This rifle is documented as rifle no. 50 in Shumway's "Rifles of Colonial America Vol. 1" and "Kentucky Rifles & Pistols 1750-1850" on page 74. Both identify it is a Lancaster School rifle by Jacob Dickert. The first text states "It appears to have been made in the same period as the preceding Dickert rifles, between 1761 when Dickert began his career as a journeyman and about 1780, though like the others it more likely is a product of the 1770 decade." The second states c. 1770. The rifle is clearly the same rifle in the books based both on its overall design and the specific wear spots. The first text lists it as .50 caliber while the second lists it as .45 caliber. The bore is counterbored at the muzzle, and the caliber of the main bore measures between .45 and .50 (the calibers listed in the books). The included display plaque states that "This rifle is believed to be the earliest known example of Dickert's work. Verbal provenance has placed it at the Battle of King's Mountain" and dates the rifle to c. 1760-1765. Jacob Dickert (1740-1822) was a German immigrant and was one of the most prominent Pennsylvania riflesmiths and was active in Lancaster County, recognized as the most significant centers of rifle production in colonial America, from the 1760s until his death in 1822. He was first listed as a gunsmith in 1765. Over this period, he organized multiple gunmakers into a more coordinated industry and also produced rifles on contract with the U.S. government. The rifle received a certificate of recognition and a medal for being one of the ten best arms exhibited at the NRA's 124th Annual Meeting on May 21, 1995 (plaque and medal included). The barrel has traditional blade and notch sights and is signed "J Dickert" on top in the breech section. The slightly banana profile lock has beveled edges, a grooved tail, and a non-bridled pan. The furniture is all brass and includes a fairly plain two-piece patchbox with somewhat "fluer-de-lis" style finial. The stock has moulding along the ramrod channel, elongated teardrop flats, "fluer-de-lis" style raised relief carving at the upper tang, an incised scroll at the front of the comb on the right, additional raised and incised scroll carving on the left ahead of and behind the cheekpiece which has a flat rectangular edge. The rifle was not fitted with a toe plate as is the case with many of the earlier "Kentucky rifles." The Battle of King's Mountain was fought on October 7, 1780, in northwestern South Carolina between the Patriot militia known as the "Overmountain Men" and Loyalist militia under English officer Patrick Ferguson, famous for the Ferguson breechloading rifle design. It remains one of the most famous battles of the American Revolution thanks to the high number of American riflemen involved in the battle and the fact that it is an "all-American" battle. A Patriot militia of around 900 men surrounded and surprised Ferguson's 1,105 Loyalists camped on the high ground after a long march. The Patriots worked their way up the hill from multiple sides as individual units while firing from cover as they worked their way up. When Ferguson's militia launched bayonet-charges, the Patriots retreated back to the woods and then began working their way back up the hill as the Loyalists regrouped back on the top. Since the Patriots used cover, were not organized in formal lines, and were downhill, the Loyalists struggled to effectively fire upon their assailants. Within an hour, the Loyalists had suffered significant casualties and the Patriots were reaching the high ground to Ferguson's rear. Some of the Loyalists tried to surrender, but Ferguson struck down their white flags with his sword and attempted to rally them to break through the Patriot lines. Before he could do so, he was shot and wounded and then drug by his horse into the Patriot lines. He shot a Patriot officer who gave him the opportunity to surrender and was then himself shot multiple times. Around sixty-five minutes after the first shots had been fired, the Loyalists began their surrender, but to their horror, many instead received "Tarleton's Quarter" and were killed. This was in part in response to Banastre Tartleton's forces' massacre of surrendering Patriot troops at the Battle of Waxhaws back in May near Lancaster, South Carolina. While some of the Patriots simply did not know the Loyalists were trying to surrender, even an emissary sent by Loyalist Captain de Peyster under a white flag was shot down. When the Patriot officers got things under control, the Loyalists had suffered 290 men killed and 163 wounded, and another 668 were taken prisoner. Many of the wounded were left on the field to die because the Patriots could not risk taking them with them due to the proximity of the British regulars under Cornwallis. The Patriots left the field victorious and suffered comparably light casualties of 28 killed and 60 wounded despite facing a numerically superior force holding the high ground. The battle was significant in that it gave a considerable boost to Patriot morale and led to Cornwallis abandoning his plans to attack North Carolina. Thomas Jefferson later called it, "The turn of the tide of success," and Henry Clinton, the commander-in-chief of the British forces said it was "the first link in a chain of evils that followed each other in regular succession until they at last ended in the total loss of America."
Very good as reconverted to flintlock configuration with dark brown patina and moderate oxidation/pitting on the barrel and lock, legible signature, natural aged patina on the brass, a flake and slight crack at the edge of the buttplate on the left, no corresponding wear on the wood nearby, and other slight cracks at the corners of the heel. The stock is good and has splices and other repairs mainly along the forend, a worn "groove" on the right above the ramrod entry pipe, partially smoothed but generally distinct carving, slight gaps around the barrel tang and lock, subtle but attractive flame figure, a small empty drill hole in the bottom of the butt, and general scrapes and dings. The trigger is fairly loose, but the rifle is mechanically fine. This is both a very attractive and historic early Dickert rifle associated with one of the most significant battles involving American militia riflemen during the American Revolution.
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