into how they were used.

    Point being , British troops did not always carry powder horns. Era will figure into that ,but again cartridge box use vs horn during what campaign/era...
    That said here's the muddy of a possible British officers horn.
    https://mesda.org/item/collections/powder-horn/2577/
    AUhills likes this.

  7. #22
    us
    Jun 2017
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    Thanks, I appreciate all the info. Trust me I hear you about all the fakes out there and I'm no expert on powder horns specifically but I do deal in and handle a lot of antiquities and see fakes almost daily. I consider myself pretty good at spotting red flags when it comes to false aging vs. authentic aging and this has several indicators of proper aging with 0 red flags or any indications of modern restoration or additions. For something this special though I always refer to experts more qualified than me so I've now shown pictures to three different experts so far that all believe it is the real deal, and now for a formal evaluation and final conclusion Christie's experts are going to examine the powder horn in person and have the final say. Fingers Crossed, if everything checks out and once the research on this Serjt W. McAllister is concluded they want to feature it in one of their upcoming auctions.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	P1010016.JPG 
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ID:	1833636

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	P1010018.JPG 
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    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	1833638

    Check out these 2 links too, here is another example of a British powder horn you will find interesting. It was carried by a Red coat in the 47th Regiment of Foot and was at Bunker Hill!
    Link: https://www.geographicus.com/P/Antiq...owderHorn-1775
    Link: https://collections.leventhalmap.org...alth:q524n3363
    Last edited by AUhills; May 14, 2020 at 12:21 PM. Reason: (spelling error)
    releventchair likes this.

  8. #23
    Charter Member

    Aug 2019
    Formerly Ohio, now south
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    I looked at the documented horns I remembered and were looking for and while similar were not this horn.

    This looks ok to me but as others have said extremely good fakes exist.

    This sgt you are looking for is a good lead. If he was a prisoner perhaps he made it with the mind to please one of his captors. Perhaps he gave it to someone.

    Perhaps it was made by some tory and given to him.
    AUhills likes this.

  9. #24
    us
    sprailroad

    Jan 2017
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    Interesting thread. Just a thought fella's, the spelling of "Serjt", as being of a British spelling, well.... may not mean the powder horn was not that of a British soldier, since many "Americans" were English themselves. The owner having something of a what I'll call a "Dual Citizenship", in a manner of speaking, choosing to be American and no longer under British rule instead. Only a thought.
    AUhills likes this.

  10. #25
    gb
    Dec 2019
    Surrey
    761
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    I'm waiting a reply from my historian contact. Hope he has some encouraging information for you. If he has, it's not going to be proof of course, but hopefully you may reach a position where you have sufficient circumstantial evidence to build a credible back story for the horn. If you do, I'll be delighted for you.

  11. #26
    gb
    Dec 2019
    Surrey
    761
    1946 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Hi @AUhills

    This was the interim reply from my contact:

    I'll be happy to delve into the muster roll information for you over the next few days.

    In the meantime, I should note that technically, the 17th Regiment of Foot was a single-battalion regiment at this time (as were most in the British Army), so the first battalion signifier is unnecessary. I realize the TNA organizes their catalog entries in that fashion, which is an artifact of those beloved Victorians.

    York County is probably a reference to York County, Pennsylvania. The 17th prisoners from Stony Point were shuffled around quite a bit by the rebels, traveling (if I recall correctly) through Allentown and Lebanon, PA, en route to their final destination at York. The entire regiment (with its light and grenadier companies serving the respective 1st Light and Grenadier Composite Battalions) was present throughout the entire Philadelphia Campaign. The 17th Regiment was also quartered in Trenton in December 1776 at the end of Howe's nearly-successful pursuit of Washington across the Jerseys, just before the unfortunate Trenton-Princeton Campaign. The Stony Point prisoners remained in captivity until January 1781.

    That is all from memory: I will check my notes as opportunity allows. The entire pandemic unpleasantness has me even more occupied than usual, so I apologize for the delay.

    I hope you are staying safe and well: I would enjoy seeing more photographs of the powder horn.
    [I only sent him one picture, showing the name inscription and the ship outside Philadelphia but will now send more assuming you have no objection].

    If the above holds good, for this to be a horn relating to McAllister of the 17th, it would need to be the case that he was in possession of the horn after his capture in 1779 and was adding further work to it during those times... or maybe even was able to make it during periods of boredom in captivity. I don't know how likely this is. The 1778 date would then have to be a 'nostalgic' one, not necessarily reflecting his actual presence in York County in that year. Again, I don't know how likely that is, but it stretches the credibility somewhat.

    I'll keep you posted as and when.
    Last edited by Red-Coat; May 15, 2020 at 05:43 AM.
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  12. #27
    us
    Jun 2017
    16
    32 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Thanks for the update Red-Coat, looking forward to seeing what he finds in the muster roll info. Feel free to show him more pictures or link him to the video. This looks like it is going to have a really interesting story behind it if it really was Serj't McAllister's. There will still be some research to do on exactly where the 17th was & when they were there even if it is confirmed he was actually a "W" McAllister. But so long as it is actually real there is always an explanation, I feel we are getting closer to solving this mystery one way or the other. I know Christie's is literally going to look at this under a microscope too, so if it's not authentic we will find out soon. Luckily though I got such a good deal on the lot this came in I've already made a healthy profit just re-selling the flintlocks so the way I see it I can't lose and I'm having a lot of fun playing "History/Artifact Detective" with this powder horn.
    Red-Coat likes this.

  13. #28
    us
    pigeonman

    Jan 2008
    Salem NJ
    T2 SE
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    Relic Hunting
    it looks good to me and most certainly like to own it.
    AUhills likes this.

 

 
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