Which lever-action rifle REALLY had the biggest hand in "winning the West"?


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Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
January 6, 2010, 03:09 PM
Which one really killed the most game, and defended against the most Indians and other enemies for the Settlers and Uncle Sam during the 19th century?

It's been attributed to the 1873, of course, and that's probably right, but maybe there's a difference of opinion out there.


Just a fun thread - see poll & discuss amongst yourselves. I'm getting nostalgic & verklempt!

Oops, accidentally left out the 1876... you can do a write-in vote for it if you like!

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Mr_Pale_Horse
January 6, 2010, 03:45 PM
I voted 1873, although, the 1876 is a very likely candidate in that it was successfully used in the Great Buffalo Slaughter.

rcmodel
January 6, 2010, 04:00 PM
The west was already won before the 86, 92, 94, and 95 were even invented.

I wanted to vote for three.
There are .44 Henry/66/73 rim-fire cases found in about every major Indian battle site by modern day archeologist's.

I would think the Sharps & Remington single-shots as used by the commercial hunters played a bigger role in wiping out the Buffalo herds then the lever-action.

rc

Rshooter
January 6, 2010, 04:29 PM
I must agree with rc. Unfortunately the Army had some pretty outmoded weapons up to and after the Civil War. Single action rifles "Springfields" were used at the battle of Little Big Horn. I believe this was one of the final battles of the west.

John Parker
January 6, 2010, 04:58 PM
I believe this was one of the final battles of the west.

There were still several more significant battles after LBH.

eastbank
January 6, 2010, 05:03 PM
wounded knee(i think 1891) was the last major killing ground for the us army, but it was not a glory thing,just a killing thing. eastbank.

Float Pilot
January 6, 2010, 05:04 PM
They Cavalry Scouts (Forsyth's Scouts I think) used Spencer carbines at the Battle of Beechers Island Sept 1868 in what is now Colorado. They were late civil war production guns and the ammo , which came in copper alloy loading tubes, was corroded due to the high copper content used in the cartridge casing.

Many of the battles that could be called the Winning of the West occurred during the Civil War period (War of Northern Aggression). Many of the troops being Militia or Union Troops manned by units of Galvanized Yankees. Those being former Confederates who had a choice between starving in a Yankee prison camp or going out west to fight (murder) Indians.

The Colorado War of 1863 to 1865 is an example.

Poor record keeping and the fact the the war raging in the east directed much attention away from all that went on in the vast west during that period.

I once reviewed the types of weapons used by the 1st and 2nd Colorado volunteers during their attacks during the Sand Creek massacre "1864".
They were listed as having, Harpers Ferry Rifles and Muskets, Austrian Muskets (Common during the civil war) Whitney revolvers, Springfield rifles, some Colt Navy pistols and they also needed ammo for some Sharps rifles or carbines. They were also listed as having Civilian rifles as well.


All sorts of things happened well before the advent of mass produced lever action rifles. The first breach firing carbines played a much more serious role when you look at some of the time-lines...

Indian Wars
West of the Mississippi

* Texas-Indian Wars (18361875),
including:
o Great Raid of 1840 (1840)
o Antelope Hills Expedition (1858)
o Battle of Pease River (1860)
o Red River War (18741875)
* Apache Wars (1851-1886)
* Puget Sound War (18551856)
* Dakota War of 1862 (1862)
* Colorado War (18631865)
* Red Cloud's War (18661868)
* Comanche Campaign (18681874)
* Great Sioux War of 1876-77
* Nez Perce War (1877)
* Pine Ridge Campaign (1890)
* Battle of Bear Valley (1918)

goon
January 6, 2010, 05:42 PM
I'd say the Sharps breechloaders had more of an impact on winning the west than any other rifle.
I like Winchesters and Henrys, but it was the Sharps that was used to kill off the buffal herds, which starved the Indians, which put them in a weakened position for fighting and negotiation, which made westward expansion a whole lot easier for whites.

Having said that, there were some Henrys and Winchester 1866's at Little Big Horn. Unfortunately for Custer, most of them were being fired at him by angry Indians.

Wanta B
January 6, 2010, 06:00 PM
"...defended against..." Hmmm...Have ansestors on both sides of that one,most European,still would not classify it as defense.NO way,no how.Still every conflict has a winner and a loser.C'est la vie.To wit I would have to agree with Goon off the top of my head.:scrutiny:...Did I just say "how" and "off the top of my head" in the same paragraph to this topic?!:eek::D

Badlander
January 6, 2010, 06:29 PM
I don't think most settlers had expensise guns. The west was most likely won with cheap single shot shotguns that would put meat on the table and do double duty as protection.

76shuvlinoff
January 6, 2010, 06:55 PM
I don't think most settlers had expensise guns. The west was most likely won with cheap single shot shotguns that would put meat on the table and do double duty as protection.

Beat me to it.
More than once I've been told it was the multipurpose scattergun that "won" the west.

R.W.Dale
January 6, 2010, 07:00 PM
I agree with he above comment

leverguns back then were the equivalent to a high end piston AR or HK today. IE expensive and few and far between amongst the population

Speedo66
January 6, 2010, 07:10 PM
Won the West for who?

As previously stated, the Army had Trapdoor Springfields until and during the Spanish American War in 1898, when they were replaced by Krags. The lever actions were favored by the Indians, who put them to good use. I'm sure they helped them win some battles, particularly as we know, the Little Big Horn.

For an interesting time line, think of this: while Custer was getting his butt kicked in the Black Hills, the Brooklyn Bridge was being constructed in NY. Hard to believe they were still fighting Indians out west while that marvel was being built back east.

I vote for the 1873, the fact that I own one has nothing to do with that. :rolleyes:

Cosmoline
January 6, 2010, 07:17 PM
Which one really killed the most game, and defended against the most Indians and other enemies for the Settlers and Uncle Sam during the 19th century?

I doubt any levergun can claim that distinction, Hollywood aside. Only a handful of active fighting tribes remained after the Civil War. The great bulk of the actual settler vs native fighting was done with muzzle-loaded firearms. Flintlocks and caplocks. Same thing with hunting. Lever actions took decades to get available and cheap enough to supplant the caplock as the dominant frontier game getters. They were expensive to buy and feed. They didn't really dominate until the 1880's and 90's--well after the west had been 99% quelled. By the turn of the century so much game had been taken even the deer were getting scarce in places, and only a very few of the great bear remained alive in the lower 48. That's when you see smaller, higher velocity rounds coming into favor such as the .30 WCF and .32-20.

Hard to believe they were still fighting Indians out west while that marvel was being built back east.

Believe it or not there are still a handful of uncontacted tribes around the world to this day. One of them, the Sentinelese from the Andaman Islands, greeted helicopters checking them out after the Tsunami with a wave of arrows! You gotta love that kind of chutzpa. They're known to kill any poachers who venture too close. The last truly free people in the world, bless 'em.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentinelese

d2wing
January 6, 2010, 07:39 PM
The last battle between federal troops and Indians was in Oct. 1898 on or around Leech Lake Minnesota. Most settlers weren't cowboys and were not as well armed as the movies would have you believe. One group of settlers defended thenselves with a shared shotgun after the James gang raid in Minnesota.

Arkansas Paul
January 6, 2010, 07:50 PM
I'm with RC, although the Winchester 73 wasn't rimfire. It was originally chambered in .44-40 and later chambered for other rounds. I take that back about the rimfire. They did later chamber the rifle for .22 but only made 19,000 in that caliber. It was also the least produced caliber I think. The only thing that kept me from voting for the Henry was the fact that only 14,000 were ever produced.

Nicodemus38
January 6, 2010, 08:35 PM
if you go simply by post civil war settlement westward, the most popular lever gun were milsurp Henry rifles, followed by mil surp Spencer rifle. However, at the end of the civil war the most powerful lever gun was the spencer, not impressive going by enfield rifle musket balistics, but still far more powerful then the henry rifle and its cartridge.

glockman19
January 6, 2010, 08:55 PM
That is an easy question.

Winchester 73
Jimmy Stewart
1950
Great cast too:

Cast (in credits order) verified as complete

James Stewart ... Lin McAdam
Shelley Winters ... Lola Manners
Dan Duryea ... Waco Johnnie Dean
Stephen McNally ... Dutch Henry Brown
Millard Mitchell ... High Spade Frankie Wilson
Charles Drake ... Steve Miller
John McIntire ... Joe Lamont
Will Geer ... Wyatt Earp
Jay C. Flippen ... Sgt. Wilkes
Rock Hudson ... Young Bull
John Alexander ... Jack Riker
Steve Brodie ... Wesley
James Millican ... Wheeler
Abner Biberman ... Latigo Means
Tony Curtis ... Doan (as Anthony Curtis)
James Best ... Crater

RonE
January 6, 2010, 10:35 PM
A good argument might be made that the railroads won the west and the buffalo hunters fed the railroad workers. I would say that the buffalo hunters shooting .50 caliber guns won the west.

Float Pilot
January 6, 2010, 11:30 PM
The last battle between federal troops and Indians was in Oct. 1898 on or around Leech Lake Minnesota.

Check out:

Battle of Little High Rock Canyon, on Northwestern Washoe County, Nevada, March 1st, 1911.

How about the Battle of Bear Valley, Arizona, January 9th 1918? 10th cavalry vs Yaqui Indians.

I guess if you figure that many of Pancho Villa's northern Mexican troops were predominately Indian blood line, then the Battles or Columbus, Veracruz and The Battle of Carrizal would come into play.


Crafty Indian Agents and sickness laden blankets killed many more than bullets.

Of course up here in Alaska, the native population first had to do battle with Russian Troops and Naval forces... Then later the US NAVY, like in Oct 1882 when the US NAVY shelled and burned the native village of Angoon in South East Alaska.


SIR: * * * We left Juneau City on the 20th, and touching again at Killisnoo, arrived at Sitka on the 21st.

During the afternoon of the 23d, the superintendent of the fishing station at Killisnoo reached Sitka with his family, with the following report, and requesting protection from the United States steamer Adams. On the 22d of October, while the company's whaling-boat was fishing in Hootsnoo Lagoon, one of the bombs used in whaling accidentally exploded, killing one of the native crew, who happened to hold the rank of medicine man or shaman among the tribe. For this man the natives demanded two hundred blankets, at the same time seizing the whaling-boats with their equipments, and holding two of the white men prisoners until the amount should be paid. In case the demand was not met by the company, the natives threatened to burn the company's store and buildings, destroy the boats, and put to death the white prisoners.

Acting upon this information, Capt. E. C. Merriman, of the Adams, placed on board the company's steamer Favorite some marines, and, as the Adams was thought too large for the work, the Corwin was tendered, and Captain Merriman, together with the collector of customs, proceeded upon the Corwin to the scene of the disturbance.

Remaining at Lindenberg Harbor that night, we reached Killisnoo early on the morning of the 25th. The following morning we proceeded to Hootsnoo Lagoon, and came to anchor off the Indian village located there.

Immediately we anchored the white men were released, some of the ringleading Indians captured, and the release of the property effected. In addition to this, as a punishment and as a guarantee for future good behavior, Captain Merriman demanded twice the number of blankets demanded by the Indians, and threatened, in case of refusal, to destroy their canoes and villages. Refusing to pay the amount and remaining defiant, their canoes, to the number of forty, were taken and destroyed, after having selected those which belonged to the Indians who had remained friendly to the white men. Remaining unsubdued, their summer camp at this place was burned. Weighing anchor we steamed out of the lagoon, and at two o'clock hove to off the village of Hootsnoo and proceeded to shell the town. After shelling the village the marines were landed under cover of the guns, and they, setting fire to the houses, destroyed the entire village, with the exception of the friendly Indians.

After the boats returned we steamed down to Killisnoo, and, remaining there during the night, reached Sitka the following afternoon, with twenty-two seamen of the Adams, whom we had received on board for transportation. * * *

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. A. HEALY,
First Lieutenant, U.S.R.M., Commanding.


xx

RockyMtnTactical
January 6, 2010, 11:40 PM
I chose the Henry just because that was the design that started it all.

CajunBass
January 7, 2010, 05:16 AM
It was the unstopable human wave that started at Jamestown (and the Spanish settlements in the south/southwest and the French from Canada). People fleeing whatever in Europe and later "the east", were always pushing west with whatever weapons they had. The people who occupied the land were simply overwhelmed. They might win one battle/war, but another, fresh group of invaders was always just over the hill pushing forward toward them. Just a slow motion human wave attack. With an unlimited supply of "fresh troops" no force on earth was going to stop them.

It was the plow that really did it. The plow and the log cabin/sod hut meant those invaders were going to stay, and occupy the land, not just cross over it be gone. When those people "dug in," the next fresh, wave passed through the lines and resumed the attack.

d2wing
January 7, 2010, 06:06 PM
Float, The battle at leech lake is considered to be the last major battle, with US troops. I see that I did leave out the word major. You do have a point.
In the Dakota uprising of 1862, the deciding weapon was a cannon at Fort Ridgely. I don't think either side had many if any repeating rifles.

ArmedBear
January 7, 2010, 06:52 PM
I think it was the action of the throttle lever on these things that "won the West", not the lever action on an early Winchester, so much.:)

http://einhornpress.com/images/LOCO%20CIVIL%20WAR.jpg

The slaughter of the bison was closely connected to the railroads in various ways, also, and was done, largely, with Sharps rifles and a few of their competitors.

Float Pilot
January 7, 2010, 07:15 PM
Float, The battle at leech lake is considered to be the last major battle, with US troops. I see that I did leave out the word major. You do have a point.
In the Dakota uprising of 1862, the deciding weapon was a cannon at Fort Ridgely. I don't think either side had many if any repeating rifles.

True.. The Leech Lake Battle or Battle of Sugar Point Oct 1898 as I learned it back in military history class, had around 75+ troops from the Army and another 30 or so US Marshals, Sheriffs, Indian Police and Deputies. As I recall the Army took some casualties, including 5 or 6 killed and the less than 20 local Indians involved managed to avoid any casualties on their part. While the over 200 troops from the National Guard showed up after the battle, the Army never was able to arrest the guy they had come for in the first place.

The Battle of Bear Valley Arizona (Jan 9th 1918) was only 24 Cavalry Troopers from the 10th when they ran into 25-30 armed Yaqui's.
Having done battle with US and Mexican government troops all through the WWI period, the Yaquis made the poor decision to open fire..
Although,,, in this case, the US troops, all being Buffalo Soldiers, won the battle by killing the Yaqui chief and wounding several others. The Yaquis gave up and surrendered to the 10th Buffalo soldiers, who had no causalities on the US side of things.


The Leech Island (Sugar Point) battle had much more press since the Army commander took newspaper reporters along with his force. All to arrest a bootlegger.

The battles of the 9th and 10th Cavalry along the south west boarder (and in Mexico) during the 1900 to 1918 time period gained much less attention since the US Troops were black and the area was not well suited to the comforts required by newspapermen.

John Parker
January 7, 2010, 08:39 PM
The last truly free people in the world, bless 'em.


You've never been to Nuristan...

CZguy
January 7, 2010, 10:49 PM
You've never been to Nuristan...

OK I'll bite................Where is Nuristan?

GunsAmerica Fan
January 7, 2010, 10:54 PM
Though I am both and owner and lover of the Uberti replica Henry and 73 Winchester, the most important rifle of the west of definatly the Springfield Trapdoor. It was the infantry rifle and cavalry carbine of the entire western era. The indians used the Winchesters as others have noted here.

Big Bill
January 7, 2010, 11:00 PM
Winchester 73 with Jimmy Stewart nailed it. It was definately the 73 that won the west (Whatever that means?).

Bronx
January 8, 2010, 12:14 AM
I think it was the action of the throttle lever on these things that "won the West"'
http://einhornpress.com/images/LOCO%20CIVIL%20WAR.jpg



That throttle lever is specifically known as a "Johnson Bar".

Bronx
January 8, 2010, 12:16 AM
OK I'll bite................Where is Nuristan?
Here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/04/AR2009100400778.html

Arkansas Paul
January 8, 2010, 12:26 AM
As I said before, I didn't vote for the Henry due to it's limited production, but RockyMtnTactical makes a very good point about it being the design that started the whole lever era. I didn't think of that.

ar10
January 8, 2010, 07:00 AM
They all played a part, but my personal favorite is the .38 40. Watching old western hero movies does not depict actual events of how the west was settled.

Peter M. Eick
January 9, 2010, 01:45 PM
I know the 66 and 73 really did the bulk of the work, but the Henry was their first and paved the way for the other guns. So it becomes a question of when you consider it settled. I vote for the Henry.

Isher
January 9, 2010, 03:53 PM
As far as I know, there were no lever action

Smoothbores manufactured.

isher

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