Firearms of the American West, 1803-1865 by Louis A. Garavaglia

By Louis A. Garavaglia

In 1803 Lewis and Clark set out on their epic excursion around the American barren region west of the Mississippi, armed with the common weapon in their day, the single-shot muzzle-loading rifle. by means of 1865, numerous breech-loading and repeating fingers were invented, there have been either more uncomplicated to exploit and extra exact. This encyclopaedic learn, half one in every of a two-part publication, lines the improvement and makes use of of firearms at the frontier in the course of that interval, drawing on basic resources comparable to correspondence and diaries, newspaper money owed, govt studies, and patent fabrics. Then, as now, many of the advances in weaponry have been made in keeping with the military's wishes, turning into on hand slightly later to civilians, after which to Indians. The authors completely hide the refinements and variations of guns for hire through those 3 teams and via explorers and trappers, describing intimately every one gun, its differences, operations, and makes use of. in lots of methods the historical past of firearms at the frontier parallels the historical past of the advance of the West.

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11 In August of 1803, still on the Ohio River, the expedition stopped briefly at Brunot's Island. Lewis went on shore and being invited on by some of the gentlemen present to try my airgun which I had purchased brought it on shore charged it and fired myself seven times fifty five yards with pretty good success; after which a Mr Blaze Cenas being unacquainted with the management of the gun suffered her to discharge herself accedentally the ball passed through the hat of a woman about 40 yards distant cutting her temple about the fourth of the diameter of the ball; shee fell instantly and the blood gus[h]ing from her temple we were all in the greatest consternation suppose[d] she was dead [but] in a minute she revived to our enexpressable satisfaction, and by examination we found the wound by no means mortal or even dangerous.

In that year, however, the bulk of the army's "Yellowstone Expedition" got under way. This was to be the grandest exploring venture yet: the government even ordered five steamboats, which were to churn their way up the Missouri to the foot of the Rockies, be disassembled and wrestled over the mountains, then be reassembled west of the divide for the descent of the Columbia. But the expedition's keelboats proved more dependable; only three of the steamers got as far as Fort Osage and only one, the seventy-five-foot stern-wheeler Western Engineer, managed to ascend the Missouri as far as Council Bluffs.

45, and held to the full-length maple stocks by crosspins. The flint locks were sometimes the product of the riflemaker himself, but often came from an independent lock supplier who specialized in the business of making and tempering small parts and springs. To trip the hammer or "cock," the gunmaker frequently used double set triggers, in which a trigger-like lever "set" the actual trigger to give a very light pull. Mountings such as buttplate, trigger guard, forestock cap, and patchbox cover were usually made of brass, but occasionally of "German silver," an alloy of copper, zinc, and nickel.

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