Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 110: Medad Hills Signed French & Indian War Era Flintlock Fusil

Auction Date: November 30, 2018

Historic Medad Hills Signed French & Indian War Era Flintlock Fusil Inscribed for Isaac Hill, Veteran of the French & Indian War and American Revolution, with Research

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $60,000 - $90,000

Historic Medad Hills Signed French & Indian War Era Flintlock Fusil Inscribed for Isaac Hill, Veteran of the French & Indian War and American Revolution, with Research

Manufacturer: American
Model: Flintlock Musket
Type: Musket
Gauge: 64
Barrel: 36 3/4 inch round
Finish: brown
Stock: curly maple
Item Views: 5692
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 70
Class: Antique

This smooth bore gun was manufactured by Medad Hills in 1758 and matches multiple other guns dated to that year by Hills that are known. It may have been originally built as a longer fowling piece and then modified for militia use. The buttplate is inscribed "Medad Hills" in fancy script on the tang. The silver thumb plate is dated "175[8?]." The silver plated brass side plate has "Made For Isaac Hill" in the same fancy script. The lock has scroll engraving and is marked "R. HOMER" inside. The lock engraving is similar to other known Hill firearms. The barrel has three brass ribs on the breech section, one of which is marked "Made October The [24?]TH" and additional unclear markings. The barrel also has a blade front sight, grooved tang for a rear sight, and traces of a lug on the bottom near the muzzle. The trigger guard is engraved with two fleurs-de-lis and a bloom design. There is no trigger plate. The barrel tang screw connects to a square nut ahead of the trigger. Some of the components are clearly hand forged, and some are held by iron staples and nails. The highly figured curly maple stock has significant drop at the toe seen on other New England colonial era guns and a brass forend cap. The side plate style, including the inscription, is similar to that on the fowling piece by Hills' father in figure 6 in "The New England Gun" by Lindsey, and also note the Medad Hills smoothbore piece shown in figure 20 which has a very similar barrel inscription and matching thumb plate dated 1758. Another rather similar gun also dated 1758 by Hills made for Noah North is in the Henry Ford Collection, and a fourth gun is dated August 26, 1758, and was made for Reverend Silvenus Osborn. That year is significant in that it was during the heart of the bloody French & Indian War (1754-1763) and was the year the British turned the tide against the French and their Native American allies. Medad Hills (1729-1808) of Goshen, Connecticut, was the son of gunmaker Benoni Hills (1701-1793) and older brother of fellow gunmaker John Hills (1731-1808) who fought in both the French & Indian War and American Revolution. Medad Hills worked as a goldsmith and gunmaker and also owned significant land in the nearby town of Winchester, Connecticut, founded in 1771. He served the local militia following the French & Indian War and in the American Revolution and also supplied Committee of Safety muskets in 1776 (40 per some sources). That same year, he also served with the rank of captain, and he was promoted to major and then colonel before resigning in 1779 due to rheumatism. Isaac Hill (1740-1835) was born in Goshen, Connecticut, one year before the Hills moved to town. Given they both came from the same small community, they very likely knew each other well. Hill served during the French & Indian War in Captain Samuel Hubbell's Company of the 4th Connecticut Regiment starting on April 1, 1757, Major John Durkee's 3rd Company of the Fourth Connecticut Regiment from April 14 to December 18, 1759; and Captain Samuel Whitings 4th Company from April 1 to December 5, 1761. He also served in the Connecticut infantry regiments in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He served under Captain John Yates in Colonel Roger Eno's 2nd Connecticut Regiment for two to three months in 1776; two to three weeks under Colonel Robert Lewis in April 1777 in New Rochelle, New York; and July 6, 1781, to January 1, 1782, under Colonel Zebulon Butler at Peekskill, New York, near West Point. Twenty men from Butler's regiment are known to have been at the Battle of Yorktown, but he and most of his Fourth Connecticut Regiment remained encamped near West Point and Peekskill in 1781-1783 defending the Hudson. In 1781, General George Washington referred to West Point as “the most important Post in America.” Incidentally, Medad Hills was also at Peekskill in September 1781 with the Connecticut militia. A consignor research file is included largely based on Daughters of the American Revolution records, and the details also appear in other records for the wars. This fusil was very likely used by Hill during the French & Indian War and may have also been carried by him during part or all of his time serving during the American Revolution.

Rating Definition:

Very good considering its age, use and importance showing deep brown patina on the iron along with light surface oxidation and pitting, aged patina on the brass and silver, mostly crisp engraving, generally legible markings aside from the barrel rib, sections of the brass barrel ribs absent, light epoxy in lock mortise, some gaps around the lock and upper tang, some small chips and slivers absent from the edges of the stock, beautiful flame figure along the full length of the stock, some small cracks, moderate scrapes and dings throughout, and moderate overall wear. The lock was reconverted professionally for preservation and historic purposes. Mechanically sound. This is a wonderful early American firearm produced during the middle of the French & Indian War, the consequences of which helped lead to the American Revolution. This gun was not only most likely used in some of the most seminal battles of the formation of this great country but also identified to an original American hero and patriot, Isaac Hill!

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