Civil War

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

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

photo credit: truewestmagazine.com
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

photo credit: biography.com
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.

photo credit: jeffarnoldblog.blogspot
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

photo credit: ilikr.net
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

photo credit: legendsofamerica.com
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.

daww

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

The Search for Lost Confederate Gold….. By Hans Kuenzi The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved


In late May 1861, Jefferson Davis, the former Mississippi Senator and the reluctant president of the seceding Confederate States of America, moved the capital of the CSA from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia to boost the morale of the Confederate troops and weld Virginia to the Confederacy. Had he known that in April of 1865 he, his cabinet and about $700,000 in gold and specie would have to evacuate Richmond to avoid capture during the waning days of the Civil War, he might have elected to remain in Montgomery.  (Note: ‘specie’ describes money in the form of coins, usually gold or silver, as opposed to paper money. Also called hard currency. Since the gold standard was abolished in the 1930s, gold coins, aside from their higher intrinsic value and demand as collectibles, no longer have any special worth as a standard of value in world trade. Dictionary of Banking Terms.)

Davis was attending church services on Sunday, April 2, 1865 when he learned that Lee’s defensive line at Petersburg had been broken and the evacuation of Richmond was imminent. President Davis pleaded with Lee to form defense lines for just one more day and informed his cabinet that Richmond was to be evacuated and that they would take the Confederate treasury with them. General Lee advised Davis that he had until 8 p.m. to load the gold, valuables and cabinet members onto two trains which would travel southward on the only line still open between Richmond and Danville, Virginia. All the Confederate officials would board the first train, while the second train would hold “special cargo”. Navy Captain William H. Parker was placed in charge of the second train and, knowing that the special cargo was comprised of gold ingots, gold double eagle coins, silver coins, silver bricks and Mexican silver dollars, he gathered the only available personnel to provide a military guard. This guard consisted of mostly young navy midshipmen from a training ship on the James River and some of them were only twelve years old.

The two trains left Richmond at midnight and when the tracks ended at Danville, Davis and his staff began to travel south on horseback. Captain Parker and the treasure, now moved to wagons, were directed to the old U.S. Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina, which was considered the safest storage place. Unfortunately, Parker found the U.S. cavalry already in the immediate area and made alternate arrangements. The treasure was placed into all kinds of containers that had once been used for sugar, coffee, flour and ammunition. Moving to the southwest, Parker and the wagons zigzagged across the South Carolina-Georgia state line several times to evade capture.  Eventually the responsibility for the treasure was passed on to the Secretary of War, John C. Breckenridge, who then placed Brig. General Basil Duke in charge. With slightly less than a thousand men in his command, Duke transferred all the treasure into six wagons and began his journey south with eight of his veterans on each wagon as guards and the rest of his command, along with the midshipmen, as escorts. In Washington, Georgia, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet met for the final time, where Davis signed his last official order, making Micajah Clark the acting Treasurer of the Confederacy.

The Chennault Plantation in Washington, GA where the Confederate gold reportedly disappeared


It was in Washington that the bulk of the treasure was captured along with Jefferson Davis and his staff. Some of the treasure had been retained by Brig. General Duke and his men as each man under his command received as payment the sum of $26.25, which amounted to a total of about $26,250. The balance of the captured treasure was assembled and loaded into wagons for transport to Washington, D.C. However, somewhere in Wilkes County, Georgia, the wagon train was bushwhacked. The bushwhackers were stragglers from both the Federal and Confederate armies who had heard of the treasure and the “handouts” being given to soldiers. Residents of Wilkes County who witnessed the event said that the bushwhackers waded knee-deep in gold and silver coinage before loading it in all kinds of bags and sacks and riding away. It was said that many riders were so overloaded that they later discarded or hid large quantities of the coins all over Wilkes County.

The belief that Confederate gold is buried in Wilkes County has persisted since the end of the war. However, despite searches conducted throughout the years, nothing of value has ever been found there. This rumor of buried treasure in Wilkes County nevertheless spawned a legend involving a family of local repute, the Mumfords, and the location of the lost Confederate gold.

This legend was first advanced by Martha Mizell Puckett, a former school teacher and Brantley County native, who spun her tale of Confederate gold in her book, Snow White Sands. Her book alleged that New York native and Confederate sympathizer Sylvester Mumford was present at the Confederacy’s final cabinet meeting in Washington, Georgia, and claimed that Jefferson Davis divided the gold among those present and instructed them to use the money as they felt best. Another account maintains Jefferson Davis entrusted the entire Confederate treasury into the care of Sylvester Mumford. A very prosperous merchant before the war, Mumford had established a cotton plantation near Waynesville. However, his business fortunes suffered great losses throughout the course of the war.

It was said that, after taking possession of the gold, Mumford transported some of the Confederate treasury southeast to North Florida and the Atlantic coast, where he boarded a British steamer bound for England. Puckett was rather vague about what Mumford did with the gold he allegedly transported to England, except to claim that he ordered enough seed corn from South America, by way of Great Britain, to replant the whole State of Georgia. The rest of the gold found its way into the hands of his daughter, Goertner “Gertrude” Mumford Parkhurst, in New York, where she lived and invested it well. Puckett claimed that when “Miss Gertrude” decided that the remainder of the Confederate gold should be returned to the people to whom it belonged, her personal lawyer, Judge J.P. Highsmith, suggested that an educational trust be established for the descendants of the Confederate soldiers.

As heir to the Mumford estate, “Miss Gertrude” allegedly made provisions to return the balance of the Confederate treasure to Southern hands after her death. In fact, when she died in 1946 at age 99 in Washington, D.C., she bequeathed almost $600,000 to the children of Brantley County through an endowment and two scholarship funds.

The Thornwell Home and School for Children as it stands today in Clinton, SC


Initially, with one-third of her estate, the will established the Sylvester Mumford Memorial Endowment at the Thornwell Orphanage in Clinton, South Carolina, which was founded in 1875 and is now known as the Thornwell Home and School for Children. The remainder of her estate was divided between two scholarship funds. The first was given to the Presbyterian Church, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, in trust “for the maintenance and education of white orphan girls of Brantley County”. By 1960, this scholarship fund was creating more income from its principal investment than there were recipients for the scholarships. The church petitioned the court to expand the scope of the scholarships by including residents of counties which immediately surrounded Brantley and by defining an orphan as a child who had lost at least one parent. Due to the moral and legal concerns about restricting the fund to white orphan girls, the church then petitioned the court to open the scholarship to all ethnic groups. In 2002, the church awarded $32,000 to qualified women from Southeast Georgia, and in October 2003 there were fifteen women attending colleges or technical schools who were funded by the scholarship program.

A second scholarship, known as the Sylvester Mumford Memorial Fund, was to be awarded to students from Brantley County who attend Georgia College, then known as Georgia State College for Women. In recent years, the number of students receiving tuition assistance has fluctuated between ten and twelve.

Given this claim that the source of these scholarships was in fact a portion of the lost Confederate treasury, researchers throughout the years sought to confirm the veracity of the Mumford legend. However, their work created great doubt that any lost Confederate gold ever existed in the first place. Of particular note, Wayne J. Lewis researched the connection between the Confederate gold and the Mumford estate due to his personal interest in the legend. In April 1953, he and his three brothers were the first children from Brantley County to derive benefit from the Mumford funds at the Thornwell Orphanage in Clinton, South Carolina, after their father died from a heart attack in 1951 at age 47. Lewis graduated from Thornwell High School in 1958 and then from Clemson University in 1962 before serving on active duty in Germany and Vietnam with the U.S. Army. He resigned his commission as a captain after almost six years and he retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2000 and still has family and friends in Brantley County.

Appreciative of the home the Mumfords provided and his opportunity for a college education, he set out to discover the facts behind the Confederate gold. He researched the archives of the Thornwell Orphanage and found no reference to the Confederacy or gold in any of the handwritten letters from Mrs. Parkhurst. He also interviewed local historians and librarians in Washington, Georgia, none of whom had heard of the gold’s connection to Brantley County. Moreover, he was unable to find any mention of the name Mumford in any record of the period.

After exhaustive research, Lewis concluded that gold from the Richmond banks and the Confederate treasury had in fact been evacuated from Richmond and shipped south to prevent it from falling into the hands of Union forces. However, although the banks and the Confederacy had shipped their gold on the same train, each had its own security forces and the gold was never commingled. Although Jefferson Davis’s family was on the train with the gold shipments, Lewis wrote that Jefferson Davis was not. The treasurer of the Confederacy was on board and made numerous and well-documented disbursements along the way to meet military payrolls.

Arriving in Washington, Georgia, Lewis reported that the Confederate treasury had dwindled down to about $43,000 in cash. The funds were then stored there in a vault at a local bank, and within days after the war ended, the Richmond banks had their funds returned to Richmond on five wagons. However, this wagon train was robbed on the first night that it stopped to make camp, and the robbers improvised ways to carry the loot: stuffed in their shirts, pants, boots and whatever else would hold their plunder. Unfortunately for them, their booty leaked and made it easy for a posse to follow. All but about $70,000 was recovered and transferred to Augusta, Georgia, where ownership of the funds was tied up in court until 1893. The courts eventually agreed with the federal government, who claimed the funds because the Richmond banks had aided a rebellion by making loans to the Confederacy.

Lewis concluded that the Brantley County Confederate gold legend was probably fabricated from a combination of the legend told in Snow White Sands and the actual gold shipments after the war. Indeed, no one who was an eyewitness to the events ever documented that the gold was actually lost. Martha Mizell Puckett, the author of Snow White Sands, had failed to include footnotes, references or even a simple bibliography to support the presence of gold in Brantley County.

In conclusion, historical research has determined only $70,000 of the gold belonging to the banks in Richmond is missing, but not lost, as it was accounted for in the robbery during its shipment back to Richmond. What remained of the Confederate treasury, in the form of gold and other valuable coins, was disbursed as payroll to Confederate troops during its transport south. By the end of the war, nothing remained in the coffers of the Confederate treasury except for its incalculable amount of debt.

Categories: Ancient Treasure, Civil War | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in the Civil War…..


This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, March 8: Renewed fighting in North Carolina.

Fighting flared anew in North Carolina as Union forces sought to move inland from Wilmington, captured weeks earlier when the federal forces closed down the last major Atlantic seaport for the Confederacy. A Union force advancing under the command of Maj. Gen. John Schofield was halted by two Confederate divisions near Kinston, North Carolina, on March 7, 1865. The following day a Confederate attempt at an assault on the Union flanks began fiercely, but then broke down. By March 9, 1865, Union forces were able to repel further Confederate attacks and force the Southern divisions to retreat over days of hard fighting. Kinston, North Carolina, would fall later that week to the Union, 150 years ago in the Civil War.

Categories: Civil War | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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