Wars between British, French add military facet to history

June 06, 1993|By Lita Solis-Cohen and Sally Solis-Cohen

According to collector William H. Guthman, during the 17th and 18th century, when England and France were fighting for control of North America, both sides depended upon their Indian allies and on provincial militia to reinforce the few regiments of regulars stationed in the New World colonies.

Each soldier provided his own musket, bayonet (or sword or tomahawk) and cartridge boxes or powder horns, unless he couldn't afford them, Mr. Guthman added. In that case, the town supplied them.

Boxes for "prefixed" cartridges used in flintlock muskets weren't always available to provincial troops, so they relied on hollowed-out horn containers to carry the powder with which they made their own cartridges.

"That the heyday of horn production extended from 1746 to 1780 or so further suggests that the horn passed from fashion because they were a reminder of an immediate Colonial past that was both inspiring and embarrassing," Robert F. Trent, a curator at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, writes in his forward to Mr. Guthman's book.

# --L.S.C. and S.S.C.

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