Clines tells SAR chapter about American long rifles
Mar 23, 2014 | 1181 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JERRY VENABLE puts a pin in a map to show where his patriot fought during the American Revolution.
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On March 13, the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution held its monthly meeting at the Elks Club.

John A. Clines Sr., the chapter’s secretary, was the speaker for the meeting. His talk on “The History of the American Long Rifle” was introduced by 2nd VP Bill McClure.

Clines was born in Detroit in 1959, and came to Tennessee for the first time when he was 8 to visit his grandparents in McMinnville, where they grew up. His grandfather introduced him to the natural beauty of the state and he fell in love with it.

After high school, he left Michigan to attend Bible school with plans to become a preacher. But in his first year his father died. He found himself out of school and working at Erlanger Hospital as an orderly. It was there he met his wife, Vickie, while she was a student working in the coronary care unit.

God still had plans for him to save lives but in a way he never imagined. He loved medicine, but not his job. With no way to pay for schooling, he found an EMT class offered at the vocational school and paid for by government DOT grants to create EMSs in various states.

For the first time in his life, school was interesting. He loved every minute of it and was soon working as an emergency medical technician. He married Vickie that summer. That was 34 years ago.

He went on to paramedic school and applied for work at Bradley County EMS and began working as a paramedic. He became good friends with his EMS partner, Danny Lawson, who developed John’s interest in hunting, fishing and especially in the black powder rifles which the early pioneers used in the Revolutionary War and on the frontier. Today John has two wonderful sons and is proud to be an EMS captain of the Bradley County EMS for more than 30 years.

In his talk, the man that first whet John’s appetite on long rifles was a man in Dalton, Ga., named Tom Phillips who owned the Archery Shop. John was interested in archery, but soon developed a stronger interest in the “flintlock rifles,” which he has carried to this day.

He next quoted from Capt. G.W. Dillan’s 1924 book, “The Kentucky Rifle” the following: “From a flat bar of soft iron, hand forged into a gun barrel; laboriously bored and rifled with crude tools; fitted with a stock hewn from a maple tree in the neighboring forest, and supplied with a lock hammered to shape on an anvil; an unknown Smith, in a shop long silent, fashioned a rifle which changed the whole course of world history; made possible the settlement of a continent and ultimately freed out country of foreign domination.”

Clines stated the American Long Rifle was first called the Pennsylvania Long Rifle, and at times the North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. But lastly it became known as the Kentucky rifle because of a popular song written in 1821 to commemorate Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

The long rifles’ predecessor was the German Jaeger, which came to America with the Moravians and was built since the 1600s. The Jaeger rifles ran from .72 to .45 caliber, and had much shorter barrels and heavy stocks. But longer barrels were needed, and that caused the patched ball to spin, giving flight stability, and giving the black powder more time to burn, thereby increasing muzzle velocity and thus improving accuracy.

These features evolved into the long rifle which became so popular before, during and after the Revolutionary War. During the War the British used the Brown Bess musket which was a smooth-bore and highly inaccurate. It came as a .75-caliber weapon.

After the Revolutionary War, the demand for the new long rifles ended, plenty of surplus rifles were available and gunsmiths had a hard time making a living.

This brought in the unexpected “Golden Age” of the American Long Rifle where refinements took place that mirrored the best furniture of the day. With brass and silver inlays, artistics engraving of metal and fine carving of wood, these rifles became true works of art.

In the mid-19th century the percussion cap began to replace the flintlock. Generally the barrels were shortened and calibers enlarged to take down Western animals like the Plains buffalo.

New rifles styles like the Hawken, with its half stock and short, heavy barrel were developed for the Western frontiers. Long rifles were still in common use by the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, but the weapon was at an end. The long rifle is still being made today by hand by companies like “American Long Rifle” and the “Contemporary Long Rifle Association.”

Clines next showed the members the various long rifles and muskets he had brought, identifying the various parts of each, and how to load both the smooth-bore musket and the long rifle.

He ended his presentation by sharing several quotes through the years such as “about muskets being double loaded,” much being made of our children carrying rifles,” and lastly the following quote by George Washington who could not tell a lie, but wasn’t above embellishing the truth a bit either.

In a letter to Gov. George Clinton of New York, the general wrote the following after sending a company of riflemen to New York in hopes the presence of the riflemen would cause wholesale desertions among the Indians (the British allies): “I should think that it would be well, even before their arrival to begin to circulate these ideas, with proper embellishments, throughout the country, and in the Army, and to take pains to communicate them to the enemy. It would not be amiss among other things, to magnify numbers.”

As the evening began, SAR President Dave Whaley called the meeting to order, the Rev. Sam Melton gave the invocation, Larry Humbard led the pledge to the U.S. flag, Dave Davis led the pledge to the Tennessee flag and Jack Milne led the SAR flag pledge.

The guests introduced included John Clines Jr., and wife, Tracy, Derek and Matthew Dixon, Heather Carpenter, Ken and Linda Moffett and the Hon. Sheridan Randolph.

Also present were members who were approved at National but not sworn in yet, and their wives, such as Joseph White. All wives and visitors were welcomed and recognized.

Two new members, Kenneth Goins and Glen R. Martin, were sworn in and their membership certificates presented by Stan Evans.

Whaley gave the history of the Society rosette, and presented each a rosette as a new member. They each said a few words showing his appreciation for those helping them to become members of the prestigious Society.

Under officer reports, treasurer Bill Hamilton gave the Treasurer’s Report and stated both the general and statue accounts were in good shape. The per-capital membership check had not yet been received from state which will then put the chapter in much better shape financially.

Again at this meeting, two members participated in the “Pin the Patriot” program. This month it was Rufus Triplett and Jerry Venable.

Triplett’s Revolutionary War Patriot was Thomas Simms, who was from Culpeper County, Va., and served as a sergeant in the Virginia Troops. He married Amy Wall and moved to Rockingham County, N.C., where he died in 1831.

Venable’s Patriot was Lewis Wills, who came over to America probably from France and served in the War under Capt. Lamme and Col. Gaskin, and saw action at the Battle of Jamestown and at Yorktown where Gen. Cornwallis surrendered. He received a land grant in what is now Greene County on the Nolichucky River where he built a forge and a grist mill. His wife was Catherine Dick, who was probably born in Pennsylvania. Wills died in 1832 at Byrd’s Ford in Greene County.

Claude Hardison gave a report on several items.

He reported that he had attended the National SAR leadership/Trustees Meeting in Louisville, Ky., Feb. 27 to March 1. He also stated he attended several committees there that he is now a member of, including the Medals and Awards, Patriotic Outreach and other committees.

He spoke on the significant changes being made concerning the new chapter on the Distinguished Service Medal from the Patriotism programs that are in this committee.

Hardison also invited all to attend the upcoming Tennessee Society SAR State convention in Franklin, March 28-29. At this convention he will be installed as the state president of the Tennessee Society so the chapter is encouraged to attend and give him our support.

He will be the “first” Tennessee state president from this chapter.

Evans gave a report on the Wreaths Across America Program held in December in Chattanooga National Cemetery. He reported that this was the chapter’s best year yet in collecting funds for the wreaths. At $15 per wreath, the chapter collected $1,515 this time, and with the chapter being signed up to receive $5 for each $15 wreath sold, it received a check for $505 to go into the chapter’s general account.

Evans gave the check to chapter treasurer Hamilton. Evans also noted the Wreaths Across America also sent the chapter a nice letter and a Certificate of Appreciation which read as follows: “Presented to Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter SAR in recognition of outstanding efforts in helping to further the mission: Remember* Honor* Teach*. Your hard work and dedication to the program is greatly appreciated.”

Dick Carpenter brought up a motion to “pass the hat” to come up with a $200 contribution for the Wounded Warrior Project. It was discussed among the members and finally voted on, to be tabled in order that the Executive Committee could review and discuss all aspects of it, and to come up with a more comprehensive plan to better support the program.

With no further discussion, President Whaley closed the meeting. He then lead the recessional. The Rev. Melton delivered the benediction.