NORTHWEST TRADE GUN
The Northwest or "Common" Trade gun was popular with Native Americans throughout North America and is probably the most common type of gun found on Native American sites from the end of the eighteenth century into the second half of the nineteenth century. They were a rather inexpensive smoothbore gun which had a characteristic side plate in the form of a serpent or dragon. The Northwest gun parts from the Cater site consist of the head of one of these cast brass serpent side-plates (left side of photo), a brass butt plate finial with square nail holes, and an iron trigger guard fragment.
The square nail holes on the butt plate fragment are significant for dating the gun. In the mid-1820's screws started to be used to attach the butt plate to the stock. Prior to this time nails were used. This indicates that the Cater specimen was probably manufactured before circa 1825.
Northwest guns had a deep trigger guard which allowed the gun to be fired with two fingers or while wearing gloves. Half of one of these trigger guards was found.
CHIEF GRADE TRADE GUNS
Chief Grade Trade guns were smoothbore presentation pieces distributed to prominent Native Americans by the British Indian Department between the 1790's and the 1820's. Two Chief Grade Trade guns are represented at the Cater site by a trigger guard (center of photo - bottom), a side-plate (center of photo - top), a ramrod pipe finial, and two butt plates. The brass trigger guard was flattened and is engraved with a crossed arrows, shield, and cursive "S" design. The brass side-plate has the same design. The butt plates are engraved with a hunting-horn and boar's head motif.
Two ramrod pipes could come from either a Northwest or Chief Grade Trade gun.
TYPE A ENGLISH PATTERN TRADE RIFLE
The butt plate of a Type A English Pattern Trade Rifle was also recovered from the Cater site midden. This was a type of gun imported by the British Indian Department, possibly in the 1780's, for distribution to Native Americans. They had rifled barrels and were characterized by a sliding wooden patch box. A butt plate from one of these rifles was found at the Cater site. The dovetailing for the sliding wooden patch box can be seen in the photo.
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