Jon Stamp

History of weapons during Michigan’s frontier recounted

January 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

Weapons changed as settlers arrived and the state developed by BETH ALTENA As big game disappeared from Michigan’s landscape and the needs of pioneer settlers changed, so did the weapons they used in day-to-day life, explained Rockford resident and firearms historian Jon Stamp. Stamp was the presenter during the November Rockford Area Historical Society meeting at the Community Cabin on Thursday, Nov. 3. He described the evolution of the weaponry the state’s earliest settlers relied upon as they increasingly conquered the wilderness of Michigan since the early 1600s. Stamp said Michigan is unique and has history of non-native American activities as far back as there is for the country’s east coast. When the first white settlers arrived, Michigan was home to about 15,000 Indians. They were Algonquians and included regional tribes of Miamis, Chippewa, Menominee, Ottawa, Potawatomi and Wyandot. White settlers came to the area as far back 100 years before the Revolutionary War because the area was rich in the fur trade industry. Stamp said he is a shooter and historian and not really a historical reenactor. Original guns are far too valuable and many times too rare to use for shooting and reenacting. Therefore, replicas or custom-built weapons are used for these purposes. He showed the crowd a replica of a gun that would have been typical to early settlers, a smooth-bored flintlock musket, that could be loaded with whatever was available—round lead ball, birdshot, buckshot or in extreme cases even tacks or pebbles. It was fired by a piece of flint gripped in the hammer hitting a piece of steel, creating sparks to fire off the weapon. The British had a paper cartridge in which gunpowder was wrapped. The sparks lit the packet of gunpowder, firing the gun. They used the weapon for fighting and had the typical technique of standing a certain distance from the enemy line, shooting at them and then rushing forward to fight with the bayonet on the end of the weapon. The lack of open fields here confused the British and French. Settlers more typically stored their gunpowder in a horn and poured a measure into the barrel of the weapon. The pretty big caliber ball often used in the musket meant the user had to be […]