Dumb Question


May 19, 2006, 08:57 PM
Just curious) if so much cleaning go into this Black powder Weapons. How was
it that Soldiers and the calvary were able to shoot continuously during the
war. And the cowboy in the mist of nowhere and away from water was able to defend himself. How did they do all this cleaning. Just curious

If you enjoyed reading about "Dumb Question" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
May 19, 2006, 09:43 PM
I can`t speak for the colts but with the remmies .. once they get broke in good ..one could just spit on the cylinder pin and keep`em running pretty smooth . It`s the new out of the box ones giveing the problems to the new shooters .... if they don`t give up and keep`em wheelin good things will surely come .

May 19, 2006, 10:09 PM
The old work guns that I examined didn't show much evidence of being cleaned.

May 19, 2006, 10:14 PM

Not a dumb question at all. The average soldier during the civil war wasn't issued a pistol but might carry his own for close in fighting but it was mostly butstock and bayonet up close. Those cavalry and skirmishers that used the pistol usually carried more than one pistol and a lot of time more than one cylinder. I've read that soldiers cleaned their pistols by taking off the grips and dunking them in a pot of boiling water on the end of a hook then swab out the barrel and oil her up.
The cowboys are a different story. Not that much shooting actually went on in a gunfight. Unlike what Hollywood portrays gunfights in the old West generally involved a lot of sneak or some back shooting rather than a face down at high noon.
Mechanically the colt has groves on the base pin to hold grease and keep the fouling soft. With the Remmies the other poster is right you can spit on the base pin or wipe it and be good to go again.

May 20, 2006, 03:09 AM

That may be, but if you shoot more than about 4 cyls from a Rem, you will encounter a little difficulty removing the pin TO spit on it.

A Colt will go a little further, and when you take off the barrel, you can get a grip to twist it off. Simple wipe and lube, you are back in business.

Rem the same, if you get the pin out, clean and lube, shoot some more.

Haven't tried the squirt bottle of window cleaner, though I have read that the cowboy era people would rinse them in the nearest creek to dissolve any fouling. I suppose they kept them greased up enough that sloshing wate over them didn't get under the oil, but did soften and dissolve the fouling.



BTW, TFL is back up.

May 20, 2006, 08:55 AM
denster, Was the Colt ever used in combat. The reason I ask. I just cannot
picture a soldier sitting there trying to hammer out a wadge during

May 20, 2006, 08:56 AM

True enough on the Remmies. I load cylinders out of the gun and wipe the base pin each change. I also keep a small lead billet in my kit for when the pin needs some encouragement and for tapping the wedge on my colt repros.

May 20, 2006, 09:05 AM

You bet the colt was used in combat. Actually tapping out the wedge and changing out the cylinder takes a lot less time than loading the cylinder on the gun. Mounted cavalry that depended heavily on pistol and saber and others who used the pistol as a primary weapon carried two to four pistols.

May 20, 2006, 12:26 PM
Very few of those old guns ever got cleaned at all, and it is clearly evident when one looks at old guns...It is specially true when you look at old muzzle loaders...They would come out of the widerness after a year or so of trapping and hunting and the bores were often so bad that they had to be freshed out by a gunsmith. This is often why some of those old rifles had odd calibers like 48 or 53, for example.:evil:

May 20, 2006, 10:46 PM

That's a good argument against some of the posters, here and elsewhere, who tell you to smack the wedge home, or to tap it in firmly.

From what I have read, if they were the kind of people who had to change cylinders, not the fancy pants city dudes, they would tap the wedge out with the new cylinder, pull apart, slip on the reloaded cylinder, tap the wedge in with the empty.

NOT hammer on the damned thing with the empty.

My own, a firm thumb push makes 'er tight. It doesn't back out from shooting. What the hell, if it was the Duke's 50 shooter, it might loosen a little, 6 shots won't do it.

Hammering the wedge in is silly. It just deforms the windows in the barrel and the arbor. Wedge gets tight, if you have any play at the end of the arbor, you draw the barrel up and back, till you can lock up the cylinder. That ain't good.



May 21, 2006, 09:55 AM
And to think, only 50 years separated the cap and ball revolver from the 1911, the Springfield musket from the machine gun. Wow, those were 50 years of productive invention.

Up to the civil war, edged weapons had a real place on the battlefield. Now days, it's the radio and close air support. As one history professor I had put it, the civil war was "the last fun war". :scrutiny: Personally, I'd rather be in a foxhole behind cover knowing I had air superiority and artillery support than standing in a big line making myself a perfect target, but whatever. :D

May 21, 2006, 02:15 PM
In most cases at best a Rev was dunked rinsed and or wiped after combat...Pull a cylinder to put in another, prettymuch does clean fouling from the arbor. I really doubt anyone refilled each chamber in combat...most used 2 or 3 guns and the sabre, if not the rifle.

May 22, 2006, 01:24 AM

You got a point, at least as far as movies go. Can you tell me any other movie in which you see a BP revolver actually being recharged, other than "Quigley Down Under", where the crazy lady is doing it, after he goes to town and the dingos attack?

Anyplace else, they would change out a cylinder, and depending on how rich they were, and how dangerous anyplace they might be going, like combat against an Indian tribe, they would take as many reloads as they could afford. As reloaded and capped cylinders, ready to slap in, and be damned as to smacking a cap and blowing it out of your hand.

I think that is a bunch of hooie, anyhoo, I don't think it is dangerous to slip a capped cylinder into either a Rem OR a Colt, and a Colt a little less. You just slip it on, a Rem, you gotta fit it in place. Either way, I doubt you are gonna lose a hand.



May 22, 2006, 08:48 AM
Yup George, in Quigley that's a means of survival and the need and time to reload with one gun. Now an Indian attack on a Texas Ranger with them Colt Patersons holdin off 30 Warriors, they also used rifles or the old single shot Dragoons. That's what the Indians were used to...So the element of surprise with 5 shots in a row against arrows sure did help.
I agree that carryin' capped cylinders and loading them into a revolver is no big deal and was common practice Colt or Remington. Wheither in the War of Attrition/Civil War or the Wild West. Most carried multiple revs anyway, in a combat sitiuation one wouldn't really have time to reload the same cylinder.
Cleaning with out water, a good stout brush and a rag, kerosene, then axle grease from the wagon or cannon wheel/axle buckets. Or just take off the fouling you can...reloaded chambers won't rust.

May 22, 2006, 08:50 AM
J. Fran Dobie wrote about a cowboy he knew who wore a holstered revolver on a cattle drive and pretty much ignored it. When it came time to shoot a snake, the gun was rusted tight. From this, the cowboy and J. Frank both concluded that pistols was no good. It looks like some users ignored even colts simplified instructions for cleaning.

May 22, 2006, 08:56 AM
Mec, I'd say they didn't even think about a little lard on their arbor...LoL!

4v50 Gary
May 22, 2006, 09:13 AM
Then and now, there were white glove arms inspection during which the officer ensured that the men kept their arms clean. I've read that in combat, one soldier even urinated down his barrel to clear it of fouling. The gun was warm from all the firing and it dried out soon enough to allow him to rejoin the fight. Other times they threw down their guns and picked up one from a fallen comrade. After the battle, they'd clean them.

May 22, 2006, 09:29 AM
When the remmies lock up from lack of lube .. instead of beating on the pin with something ... try a splash of water where the cylinder face rides on the pin .. you find you really don`t have a use for all that beating with something to free it .. don`t be afraid to splash a little water on the thing ... remember cleaning ..

Cap n Ball
May 22, 2006, 09:54 AM
William 'Bloody Bill' Anderson, one of the most feared of the Missouri guerilla Captains was carrying seven revolvers when he was killed. Sort of unusual but then he was in the business of killing.

May 23, 2006, 03:56 AM

Once upon a time, the Brits did not allow a musket to be blued nor browned. They considered the troops to have been kept busy, you know, busy hands cause less trouble, by keeping barrels and actions in the "white' . It takes more of a peasant soldier's time to keep bare steel rust free than blued, or browned, steel.


The slob who had a rusted to a solid mass revolver would most likely have a rusted to a solid mass rifle or carbine. Consider, a revolver would be under a slicker when it rained on him, the rifle or carbine would not.

Smoke, As to the Civil War, if they gave them a tub of lard, they would probably scoff it up. They were not well fed. Hell, if they issued Castor Oil, they would probably suck it down, take their chances in the woods, later. So there's poison ivy in them thar woods, at least I ain't hungry for a little while. But, boy, do my ass itch!!!

That ain't funny, really, I can rip it off my trees without getting a touch. My s'in laws walk past a woods that MIGHT have poison ivy in it, they are shot to hell. My own kids don't get it, but they gotta put up with these guys who are scratching and itching for 2 or so weeks at a time. Just hope my g'kids got my, and my kids resistance to it. My other g'kids and their dads don't get it, , hope these don't, or I guess all I can do is walk them through the park.



May 23, 2006, 09:29 AM
What a horrible war that was. Ive read more then 700,000 American men maybe more died in that tragic war. A lot of the soldiers were under age boys. Like one
of the readers stated to imagine standing upright in a line shooting at each other with lead balls over and over. Their chance's of not being hit were almost nonexistence.To imagine it leaves me dumbfounded and sad.

May 23, 2006, 10:29 AM
Been doing a lot of reading on the Civil War this past year myself ... being from the south of course most of my reading has been about the southern boys in battle ..... they did so much with so little , of course being poor sometimes is the mother of invention , and at times, a have too rather than a want too . Such bravery on Both sides has never been seen with such a great loss of life and limb . and the outlaws that emerged from it .. i can understand how they must have felt thinking that they wern`t surendering ... of course that got out of hand , money can be a great motaviator , but i can see how they were thought of as Robinhoods , to the local peoples that had be burnt out and revenge was on their minds . The storys were just lightly touched in the school books , reading today shines a whole new light on it .. and brings a tear to ones eye . When the north and south merged together now we have a band of brothers that are unstopable ! Glad to be born in the USA !

May 23, 2006, 10:53 AM
Hey gmatov, a revolver doesn't need to be out in the rain to rust to the point where it won't work any longer. Believe me, we have an old 1858 pietta that got placed in a barn for about a year by accident and it rusted tight. I cannot get that thing loose no matter how hard I have tried.

May 23, 2006, 01:33 PM
Here's an old trick Dwave... soak the Pietta Rem in diesel fuel for about 5 days to a week or so(wood grips off) and let me know what happens:O)
Bet you'll like the results.

May 23, 2006, 02:08 PM
I think I will give that a try. The gun is pretty well rusted, but I can remove the rust and give it the old rusted look to it. Thanks for the info!

June 3, 2006, 03:20 PM
Pietta came loose! Cleaned it up the otherday, went ahead and gave it the rusted used look since it was already rusted, just knocked some of it off. Shoots decent for having the barrel pitted a little bit, and the fact that the was shooting undersized roundballs in it. Overall nice to have my old .44 shooting again. Only thing I don't like about this pistol is the brass frame, but I will get over it!

June 3, 2006, 04:37 PM
One good thing about the brass frames they don`t rust .. ive got 2 of the older brass frame pietta remmies still good shooters and solid like a rock .. was gonna use them for parts .. but they shoot too good to scrap out .

June 3, 2006, 04:53 PM
Glad to hear the Deisel unlocked the works for you...good job! If you get a chance to show us the antiquing job ... show us your shooter.

June 3, 2006, 07:21 PM
NP, here it is:


I don't have a loading lever for it at the moment, I am going to pick one up later, and finish it to match the gun. Figured it was already all rusted up, so might as well go with the old rusted look.

June 3, 2006, 11:35 PM
Good job on your Spiller & Burr...I like it.

If you enjoyed reading about "Dumb Question" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!