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Firearms Of the Lewis & Clark Expedition

   Perhaps the most important items carried by the members of the Lewis & Clark Expedition on their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back were their firearms. They carried an interesting variety of rifles, pistols and muskets, as well as an ample supply of repair parts, lead and powder. Included below are descriptions of some of these items followed by a bibliography of other resources concerning this topic.

Arms and Accoutrements
A portion of Lewis' List of Requirements, circa June 1803.



  Flintlock Rifle Debate  

   It has long been believed that the Armory at Harpers Ferry manufactured at least 15 of the .54 caliber U.S. Model 1803 flintlock rifles, or their prototypes, especially for Meriwether Lewis and the Corps of Discovery. However, some recent evidence questions this assumption. A very well researched article by Frank Tait proposes that the Harpers Ferry armory did not create whole rifles until well after Meriwether Lewis had left the vicinity. In Lewis' earlier army career, he had served under General Anthony Wayne. Wayne's corps of riflemen used rifles created as the result of a special contract of 1792. Almost 3,500 of these rifles, of .45 to .47 caliber, were created in two procurements of 1792 and 1794 . There were hundreds of these rifles stored at the Schulykill Arsenal in Philadelphia in 1803. Tait proposes that Lewis would have picked 15 of the best of these and had the Harpers Ferry armory "tune" them.

   It does seem likely that the Corps of Discovery did not carry the U.S. Model 1803 as we now know it, but opinions disagree. Some believe that Meriwether Lewis acquired a prototype or precursor of the U.S. Model 1803 (see A Lewis & Clark Rifle?) and others believe he carried fifteen of the 1792 contract rifles, though even these may have been modified at Harpers Ferry, possibly having them shortened, half-stocked, adding sling swivels, and even perhaps re-boring them to .54 caliber.

   It should be noted that many proponents of the U.S. Model 1803 theory have often quoted, as gospel, passages from the Elliott Coues (pronounced "cows") edition of the L&C journals. Originally published as a four volume set by Francis P. Harper in 1893, and now available in a newer printing, in three volumes, from Dover Publications, this edition of the journals is necessarily, highly edited. But even worse, Coues took to paraphrasing sections and was also responsible for scribbling in and causing much damage to the original journals. To his credit however, Coues added numerous interesting footnotes, mainly concerning the natural history aspects of the expedition.

   On March 20, 1806, as they were preparing to leave their winter camp at Fort Clatsop, William Clark penned a passage regarding the state of thier firearms. Below are quotes from the Coues edition, followed by quotes from the Moulton edition. Editor Gary Moulton, of the University of Nebraska, took a different tact in his editorial duties. His mission was to provide all the available text in as accurate a form as possible (sometimes the scrawl and condition of the original journals made this a real challenge) and adding numerous footnotes on a variety of subjects. Note that the underline in the Coues quote is my own and was placed for emphasis on the pertinent passage which was slanted to a conclusion based on Coues' own assumptions.
Coues' "massaged" version (Volume 2, pp. 818-9).
Finding that the guns of both Drewyer and Sergeant Pryor were out of order, the first was fitted with a new lock, and the broken tumbler of the latter was replaced by a duplicate, which had been made at Harper's Ferry, where the gun itself had been manufactured. But for our precaution in bringing extra locks, and duplicate parts of the locks, most of our guns would be now useless, in spite of the skill and ingenuity of John Shields in repairing them. Fortunately, as it is, we are able to record here that they are all in good order.

Moulton's verbatim text (Volume 6, pg. 442).
The Guns of Sergt. Pryor & Drewyer were both out of order. the first had a Cock screw broken which was replaced by a duplicate which had been prepared for the Locks at Harpers Ferry; the Second repared with a new Lock, the old one becoming unfit for use. but for the precaution taken in bringing on those extra locks, and parts of locks, in addition to the ingenuity of John Shields, most of our guns would at this moment been entirely unfit for use; but fortunate for us I have it in my power here to record that they are in good order, and Complete in every respect---
   Although the original material could be construed to support Coues' claims, the sentences as stated only directly support the fact that the locks and replacement parts were manufactured at Harpers Ferry.

In addition to the rifles acquired at Harper's Ferry, enlisted men may have brought with them whatever firearm had already been issued to them and personal firearms were also carried (see further info below). What is not generally well known however, is that Lewis also acquired additional firearms while preparing for the expedition and being taught by the scholarly friends of Thomas Jefferson. In the Memoir of Meriwether Lewis (see Jackson, Letters, Vol. 2, pg. 590), which Thomas Jefferson wrote for Paul Allen, the final editor of the 1814 edition of the Journals, Jefferson states:
"While attending at Lancaster [PA] to the fabrication of the arms with which he [Lewis] chose that his men should be provided, he had the benefit of daily communication with Mr. Andrew Ellicot, ..."

   Further information on the debate between the US Model 1803 and the 1792 Pattern Rifle camps will be forthcoming - stay tuned!

  Other Miscellaneous Arguments  



A number of other lines of evidence and arguments that I have heard from various sources are listed below. Along with these I include any supportive or contrary remarks that I could add.

1) Among others, Garavaglia and Worman note that in Lewis' list of Arms and Accoutrements, Lewis includes 15 "Guns Slings." Since the U.S. Model 1803 as we know it lacks sling swivels to attach such slings, they hypothesize that these couldn't possibly be the rifles Lewis acquired at Harpers Ferry.
Rebuttal: Since Lewis had the armory at his disposal, and had them working fervently performing custom work creating his experimental iron boat, while also providing arms, pipe tomahawks, etc., he could easily have ordered certain modifications to be made. It would be a simple matter to attach sling swivels to nearly any rifle.

2) Another common claim uses as evidence a painting of Lewis which shows him modeling a fur tippet and holding a long rifle that is equipped with sling swivels. This rifle is obviously not a U.S. Model 1803.
Memin Portrait of Meriwether Lewis in a Fur Tippet Rebuttal: According to the New York Historical Society which owns this portrait of Meriwether Lewis modeling a fur tippet and holding a firearm, it was painted by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint Mémin in 1807 after Lewis' triumphant return to Washington DC. The fur tippet is likely one presented to Lewis by Cameahwait, a Shoshone chief and the brother of Sacagawea. Lewis provides an intricate description of the Shoshone fur tippet in his journal entry for August 20, 1805 (see Moulton, Vol. 5, pp 127-128) and calls it the most eligant peice of Indian dress I ever saw."

I think there is no guarantee that the rifle depicted here was one that was carried to the Pacific and back, and even if so, whether it was one acquired at Harpers Ferry. Either before Lewis left St. Louis on his slow celebatory trip to Washington DC, or later on his behalf, there was an auction held in St. Louis to sell off the expedition's government owned equipment, in an effort to recoup some of the expenses of the venture. In Jackson's Letters (Vol. 2, pg 424) is a Washington DC document entitled Final Summation of Lewis's Account and datelined Accountants Office       August 5, 1807. The account entry reads:
1989 To Expedition to the Pacific Ocean. For
so much received by him, being the net
proceeds of the sale of Sundry Rifles, Mus-
kets, powder horns, Shot pouches, Powder,
Lead, Kettles, Axes, & other public prop-
erty remaining on hand at the termination
of the Expedition to the Pacific Ocean,
which were disposed of at Public Auction
at St. Louis   pr. a/c
408.62

Note: the figure "1989" above is the account entry number and not a date.

So, rather than pay for storage or moving the equipment any further it seems that all the items purchased by the government, including the rifles acquired at Harpers Ferry - whatever those may have been - were sold at auction in St. Louis for a measly $408.62. For historian's reflections on this auction, see Bargains Galore at Lewis & Clark's Yard Sale. In summary, it seems most likely that all the government purchased rifles were auctioned off, or being held to be auctioned, before the famous St. Mémin portrait was painted in 1807.




  Model 1803 U.S. Flintlock Rifle  


   The following picture and descriptive text is a direct extract from Flayderman's Guide to Antique Firearms by Norm Flayderman; ISBN: 0-87349-162-9; Sixth Edition, Pp. 440-41 (c/o DBI Books, 700 East State Street, Iola, WI, (800) 258-0929) and is used by permission.

U.S. Model 1803

Model 1803 U.S. Flintlock Rifle. Made by Harpers Ferry Armory, Virginia, c. 1803-07; total quantity 4,023. Later production c. 1814-20; total quantity 15,703.
   54 caliber. Single shot muzzleloader. Specifications called for 33" part octagon / part round barrels, but lengths vary from approximately 31 3/4" to 33 1/2"; in 1815 it was increased to 36". Blade front sight and open type rear sight. Barrel secured by sliding key to stock; note distinctive rib beneath barrel, having two ramrod ferrules. No provision for use with bayonet. The lock has an integral forged iron flashpan with fence at rear.
   Brass mountings. Metal parts finished bright, excepting browned barrel, barrel rib, and ferrules (iron). Note Kentucky rifle influence on most parts. Steel ramrod with brass tip.
   Walnut half stock with small cheekrest; brass patchbox on right side of butt.
   Lockplate marking: (eagle motif) / US, forward of hammer. Behind hammer, HARPERS / FERRY / (date), marked vertically. Barrel marking at breech: US within oval / (eaglehead) / P within oval, proofmarks.
   One of the key U.S. martial longarms, the Model 1803 Rifle is best known as an issue weapon for the Lewis & Clark Expedition into the Louisiana Territory. The graceful lines and Kentucky rifle styling are important ingredients in the collector popularity of this first of the U.S. regulation rifles.

Model 1803, First Production 1803-1807; Total 4,023. Production records first seen in the 1822 Report of the Chief of Ordinance (and subsequently reprinted in various U.S. martial collecting books) seemed to indicate first manufacture in 1804. Authentic dated 1803 specimens (only a few known) clearly indicate that the 1822 records are misleading when applied to actual markings on the guns themselves. (See full details and discussion with description of the Model 1805 Harpers Ferry flintlock pistol). Serial numbered from 1 on up.
   Overall length about 47"; stock length about 26 1/2". A variety of rifling was used. Locks are dated with the year of manufacture. Those dated 1803 (and thus having the possibility of use with the Lewis & Clark Expedition) worth premium of at least 50 to 100 percent over values shown. 1804 dates worth approximately 25 to 50 percent premium:
9A-112   Values--Good $3,750   Fine $10,000
As above; converted to percussion:
9A-113   Values--Good $1,250   Fine $3,500

Model 1803, later production c. 1814-1820; total manufactured 15,703. Often termed (erroneously) the Model 1814 Harpers Ferry half stock. Due to exigencies of the War of 1812, production on this model was resumed in June, 1814. Those made (approximately 1,600) in that year were about identical to earlier production (only eagle marking different) and bring a premium. Barrel length increased to 36" in 1815 and apparently the balance of production to 1820 were this length. The stock was lengthened proportionately to 30 1/2" and rifling standard with seven grooves. Markings remain as described above with varying dates; the eagle stamped in center of lock is slightly smaller and the U.S. appears within the shield on the eagle's breast. Not serial numbered.
9A-114   Values--Good $2,750   Fine $7,000
As above, converted to percussion:
9A-115   Values--Good $1,000   Fine $2,500

  Armory Marks on the U.S. Model 1803  

   Below are images of the armory markings on my U.S. Model 1803 rifle. This rifle was from the first production series. It was manufactured in 1805 while Lewis and Clark were exploring. It is serial number 1445.

Harpers Ferry Mark and Date
Harpers Ferry Serial Number
Harpers Ferry Eagle




  Model 1799 U.S. Flintlock Pistol  

   The following picture and descriptive text is a direct extract from Flayderman's Guide to Antique Firearms by Norm Flayderman; ISBN: 0-87349-162-9; Sixth Edition, Pp. 440-41 (c/o DBI Books, 700 East State Street, Iola, WI, (800) 258-0929) and is used by permission.

U.S. Model 1799


MODEL 1799 Flintlock Pistol by Simeon North and Elisha Cheney of Berlin, C onnecticut. Manufactured 1799 to 1802. Total made 2,000.
   69 caliber, smoothbore, 8 1/2" round barrel (slight variances noted). Made without sights. Overall length 14 1/2".
   Steel ramrod with button shaped head; inserted into lower right side of frame. Distinctive features are the all brass frame and lack of a forestock. Trigger guard also brass. One-piece walnut handle with a steel backstrap extending from the frame to the brass butt cap. Metal parts finished bright.
   Underside of frame marked in a curve NORTH & CHENEY BERLIN, or S. NORTH & E. CHENEY BERLIN. Barrel marked at breech (vertically in three lines) V, P, and US.
   As the first official model of pistol adopted by the United States, the Model 1799 is recognized as one of the great prizes in the collecting of American firearms. It was patterned directly after the Model 1777 French Army pistol, which has a barrel 1" shorter, a breech noticeably rounded at its lower portion, and an extra barrel securing screw on the forward section of the frame. Numerous spurious specimens of the Model 1799 have been made over the past half century. Generally the counterfeiter has used a Model 1777 French pistol, altering it to fit the Model 1799 features. Extreme caution is urged in the acquisition of this very rare gun. If in doubt, the reader is urged to check with an acknowledged authority in the field:
6A-001   Values--Good $18,000   Fine $35,000

As above, altered to percussion:
6A-002   Values--Good $8,500   Fine $20,000



  Air Rifle  

   It seems nearly certain that Lewis' air rifle was manufactured by Isaiah Lukens in Philadelphia, PA, and that this arm is now part of the Henry M. Stewart Collection at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA. It has a .31 caliber, rifled barrel and contains the air reservoir in the butt of the stock. Lewis used this rifle to impress a great many Native Americans.

Lukens, small

   The air rifle was tracked down by Henry M. Stewart after he found an old Auction Catalog, dated January 4, 1847, that contained items from the estate of Isaiah Lukens. A portion of that catalog is shown above. You can click here for the whole facsimile of this auction notice or see Jackson's Letters, for a mention of this document.

Daguerreotype of Isaiah Lukens circa 1840-41 (LOC)
Isaiah Lukens


   Dr. Robert Beeman, a noted air gun expert, has thoroughly researched the subject of the Lewis air rifle. He skeptically approached the hypothesis that the VMI / Stewart rifle is THE Lewis air rifle. Dr. Beeman told me that he;
"worked in person with Henry Stewart, with his Lukens and Kunz airguns, and he [Stewart] was adamant, after a first burst of optimism, that he 'does not claim that this rifle [the VMI specimen] was the one carried by Capt. Lewis' and he said so in his talk to the L&C Trail Assoc. in the Philadelphia meeting when he addressed them. He [Stewart] also was strong in his repeated statements that a Lt. Peters took the air rifle in one of two boxes that Capt. Lewis, in the last weeks of 1806, sent to be taken from St. Louis to Washington."

   However, after a careful and thorough study of the available evidence and candidate guns, Dr. Beeman has assembled a powerful argument supporting the belief that the VMI / Stewart air rifle is the actual rifle that was carried by Meriwether Lewis during the expedition. The most recent version of Dr. Beeman's definitive article on Lewis' air rifle is published in the Blue Books of Airguns, Second Edition. An addendum and list of errata for this latest article can be found at the bottom of a web page on Dr. Beeman's website. Other articles on this topic by Dr. Beeman include (newest to oldest):
  • The German magazine Visier published an article entitled Wohner der Wind weht in its April 2002 issue. Dr. Beeman provides an English translation of this article ( Whence the Wind Blows) on his website.
  • An addendum to the April 2000 article (see below) was published in theMay 2001 issue of Airgun Letter.
  • Airgun Revue, Volume 6 (April 2000), which can be ordered through the Airgun Letter website.
  •    The following journal entries of Lewis & Clark (see Journals, Moulton) mention the air gun:
  •  
  • August 30, 1803   (Lewis notes that Mr. Blaze Cenas accidentally shoots a woman bystander in the head - see below)
  •  
  • August 3, 1804   (two drafts by Clark regarding a demonstration for the natives)
  •  
  • August 19, 1804   (Clark, demonstration for natives)
  •  
  • August 30, 1804   (Clark, a demonstration for the Sioux)
  •  
  • October 10, 1804   (Clark, a demonstration for the Mandan / Hidatsa)
  •  
  • October 29, 1804   (two drafts by Clark, a demonstration for the Arikara)
  •  
  • October 30, 1804   (Clark, a demonstration for the Wau te Soon chief)
  •  
  • January 16, 1805   (Clark, a demonstration for the big bell[i]es")
  •  
  • June 9, 1805   (Lewis, when the air gun's main spring was replaced)
  •  
  • June 10, 1805   (Lewis, again regarding the air gun's main spring being replaced)
  •  
  • August 7, 1805   (Lewis, sights fixed, gun regulated)
  •  
  • August 17, 1805   (Lewis demonstrates the air gun to Cameahwait)
  •  
  • January 24, 1806   (Lewis & Clark, a demonstration for the natives)
  •  
  • April 2, 1806   (Lewis, a demonstration for the natives)
  •  
  • April 3, 1806   (Clark, a demonstration for the natives)
  •  
  • April 18, 1806   (Lewis, a demonstration for the natives)
  •  
  • May 11, 1806   (Lewis & Clark, a demonstration for the natives)
  •  
  • August 11, 1806   (Lewis readies the air gun for his defense from imaginary Indians after being shot by expedition member Pierre Cruzatte).

    Here's an excerpt from Lewis' first journal entry - hardly a stellar commencment to such an epic journey. Please note, although Lewis dated this journal entry as August 30, 1804, it was almost certainly August 31, 1804.
    August 30, 1803 [Lewis]
    "Left Pittsburgh this day at 11 ock with a party of 11 hands 7 of which are soldiers, a pilot and three young men on trial they having proposed to go with me throughout the voyage. Arrived at Bruno's Island 3 miles below halted a few minutes.    went on shore and being invited on by some of the gentlemen present to try my airgun which I had purchased brought it on shore charged it and fired myself seven times fifty five yards with pretty good success; after which a Mr. Blaze Cenas being unacquainted with the management of the gun suffered her to discharge herself accedentaly    the ball passed through the hat of a woman about 40 yards distanc cuting her temple about the fourth of the diameter of the ball; shee feel instantly and the blood gusing from her temple   we were all in the greatest consternation    supposed she was dead by [but] in a minute she revived to our enespressable satisfaction, and by examination we found the wound by no means mortal or even dangerous; . . ."
    Moulton, "Journals"

       In a memorandum, penned in St. Louis in 1806, William Clark notes a number of articles and contents of boxes being forwarded to Louisville [KY] in care of a Mr. Wolpards. Among the contents of Box No. 2 is listed "1 air gun" (see Journals, Moulton,Vol. 8, pg. 419).

    An excerpt from Lewis' journal entry of August 7, 1805:
    "my air gun was out of order and her sights had been removed by some accedent I put her in order and regulated her. She shot again as well as she ever did."
    Moulton, "Journals"

       The journals of John Ordway (see Journals, Moulton, Vol. 9) mention the air gun in the following passages:
  • August 31, 1804   (a demonstration)
  • September 25, 1804   (a demonstration)
  • October 10, 1804   (a demonstration)
  • October 29, 1804   (a demonstration)
  • March 8, 1805   (a demonstration)
  • June 10, 1805   (repair mainspring)
  • August 7, 1805   (a demonstration)
  • August 17, 1805   (a demonstration)

  •    The journals of Joseph Whitehouse (see Journals, Moulton, Vol. 11) mention the air gun on:
  • August 30, 1804   (a demonstration)
  • June 10, 1805   (repair mainspring)
  • August 7, 1805   (gun fired)
  • There are no mentions of the air gun by either Gass or Floyd.





      Other Rifles  

       Aside from the Harpers Ferry rifles, Russell makes a case that some of the enlisted men might have brought along some army issued "Kentucky" long rifles. In addition, some personal rifles may have been carried as well, including Clark's squirrel rifle. On December 10, 1805, William Clark wrote of his "Small rifle" ... "the Size of the ball which was 100 to the pound". See my table of calculations for further information regarding the size and weight of various caliber lead balls. In regards to Clark's squirrel rifle, Dr. Robert Beeman notes that:
    Clark's expedition notes refer to it as his "Small" rifle and many readers of the journals have taken that to mean that this was a reference to its size or bore; however it probably was in reference to its maker. A .36" caliber flintlock rifle marked "Jn. Small, Vincennes", which the Clark family claims was carried by Captain Clark on the expedition, is in the Missouri Historical Society Museum. A John Small is recorded as a gun maker and sheriff in Vincennes, Knox County, Indiana during the period 1780 to 1823."
    NOTE: Per a conversation between Dr. Robert Beeman (airgun expert) and Bud Clark (great great great grandson of William Clark), it is now apparent that Clark's "Small" rifle, in the possession of the Missouri Historical Society, is of post-expeditionary origin.



      Other Pistols  

       As Russell points out, the U.S. Model 1799 flintlock pistol is generally believed to be what Lewis referred to as his horse or horseman's pistol and is likely to be what was delivered to Lewis from the Philadelphia Arsenal on May 18, 1803. In addition, Jackson shows that one pair of pocket pistols with secret triggers was purchased for Captain Lewis for a sum of $10.00 from a Robert Barnhill by Israel Whelen. These were delivered by Whelen to Captain Lewis on June 7th, 1803.



      Muskets and Scatterguns  

       According to Russell, it is likely the expedition members carried a number of U.S. Model 1795 flintlock muskets as well as light fuzees or trade guns.



      Blunderbusses and Cannons  

       Russell discusses the two blunderbusses and small, 1 pounder cannon that were used as swivel guns by the expedition members. In addition, he includes drawings that give an impression of how these pieces probably looked. Note that the name blunderbuss derives from the Dutch donderbus which means thunder gun. It applies to any short-barreled muzzle-loading firearm with a flared barrel. The real purpose of the flared barrel was not to spread a shot charge, but rather was to speed the process of reloading.



      Bibliography  



      Books, Magazines and Pamphlets  

    A Lewis & Clark Rifle?
    Olson, Kirk
    American Rifleman (National Rifle Association); May, 1985
    Pp 23-25, 66-68
    Presents evidence that a particular specimen was created for the Lewis & Clark expedition. Good details on Harper's Ferry and it's early rifles prior to and including the Model 1803.

    Air Guns
    Wolff, Eldon G.
    Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI; 1958; 198pp. Out of print.

    Dixie Gun Works Blackpowder Guns, Shooting Supplies & Antique Gun Parts
    Dixie Gun Works, Inc., Union City, TN; Catalog No. 147; 1998
    Pg. 43
    Includes a replica of the U.S. Model 1803 flintlock rifle.

    Firearms of the American West, 1803-1865
    Garavaglia, Louis A. and Charles G. Worman
    University Press of Colorado; ISBN: 0870814834
    Vol. 1 of 2; 500 pages
    A nice general overview of American arms, 1803 - 1865.

    Firearms, Traps, & Tools of the Mountain Men
    Russell, Carl P.
    University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM; 1996
    ISBN: 0-8263-0465-6
    Pp 34-51
    This excellent resource exclusively devotes 18 pages to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

    Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms ... and their values
    Flayderman, Norm
    DBI Books, Inc., Iola, WI; 1994 (Sixth Edition)
    ISBN: 0-87349-162-9
    An extensive reference of Antique American Firearms. Highly recommended.

    Guns of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
    El Hult, Ruby
    Hard to find pamphlet. Not much useful information

    Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with related documents 1783-1854
    Jackson, Donald, ed.
    University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL; 1978 (Second Edition)
    A totally absorbing collection of letters related to the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Reprinted in 1999/2000.

    Lewis & Clark and "Short Rifles"   Reader Criticism and Author Response
    Maggelet, Michael H. and Tait, Frank A.
    Man At Arms Magazine
    Volume 21, Number 6  (December, 1999)

    Meriwether Lewis
    Dillon, Richard
    Western Tanager Press, Santa Cruz, CA; 1988
    ISBN: 0-934136-39-4
    Pp 42-43
    Biography of Meriwether Lewis.

    Meriwether Lewis at Harpers Ferry
    Jeffrey, Joseph D.,
    We Proceeded On (Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation), November 1994.
    Pp 14-22

    Proceeding On to the Lewis and Clark Airgun
    Beeman, Dr. Robert D., Ph.D.
    Blue Book of Airguns, Second Edition; 2002
    Blue Book Publications, 8009 34th Ave. S., Suite 175, Minneapolis, MN 55425
    pp 50 - 77; ISBN 1-886768-30-7; (800) 877-4867
    The most recent version of THE definitive study regarding Lewis' air rifle.

    Proceeding on to the Lewis & Clark airgun
    Beeman, Robert D.
    Airgun Revue; Volume 6; April, 2000
    GAPP Inc., Ellicott City, MD  21042-6329
    Pp.13-33
    Early version of the definitive study regarding the air rifle carried by Meriwether Lewis to the Pacific and back.

    Proceeding On further to the Lewis and Clark airgun
    Beeman, Robert D.
    Airgun Letter, May, 2001
    GAPP Inc., Ellicott City, MD  21042-6329
    Pp. 6-8
    Additional arguements and details to support the case Dr. Beeman made in the April 2000 Airgun Revue article.

    The Air Gun of Lewis & Clark
    Halsey Jr., Ashley
    American Rifleman (National Rifle Association); August 1984
    Pp 36-37, 80-81
    Details the story of how the famous air gun was tracked down and rediscovered.

    The American Air Gun School of 1800
    Monthly Bugle (Pennsylvania Antique Gun Collector's Association); Feb. 1977
    Pp 2-7

    The Enigmatic Lewis and Clark Expedition Air Gun
    Chatters, Roy Milton
    Friends of the Library
    Washington State University, Pullman, WA; 1973

    The History of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
    Coues, Elliott, ed;
    Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY; 1979

    The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition
    Moulton, Gary E., editor
    University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE; 1986 - present
    13 volumes expected
    This is THE definitive set of Lewis & Clark journals containing the writings of Lewis, Clark, Ordway, Floyd, Gass and Whitehouse.

    The Not-So-Enigmatic Lewis and Clark Air Gun
    Chatters, Roy Milton
    We Proceeded On (Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation); May 1977
    Pp 4-6

    The US Contract Rifle Pattern of 1792
    Tait, Frank A.
    Man At Arms Magazine
    Volume 21, Number 3  (June, 1999)

    Wohner der Wind weht (Whence the Wind Blows)
    Beeman, Dr. Robert Beeman and Ulrich Eichstädt
    VISIER, Das internationale Waffenmagazin (GUNSIGHT, The International Gun Magazine), April 2002
    Vol. 4, pp. 134-142.
    An English translation of this article on Lewis' air rifle can be found here.


      On-Line Resources  
      and Sites of Interest  

    The National Park Service has posted some information concerning Meriwether Lewis and the Harpers Ferry Armory.

    The Virginia Military Institute Museum has a small notice and picture in regard to the Lewis Air Rifle which is part of the Henry M. Stewart collection. Please note that the pump shown on the Lewis Air Rifle page of the VMI website belonged to another Lukens air rifle, but may be similar to what Lewis used.

    Read Dr. Robert Beeman's history of the air gun and his mention of the Lewis Air Rifle at Beeman Precision Airguns : The History of Airguns. For further information on airguns, also see Dr. Beeman's personal website.

    Fort Clatsop has a nice piece on the procedure followed for loading and firing a flintlock as well as a piece on making musket balls.

    Dr. Joseph Mussulman's "Discovering Lewis and Clark" website has a very nice piece, including some 3-D animations that you can examine by clicking here.

    General information on air guns is available through The Airgun Letter and Airgun Revue. Check out their web site at: www.airgunletter.com/index.html.

    Check out the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commemorative Rifle.

    The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial website has a small page posted regarding the weapons of the expedition.

    See Lewis' Air gun; Novelty or Deadly Weapon by historian and journalist Phil Scriver.



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    Firearms of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
    Jay Rasmussen

    Original Posting: 01/24/98
    Updated: June 19, 2002


    Send Questions, Comments and Corrections to Jay Rasmussen