A “PEACEFUL BATTLE WITH THE AMERICAN RIFLEMEN”
LEECH, Arthur Blennerhassett. Irish Riflemen in America. London / New York: Edward Stanford / Van Nostrand, 1875. Octavo, publisher's gilt-stamped burgundy cloth. $1100.
First edition of this lively record of the first match between Irish and American rifleman, held at Long Island in 1874, boldly inscribed by the book’s author and Irish Team captain, “With Arthur B. Leech’s compliments,” complete with folding map showing a color outline of the team’s adventures across America.
Irish Riflemen in America tells of the team's historic 1874 match at Creedmore in Long Island. "The Irish Team had just won the coveted Elcho shield match at the annual 1873 Wimbledon meeting, with a record score, and were clearly the undisputed champions of long range shooting" (Precision Shooting Magazine). With that victory the Irish Rifle Association sent out a challenge that was met by the Amateur Rifle Club of New York. Hundreds assembled to watch as the Irish, for "the first time in the Rifle-Shooting History of the country, were in a position to offer peaceful battle to their American cousins" (14). To the surprise of many, however, the Americans scored a narrow victory, for "had a member of the Irish team not fired one shot on the wrong target the Irish team would have been the winners. After the match the Irish team was hosted across much of the United States. President Grant received them with much pomp, as did a young Cavalry officer named Custer." On returning home Major Arthur Leech, the team's captain, penned this account of the match and his team's subsequent adventures across America. "Tradition says that 1,000 copies were printed. Irish Riflemen in America is today one of the very hardest books to locate on the collector's market" (Precision Shooting Magazine). Complete with folding map outlined in color, over 15 plates (five in color), and numerous in-text illustrations. Occasional light marginalia.
Interior fine, light edge-wear, faint soiling to bright gilt cloth. A handsome near-fine copy, scarce inscribed.