Hell On Wheels, Colt, Winchester, and the Post War West

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by MacAR, Aug 12, 2021.

  1. Captain*kirk

    Captain*kirk Member

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    I looked at the majority of the photos in the T/L book "The Townsmen" and found that in the un-staged photos, group/crowd photos especially, the overwhelming majority of people were not wearing guns or gunbelts. That's not saying they could not have been carrying pocket revolvers and such, only that there were few visible sidearms.
     
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  2. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Internet Movie Firearms Database IMFDb.org has pages on the firearms used in each season of HELL ON WHEELS. With input from movie buffs, from gun buffs, often from movie propmasters. With clear screen captures.

    Like a lot of other folks here, I am not finding 19th century sources for the practice of carrying preloaded cap'n'ball revolver cylinders and swapping them out in a firefight. Back up to a cap'n'ball revolver mentioned most often was a Bowie knife, not a spare cylinder.

    Bringing preloaded cap'n'ball cylinders is practiced by those few who participate in the local black powder cartridge match using their cap'n'ball revolvers. Everyone has a bench, shoots offhand timed fire at targets down range.

    ________________
    * The pop up ads are annoying.
     
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  3. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    Then why has not a single one showed up in any kind of condition? That would be a huge collectors item considering the rarity of it. No evidence of the companies selling extra cylinders either so one would have had to have been collected from another revolver so why not just fix the other revolver. Until some real evidence emerges I would have to argue it never happened because it just makes no sense. By post civil war when there is more evidence of gunsmithing and cylinder fitted to guns they were conversions so no need for the extra cylinder.
     
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  4. ShotgunDave

    ShotgunDave Member

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    I concur. I have a Miroku/Winchester Model 66 in 44-40. I shoot black powder loads in it exclusively. It literally only takes about 10 minutes to clean, even after 100 rounds. It's just a matter of swabbing the barrel clean. The action stays spotless.
     
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  5. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    Someone once said "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," which, yes, actually makes for a rather lousy argument for those asserting that it did happen.

    I don't know it did happen. I'm not aware of one incident in which it did happen, and this thread contains a lot of reasons it was either non existant or at best, very rare. I'm not willing to say unequivocally it never happened because I can't be that absolutist.

    It certainly seems plainly evident in the extant evidence we do have that the most common reload was having multiple guns. THis was the practice even among Confederate guerrilla forces, for whom guns were a much scarcer resource than for the north. You'd think the Confederates if no one else would employ cylinder changing more often for this reason alone, yet even they carried multiple revolvers.

    My sole reason for not being an absolutist is that I WAS NOT THERE and there have been many instances when I "thought" I knew something was a historic fact ..... ooooops, turns out when some new discovery was made, I was wrong.

    Consider another un-gun related instance. The British steamship Titanic's wreck was discovered Sept. 1st, 1985. Up until that time, descriptions of its sinking did not include accounts of it breaking apart. Even Walter Lord's famous account in A NIGHT TO REMEMBER described the ship as sinking intact. After Dr. Ballard's discovery, he wrote a sequel, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, in which he accounts for why he wrote his original book with the ship sinking intact. Lord was a noted and published historian and author ..... and he got it wrong.

    So, I am not 100% sure I'm right. However, I am reasonably sure your logic and conclusions are accurate and correct ... so, there is that.;) :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2021
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  6. Jimster

    Jimster Member

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    Jack Thayer actually witnessed and made a sketch of the ship broken in two but nobody believed him. He and Hugh Woolner jumped overboard but Woolner did not survive. 2nd Officer Lightoller reported that she sank intact. He was definitely a “company man”. But we digress again. Been a Titanic fanatic since 1973. Nerd.
     
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  7. MacAR

    MacAR Member

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    I can understand that. Many, many guns have been lost to history. Heck, I lost an 1892 Winchester, a SAA, an HH Heiser saddle, and a damn good mare one day crossing a river. Never found any of them. So who can say what's under water or ground? I certainly can't. I wasn't there, and can't say. I can say it sure doesn't seem common, given recorded history. Unfortunately that is all we have to go on.

    Same! Talk about a lot of history to read into. I used to have several books on the subject but have since given them away or misplaced them.

    Mac
     
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  8. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I have read everything Elmer Keith wrote, John Hardin and Pat Garrett's books. And a few other Westerns that were not novels but personnel narratives. And lots and lots of Civil War first person accounts. Not in one have I read of someone swapping out cylinders in a fight. I cannot imagine pulling a cylinder from a Colt, I would surely lose the wedge. And, try this when your adrenaline is high. You lose that fine motor skills and coordination when you are excited! The bushwacking guerrillas, like Quantrill, they carried as many loaded pistols as they could, so they could pull out a fresh one.

    So, here is what you did when your pistol went dry

    1) Reversed the pistol, held it by the barrel, and tried to hit someone with it.

    2) Pulled out one of these and went for the throat

    TFzv52h.jpg

    3) Ran away.

    4) If you were an Officer, you pulled this out and got aggressive

    m7bWSEK.jpg

    7FxxzqS.jpg

    5) used anything at hand. I read a WW1 British Officer's account of a trench attack. He got in a German trench and right in front of him was a German Officer aiming and pulling on the trigger of his pistol. The pistol did not fire. The British Officer saw a pick axe leaning against the trench wall, picked that up, and drove the point into the German Officer.

    If my memory is correct, he picked up the Luger and kept it. Turns out, the trigger plate was not serialized to the pistol, so it is likely the correct part had gotten mixed up with another pistols parts, and that is why the gun would not fire.
     
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  9. MacAR

    MacAR Member

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    That, my friend, is a damn fine knife. Where might a feller find one?

    Mac
     
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  10. Captain*kirk

    Captain*kirk Member

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    I'm in the court of "It might have happened", rather than "never happened". That being said, even if it DID happen, they would have been one-offs most likely and certainly a private endeavor rather than any issued accessory. And, as was mentioned, by the time the ACW had ended, most 'smiths would have been up to their earlobes in conversions rather than fitting a spare C&B cylinder.
    Also a big Titanic fan. It is quite possible that the stern didn't break away until it was almost submerged. There was most certainly a huge bubble keeping it bouyant as the water-filled bow began sinking and all the boilers broke loose and headed south, most likely the stress that broke her in two. But, I digress...
     
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  11. Wolfman0125

    Wolfman0125 Member

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    One interesting note about Cullen Bohannon’s “Griswold” though outfitted by a period gun historian, his version of the Griswold and Gunnison never actually existed in .44 caliber. It is a fantasy gun. It was only manufactured in .36 caliber. Perhaps the “Hell on Wheels” producers thought it would make more smoke and produce a bigger bang and look more menacing on film in a .44 caliber versus the original .36 cal. As well the only brass framed revolvers used in the civil war in any number were the Spiller and Burr and the Griswold and Gunnison. The brass framed 1851 Navy and 1860 Army never existed in a brass frame. The largest amount of Confederate Revolvers ever produced was in Texas as the J.H.Dance & Brothers Revolver made from a Dragoon barrel assembly with a 1851 Navy frame but lacking the recoil shield found on all other revolvers. They made 350 in .44 cal. and 150 in .36 cal. Most weapons were either imported like the Le Mat or were battlefield captures.
     
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  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    That is a bicentennial Russell Green River, has ebony handles, stainless blade. Probably 420 carbon steel, but the knife companies of the era never revealed the exact type of steel in their knives.


    s-l1600.jpg

    and I purchased that knife in the 1980's from a store that is gone. You can find them on ebay, but the prices for the bicentennial knives are crazy. I don't know why the Dadley pattern is rarer than others, but from the number of specimens on the market, Russell company must have made fewer.

    All of the Green River patterns date to the 1830's, and these were the knives that "won the West". Their butcher, hunter patterns, and most particularly, Russell Barlow's were ubiquitous.

    What patterns Dexter Russell offers now varies by year. Some of the Green River knives, they are still making

    https://www.dexterrussellcutlery.com/green-river/

    if you don't see the Russell brand on the blade, then it is probably not made by Russell.

    https://www.crazycrow.com/green-river-knives?CatListingOffset=0&Offset=0&Per_Page=12&Sort_By=disp_order

    This would have been authentic to the period, an eating knife.

    3tVuivf.jpg

    Many used the eating knife instead of a spoon. Identifying characteristics are the rounded tip and beveled back. High society thought eating knives were bad manners, but like many things, their behavior had been shaped and molded by the advertising industry to increase cutlery sales. Even today, "cultured people" have to eat using a vast collection of cutlery, cups, and glasses. Truly an example of advertising induced behavior.

    FCgstAG.jpg

    Medieval people ate with their fingers and a knife, and slurped their soup from a bowl. Or poured it over their bread. Cave man, was even worse, how did they ever survive without a salad fork?
     
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  13. Wolfman0125

    Wolfman0125 Member

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    My mother took me to a fancy dinner when I came home on furlough. I was inspecting the silverware for cleanliness. A lady beside me saw me pick up a two tine fork and whispered “Olive Fork.” I then picked up a three tine fork. She whispered, “Salad fork.” I nodded and looked at my four tine fork. She whispered “Dinner fork.” Again I nodded. She said, “It’s best to start from the outside and work your way in.” I replied, “I know ma’am. But which of muh fingers do I use to push them there green peas on to the fork with? and do you sop the biscuit left to right or right to left? ‘Cause I was raised to kinda swirl it counter-clockwise.”
     
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  14. drobs

    drobs Member

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    I did enjoy this series but I couldn't get over the use of all the brass frame fantasy revolvers.
    This example is one of the worst. A US Cavalry Soldier with a brass frame 1860!!! That's just lazy!

    600px-HOWS02Colt1860-6.jpg

    Back to historical usage of spare cylinders. The Colt Paterson shipped with multiple cylinders:
    Quoting myself from a previous thread:

    "While there is no historical proof of swapping C&B cylinders in Remington 1858 NMA revolvers outside of Hollywood. There is proof that this was done in the Paterson revolver to great effect.

    http://www.texasescapes.com/JefferyRobenalt/Battle-of-Walkers-Creek-and-Colt-Paterson-Revolver.htm

    "Sam Colt produced several models of the Paterson, but model No. 5 was a five-shot .36 caliber percussion revolver with a nine inch barrel and a folding trigger that only emerged when the hammer was cocked; a feature common to all Paterson Colts. The revolver was a bit fragile and the barrel had to be removed to switch cylinders, but the weapon came with an extra cylinder or two, giving the user from ten to fifteen shots before reloading was necessary.Colt's model No. 5 was referred to as the "Texas" Paterson because of its use by the Texas Rangers at Walker's Creek. How the Rangers got their hands on the weapon is a story unto itself."

    "During the running, three-mile, hour-long Comanche retreat, Yellow Wolf rallied his warriors for three separate counterattacks with the Rangers fighting in relays — one group quickly switching the cylinders of their Colts while the other engaged the Comanches. Just as Yellow Wolf was haranguing his warriors into making one more attack, Ranger Ad Gillespie shot him in the head at thirty yards. Now thoroughly demoralized, Comanches fled the field."

    Below is a screen print from the Book "Savage Frontier" that mentions changing cylinders (on Colt Paterson revolvers) during the Battle at Walker's Creek:

    [​IMG]

    Paterson revolvers came with 2 cylinders from the factory.
    https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/70/2124/colt-paterson-revolver-36-percussion

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    Looks like a unicorn has been found! I can see switching cylinders with the Patterson.

    But history shows during the Civil War that multiple guns were very common. Quantrill, et al, all seem to use multiple revolvers


    How many 1851s, 1860s, we're provided with two+ cylinders? Remember, they all had to be hand fitted.
     
  16. 99octane

    99octane Member

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    People usually just carried a brace of revolvers, and switched to the loaded one when the first was empty. Plus, most people carried large knives routinely. Remember that the era when a firearm was just the entree for a cartload of hand to hand violence with melee weapons was only a few years behind, and most people carrying revolvers had carried a couple of pistols and a saber just a few years before.
    Moreover, it was comparatively easy for a cap and ball to jam due to cap fragments, so you wanted a spare just in case.
    People out expecting harm to come their way carried at least two belt revolvers, and usually something like a short barrelled Colt Pocket, perhaps two, tucked away for spare, for a total of anything between 12 and 22 shots. These were very compact and light guns.
     
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  17. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    I would personally preferred to have a shotgun of some sort, simply because of the fact that I could have literally used almost anything for shot. After that, one of those fancy Remington NMA’s, and perhaps if I was wealthy, a Remington Pocket....
     
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