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War of 1812 - Artefact of the Week

19th Light Dragoons Baker Rifle

Parks Canada: X.72.3.1

This artefact is a cavalry version of the British infantry rifle developed by gunsmith Ezekiel Baker in 1800. The rifle has a steel ram rod, flintlock and 20-inch (50.8 cm) barrel of .69-inch (17.52 mm) calibre. The stock is of wood and the fittings (trigger guard, butt-plate, butt trap and ram rod pipes) are made of brass. The ram rod is attached to the rifle by means of a swivel, which can be seen just below the muzzle. This innovation was a great convenience to a cavalryman on horseback as it meant he did not have to dismount to retrieve the ram rod if he lost his grip on it. “XIXLD” is engraved on the butt plate, indicating ownership by the 19th Light Dragoons.

The 19th Light Dragoons were the only British regular cavalry regiment to serve in Upper Canada during the War of 1812. William Hamilton Merritt, of the Provincial Light Dragoons, gives an account of a trooper of the 19th shooting a fleeing traitor, at night, across a farmer’s field in Louth Township in Niagara. This amazing shot was probably achieved with a Baker Rifle. There has long been controversy amongst historians as to whether or not this famous weapon saw service in Canada during the War of 1812.

For more information about Fort George National Historic Site, visit the Parks Canada Website.

19th Light Dragoons Baker Rifle 19th Light Dragoons Baker Rifle
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