The staff at Mount Gulian Historic Site in Beacon were puzzled by a Revolution-era gun lock that came into the office earlier this month. The tag reads: “Lock from the effects of Capt. Silas Talbot, USN. Revolutionary War Hero. Given me by his Gt. (4) Grandson Wm. R. Talbot, Jr. S.C.” Mount Gulian asked on Facebook for help identifying what type of gun the lock would have been used on.
William Covington, a history professor in Texas, replied that it appeared to be from a Brown Bess musket because of the slight backward flair at the rear of the hammer, the non-pierced jaw screw and the jaws themselves.
Capt. Silas Talbot is best known for commanding the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) from 1799 to 1801. He earlier had served as a Congressman from Brooklyn.
Interesting discovery, especially considering the Brown Bess was a British-made smooth-bore musket. Firing a massive 75-caliber ball and paired with a daunting 17-inch bayonet, it was the standard-issue weapon for British troops during the revolution. (It was also grossly inaccurate, and was generally fired in volleys, rather than at specific targets.)
It would be fascinating to discover how a Brown Bess came to be in the possession of Patriot Silas Talbot. Capture? A pre-Revolution possession? No matter; it’s a cool artifact!