Civil War

All things that pertain to the Civil War Period including Jesse James, William Quantril and the KGC

“IN DEFENSE OF GENERAL LEE….


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“IN DEFENSE OF GENERAL LEE

By Edward C. Smith
Saturday, August 21, 1999
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Let me begin on a personal note. I am a 56-year-old, third-generation, African American Washingtonian who is a graduate of the D.C. public schools and who happens also to be a great admirer of Robert E. Lee’s.

Today, Lee, who surrendered his troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House 134 years ago, is under attack by people — black and white — who have incorrectly characterized him as a traitorous, slaveholding racist. He was recently besieged in Richmond by those opposed to having his portrait displayed prominently in a new park.

My first visit to Lee’s former home, now Arlington National Cemetery, came when I was 12 years old, and it had a profound and lasting effect on me. Since then I have visited the cemetery hundreds of times searching for grave sites and conducting study tours for the Smithsonian Institution and various other groups interested in learning more about Lee and his family as well as many others buried at Arlington.

Lee’s life story is in some ways the story of early America. He was born in 1807 to a loving mother, whom he adored. His relationship with his father, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, (who was George Washington’s chief of staff during the Revolutionary War) was strained at best. Thus, as he matured in years, Lee adopted Washington (who had died in 1799) as a father figure and patterned his life after him. Two of Lee’s ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Mary Custis, was George Washington’s foster great-granddaughter.

Lee was a top-of-the-class graduate of West Point, a Mexican War hero and superintendent of West Point. I can think of no family for which the Union meant as much as it did for his.

But it is important to remember that the 13 colonies that became 13 states reserved for themselves a tremendous amount of political autonomy. In pre-Civil War America, most citizens’ first loyalty went to their state and the local community in which they lived. Referring to the United States of America in the singular is a purely post-Civil War phenomenon.

All this should help explain why Lee declined command of the Union forces — by Abraham Lincoln — after the firing on Fort Sumter. After much agonizing, he resigned his commission in the Union army and became a Confederate commander, fighting in defense of Virginia, which at the outbreak of the war possessed the largest population of free blacks (more than 60,000) of any Southern state.

Lee never owned a single slave, because he felt that slavery was morally reprehensible. He even opposed secession. (His slaveholding was confined to the period when he managed the estate of his late father-in-law, who had willed eventual freedom for all of his slaves.)

Regarding the institution, it’s useful to remember that slavery was not abolished in the nation’s capital until April 1862, when the country was in the second year of the war. The final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was not written until September 1862, to take effect the following Jan. 1, and it was intended to apply only to those slave states that had left the Union.

Lincoln’s preeminent ally, Frederick Douglass, was deeply disturbed by these limitations but determined that it was necessary to suppress his disappointment and “take what we can get now and go for the rest later.” The “rest” came after the war.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the few civil rights leaders who clearly understood that the era of the 1960s was a distant echo of the 1860s, and thus he read deeply into Civil War literature. He came to admire and respect Lee, and to this day, no member of his family, former associate or fellow activist that I know of has protested the fact that in Virginia Dr. King’s birthday — a federal holiday — is officially celebrated as “Robert E. Lee-Stonewall Jackson-Martin Luther King Day.”

Lee is memorialized with a statue in the U.S. Capitol and in stained glass in the Washington Cathedral.

It is indeed ironic that he has long been embraced by the city he fought against and yet has now encountered some degree of rejection in the city he fought for.

In any event, his most fitting memorial is in Lexington, Va.: a living institution where he spent his final five years. There the much-esteemed general metamorphosed into a teacher, becoming the president of small, debt-ridden Washington College, which now stands as the well-endowed Washington and Lee University.

It was in Lexington that he made a most poignant remark a few months before his death. “Before and during the War Between the States I was a Virginian,” he said. “After the war I became an American.”

I have been teaching college students for 30 years, and learned early in my career that the twin maladies of ignorance and misinformation are not incurable diseases. The antidote for them is simply to make a lifelong commitment to reading widely and deeply. I recommend it for anyone who would make judgment on figures from the past, including Robert E. Lee.

[Dr. Smith is co-director of the Civil War Institute at American University in Washington, D.C.]”

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Lost Treasure is still out there….


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The Dalton Gang Loot

The famous Dalton Gang made history in 1892 when they attempted to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville, Kansas. The result was the death of four of the outlaws and four citizens, and a prison term for the only survivor, Emmett Dalton.

Less well known is the fortune in gold and silver coins allegedly buried by the outlaws on the evening before the Coffeyville attempt. The cache was estimated to be worth between $9,000 and $20,000 in 1892 values.

Before their Coffeyville robbery, the Dalton Gang held up a Missouri-Kansas-Texas train near Wagoner, Oklahoma, and another near Adair. From these robberies, they netted $10,000. A few weeks later, they walked into an El Reno, Oklahoma, bank and took $17,000.

Following these robberies, the gang members purchased new saddles and clothes. The remaining loot was carried in their saddlebags as they made their way toward Coffeyville.

On the evening of October 5, the gang arrived at Onion Creek where it joins with the Verdigris River near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. There, they set up camp. Desiring to travel as unencumbered as possible, they unloaded all of the goods from their horses. The gold and silver coins were placed in a shallow hole they dug adjacent to their campfire.

At dawn the following morning, the outlaws breakfasted, checked their firearms and ammunition, and saddled their mounts. Before leaving, Emmett told the gang members that if they became separated, they were to rendezvous at this site, where they would retrieve the coins and escape deeper into Oklahoma.

The robbery attempt was a disaster and spelled the end of the gang. All were killed, save for Emmett. He served only 15 years in prison when he was pardoned in 1907. Lawmen believed that when freed, Emmett would lead them to the buried cache. They followed him for weeks, but he stayed away from Onion Creek. He once told an interviewer that he believed the coin cache was tainted and he wanted no more to do with it.

The precise location of the Onion Creek campsite has been debated for years, but recently discovered information has narrowed the area of search. On the morning the Dalton Gang departed for Coffeyville, Mary Brown, the young daughter of a nearby rancher, was riding her horse when she heard voices near Onion Creek. Reining up her mount, she listened and heard the sounds of men eating and saddling horses. Moments later, Brown saw five horsemen riding out from under a small wooden bridge that spanned the creek and making their way toward Coffeyville.

Years later, when Brown was an adult, she heard the story of the gold and silver coins buried at the Onion Creek campsite and was determined to find them. During the time that passed since the Coffeyville Raid, however, the old bridge had been torn down, portions of the creek had changed course and the road had been relocated. Though she searched for a full day, Brown was unable to find the location where the Daltons had camped so many years earlier.

As far as anyone knows, the treasure is still there.

Belle Starr’s Lost Iron Door Cache

Belle Starr was arguably the American West’s most famous female outlaw. She was known to deal in stolen horses, and she provided sanctuary in her eastern Oklahoma home to Frank and Jesse James, the Younger Gang and other notorious banditti. Some believed that she helped plan crimes and aided her accomplices in hiding and spending money taken in bank and train robberies.

A tale that has surfaced over the years involves gang members Starr allegedly knew. They stopped a freight train bound for the Denver Mint during the mid-1880s. The train was transporting a cargo of gold ingots destined to be turned into coin.

Though the robbery went as planned, the gang feared immediate pursuit from federal agents. They decided to hide the gold in a cave in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains. Before riding away with the loot, gang members removed one of the iron doors from a railroad car and, using ropes, dragged the door along behind them as they made their escape on horseback.

When they arrived at the cave, the bandits stacked the gold against one wall. The iron door was placed over the entrance, wedged into position, and covered over with rock and brush. Before leaving the area, one of the outlaws hammered a railroad spike into an oak tree located 100 yards from the cave.

A short time after the robbery, railroad detectives learned of the possibility that the gold had been hidden in the Wichita Mountains. Though they hunted for weeks, they were never able to find it.

During a subsequent train robbery attempt a few months later, all of the members of the gang were killed. In 1889, Starr was murdered, a crime that has never been solved. With her death, no one remained alive who knew the exact location of what has come to be called the “Lost Iron Door Cache.”

During the first decade of the 1900s, a rancher and his young son rode into a canyon in the Wichita Mountains near Elk Mountain. Their attention was captured by the reflection of the sun from an object located on the eastern slope. On investigating, they encountered a large, rusted iron door set into a recessed portion of the canyon wall.  The son wanted to see what was on the other side of the door, but the father reminded him they had to reach their destination before nightfall. Later, the father learned the story of the Iron Door Cache. The two returned to the region, but were unsuccessful in relocating the site.

During the ensuing years, a number of ranchers, hunters and hikers have reported spotting the iron door against one wall of a remote canyon in the Wichita Mountains. On learning the story of the gold, they attempted to return to the location, but could never find it.

While traveling through a remote canyon in the Wichitas in the 1950s, a rancher decided to pause and take shade under a large oak tree. He hung his hat on a railroad spike hammered into the trunk. Familiar with the story of the gold cache and the spike, he made plans to return to the canyon and search for the treasure, but was never able to relocate the site. Later, someone cut down the oak tree for firewood.

The latest sighting of the door was in 1996. A middle-aged man making his way on foot from the small town of Cooperton to Lawton, in search of work, took a shortcut through the Wichita Mountains and spotted the iron door. Three weeks after arriving in Lawton, he learned the story of Starr’s Iron Door Cache. He purchased a few tools and set out to recover the gold. On the way, he suffered a heart attack and died.

Bill Doolin’s Gold

In spite of lore that claims Bill Doolin netted over $175,000 in robberies in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas over the two-year period preceding his death, the outlaw lived frugally in a wood frame shack near Burden, Kansas.

In between robberies, Doolin purchased a small plot of land and a shack near Burden, 40 miles southeast of Wichita. To this place he retreated with his loot, and it was here that he buried most of it. He never told anyone about his new residence, preferring to keep it secret.

In December 1895, Doolin traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. An arthritis sufferer, he often bathed in the hot springs to soothe his aches. One afternoon he was arrested by Deputy Marshal Bill Tilghman while soaking in a hot mineral bath. He was placed in the jail in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to await trial for bank robbery. Certain that he would be convicted, Doolin escaped and fled to Burden. He began making plans to move his wife and child to this location.

For days following Doolin’s escape, the Oklahoma countryside was searched for some trace of him, to no avail. One lawman, Heck Thomas, got a tip that Doolin was planning on visiting his wife and son. He learned that Doolin’s family was living in Lawton. Thomas rode to Lawton and, from hiding, watched the house where Mrs. Doolin was living.

Thomas and a posse were hiding out near the house when Doolin came walking up, leading the horse and buggy.  The outlaw spotted the lawman and reached for a rifle under the wagon seat, firing twice. Thomas shot him dead.

Doolin’s friends were aware that he buried his share of the robbery loot, but never knew where. Not until 20 years after the outlaw’s death did anyone discover his secret residence in Burden. By that time, the old shack had tumbled down, and the land was covered in weeds and brush.

Though many have searched the area for Doolin’s cache of gold and silver coins, it remains undiscovered.

Sam Bass Treasure

Following a train robbery outside of Big Springs, Nebraska, Sam Bass and other outlaws got away with 3,000 twenty-dollar gold pieces, along with jewelry and money taken from the passengers. After dividing the loot, the outlaws split up. Bass went to his hideout at Cove Hollow near Denton, Texas. Some believe he buried his booty at Cove Hollow, although others believe he just as easily could have spent the money. He soon formed a gang, robbed more stages and added to his caches.

Bass made plans to rob the Williamson County Bank in Round Rock, Texas. When the outlaws stopped at the store first to buy some tobacco, a couple of local lawmen noticed they were armed and started to talk to them. They didn’t recognize Bass. The outlaws opened fire on them, and a gunfight ensued. Badly wounded, Bass escaped.

Texas Rangers caught up with him in a nearby pasture. The outlaw died more than a day later, and with his death went the knowledge of the location of his treasure caches at Cove Hollow.

Henry Plummer’s Lost Gold

In a short span of time, the Henry Plummer gang amassed an impressive fortune in gold coins, ingots and nuggets from robbing stagecoaches, freight wagons, miners and travelers throughout Washington and Montana…at least, according to legend, since no evidence supports the claim. Some historians have made the argument that Plummer was not an outlaw, nor did he lead an organized gang. But for those who believe that Plummer was a gang leader and who also believe in the legend of his treasure, Plummer’s share has been estimated to exceed $200,000.

For a time, Plummer (and maybe his gang) lived near Sun River, 20 miles from Great Falls, Montana. Plummer apparently buried his portion of the gold near a small creek located 200 yards from the house. He never revealed the location.

On January 10, 1864, vigilantes caught up with Plummer and hanged him. In 1875, a young boy was digging in the soft ground near a stream at Sun River and found one of Plummer’s bags of coins. He returned to the area with his father, but was unable to relocate the spot. Plummer’s buried treasure, at its estimated value, would be worth several million dollars today.

Cy Skinner’s Lost Loot

Cy Skinner was among those named as a member of Henry Plummer’s gang. After Plummer was killed, Skinner loaded up the gold ingots and coins he had accumulated in the same robberies—$200,000 worth—and fled to Hell’s Gate (now Missoula), Montana. After reaching his destination, Skinner carried the gold to one of several small islands in the middle of the Clark Fork. Weeks later, a mob of men stormed Skinner’s cabin, hauled him outside and hanged him.

During the 1930s, a man named Taichert found a portion of Skinner’s gold on one of the islands. When he returned the next day to search for the rest of it, heavy rains had caused the river to rise, barring access to the island. By the time the flow receded, the islands had been altered in size and shape. Taichert was never able to find the precise spot where he had found the gold.  Skinner’s gold still rests beneath a foot or two of river deposit on one of the small islands.

Outlaw Treasure

Mexican Payroll Loot Austin, Texas

A $3 million treasure, allegedly from a Mexican payroll in 1836 stolen by the paymaster and accomplices, the loot could be buried near Shoal Creek in Texas. After burying the loot and, in turn, killing members of the party, the remaining outlaw returned to Mexico. His map to the treasure shows it was buried five feet underground, close to an oak tree with two eagle wings carved on it.

Eight men dug 40 feet of tunnel for eight months along Shoal Creek, saying they were constructing a new bridge or a large house. On April 13, 1927, according to The Rising Star Record, the workers took off with the loot:

“A box was lifted from the square cut chamber between the rocks, for the next day the workmen were gone and the blasting has ceased. Curious throngs soon found the dark tunnel and with lights discovered traces of the large wooden box that had laid beneath the dirt for more than 60 years.”

Butch Cassidy’s Loot Moffat County, Colorado
Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch hid out in Brown’s Hole, Colorado, to escape from lawmen. Many believe the gang’s stolen loot was tucked away here, in an outlaw paradise, for safekeeping, but then abandoned and forgotten.Along what is known as “Outlaw Trail,” Brown’s Hole was also the perfect place to hide rustled cattle and horses.

Josie Bassett, an alleged girlfriend of Cassidy’s, lived on the Bassett Ranch at Brown’s Park. Cassidy had worked there as a ranch hand. Graves along the river, Josie’s cabin and remnants of Doc Parson’s cabin, where Cassidy lived for a while, still stand today.

Lost Treasure

Lost Opata Mine South of Tucson, Arizona

About 45 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, rises what remains of Tumacacori Mission, now a national park. The 18th-century church was built by Spaniards hoping to convert the pagan Opata and Papago Indians. The missionaries hired the Indians to work in their nearby silver mines and store the yield in a giant room.

The Opata kidnapped a woman they believed was the Virgin Mary and wanted her to marry their chief. She refused, so the people sacrificed her to their gods by tying her to the silver, rubbing poison into cuts in her hands, and dancing and singing around her.

The missionaries, so dismayed by the pagan violation of their Christian teachings, had the entrance closed off, presumably sealing in the woman’s skeletal remains—and all of the silver—still waiting to be found.

Lost Dutchman Mine Apache Junction, Arizona

Rich in gold, but—some believe—cursed, the fabled Lost Dutchman gold mine generates endless stories. The treasure hunters who mysteriously go missing while looking for the gold fuel the 120-plus-year legend. Today, some wonder if the Superstition Mountains really harbor the gold or if the stories have piled upon stories to bury the truth.

Sometime after 1868, a German (not Dutch) miner named Jacob Waltz found the Peralta family mine and worked it with an associate, Jacob Weiser. Legend has it that they hid some of the gold near Weaver’s Needle, a local landmark. Details after that are unclear, according to Lost Dutchman State Park information. Either Waltz killed Weiser or Apaches killed him, leaving Waltz as the only person who knew the whereabouts of the mine.

His neighbor in Phoenix, Arizona, who took care of him before his death in 1891, and countless others have searched unsuccessfully for the gold.

Hidden Treasure

Ruggles Brothers Gold Redding, California

In 1892, the charming, young Ruggles brothers held up the stagecoach to Weaverville, California, just west of Redding, making off with the strongbox loaded with gold. Buck Montgomery, of the Hayfork Montgomery clan, was the armed escort on the stage. He shot at Charles Ruggles, who had ordered the driver to halt.

John Ruggles fired back, killing Montgomery. Thinking his brother was dead, he cached the loot somewhere nearby. Charles was alive, but some of the loot was never found. Eventually, local vigilantes lynched the Ruggles.

Jesse James’s Hidden Treasure Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

Legend says the James Gang, in 1876, buried stolen treasure in a deep ravine east of Cache Creek in Oklahoma. Jesse James made two signs pointing to the gold: He emptied two six-shooters into a cottonwood tree, and he nailed a horseshoe into the trunk of another cottonwood tree. Then he scratched out a contract on the side of a brass bucket to bound everyone to keep the secret. Although this doesn’t seem in his character to do so, since the written oath could have been used as evidence against him, some folks believe the treasure exists.

The words on the bucket read: “This the 5th day of March, 1876, in the year of our Lord, 1876, we the undersigned do this day organize a bounty bank. We will go to the west side of the Keechi Hills which is about fifty yards from [symbol of crossed sabers]. Follow the trail line coming through the mountains just east of the lone hill where we buried the jack [burro]. His grave is east of a rock. This contract made and entered into this V day of March 1876. This gold shall belong to who signs below. Jesse James, Frank Miller, George Overton, Rub Busse, Charlie Jones, Cole Younger, Will Overton, Uncle George Payne, Frank James, Roy Baxter, Bud Dalton, and Zack Smith.”

The gold hasn’t been found, but the engraved brass bucket and simple map have been, as have the markers pointing to the treasure’s hiding spot.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, Civil War, gold, gold coins, gold ingots, Legends, Lost gold, Lost Treasure, Old West, Outlaws, silver, silver coins, Texas, treasure, Treasure Legends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Deadliest Gunslingers In The Old West


The terms “gunfighter” or “gunslinger,” as they are most often called today, are actually more modern words utilized in films and literature of the 20th Century.

During the days of the “real” Wild West, men who had gained a reputation as being dangerous with a gun were more commonly called gunmen, pistoleers, shootists, or bad men. Gunslingers weren’t even called gunslingers during the ‘Wild West’ period. They didn’t wear the standard ‘gunfighter’s rig’ of a low-slung hip holster tied to their thigh for a faster draw. The terms “gunfighter“ or “gunslinger“ are more commonly synonymous to a hired gun who made a living with his weapons in the Old West.

Here’s a look at 10 of the deadliest Wild West gunslingers.

1. John Wesley Hardin

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Hardin

Some say the worst bad man that Texas ever produced.

John Wesley Hardin was easily the deadliest gunfighter of all time and one of the darkest characters in the Old West.  He was a kind of a guy who will shoot first and ask questions later. This American outlaw and gunfighter claimed to have killed 42 men though the newspapers attributed only 27 killings. He was so quick tempered with a gun that it has been said that he once killed a man for snoring.

Hardin committed his first murder in 1868, when he was just 15 years old (gunned down an ex-slave) and then proceeded to kill three Union soldiers before going on the run. Hardin was known for carrying two pistols in holsters strapped to his chest, which he claimed facilitated the quick draw, and he used them to gun down three more people in various gunfights soon after his flight. At age 17, he was arrested for the murder of a Texas City Marshal, but he was able to escape. At 25, he was finally arrested by a team of Texas Rangers, and eventually served 17 years in prison before being released at the age of 41. Shortly after his release, he was shot in the back of the head by John Selman Jr. in the Acme Saloon in El Paso, Texas, while playing dice.

2. Jim “Killer“ Miller

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Jim Miller

James “Killin’ Jim“ Miller, also known as “Killin’ Jim“, “Killer Miller“ and “Deacon Jim“, was an American outlaw and assassin of the American Old West who is credited with killing at least 14 people, though legend has it that the number is somewhere closer to 50. As a teenager, Miller blasted his sister’s husband in the head with a shotgun after a disagreement. He was handed a life sentence for the murder but escaped justice owning to a technicality.

Described as being cold to the core, Miller famously declared that he would kill anyone for money, and is rumored to have gunned down everyone from political figures to famed sheriff Pat Garrett. On April 19, 1909, following the murder of former Deputy Marshal Allen “Gus“ Bobbitt, he was arrested and his days of bloodshed finally came to an end. Before he died, he made two requests. He wanted his ring to be given to his wife (who was a cousin of John Wesley Hardin) and to be allowed to wear his hat while being hanged. Both requests were granted. He also asked to die in his black frock coat; this request was denied. Apparently, he screamed, “Let ‘er rip,“ before stepping off the box. His body was left hanging for hours until a photographer could be found to immortalize the event.

3. James “Wild Bill” Hickok

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Wild Bill

A legend in his own time.

James Butler Hickok (a.k.a. Wild Bill) was the most notorious man in the Wild West. A gunfighter, gambler, civil war spy, Indian fighter, peace officer, Hickok was said to have killed more than 100 men. At the age of 17, he left home and worked as a “canal boat pilot“ in Utica, Illinois. Got his nickname “Wild Bill“ from fighting in the Union army during the Civil War. During this time, he provided many services, such a spy, scout, and a sharpshooter.

In 1865, on the streets of Springfield, Missouri, he gained a reputation for being handy with a gun after he killed David Tutt with a single bullet from 75 yards away (first classic “Wester-style“ quick-draw duel). Suddenly he could not go anywhere without being recognized. On August 2, 1876, Deadwood, South Dakota, Hickok was playing poker when he was shot in the back of the head by a gambler named Jack McCall (better known as “Crooked Nose Jack“), supposedly in retaliation for a prior insult. Hickok was supposedly holding a pair of Aces and Eights at the time, a combination now known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.“

4. Tom Horn Jr.

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Tom Horn Jr

Thomas “Tom“ Horn, Jr. was a respected lawman and detective, but he was one of the most cold-blooded killers of the Old West. In the 1880s, Horn made a name for himself as a tracker and a bounty hunter. He was eventually hired as a detective by the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency and was responsible for the arrest of many feared criminals. Quickly becoming known for his volatile temper and dangerous capacity for violence, he was forced to resign his position with the Agency after becoming linked to the murders of 17 people.

Following his resignation, he developed a reputation as a hitman and is said to have been responsible for as many as 50 murders in his 43 years of life. Thomas Horn was arrested, tried in a controversial trial and hanged the day before his 43rd birthday in 1903. A retrial was held in 1993 in which he was declared innocent. The New York Times described the trial, “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, But Still Dead.“

5. Clay Allison

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Clay Allison

Robert Clay Allison was a Texas cattle rancher and gunfighter. Known for his unpredictable personality and violent temper, Clay was a gunslinger who is remembered as one of the deranged outlaws of the Old West. Allison fought in the Civil War, but was discharged after a blow to the head started causing unpredictable behavior in him. Historians believe this event explains some of his shockingly brutal actions, which included once beheading a man he suspected of murder and carrying the head into his favorite bar to share a drink.

After this incident, which bond his reputation as one of the most dangerous figures of his day, Allison was participating in a number of gunfights against fellow gunslingers. The most famous of these gunfights was against outlaw Chunk Colbert, whom Allison shot in the head when the other drew his gun on him following a meal they had shared. When asked why he had eaten with a man who wanted to kill him, Allison replied, “I wouldn’t want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach.“ He died in 1887 when he fell from his wagon and broke his neck. His gravestone is said to read:

“Clay Allison. Gentleman. Gun Fighter. He never killed a man that did no need killing.“

6. Wyatt Earp

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Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was an American gambler, deputy sheriff, and deputy town marshal inTombstone, Arizona. He spent most of his life roaming the West, supporting himself with police work, mining, gambling, saloon-keeping, and real estate deals.

Famed lawman Earp is perhaps the most storied figure of the Wild West, but he was also an accomplished gunslinger who was greatly feared by the bandits of the time. Earp had a violent career that saw him travel to boomtowns like Wichita, Dodge City and the lawless town of Tombstone to serve as sheriff, and he participated in some of the most legendary gunfights of the 1800s.

Best known for his participation in the controversial “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,“ which took place at Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881. The famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a 30-second gunfight between the semi-outlaw group “The Cowboys“ (Ike and Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury) and lawmen (Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday), that is generally regarded as the most memorable shootout in the history of the American Wild West and the greatest gunslinger moment of all time (the outcome of the shootout: Earp, Virgil, and Morgan wounded; Doc Holliday grazed; Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton killed.). The shootout and the bloody events that followed resulted in Wyatt Earp acquiring the reputation as being one of the Old West’s toughest and deadliest gunmen of his day. All told, Earp participated in numerous gunfights in his life, killing anywhere from 8 to 30. He would become the fearless Western hero in countless novels and films.

7. Dallas Stoudenmire

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Dallas Stoudenmire

Dallas Stoudenmire was a feared lawman and is known for participating in more gunfights than most of his contemporaries. Stoudenmire earned himself repute as a legendary lawman and gunslinger, but he also made himself a lot of enemies. Armed with two guns, he was an accurate shooter with both hands, and he had a reputation for being tough and dangerously shot-tempted when he had a drink or two. After being wounded several times while fighting in the Civil War, Stoudenmire moved to the lawless and violent city of El Paso, Texas, to serve as sheriff. On the third day on the job, he killed three men with his two 44 caliber Colt revolvers in a famous incident known as the “Four Dead In Five Seconds“ gunfight.

Witnesses generally agreed that the incident lasted no more than five seconds after the first gunshot though a few would insist it was at least ten seconds. Marshal D. Stoudenmire was responsible for three of the four fatalities with his “twins.“ Less than a year after these incidents, he would kill as many as six more men in gunfights while in the line of duty, eventually gaining a reputation as one of the most feared lawmen in Texas. In 1882, Stoudenmire was shot to death by a group of outlaws during a verbal confrontation.

8. Billy The Kid

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Billy the Kid

Henry McCarty, a.k.a. William H. Bonney or just “Billy the Kid,” started his life of crime with petty theft and horse thievery, but is said to have first killed a man at the age of eighteen. In 1877, he was deputized during the so-called “Lincoln County War” and rode with lawmen who were seeking to arrest a group of corrupt businessman responsible for the murder of an innocent rancher. Billy’s group, called, “the Regulators,” became known for their wanton violence, and were themselves soon regarded as outlaws.

The group was unfazed by their new classification as bandits and proceeded to go on a killing spree, gunning down three people in the course of just three days, including a sheriff and his deputy. The group was eventually broken up by law enforcement, but the Kid managed to elude capture. He formed a gang and increased his notoriety after shooting down a gambler in a New Mexico saloon. After a number of run-ins with the law, the Kid was again captured and sentenced to death, but he managed to escape after he got a hold of a weapon and gunned down the two men guarding him. After three months on the run, he was killed when Sheriff Pat Garrett and two deputies shot him to death in 1881. All told, Billy the Kid is said to have killed a total of 21 men, one for each of the years of his life, though this number is often regarded as inaccurate and exaggerated.

9. King Fisher

photo credit: wikipedia.org
King Fisher

One the lesser-known but more violent pistoleers of the Old West, gunfighter, and one-time lawman John King Fisher was in and out of prison from the age of sixteen. By the early 1870s, Fisher became known as a bandit when he joined a group of outlaws whose specialty was raiding ranches in Mexico. Though quickly becoming known for his flamboyant style of dress, (always seen wearing brightly colored clothes), and signature twin ivory-handled pistols, it was his propensity for aggression that singled him out.

Among his many exploits, he was known for gunning down three members of his own gang during a dispute over money and then killing seven Mexican bandits a short time later. In his most famous gunfight, Fisher is said to have taken on four Mexican cowboys single-handedly, which after hitting one with a branding iron, outdrew another. Then in his well-documented sadistic style, then shot the other two who were unarmed. In 1884, Fisher was ambushed and killed, along with gunslinger Ben Thompson, by friends of a man Thompson had previously killed in a gunfight.

10. Sam Bass

photo credit: ghostsofdenton.com
Sam Bass

Sam Bass started out an honest man. He had a simple and modest dream of moving to Texas and becoming a cowboy. Eventually he did just that but decided after one season he didn’t like it. While transitioning from simple farmer to famed outlaw might be a stretch for some, Bass did it seamlessly. He began robbing banks and stagecoaches and became rather proficient at it.

After his 7th stagecoach robbery, Bass and his gang turned their sights on bigger prizes and decided to rob trains. They eventually robbed the Union Pacific gold train from San Francisco, netting over $60,000, which is to this day the largest single robbery of the Union Pacific. He was wounded by Texas Rangers on the way to rob a small bank in Round Rock and died two days later on his 27th birthday.

Categories: Arizona, Billy the Kid, California, Civil War, Confederate, Legends, Old West, Texas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SC Lowcountry Civil War Show Grows Under American Digger Banner


SC Lowcountry Civil War Show Grows Under American Digger Banner

 

Slugfest

 

January 7-8, 2017:

The second annual American Digger Lowcountry Civil War & Artifact Show & Sell will be held Jan 7-8, 2017 at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Last year’s show, the first ever under the American Digger banner, was a great success and is expected to be even bigger this year.

With 200+ tables and 150+ vendors, special effort is being made by the promoters to increase public traffic. This translates into even more chances to buy and sell artifacts, or just to admire the finds and displays. It is also the first big show of the year, an appropriate start to the 2017 Civil War circuit. As last year, there will be numerous awards and door prizes for both vendors and the public.

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The show venue, Mt. Pleasant, is just across the bridge from historic Charleston, so fine dining, entertainment, museums, and more are only minutes away. Bring the whole family, there is something for everyone here!

Living historians are also expected, and we hope to have a return this year of Gen. Robert E. Lee (David Chaltas)!

This is the second year that American Digger has sponsored the show, but the actual Lowcountry Civil War Show is in its 26th year. Always a popular event, it previously had been under the leadership of Mike Kent Productions. Due to date conflict with his gun shows, Mike passed the event on to American Digger Magazine in 2015.

sunsout

Expected at this year’s show are (of course) Civil War relics, weapons, and artwork, along with other eras from ancient times up to WWII. Seminars will also be included in the admission price ($10) for those wishing to learn more about metal detecting and collecting.

As of this writing, there are still vendor and display tables available. Call 770-362-8671 or email anita@americandigger.com to reserve yours!

Jan 7-8, 2017

American Digger Lowcountry Civil War & Artifact Show

Omar Shrine Temple

176 Patriots Point Street
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

One day admission: $10/ adults; children under 12 free.

Categories: Andersonville, artifacts, Civil War, Confederate, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kentucky Treasure Legends…


 

uruguayan_treasure_580x360_1Kentucky

McCraken County

1…Coins dated in the late 1800’s have been found on the South Bank of the Ohio River
near West Paducah, they are believed to be washing from the wreck of a steamboat
that sank somewhere upstream.

2…Late in the Civil War, the Cole brothers sold their tobacco crop for $5,000 in Gold
coins which they hid in the fireplace hearth in their cabin, 20 miles from Paducah.
A few weeks later a robber broke into the cabin and killed them both. He then hid the
cache somewhere near the house and fled pursing lawmen.
Around 1900, dying, he told teh story of the gold coins to a close friend who traveled to
Kentucky to recover the treasure. Upon arrival he fouund out the cabin had been tore
down shortly after the brothers murder and he was unable to locate the treasure.

Crittenden County

1…River pirates and outlaws are said to have hidden some of their stolen property and
loot at different places along the river shore and inland in Crittenden County. Using
Cave-in-Rock, in Illinois, they would go across the river to hid their loot.

2…The Harpe brothers buried treasure in Critenden County. The also used Cave-in
Rock as a hideout.

3…Numerous caches are believed to be buried along the old Ford’s Ferry-Highwater Road
the 12 mile long road that connected Potts Hill with the Ford Ferry Terminus on the Illinois side
of the river.

4…A group of counterfeiters hid a cache of Gold near Dycusburg on the Cumberland River
before they were captured. It has never been found

5…A man named Moore in the 1800’s lived near Dycusburg on the Cumberland River and was
killed by two (2) hired hands for the money he had hidden on his property. The hired hands were
imprisoned for life and admitted they never found the money.

Webster County

1…Outlaw Micajah Harpe (Harpe brothers gang) who murdered and robbed from 1795-1804,
buried $300,000 in the area of Harpe’s Head Road near Dixon. It has never been recovered.

Logan County

1…Jesse James and his gang were force to bury $50,000 in gold coins near Russellville in 1868.
The money was taken from the Russellville Bank. It was hidden on the outskirts of town in a cave to the West of the city.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, artifacts, Civil War, Confederate, gold, gold coins, Kentucky, KGC, Legends, Lost gold, Lost Mines, Lost Treasure, Myths, Outlaws, silver, silver coins, treasure, Treasure Legends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The double barreled cannon…


Double Barrel Cannon…

That just sounds awesome. Doesn’t it?

There are double barrel pistols, double barrel rifles, double barrel shotguns… But none of those sound as impressive as the double barrel cannon…

It was forged in the spring of 1862 in Athens, Georgia, according to the design of John Gilleland. He was a private in the Mitchel Thunderbolts, a homeguard unit for men too old for active duty. He was 53. The $350 needed to fund the manufacture of the cannon was raised via a subscription fund.

The cannon itself was roughly 13 inches wide and 4 feet 8 1/2 inches in length. It had two, three-inch barrels with a three degree divergence. It was also equipped with three touch holes. One for each barrel and one that would allow both barrels to be fired simultaneously.

Gilleland’s intention was for the cannon to fire mostly chain shot. Two six pound cannon balls connected by roughly ten feet of chain. The divergence of the bores was to ensure that the shot would extend to the full length of the chain as it sped towards the target.

This weapon was designed to be used against infantry with the intent to mow down swaths of soldiers as wide as the chain would reach…

Testing The Cannon

Mr. Gilleland took his new cannon north of Athens to a field near Newton Bridge for the initial test fire on April 22, 1862. A crowd of people gathered to see the new “secret” weapon in action. And here is where things got interesting…

When Gilleland touched the cannon off the first time, the two barrels did not fire simultaneously which caused the load to take a wild erratic course across the field missing the posts that had been erected as targets but wreaking havoc nonetheless. According to one account “It [took] a kind of circular motion, plowed up about an acre of ground, tore up a cornfield, mowed down saplings, and [then] the chain broke, the two balls going in different directions.”

A second shot was then attempted to try to get both barrels to fire simultaneously. This time the shot flew off into some pine saplings leading an eyewitness to report that, “[The] thicket of young pines at which it was aimed looked as if a narrow cyclone or a giant mowing machine had passed through,”

It is also reported that on another attempt, the chain broke and each ball took its own course. One hit a nearby cabin and destroyed its chimney. While the other veered off and struck an unwary cow killing it instantly.

Double Barrel Cannon

2

While it may seem like a successful test – wholesale destruction and slaughter – it really wasn’t. When the barrels didn’t fire together it was impossible to tell where the shot might go and when they did it was found that the chain always broke.

Nevertheless, Gilleland promptly declared the test an unqualified success. And he was supported by this article in the April 30, 1862 issue of the Athens paper Southern Watchman:

Double-barrelled Cannon. – MR. GILLELAND has invented a double-barrelled cannon for throwing chain shot, which has been tested and found to work satisfactorily. Two shots are confined to the end of a chain and one placed in each barrel of the gun, the bores of which diverge slightly, and cause the balls to separate the full length of the chain – cutting down everything in their path. Of course, the barrels are fired simultaneously.

The cannon was then sent to the Confederate arsenal in Augusta, Georgia, for further testing. The commandant there, Col. George W. Rains, tested the weapon extensively and reported that it was not usable due to unpredictable rates of powder burn and barrel friction which led to unpredictable performance. The cannon was then sent back to Athens.

This outraged Mr. Gilleland and he wrote angry letters to both the governor of Georgia and to the Confederate government in Richmond. All to no avail…

The double barrel cannon would never be adopted by the Confederate army, but that doesn’t mean it never saw battle…

Active Duty!

Upon its return the gun was placed in front of the town hall to be used as a signal gun in case of attack.

There it remained until August 2, 1864, when it was hauled out of town to the hills by Barber Creek to meet the approach of Brig. Gen. George Stoneman and his Union troops.

The double barrel cannon was positioned on a ridge along with several other conventional cannons. Both barrels were loaded with canister shot. The homeguard units were heavily out numbered, but as the Union troops approached the Athens homeguard fired a four shell barrage including the double barrel cannon. Against such stiff resistance the Union troops withdrew.

There were a few more minor skirmishes around Athens but all-in-all the city escaped Sherman’s march to the sea and the double barrel cannon was moved back into town.

After The Civil War

After the American Civil War ended the city of Athens sold the double barreled cannon.

At that point it disappeared until it was found, restored, and returned to the city in the 1890s.

These days it sits in downtown Athens in front of city hall.

It can be viewed free at anytime on the corner of Hancock and College Avenues.

Where it points north…

Just in case!

Categories: 2nd Amendment, artifacts, Civil War, Confederate, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination…


It was 151 years ago tonight the President Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching a play at Ford’s Theater.  Lincoln died the next morning, and in the aftermath, some odd facts seemed to pop up.

Lincolnassassination
Lincoln assassination

Why wasn’t General Ulysses S. Grant in the theater box with Lincoln, as scheduled? Where was the President’s bodyguard? How many people were targeted in the plot? And how did all the assassins escape, at least temporarily?

Many of the questions were eventually answered, but some still linger today. And some people have doubts about one of the alleged plotters and her involvement in Lincoln’s murder.

1. Where was General Grant?

He wanted to be in New Jersey! Grant was advertised to be at the event, according to the New York Times, but he declined the invitation so he could travel with his wife to New Jersey to visit relatives.

2. Lincoln almost didn’t go to Ford’s Theater

In that first report of the assassination from the Times, the newspaper said Lincoln was reluctant to go to the play. However, since General Grant cancelled, he felt obliged to attend, even though his wife didn’t feel well. Lincoln tried to get House Speaker Schuyler Colfax to go with him, but Colfax declined.

“He went with apparent reluctance and urged Mr. Colfax to go with him; but that gentleman had made other engagements,” the Times reported.

3. If Colfax had been in the booth with Lincoln, two persons in line to succeed Lincoln would have been in danger.

Vice President Andrew Johnson was also an assassination target, but his assailant lost his nerve and didn’t attack. Colfax was third in line to succeed Lincoln, after Johnson, and Senate Pro Tempore Lafayette Sabine Foster. Secretary of State William Seward wasn’t in the line of succession in 1865.

4.  Why wasn’t Vice President Johnson attacked?

John Wilkes Booth had convinced George Atzerodt, an acquaintance, to kill Johnson by setting a trap at the Kirkwood House hotel where the vice president lived. However, Atzerodt lost his nerve and didn’t attempt to kill the vice president, even though he had a rented room above Johnson’s and a loaded gun was found in the room.

5. How did Secretary of State Seward survive despite having his throat stabbed two or three times?

Assassin Lewis Powell gained entry to Seward’s home, where the secretary was bed ridden after a carriage accident. Frederick W. Seward, his son, was seriously injured defending his father during Powell’s assassination attempt.  The secretary was wounded, but the metal surgical collar he was wearing protected him.

6. Where was Lincoln’s bodyguard?

The Smithsonian Magazine did a story on this a few years ago. John Parker, the bodyguard, initially left his position to watch the play, and then he went to the saloon next door for intermission. It was the same saloon where Booth was drinking. No one knows where Parker was during the assassination, but he wasn’t at his position at the door to the booth.

7. Where was the Secret Service?

It didn’t exist yet, but Lincoln signed the bill creating it that night before he left for Ford’s Theater.

8. How did Booth stay in hiding for so long?

Booth was able to escape Ford’s Theater alive and he was on the run for 12 days, accompanied by another conspirator, David Herold. The pair went to the Surratt Tavern in Maryland, gathered supplies, went to see Dr. Mudd to have Booth’s broken leg set, and then headed through forest lands and swamps to Virginia. They were also aided by a former Confederate spy operative and by other Confederate sympathizers. Military forces were hot on their trail, and they found a person who directed them to a Virginia farm. At the Garrett Farm, Booth was fatally wounded and Herold surrendered.

9. The original plan was to kidnap Lincoln and not kill him

Booth met with his conspirators in March 1865 and came up with a plan to kidnap Lincoln as he returned from a play at the Campbell Hospital on March 17.  But Lincoln changed his plans at the last minute and went to a military ceremony.  Booth then thought about kidnapping Lincoln after he left an event at Ford’s Theater. But the actor changed his mind after Lee’s surrender.

10.  Was Mary Surratt part of the conspiracy?

That’s a topic still being debated today. Surratt was a Southern sympathizer who had owned land with her late husband in Maryland. She also owned a home in Washington that was also used as a boarding house and she was friends with Booth. She also rented a tavern she owned in Maryland to an innkeeper.

Surratt was with Booth on the day of the assassination, and she allegedly had told the innkeeper to get a pair of guns ready that night for visitors. The innkeeper’s testimony doomed Surratt to the gallows. What was controversial was the decision to hang Surratt – which was personally approved by Andrew Johnson.

Categories: Civil War, Confederate, Execution, KGC, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Gambler’s Fifth Ace….


The small 1849 Colt Pocket “five shooter” put famed gunmaker Sam Colt in business for keeps.

 

5th_ace“You gonna pull those pistols or whistle ‘Dixie?’”

Clint Eastwood’s gunslinger famously brushed off a group of Union soldiers with those sneering words—just before he shot all four of them dead. The line was more than a bit reminiscent of the oft-misquoted line Eastwood said in the 1971 movie that catapulted him to fame: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?,” his Dirty Harry character asked the bad guy at the mercy of his Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum.

When Eastwood’s character ruthlessly killed those soldiers in 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales, he chose as his weapons of death the 1847 Colt Walkers from his belt holsters. It’s not surprising that Hollywood would have him draw Colt’s first six-shooter, as much of the credit for taming the Wild West is usually assigned to six-shooters and big-bore rifles. But had he met those soldiers at a poker table, Josey might have reached into his vest pocket for the little five-shot pocket revolver that played its own part in the saga of the American frontier.

That hideout revolver, the 1849 Pocket Colt, was the most produced of all Colt percussion arms. It also became the best selling handgun in the world during the entire 19th century.

Colt’s First Pocket Revolver

During the 1840s, people had a myriad of single shot pistols to choose from for personal portable protection. These guns varied from huge and cumbersome large-bored horse pistols to miniscule, largely ineffective “coat pocket” handguns. As insurance against malfunctions, some of these pistols were actually designed with auxiliary weapons such as affixed knives or heavy club-like handles.

One of the few repeating pistols offered at the time, the multi-barrelled “pepperbox,” was a popular, but somewhat unreliable gun. Named for condiment canisters, a host of these single-action and double-action pepperbox pistols were produced by manufacturers including Allen & Thurber, Blunt & Syms and the English firm Manton. While some considered the pepperbox pistol one of the best pistols of its time, others saw it as unreliable, inaccurate and sometimes downright dangerous for its possessor. In his classic work Roughing It, Mark Twain claimed that the safest place to be when such a contraption fired was in front of it. A justice of the peace in Mariposa, California, agreed with Twain and actually ruled in an 1852 assault case that an Allen’s pepperbox could not be considered a dangerous weapon.

Lacking a truly reliable pocket-sized revolver, the public clamored for a quality, accurate weapon. Sam Colt, an astute businessman, knew he could fulfill the need. He carefully studied his big and heavy Dragoon revolver and determined that certain features deemed necessary in a large belt revolver could be removed from a smaller pocket-type pistol. In crafting his first pocket revolver, Col. Colt eliminated an estimated 85 of the roughly 480 separate operations required to produce his firm’s belt pistol, the .44 caliber Dragoon, reports P.L. Shumaker in Colt’s Variations of the Old Model Pocket Pistol, 1848 to 1872.

Colt’s first pocket revolver began production around 1847, after the collapse of his Patent Arms Manufacturing Company in Paterson, New Jersey. Now called the “Baby Dragoon,” this 1848 revolver was the predecessor to the 1849 Pocket Model. About 15,000 Baby Dragoons were the first pocket pistols produced by Colt’s facility in Hartford, Connecticut.

Colt offered these .31 caliber pocket pistols as an inexpensive repeating firearm designed to compare more favorably to the single-shot handguns then available. To cut costs, Colt replaced the traditional six-shot cylinder with a five loader. The Baby Dragoon also included a recoil shield but no safety cutout to catch a percussion cap. If a cap failed to ignite its chamber’s main charge, the pistol had to be dismantled to replace that faulty cap.

The model also lacked a rammer assembly underneath the barrel, which made loading a Baby Dragoon a cumbersome process. The shooter had to load ammunition by knocking out the barrel wedge and removing the barrel and cylinder. The shooter then charged the chambers of the cylinder with powder before utilizing the cylinder pin to force a lead projectile into each chamber. Next he fitted percussion caps over the nipples, replaced the cylinder and barrel assembly, and securely fastened the barrel wedge. Lastly, he rotated the cylinder so that the hammer rested over a single cylinder “safety” pin located between two of the chambers on the rear facing of the cylinder.

In spite of these drawbacks, Colt’s new pocket revolver still outperformed other available single-firing and multi-shot handguns in design, quality and function. The public’s approval was overwhelming, and the new little “revolving pistol” was a success from the very start.

Pocket Colt Shoots Out Competition

Public opinion spurred Colt to implement additional changes to the Pocket Colt (the first few had an estimated 150 run). Colonel Colt added a rammer assembly for easier loading and a cutout in the recoil shield so that capping could be accomplished without taking the pistol apart. Other improvements included affixing a roller bearing at the base of the hammer, placing tiny “safety” pins between each chamber, as opposed to just a single pin, and replacing rounded stops cutting into the cylinder with rectangular stops. Colt also lengthened the frame and barrel design, and modified the trigger and guard. The most notable cosmetic change made to the gun was engraving a “stagecoach holdup” scene by rolling it onto the cylinder. (Some early models, however, featured the “Ranger and Indian” fight scene as found on the Dragoon and Baby Dragoon models.) These features constitute what has become known as the standard 1849 Colt Pocket Model pistol.

Produced in a wide variety of configurations and barrel lengths, the 1849 Pocket Model Colt became one of the most famous handguns of its time. It outsold all of the company’s other models as well as those manufactured by competitors. City dwellers in the East mainly purchased the five shooters for travel “insurance” and home protection. But many of these Pocket Colts also went west for California’s Gold Rush.

Initially promoted in California in March 1851, as the “New Pattern…with patent lever,” Colt’s improved ’49er quickly became a favorite with miners, express agents and other argonauts who needed a small pocket revolver. On San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, gamblers sometimes referred to such hideout guns as a “fifth ace.” The demand in the Golden State proved so great that Colt’s factory in Hartford was unable to keep up with the orders. The large belt model Colt, which sold for around $16-$18 each in the East, was selling for as much as $250-$500 apiece in the West. Even the less expensive .31 caliber model commanded prices around $100 on the West Coast. The gun proved to be a favorable alternative for folks who found the heavy Dragoon a bit inconvenient.

Many ’49 Colts made their way overseas. Thanks mostly to Colt’s British agency, the pistol reached ports in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, India and Australia. The demand “down under” was particularly strong due to the Australian Gold Rush of 1853-54. During the American Civil War, soldiers on both sides purchased the pistols with their own funds. They carried the 1849 Pocket models for close combat situations. For decades during the mid-19th century, adventurers worldwide praised these little Colts in the highest terms.

The ’49er was so well-regarded that many expressed their admiration for it by embellishing the Pocket Colt with custom stocks, special finishes, engravings and special gun sights. More non-standard Pocket ’49ers exist than any other model in the world, writes Robert M. Jordan and Darrow M. Watt in Colt’s Pocket ’49, Its Evolution, Including The Baby Dragoon & Wells Fargo. Jordan’s research shows at least 26,000 of the 1849 Pocket models were factory engraved and that more Pocket ’49ers are found in presentation cases than any other gun in the world.

The 1849 Pocket Model Colt may have outshot the competition, but it actually didn’t deliver much of a punch. Fortunately, it didn’t need to. The sidearm was perfect as leverage against a touchy situation. A misdealt card, a mining claim dispute, a defense of a lady’s honor or perhaps
an expedited bank withdrawal might all be eased along through the use of a ’49er. The simple brandishing of the firearm could even elicit the desired reaction.

If fired, the Pocket Colt’s efficacy varied at the whim of several factors not necessarily tied to its load. A .31 caliber round ball, or pointed (conical) bullet, weighs in at around 45 grains of pure, soft lead. With a standard charge of about 15 grains of FFFg (3Fg) blackpowder, this loading is capable of traveling at around 590 feet per second (fps) and hitting with a bit under 35 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. In comparison, a little modern .32 Smith & Wesson, when fired from a short-barreled revolver, develops approximately 680 fps and delivers almost 90 foot-pounds of muzzle thump.

By our current standards, the ’49 Pocket Colt is hardly impressive, but in its time, it could do damage. At close range, the length of a card table for instance, the gun could be dangerous. The soft lead of its bullets had the capacity to frustrate the period medical establishment.

Colt made the 1849 Pocket Model in barrel lengths of three, four, five and six inches. The four-inch and five-inch tubes were the most popular, and the six-inch barreled version appears to be the scarcest model produced. Unloaded, a ’49er weighs from 24 to 27 ounces, depending on barrel length. Sold with a blued barrel and cylinder, the frame and loading lever were color case hardened. Grip straps were generally silver plated over brass, although some were made with blued- or silver-plated iron. Factory standard stocks were of the one-piece varnished, straight-grained walnut variety—typical of commercially-produced period Colts. Custom stocks of select burl walnut, ivory and other materials were offered. On an 1849 model, you’ll likely find one of a variety of barrel roll stampings noting the addresses and places of manufacturing.

Although one of the Pocket Model’s improvements was the incorporation of a loading lever assembly, Colt produced a small number of ’49 models without these additions. Modern gun aficionados nicknamed these three-inch rammerless ’49ers the “Wells Fargo,” yet no evidence supports the claim that the famed express firm ever officially adopted this weapon as a sidearm for its drivers, guards and various agents. Wells Fargo employees certainly did carry ’49 Pocket Colts,
both with and without rammers. Many of these were privately purchased, along with other sidearms.

In any event, the rammerless Colt ’49 never sold well. Sometime around 1860, Colt attempted to sell the remaining inventory of his pocket pistols without rammers by fitting these three-inch barreled revolvers with loading assemblies. These were made by crudely modifying loading levers from the standard four-inch barreled pistols. In spite of this modification, the guns still met with public disapproval as the altered rammer lever made it difficult to apply the proper pressure to the rammer itself. Colt manufactured relatively few of these guns, probably around 100. As such, these factory-modified Colts are extremely desirable pieces with today’s collectors.

During its 23 years of production, Colt’s Hartford facility manufactured about 320,000 Colt Pocket Models, while another 11,000 were produced at the plant in London, England. Production of this handgun finally halted in 1873, when Colt began producing self-contained metallic cartridge revolvers. Despite the transition from cap-and-ball to metallic cartridge arms, Colt’s factory records reveal that percussion model ’49ers were still being shipped as late as 1889. This was especially ironic because the 1849 Pocket Model was one of the caplock revolvers that the Colt factory converted during its first stages of producing metallic cartridge handguns as early as 1869. A Colt employee, E. Alexander Thuer, designed a conversion system that allowed specially designed cartridges to be front-loaded. This little revision legally skirted around the Smith & Wesson-held Rollin-White patent for a drilled-through chamber in the revolver’s cylinder.

A Collector’s Dream

Inevitably, newer and stronger designs in pocket handguns and ammunition pushed the ’49 Pocket Colt to the wayside in favor of more modern arms. Today, the ’49 Pocket Model is considered quite collectible, commanding premium prices among discerning arms collectors. Greg Martin Auctions in San Francisco, California, set a record for the highest price paid at auction for a firearm when it sold a cased, gold-inlaid 1849 Pocket Colt engraved by Gustave Young for a $720,000 bid in 2003.

With the original garnering such a commanding price, it’s not surprising that variations of the 1849 Pocket Colts are still manufactured by Italy’s A. Uberti and Company, the world’s largest replica house, and sold by Cimarron Fire Arms, Uberti (Benelli USA), Taylor’s & Company, E.M.F. Company and Dixie Gun Works. The firms offer the standard four-inch barreled 1849 Model, the so-called “Wells Fargo” model (sans rammer assembly) and the rammerless Model 1848 “Baby Dragoon.” The Pocket models can be purchased from either company in a variety of standard finishes that include dark blue, charcoal blue and the so-called “original” antique patina.

Shooting one of these replica 1849 Pocket Model Colts is a true joy. The attached rammer assembly on Cimarron Fire Arms’ replica of the four-inch barreled version makes loading easy and firing the gun delightful. Unlike the big belt model cap-and-ball six-guns of the age, you won’t hear a booming report or see as much white smoke with each shot. Discharging this little spitfire is rather reminiscent of a small vocal dog. The diminutive wheel gun barks sharply, spitting out a .31 caliber ball with the gusto of a feisty little critter. At close range, say within 25 feet, the accuracy is gratifying. At card table distances, the ’49er is deadly, putting its lead pills right where they are aimed.

After handling and firing this pocket revolver, one can easily see why it commanded such respect among the people of the Victorian era. For its time, the 1849 Colt Pocket Model was a modern and practical pocket gun. And no bluecoat whistling “Dixie” in your face would have stood a chance against it.

Categories: Civil War, Confederate, KGC, Legends, Old West, Outlaws, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eye Witness To Lincoln’s Assassination Tells Of Booth’s Escape (Voice Recording)….


Joseph H. Hazleton was an errand boy at Ford’s Theater who knew John Wilkes Booth. He witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He also had some controversial opinions about the fate of Booth. He make some factual errors in his report. the story of Booths escape naturally are third hand but all that being said, the value of this video is hearing the voice of an eye witness to the assassination.

New collection of photos also….

 

Categories: Civil War, Confederate, Execution, Government Secrets, KGC, Legends, Myths, Old West, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Eichmann of the Confederate South?…..


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One hundred fifty years ago, Union troops executed prison-camp commander Henry Wirz, the only Confederate officer to be hanged after the war—but his conflicted legacy lives on.
At 10:32 AM on November 10, 1865, a federal executioner released a trap door, killing Henry Wirz, the notorious commander of the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Some claim that, moments earlier, Captain Wirz said, “I know what orders are, Major. I am being hanged for obeying them.”

As his body convulsed, then stiffened, hanging for 14 minutes, Union veterans and former prisoners shouted “HANG HIM!” and “REMEMBER ANDERSONVILLE.” The pro-Yankee New York Times noted respectfully that Wirz—after a “liberal” shot of whisky—faced death calmly, bravely. The Times correspondent catalogued Wirz’s remaining “earthly effects,” including some clothing, a Bible, and his cat. Then, the reporter proclaimed: “This is all there is left of him.”

Not quite. Henry Wirz—the only Confederate officer hanged after the war—left a complicated legacy that still polarizes 150 years later. To Northerners who accept the moral cleansing of certain Confederates—allowing General Robert E. Lee to be termed a patriot dutifully defending his beloved Virginia—Wirz is the exception. They consider the Swiss immigrant-turned-prison master to be America’s Eichmann, a brutal bureaucrat who oversaw a camp that oppressed 45,000 men.
Meanwhile, to some white Southerners, ashamed of slavery yet proud of their ancestors, Wirz is a Sacco or Vanzetti, a scapegoat unfairly executed in “a judicial killing.” Most likely, Wirz is a 19th-century Julius Rosenberg, the atomic spy—guilty of serious crimes but unfairly singled out for execution.

Visitors to Andersonville, Georgia, today can experience Wirz’s unresolved history. They wander in hushed silence, imagining the stench of rotting corpses, of human excrement, of malnourished, unwashed men, living on top of each other in a camp built for ten thousand, not three times that many, with a mortality rate of 29 percent. They learn about the creek running through the camp, spreading sickness, and about the makeshift “shebangs,” crude lean-tos made of discarded blankets and wood scraps, barely sheltering against the hot summer sun or cold winter nights. They hear about cruel guards, themselves starving and terrified of disease, egged on by a harsh commander overseeing this human hell, who first learned how to control others by overseeing a plantation. They see endless rows of tombstones, honoring 13,000 Andersonville inmates buried in what has become America’s national monument to all prisoners of war, now including an additional 7,000 graves of veterans from other wars. They can understand the Civil War poet Walt Whitman’s verdict on what the Confederacy called Camp Sumter: “There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven, but this is not among them.”

Yet, just a short walk away, in the town of Andersonville, stands a monument the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected in 1909, “to rescue” Captain Henry Wirz’s “name from the stigma attached to it by embittered prejudice.” Words etched into the obelisk’s base articulate the Wirz defense: “Discharging his duty with such humanity as the harsh circumstances of the times, and the policy of the foe permitted Capt. Wirz became at last the victim of a misdirected popular clamor.”

A tourist website,ExploreSouthernHistory.com, praises this monument’s “indictment in stone” for condemning the “the blood lust that gripped the North in the years after the War Between the States” and charges, outrageously, “That much of the responsibility for what happened at Andersonville really fell on the shoulders of the leaders of the Union war effort, President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant.” The Journal of the Kentucky Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, snarls: “So it was that Wirz, poor and foreign-born, was sacrificed to satisfy the Northern thirst for revenge.”

Confederate apologists blame Lincoln and Grant for insisting that black prisoners be exchanged “the same as white soldiers.” Robert E. Lee said, “negroes belonging to our citizens are not considered subjects of exchange.” The impasse caused the surge of prisoners in 1864 that necessitated the building of Camp Sumter.

Meanwhile, Wirz remains an ambiguous figure. He sought more supplies to improve conditions, informing his superiors: “With the means at my disposal it is utterly impossible to take proper care of the prisoners.” But as a brutal disciplinarian, he shackled defiant prisoners to a ball and chain, and sicced hungry dogs on escapees.  Witnesses at his trial accused him of at least 13 acts of murder. Yet much of the testimony was exaggerated, set up to confirm Secretary of War Edwin Stanton’s hysterical wartime charge that “there appears to have been a deliberate system of savage and barbarous treatment.”

In his majestic history, Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson writes: “Few if any historians would now contend that the Confederacy deliberately mistreated prisoners.” Comparing Northern and Southern prison mortality rates overall, McPherson sadly concludes that “the treatment of prisoners during the Civil War was something that neither side could be proud of.”

Wirz probably abused some prisoners but was also demonized by prisoners during the war and a lynch mob atmosphere afterwards. In her powerful reassessment of Eichmann, the German philosopher Bettina Stangneth argues that even though the monstrous Nazi was no “faceless bureaucrat,” many victims nevertheless exaggerated his power—swearing they saw him in places he never appeared. She explains: “People who have experienced suffering, humiliation, and loss do not want to have been the victims of someone mediocre: that a mere nobody has power over us is even more unbearable than the idea that someone has power over us.”

Despite its flaws, the Wirz case helped set the precedent of holding officers responsible for treating prisoners of war humanely, an issue intensified during World War II but one still unresolved during the Iraq War. The fact that Wirz was the only Confederate officer executed postwar demonstrates Northern exhaustion with the fight, rather than the “bloodlust” Confederate boosters perceive.

Categories: Andersonville, Civil War, Confederate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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