Extra cylinder


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Jim K
January 8, 2003, 11:58 PM
I mentioned this before on another forum, but I think it deserves another note.

At the range a while back, I was next to a BP revolver shooter who had a spare cylinder, loaded and capped, on the bench.

I mentioned that should the cylinder fall off the bench and hit the concrete rear end down, a cap could fire and the result might not be good for someone in the vicinity. The guy agreed and said that he had not thought of that. He also mentioned that carrying spare cylinders was common in the Civil War. I replied that people take chances in a war, but on a civilian range safety comes first.

So I recommend strongly that anyone who might want to use an extra cylinder that way not do so. The danger may be slight, but needless danger is not justified, even for historical accuracy.

Jim

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ed dixon
January 9, 2003, 02:38 AM
I agree. Good catch.

Mike Weber
January 9, 2003, 01:23 PM
Absolutely agreed:
I carry my spare loaded cylinders uncapped in a tupperware container when I shoot My new model Army Remingtons in CAS matches. A capped cylinder out of the gun is as dangerous as a hand grenade if handled carelessly.

4v50 Gary
January 9, 2003, 04:01 PM
Very good Jim. Don't have spare cylinders, but I didn't even think of that. Never seen folks with spares out here but I have seen those fancy loaders. Jeb Stuart didn't have those (and I don't think he would have used one).

Speaking of Jeb, I found some of the circumstances in which he was killed at Yellow Tavern. Turns out a former Berdan Sharpshooter who had reenlisted as a calvaryman was responsible for plugging ole Jeb. Such is war.

Jim K
January 9, 2003, 09:12 PM
Hi, Gary,

He was 45-year old John A. Huff, of the 5th Michigan, and he used a Remington revolver he had won as a prize in a shooting contest in the Regiment.

That was the culmination of a long range Union cavalry "raid in force", led by Sheridan. When they left Fredericksburg, the "force" was three cavalry divisions, 12,000 troopers, plus wagon drivers. Riding four abreast, with 32 guns and their wagon train, the column was 13 miles long. The next time you see some Civil War movie with a fifty or so extras, think about that one.

When Sheridan heard firing ahead, he rode up and asked an officer whether the opposition was cavalry or infantry. When told it was cavalry, he made the famous comment, "Keep moving, there is not enough cavalry in all the Southern Confederacy to stop us!" He may not have been right about all the Confederacy, but he was right about that part of Virginia; his troopers just rode right over the opposition.

Almost as bad for the Southern cause as the death of Stuart was the burning of the big CS quartermaster depot at Beaver Dam Station. A year's worth of supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia went up in smoke, and the Confederate soldiers tightened their already tight belts another notch.

Jim

4v50 Gary
January 9, 2003, 09:26 PM
Righto Jim. I read it in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion (OR Series I, Vol XXXVI/1, page 195). It also adds that Huff died May 28, 17 days after he shot Stuart. Historian Gordon Rhea says Huff used a revolver, but I didn't see that anywhere. Where did you find that?

RON in PA
January 10, 2003, 01:06 PM
Does anybody have any historical evidence that folks back in the hey-day of the cap and ball revolver actually used extra loaded cylinders or that the manufacturers sold them to the public without the rest of the pistol. Or is this the figment of our imagination, like the fast draw craze of the western movies?

4v50 Gary
January 10, 2003, 05:28 PM
Hey, good point Ron. I know from reading "One of Mosby's Men" or Mosby's memoirs that practice was to carry more than one revolver. Combat didn't give one time to "switch" cylinders. Gotta check through my books for a definitive answer.

Mike Weber
January 10, 2003, 08:01 PM
Doe's anyone remember the scene from the movie "Gettysburg" where Colonel Chamberlain reloads his 1851 Colt by swapping a spare cylinder from a belt pouch into it. It is my understanding that when they were producing these guns and offering them as cased sets a spare cylinder was offered as an option. Both sides had belt pouches available to them for spare cylinders. I have seen the originals in museums. I believe that it was a common practice for Infantry and Artillery officers to carry a single revolver with a spare cylinder in a belt pouch along with extra combustible paper cartridges for it in another belt pouch. On the other hand I believe that it was also common practice for Cavalry and Dragoons to carry a pair of revolvers in saddle pommel holsters and maybe even another pair stuffed into their belt or sash. Quantrills Raiders fought almost exclusively with their pistols and I have read accounts of some of them carrying four revolvers into battle. Four sixguns represented heavy firepower on the battlefield during the civil war.

Jim K
January 10, 2003, 11:15 PM
Hi, Gary,

There are several accounts saying he used a revolver, which would have been normal for a cavalryman, who weren't big on the carbine at that time. I forget where I read that it was a Remington and a shooting prize, but the former seems reasonable, and he certainly did prove he could shoot.

Jim

BigG
January 11, 2003, 08:27 AM
I believe the cav troopers were the originators of the NY reload, carrying four, six or eight revos each. Yes the old dragoon models were designed to be carried on a horse mounted holsters by the pair, IIRC.

BigG
January 11, 2003, 08:28 AM
Also, I think if you examine a pic of a cased Texas Paterson set, you will find extra cylinders thoughtfully included.

4v50 Gary
January 11, 2003, 11:39 AM
Jim - Gordon Rhea mentions that Huff used a revovler. However, no citation was made as to his source. So, I was curious as to the source. As a sharpshooter, Huff won a medal for being the best shot of that regiment. Kinda leads me to suspect that Huff could have used his carbine. Considerng the Confederate accounts that Stuart was on horseback and behind his line of dismounted skirmishers, Huff would have to be pretty close to use a revolver or darn good with it. Stuart was busy encouraging his men and firing his own revolver at the Yankees when he was shot. Huff unfortunately died a few weeks later and there's no account from him that I no of.

Besides the official records, I've yet to read a history of Huff's calvary unit (& calvary memoirs are the most boring of all civil war material to me - I prefer infantry and artillery).

BTW, regressing a little, Mosby was an excellant shot and when he was Private Mosby, he used his Sharps rifle to shoot some Yankee who was harassing the smoothbore armed Confederate pickets who were practically defenseless. Mosby hid in a cornfield and fired a few shots at long range until the Federal dropped. He was carried away by his comrades.

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