Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tuesday Ten, Firearms and Weapons

the interest of blogging about research I'm doing--one of the main reasons we all started this blog--I decided to do my Tuesday Ten on 19th century firearms. I realized the other day that my hero in Chasing Star (formerly Stalking Star) is a gun collector. That being the case, it will be pretty useful for me to have a modicum of information on guns. So here goes!

1.) Winchester--My hero is a Colorado rancher, so we'll start with one of the most common weapons of that time, the Winchester 1866, with that cool lever that we are all so familiar with. It was made by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New Haven Connecticut, which was originally the New Haven Arms Company, which was, before Oliver F. Winchester took over, the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company.

Bullets were inserted into the side of the rifle. It could take as many as 17 rounds at a time but was rarely loaded that much to prevent strain on the magazine. It took a .44 caliber bullet and weighed about 9 lbs. It was a Magazine Arm, according to my book A History of Arms by William Reid, but what that means I don't know. I think this book was written for people who understand guns a LOT.

2.) Winchester, 1873--the new and improved Winchester! This was the rifle that won the West, apparently. It was strengthened according to this book, so that it could take a .44 caliber center-fire cartridge. According to this website:


It could take a more powerful .44-40 caliber cartridge. What this means, and if they mean the same thing is beyond me. But it sure made a difference to the purchases, who could purchase the rifle in different styles with different barell lengths. Apparently people really cared a lot--720,610 of these guns were sold. Certainly we saw them enough on the old Westerns!

It sold, in 1899 for about 20 bucks and was still selling even after the newly re-designed 1892 Winchester came out.

The Winchester 1892, by the way, was the rifle used in the television series The Rifleman, which I did not know. I always sort of thought that series was placed in an earlier time than the late 19th century when I thought the West was pretty much tamed. Shows you what I know!

3.) Springfield Rifle Musket--Civil War era. Susan may have already talked about weapons of the Civil War elsewhere, but I need 10 weapons for my Tuesday Ten, so I'm mentioning it again.

The Springfield Rifle Musket, 1861, was the most popular rifle of the war. It used a paper cartridge containing gunpowder and a bullet (am I getting this right, Susan?) and was developed in Springfield MA. ( Hey, that's not far from where I live!--I wonder if there's a museum?). According to my Arms book, 850,549 were made between 1858 and 1865, which sort of blows away the 1861 date I have from this other site. It had a 58 caliber cartridge, and was a one shot deal, unlike the previous Winchesters. You can see, then, why they were so loved. It had a range as far as 500 yards.

4.) Remington Flintlock Musket: Before all that came the Remington Musket, which might have been used by soldiers at the beginning of the war, before the Springfield Rifle Musket became more available. I can't seem to find a whole lot about this gun. I know it was produced in the Northeast (this seems to be a running theme, probably because the Northeast is where manufacturing in the U.S. was for many years). It was first produced in 1816, and then was redesigned in 1840 to become a percussion musket?? Remington, however was better know for it's revolvers.

5.) Gatling gun--Before we go onto revolvers we really have to talk about this, because it fascinates me. It was the first machine gun every made, 1860-1861. It was a hand cranked gun, i f you could call it a gun, had 6 barrels and could fire 600 58 caliber rounds a minute. DEADLY. Fortunately (since 600,000 men already died in the Civil War) it was not used much during the war. It was new, and had quite a few problems.

6.) Bowie Knife--Attributed to, if not originally designed by James Bowie. Also known as the Arkansas Toothpick. He was killed with it at the Alamo in 1836, so it's almost Victorian. It does appear to be, for what I've read, a pretty endemic knife throughout the frontier, namely the Old West. It was certainly used in the Civil War.


7.) Remington Rifle Cane--Oh! I just saw this in my book, and it is the coolest thing! Apparently cane guns were popular in the 1850's, among city folk, I suspect (I can't imagine a cowboy with a cane). The ad I'm looking at from the Ohio State Gazetter 1860, says it weighed 160z, was "protection against dogs and highwaymen" and cost about $19. Wow, now if I'd known this when I wrote Wicked Woman my hero would have had one for sure! Now I am absolutely going to have to write another 1850's era book just so I can use the gun!

I'm looking at pictures, but I can't quite see how you would load the thing. But I want one! Hmmm, my Colorado rancher goes back East in Chasing Star. He's certainly not going to walk around Newport RI with his six-shooters strapped on. Maybe he will have a cane gun! Oh I do love research!

8) The Derringer--I'm moving into pistols now. The derringer is my favorite of all weapons, although I'm far from a gun aficionado (just in case you hadn't noticed). They are so darned cute, that is if a gun that killed a president can be cute(Booth killed Lincoln with a derringer). Created by Henry Derringer (1786-1868) in Philadelphia. Obviously it could fit into a pocket, very useful for women (like a heroine in one of my books) or gamblers. It was first produced in 1825, and manufactured by both Colt and Remington (see, told you they were good with hand guns!).

9.)Remington 1858 Army revolver. This was the name for the New Model Army .44 revolver in 1863, which was improved over the 1860, '61 and '62. It was an improved version of the earlier Remington-Beals and Remington Army revolvers of 1860, 1861 and 1862. It was called the 1858 revolver because that was when the patten was issue.

Although during the war the Colt was more common, it was said to have been preferred over the colt.
10.) Colt 45--the Peacemaker. Army revolver which was used by many lawmen in the old West--Wild Bill Hickcock, Bat Masterson and the like. Many different kinds produced from 1872 on, probably the gun that brought the phrase, God made men, Sam Colt made them all equal.


Okay, this has taken me most of the day, and blogger as always has driven me nuts. Putting pictures on a post with blogger can give you a migraine! Wish I had more, but I do have to attend things like writing and Tylenol. In fact, I'm so aggravated, I'm not checking the spelling until tomorrow!


Susan Macatee said...

Fascinating post, Dee!

I know a little about the Civil War era guns, but other than those, I have no knowledge. I like that cane rifle, though. I could imagine someone shooting their own foot by accident.

Kristin-Marie said...

A very informative post.

Mary Ann Webber said...

A great Tuesday Ten!
I'm sure to refer to it many times while writing my Civil War short story.
Mary Ann