Written by Jim Hollister, Park Ranger at Minute Man National Historical Park
On Saturday, February 18th, 2023 the Friends of Minute Man received a brilliant reproduction of a French fowling piece made by master gunsmith Richard Colton. The gun was purchased through a generous grant from the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. The original of this weapon, on display at the Concord Museum, was carried by Samuel Dakin Jr. of Lincoln, Massachusetts. Dakin served as a minute man in the company of Captain William Smith on April 19, 1775 and saw combat at Concord’s North Bridge and along the Battle Road.
This type of weapon is called a fowling piece, meaning that it was a sporting gun for shooting birds. However, militiamen were required by law to provide their own firearms suitable for militia duty. The law stated that the gun must be a “well-fixed firelock musket, the barrel not less than three and one half feet in length.” Guns also needed to be of “musket or bastard musket bore (12-20 gauge)” Other than that, there was a lot of leeway in what could be legally carried.
Based on various historical sources such as claims for losses, surviving original examples, and archaeological evidence, we know that minute men and militiamen on April 19, 1775, carried a variety of arms. Many of these were civilian fowling pieces like the one carried by Samuel Dakin Jr. Park staff are proud to carry such a faithful recreation of a gun that was actually used in battle on April 19, 1775, and share its history with the public. You can view the reproduction Dakin fowler at selected firing demonstrations at the park. Firing demonstrations at Minute Man National Historical Park occur weekly in season, from May through October. For more information on firing demonstrations and other programs at the park, please visit their calendar of events.
Image above, left to right clockwise: The Dakin fowler is presented to the Friends of Minute Man and Minute Man National Historical Park staff by the gunsmith, Richard Colton. Left to right, Kathleen Fahey, Executive Director of the Friends of Minute Man; Simone Monteleone, Superintendent of Minute Man National Historical Park; Richard Colton, gunsmith; Jarrad Fouss, Park Ranger, is holding the Dakin fowler; Jim Hollister, Park Ranger. The Dakin fowler in seen in Richard Colton’s workshop. The finished Dakin fowler on a red background. The presentation occurred at a recent event, “The Hive: A Symposium for Living History Interpreters.” Read The Hive was Buzzing with Activity for more information on the event.
Learn more about the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.
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