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Musket from Lexington & Concord in Haddam Shop

by Dean Schimetschek.

Witness to “The shot heard round the world” discovered by local antique gun shop

Musket

 

Greg and Dean

(April 6, 2019) — Greg and Dean Schimetschek of Jeremiah Johnson Trading didn’t think much of the old gun when they first held it. At first glance it appeared to be a captured Revolutionary War era British “Brown Bess” musket which had been restocked and locked during the mid 1800’s for civilian use. Altered muskets that tell this story are frequently encountered throughout the antique arms world and are usually nothing to get very excited over. It was common practice for old military guns to find their way onto farms across New England and receive the modifications required to deem them suitable for sporting use. Little did they know they were actually holding a gun that had participated in the Battles of Lexington & Concord on April 19, 1775; the single day that gave birth to American liberty and initiated the Revolutionary War. The barrel of the gun, which remains in it’s original length of 46″, is faintly inscribed atop the breech “Ks OWN REGt.” Throughout the entire 18th century the 4th Regiment of Foot, better known as the “King’s Own” regiment, was noted for gallantry in every engagement they participated in. They arrived in America during 1774 and remained stationed in Boston throughout the following year. An advance guard of men from the King’s Own were among the forces that marched onto Lexington Green the morning of April 19th 1775 and encountered a small company of minutemen standing in defiance of British oppression. Here the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired leaving eight Americans dead.

The British marched on to Concord where they encountered a larger group of militia and effective resistance. Two members of the King’s Own fell at Concord’s famous North Bridge becoming the first British fatalities of the war. Word of the pre-dawn skirmish at Lexington spread rapidly throughout the region and without hesitation thousands of minutemen from across the countryside were grabbing their guns and heading toward the sounds of battle. The British now had to fight for their lives on the long road back to Boston and a massive day-long running battle ensued. The remaining companies of the King’s Own were called into action to assist in relieving the battered advance column. Minutemen fired at the Redcoats from behind trees and stonewalls with brutal house-to-house fighting leaving scores dead and wounded. By the end of the day nearly 4,000 Americans, driven purely by moral obligation, had answered the call to defend their compatriots and drove the British back to Boston. The Revolutionary War had begun, yet it would take nearly eight and a half years of bitter struggle to obtain the notion of freedom that had been established that April morning in 1775. Sporting an intimidating 46″ barrel the Long Land Pattern 1756 “Brown Bess” musket was the weapon of choice for the heavy infantry companies of the King’s Own, better known as Grenadiers. Sixteen muskets from the King’s Own were reported lost the day of Lexington & Concord, more than any other British regiment engaged. Considering that this would be the only defeat for the King’s Own during the war and that they returned to England long before the official military surrender at Yorktown in 1781 it can be surmised that the only opportunity for this musket to have been captured would have been during the Battle of Lexington & Concord. While we will never know the true details of what really happened that day it is likely that the gun was taken from a dead or wounded British soldier and actually used against the Redcoats throughout the remaining hours of the battle and probably saw active American service during the forthcoming war.

When the Revolutionary War was finally over the gun was carried home to begin its new life providing food for the very family it had recently defended. It remains a silent witness to the “The shot heard round the world” and a historic reminder of the day colonists stood up for themselves in the name of liberty and became Americans. Jeremiah Johnson Trading is located at 1618 Saybrook Rd. in Haddam and is operated by Greg Schimetschek and his son Dean in conjunction with Dean’s wife, artist and pinstriper Kristin Haddad of Killustrate It. Specializing exclusively in blackpowder and pre-1899 manufactured antique arms, Greg and Dean share a passion for acquiring and offering authentic pieces to discerning collectors around the globe.

 

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