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Old April 16, 2014, 03:02 PM   #1
elhombreconnonombre
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Interesting Walker math question for a boring afternoon

In reviewing my references regarding the US Army Ordnance récords regarding the 394 Walkers issued to Col. Jack Hays in October 1847, my calculations indicate a minimum of 190 rounds were fired per revolver from October 1847 until the official end of the war in 1848. While a fair number of these rounds were used in practice and general celebratory shooting by the Rangers, many were used in police actions against guerillas, and other engagements. I said a minimum as it is known that some Walkers blew up when they were shot for the very first time by the Rangers.
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Old April 17, 2014, 10:38 AM   #2
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I would like to compare that figure with the number of single shot and multiple shot 'pistols' and pepperboxes and whatnot still being used against a Texas ranger carrying a Walker.
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Old April 17, 2014, 07:16 PM   #3
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Interesting. 190 rounds is not a lot of firing. Especially with a new weapon you are learning how to use.

I would have thought it was higher (which you point out it likely is due to "proofing" of the guns in the end users hands).
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Old April 17, 2014, 08:29 PM   #4
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My estimate is based on the actual number of percussion caps shipped to the ordnance officer in Vera Cruz from the New York Ordnance Supply Dept along with the Walkers. It is possible the Rangers had more percussion caps that would fit, but the Walker caps were of a different size than typically available on the frontier for single shot pistols or rifles.There were a limited number of Patersons in use by the Rangers at that time. I'm not sure if Paterson caps would fit the large Walker cones as nipples were called then.
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Old April 17, 2014, 09:22 PM   #5
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I'm not much of a math person, about 99% of it is over my head. But I'd wager that about 100% of those who shot a Walker after seeing one of them blow up were a bit nervous, and may have even flinched.
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Old April 17, 2014, 09:35 PM   #6
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I'd have to say there is no way to even know or guess at this late date.
Recording keeping wasn't the same as it is today.

Some guys might have shot the snot out of theirs just for the halibut.
Or they liked to test their new weapons fully before trusting their life to it.

Others were too busy drinking, gambling, or chasing the girls in the local watering hole to worry about it.

And most were at best, semi-literate, and not real big on recording keeping, or personal hygiene either, I betcha!

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Old April 17, 2014, 10:42 PM   #7
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My gggpaws memoirs I am editing for publication does mention more than a little drinking and dancing and reckless shooting at the fandangos in occupied Mexico in 1847 and 1848. To tell the truth the senoritas preferred the US Army Dragoons in their dashing uniforms to the rather rough edged Rangers, Los Diablos Tejanos. The Rangers had a reputation for violence towards the indiginous population that looked the wrong way at them, despite the efforts of Hays and his officers to keep a lid on things.
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Old April 18, 2014, 04:22 AM   #8
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I have heard of Walkers blowing up but have never seen any examples, maybe they all went into the furnace in the old days or I just don't get out that much any more.
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Old April 18, 2014, 05:58 AM   #9
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Back in 1848 when the Rangers, or least those few that would do so, returned their Walkers back to the Army, the ordnance officer reports some were returned with burst cylinders, and burst, or shortened barrels. It is not documented what became of these Walkers, whether they went back to the Little Rock Arsenal with the still serviceable Walkers or back to Colt for repair. Regardless, Colts contract with the govt. did not require him to repair or replace these Walkers as they had been test fired with maximum loads of powder and conical bullets and approved by govt inspectors prior to delivery in Oct. 1847. If you do a search for Parade of Walkers 2003, you can see a bunch of pics of genuine Walkers exhibited at the 2003 Texas Gun Collectors Association meeting. The conditions of these range from pristine to relics. A few have relatively short barrels.
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Old April 18, 2014, 04:01 PM   #10
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http://tgca.org/Parade_of_Walkers.html

Looking at the individual revolvers, it's evident that several were converted to Dragoon latches. Some were fitted with Dragoon cylinders and barrels, or may have been transitional models that still had the Walker gripframe. Some barrels were just shortened, and one had a completely new octagonal barrel and lug, probably by a gunsmith, replacing a blown barrel? A few were 1st or 2nd model Dragoons. Replacemen with a Dragoon barrel and cylinder would be a way of reducing the chance of blowing up a cylinder, or a repair method, if the user survived a blowup.
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Old April 20, 2014, 01:58 PM   #11
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I can see shortening a barrel for convenience but I do not see how one would blow up a Walker barrel since it is open on both ends...obstruction maybe.
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Old April 20, 2014, 03:12 PM   #12
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just sayin...that's what the receiving ordnance officer put in his reports regarding some of the Walkers turned in by the Rangers in 1848.
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Old April 20, 2014, 03:21 PM   #13
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I understand...not callin ya out...better to turn in something un-customized I am certain.
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Old April 20, 2014, 05:41 PM   #14
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As another bit of Whitneyville-Walker trivia ya'll may recall my post from months ago wondering how Ormsby came about his inspiration for the Walker and subsequent Dragoon cylinder engraving details for "Hay's Big Fight". Thanks to pards over at the Colt forum, my own references, and theirs, it seems that Colt had been after Walker for several weeks after they met to get a pictoral representation of the famous battle with no result. Walker left the East and returned to Jefferson barracks to train his troopers he had recruited while in the East. Around March 1847, Walker finally sent Colt a rough sketch and description depicting himself on a black horse and Hays on a white horse persuing Comanche at Walkers Creek in June 1844 using their Patersons. These sketches and descriptions were given to Ormsby by Colt to translate into an roll engraving. Not knowing what Comanches looked like he reportedly referred to Caitlans 1834 painting "Feats of Comanche Horsemanship" for the Indians. Having no idea of the typical frontier garb of Rangers in 1844, and for which no description was provided by Walker, Ormsby outfitted the Rangers in US Mounted Rifles uniforms in his engraving. Thus we have "Rangers and Indians" engraving with the Rangers in regulation army dragoon uniforms.The rest is history as they say.
Walker had no idea what the final product looked like until he received his cased presentation pair just before his death in October 1847 at the Battle if Huamantla. There was some controversy at the time concerning his death, whether from a snipers shot in his chest or back, or a Mexican lance through the chest. His body was never returned to his family in Maryland, rather he was buried in San Antonio in his adopted state.
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Old April 21, 2014, 02:12 PM   #15
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Then, the Texas Rangers were re-armed with 1st, 2nd and 3rd Model Dragoons? Or did the 51' Navy finally make its entrance into Texas?
With everyone heading to California as fast as they could get there with as much firepower as they could carry where did most of Colt's revolver end up, in California or Texas?

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Old April 21, 2014, 02:28 PM   #16
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Good question.

There is evidence that the USMR troopers that went to California under Kearney were issued what we now call Dragoon revolvers before they left. A lot of the troopers deserted for the gold fields and took their Dragoons along. There are also reports of USMR troopers serving at the forts in the Department of Texas as well as Rangers in Federal service in Texas after the Mexican war being issued "Colt's six shooters" that came from the Federal arsenal at Little Rock. This is where the 82 serviceable Walkers that could be rounded up by the Army ordnance in Vera Cruz at wars end and where the 500 unissued Walkers and powder flasks had been sent by the NY Ordnance Depot along with the new Dragoon revolvers.
If I were a betting man, I would bet the average trooper would prefer a 44 six shooter over a 36 5 shooter. I did read an account somewhere where an army patrol in the Sierras came across a rather angry grizzly. One trooper unloaded his 1851 Colt wounding it, while his pards unloaded their 44 Dragoons, finally dispatching the beast. In skinning the bear for the meat, they found that that the 36 rounds barely penetrated an inch while the 44 rounds hit vital organs. This is similar to reports by Rangers using their 36 cal Patersons aving to shot directly at the Comanches buffalo shields rather than at an angle as the bullets would somtines not penetrate the buffalo hide.
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Old Yesterday, 11:22 AM   #17
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After taking into account the possibility that as many as 109 of the 394 Walkers issued to the Rangers were irreparably damaged from their first firing, on average, the maximum number of rounds fired per revolver could have been 255 as opposed to the 190 I previously theorized using all of the 75000 percussion caps shipped to Mexico with the revolvers (and not having any additional caps in the war zone that would fit).
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Old Yesterday, 11:57 AM   #18
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That was still a barrage of lead considering the slow ponderous fire produced by single shot rifles and muskets. But, didn’t they have to at least sight them in? This one, serial number ‘xxx’ shots high and left while this one, serial number ‘yyy’ shots way low? Still, not many rounds to get acquainted with your specifically assigned weapon and apply 'Kentucky' windage unless these guys saw them and said, they’re just like a Paterson except bigger. No?

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Old Yesterday, 12:10 PM   #19
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I don't know. Some of the old Rangers from the Republic of Texas Period who had experiece with the Paterson might have quickly adapted, but many of Hay's new recruits that received Walkers were young "greenies" as RIP Ford called them, having never seen a revolver before. One "greenie" accidentally shot and killed his horse while cleaning his charged and capped revolver.
Many of the Rangers engagements were against formed lines of Mexican lancers so it was kinda like shooting fish in a barrel. They couldn't miss. They would take shots at the Mexican troops at a distance with their rifles and charge the remaining Mexican troops at close range with their Colts.
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Old Yesterday, 01:50 PM   #20
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The vaunted ‘Lancer’ so dominate during the Napoleonic Wars finally saw some good old American technology at work first hand!!!!


Still, during that era of firearms even youngster knew how to load and prime a muzzleloader, even though a revolver may or may not have been out of their league.
But as you say only a few hundred rounds fired that’s not a whole lot of training to get familiar with your firearm. How many Walkers did each recruit carry? One, with an issued spare cylinder or more?
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Old Yesterday, 02:26 PM   #21
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On either this forum or the Colt Forum I tried to cover this as best I could.
When Hays landed by ship in Vera Cruz he had 15 Rangers in his headquarters staff and 565 combat ready Rangers amongst the several companies to which the 394 Colts were issued. Thus if the Colts were handed out 1 per Ranger then less than 7 Rangers out of 10 were issued a Walker. As it turns out Ranger Co. commanders probably took two as did some of their trusted lts and sgts, which lowers this issuance rate. Thus easily more than one third of the Rangers under Hays in that part of México had to make do with a pair of Aston single shot horse pistols from Army stores or a Paterson, if they had one from the old Ranger days. The Ranger companies supporting Taylor and Wool in the Northern part of México never received Walkers. My gggpaw was not in camp in Vergara the day the Colts were issued to Hays Rangers, but acquired one from a dying Ranger pard on a dusty trail somewhere between Vera Cruz and México City.
Also, there were no spare cylinders shipped to Mexico, nor produced under Colts contract with the govt.
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Old Yesterday, 04:12 PM   #22
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One hundred ninety rounds in combat is a lot of rounds, especially in those days. Today's world with all the fully automatic fire, I had one bud who told me he had fired 400 rounds in a day in Vietnam. But back then, that is a lot of shooting.

It is my memory that Captain Herbert McBridge said he only fired seven shots from his pistol in WW1. He said they were badly needed. He fired a lot more rounds with his machine guns and sniping, but not that much with a handgun.
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Old Yesterday, 05:24 PM   #23
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Even if the Rangers did expend the 255 rounds that I estimate, no doubt some were used in required proficiency target practice, celebratory shooting at Fandangos and in general, in addition to their actions against Mexican regulars and guerillars.
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Old Yesterday, 07:23 PM   #24
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Well, if you look at some of the fights with the Comanche, that's all they used were their Colt Patersons. The Colt revolver played a lot bigger role when all of the long arms were single shot muzzleloaders and proved to be the difference in many fights during the 1840s and 50s.

That's why a lot of people love the Colts.

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Old Yesterday, 09:20 PM   #25
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The tactic described where the Rangers fired their rifles first then chased the Mexican lancers down with their Colts blazing was the exact same tactic they used when fighting the Comanche. Every Ranger had to be a superb shot on horseback whether using a rifle, pistol, or revolver.
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