The First Surplus American Arm?
The National Guard’s First Firearm Was A Matchlock
Stepping just inside the permanent exhibit on American Military History in the National Museum of American History, you will immediately come face-to-face with a maple-stocked matchlock musket. Standing a bit over 5′ tall and sporting a .75-caliber bore, it’s an imposing firearm. What catches your eye though is the name “Newtowne” burned three times into the stock. The “Newtowne” branding establishes both the origin of this matchlock as coming from an early fortified outpost of Boston, established in 1631, and tasked with maintaining and issuing muskets as well as the matchlock’s ownership, to the local militia circa 1636.
The Enlisted Association of the National Guard is selling a stunning, limited edition reproduction of the Newtowne militia matchlock as a fundraiser for their “National Guard Soldier and Airmen Emergency Relief Fund.” The fund, part of the We Care For America Foundation, was established to provide emergency grants to National Guard members who have experienced catastrophic financial hardship or personal property losses, ranging from sudden and long-term mobilizations to house fires.
Al Garver, Executive Director of the Enlisted Association and the person responsible for creating the Newtowne program, said only 375 Newtowne matchlocks would be produced, celebrating the 375th anniversary of the National Guard. Each gun will be numbered.
We’ve all seen hundreds of variations of fund-raising appeals, but in my experience, nothing comes close to the imaginative and the artistic quality of the Newtowne matchlock appeal.
By Holt Bodinson
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