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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  1911 & Wild Bunch Shooting (Moderators: Jefro, August)  |  Topic: Use of pistols by the Punitive Expedition 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Use of pistols by the Punitive Expedition  (Read 15511 times)
Jubal Starbuck
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« on: November 16, 2012, 02:20:50 pm »


     I was talking with an older friend and neighbor of mine a couple of days ago and he told me he had had an uncle in the cavalry during Pershing's Punitive Expedition into Mexico.  When asked about weapons his uncle told him they carried their Springfield 1903's slung on their backs and hoped they didn't fall from their mounts. No scabbards were provided.  He said they each had two 1911's, one holstered on the right and one on the left, butt forward.  Two right handed holsters were issued. The magazines they had were equipped with lanyard rings in the bottom
and extra magazines were carried on a thong or strap hung around their necks that were equipped with snaps for them.  He said when they rode into Mexican towns at a charge, they had a 1911 in each hand and the reins in their teeth.  He said most officers carried New Service revolvers, and that he liked revolvers better, but had no say in the matter, as he was enlisted. 
      I thought this was quite interesting so I thought I would share it with you.

    Regards,

    Jubal Starbuck
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litl rooster
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2012, 08:36:13 am »

Too bad John Wayne not around to play the part. It's a good story
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 09:50:55 pm »

I own quite a number of original images of the Mexican Punitive Expedition - a large number of them being that of Cavalry in the field - mounted and dismounted.

Never once have I seen two M1911s being carried, and the M1903's were carried either in a saddle scabbard (most common) or via a 'ring and bucket' arrangement (uncommon).

Age brings out the most interesting stories - I especially like the 'reins in the teeth' part.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!

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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2012, 10:13:40 pm »

I can't imagine a newly introduced weapon being so common that there were more than one per person! 
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 08:51:54 am »

I own quite a number of original images of the Mexican Punitive Expedition - a large number of them being that of Cavalry in the field - mounted and dismounted.

Never once have I seen two M1911s being carried, and the M1903's were carried either in a saddle scabbard (most common) or via a 'ring and bucket' arrangement (uncommon).

Age brings out the most interesting stories - I especially like the 'reins in the teeth' part.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!


   

You say things so elegantly.  Anyone who has done any type of work from a horse would know better. Even Jimbo told the directors of True Grit so. He still did the stunt.
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 10:28:16 am »

The whole 'reins in the teeth' trick could be pulled off by a man who was 'one with the horse' and instinctively rode.

The Cavalryman of the era wasn't that man - nor was he as well-trained as one might've thought - having come largely from the cities and encountering horses for the first time.

The 'Cavalry Drill Regulations' spell out the various saber maneuvers - and they did get pretty proficient with those, since they competed constantly in Garrison - and they did fire the handgun while mounted for the same reason - however very few were seasoned campaigners as they were during the Civil War.

Those were some damned forgiving horses...

As to the movies - if they ever filmed 'real life' of that time - folks wouldn't've stayed for the second reel - no matter how 'air-conditioned' the theater may've been in the summers.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!

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TwoWalks Baldridge
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 02:16:30 pm »


As to the movies - if they ever filmed 'real life' of that time - folks wouldn't've stayed for the second reel - no matter how 'air-conditioned' the theater may've been in the summers.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!



The thought that popped into my mind when I read this:

MGM presents the 4 hour epic thriller "Watch the Corn Grow".
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 05:59:30 pm »

it must star Costner if it's 4 hours long
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 02:52:56 pm »

The only reins-in-the-teeth riders I ever heard of being affirmed were one-armed cavalrymen like Phil Kearny, who charged in this fashion with his sabre in his single hand. This was not a battlefield improvisation but a necessity they must have practiced often. Of course, it really looks great in movies. Toshiro Mifune did this in "The Hidden Fortress" with his sword in both hands, Samurai-style, and Sean Connery repeated the scene with a two-handed scimitar in "The wind and the Lion."
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 01:12:49 am »

Now there is much I doubt about the original tale.  Like others, I have looked at a lot of photos from the punitive expedition and never seen anyone with two 1911s.  They were expensive and the Army didn't give anyone anything more than what they thought they should have.

But, as a Civil War cavalry reenactor with the 9th VA in northern California, I once put the reins between my teeth, pulled two Colt armys, galloped across a plowed field, jumped a short split rail fence and shot up the 7th Michigan's colors.  When I got back to, my lines, the top kick said "that was great, don't ever do it again!"  All you need is a well trained horse and long enough reins, its not much of trick really.  The reins in the teeth don't actually do anything, you might as well tie them together and hang them over the forks or horn.  You control the horse with your legs, you just don't want the reins to slip up his neck and fall off, or worse, have the horse step on them.
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« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2012, 12:24:09 am »

I don't know, I would think and believe that a report from an active participate of the actual expedition told to his nephew outweighs reports of those that look at a few pictures, who were never there, then declare how it all went down! Not to say those who study past military weapons, equipment, procedures, etc are in the dark, but------!!!!! Just my thoughts!
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« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2012, 01:34:34 am »

And it's been my experience that those old boys could tell a helluva tale - regardless of anything resembling facts.

The photographic record and the records of Regular Army Cavalry during the Punitive Expedition don't suggest anything close to the related story told to a wide-eyed young nephew...

Scouts Out!

 
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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2012, 08:58:30 am »

Some great stories here.
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« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2012, 11:48:40 am »

"When myth and the facts don't jive, go with the myth", or words to that effect.
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« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2012, 05:33:23 pm »

I suppose that is the reason we don't give "I saw it happen once in a movie..." a lot of credibility as a reference source.  Grin

I agree, I've never seen any pictures of the period with a combatant carrying anything but one 1911. However cameras were not overly prevalent at the time. Therefore I think that pictures were kinda official (staged) and nearly by appointment. Just maybe they don't tell the complete story either.

I do believe that the photographic record lends support to the fact that officers may have shunned the 1911 for revolvers. Then there is pattons aversion to Brownings masterpiece, that stems from that time period...
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 07:15:07 pm »

The storey i have read said Patton a young Lt. at the time was a procurement officer. He bought or swindel supplies in the name of the Government. Supposely carried a SAA, and had used it in pursuit of the enemy, on one such such foraging missions.
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2012, 07:33:26 pm »

As a young Cavalry officer, Patton served on Pershing's staff as the General's Aide de Camp - he had nothing to do with swindling anyone, at any time.

After being issued and using the M1911, he worked the sear engagement down to an unsafe poundage - causing an accidental discharge, and forever making him distrust the automatic pistol as a first line weapon, so he bought his 4 3/4" Colt and had it plated and engraved - his leather came from 'Tio Sam' Myers.

He used it successfully during an altercation with Mexican bandits.

You can view it and the companion 3 1/2" S&W Magnum at the Armor Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Patton had his first real taste of battle in 1915, when leading  8th Cavalry patrols against Pancho Villa at Fort Bliss along the Mexican border.

In 1916 he was selected as aide General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Mexico.

Pershing promoted Patton to Captain and invited him to lead Pershing’s Headquarters Troop once they left Mexico

You don't give jobs like that to just anyone...

Scouts Out!
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2012, 06:09:05 pm »

That's a much better story that the one I had read several years ago. Goes to show you cant believe everything your read either.

The swindling was not a remark towards Lt/Capt/ General Patton but his employer. Far as I concern Gen Pershing never got the recognition he so well deserved.
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2012, 11:27:09 pm »

     OK, I was going to let this one lay silent, but things need to be said. In the 'Expedtion' of question, according to what I researched, there were 11 Regiments, some 11,000-14,000 soldiers that were involved in the action. Not including the field artillery, the Signal Corps, and the Aero Squadron. Now maybe not all the regiments, companies, platoons, etc. carried two 1911's, but it could be possible that some did, as reported by the 'Uncle'. I know if I personally were to be involved in such a military expedition, I would want as much firepower as possible, regulations be dammed and if I could buy and get another, would carry two. I doubt if whatever the number of photographers that went, they didn't get photo's of every unit, no matter the troop size(as Mule Ear M stated). As far as the 1903's being slung over the back with a sling or in a scabbard, somewhere in a book or magazine, I saw a picture that was described as US Army Troopers in Mexico during the 'Expedition' and they had their 1903's slung over their backs, via a sling, while on horseback. Tried to find it, but not successfull. Not saying scabbards werenot the norm.

     Now if the Uncle told his 'wide-eyed nephew' they did it as he reported, I have no problem with it. My Dad spent a year before Pearl Harbour in the US CoastGuard (was in combat with German U-boats in the N Atlantic before war was declared-dropping depth charges on the subs), spent two years in the North Atlantic (convoy duty), 6 months in the Med, and 1 1/2 yrs in the S. Pacific (14 amphib landings).He has had to correct certain writings that were suppose to be the 'true' account of what happened in events he participated in. The writers who were reporting on events he was involved in and witnessed, wrote about them 40-60 yrs after the fact, but they weren't there, but relying on just the facts as they gathered them. Dad many times said "That's not how it really happened" and then would relate the facts. Dad just passed away last Oct 7th at 96, still a Proud Coast Guardsman!

    I spent 21 yrs as a Police Officer and there are a number of photgraphs of me in uniform, all showing a 4" Colt Trooper 357 Mag on my right side. Unless a person was one I served with or one I told, no one is aware that I most of the time (night duty) carried two revolvers. I had a S&W Mod 60 tucked in a holster behind my Sam Browne (behind my bullet loops), sight unseen. Now if a person was unaware of this and was told that I carrried two weapons and they had pictures or seen such ones of me, they may declare that the photographic evidence doesn't show this. Since they didn't serve with me or were never told, how would they know?

    Finally, St George, I don't desire or intend to get into one of the "post wars' that I see from time to time on this Forum, but I do appreciate your knowledge you've gained from research, studying, and even being involved with the many aspects of firearms and histroy, but even the best gained knowledge doesn't always have all the answers.  If the 'wide-eyed nephew' says his uncle related the facts as reported by Jubal Starbuck, then I have no doubt that it could have gone down as reported. I've known Jubal since we was wee lads and he is a pretty good measure of people (ie-can seperate the BS'ers from the truthfull). As far as the 'wide-eyed' nephew, well, I've never met him, but have heard alot of positive's about him. Oh yeh, the 'wide-eyed' nephew is desended from and related to Cival War, WW1 and WW2 vets, besides the Uncle who 'could tell a helluva tale' that was on the  Expedition. Another footnote-that 'wide-eyed' nephew is he himself a Marine combat vet of Korea (five times wounded), a Marine combat vet of Viet Nam, and retired a Major in the United States Marines. The 'wide-eyed' nephew then went on to serve as a Police Officer in a major city California Police Department and the California Highway Patrol for many years untill retirement age. A believeable man from a honored past!
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« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2012, 10:02:02 pm »

Allow me to retort,
As a professional historian, I can not tell you how many times the memories of those who were there were either absolutely wrong or they just did not remember what happened.  Memory is not a fixed thing.  We tell stories over and over and the memories behind them change over time.  In addition, two people who were at the same event never remember it the same way.  This happens to everyone.  It does not make anyone a liar. 

So, how do we deal with that?  We verify through alternate and sources, where we can.  With the Army, we are lucky because there are records and photographs.  As a number of folks have pointed out, there are lots of pictures of cavalrymen wearing a single 1911 in the Punitive Expedition and I have never seen  regulations that would allow the issuing of two 1911s to US cavalry troops at this time (or ever).  If you think this was common practice, find the information to support your claim.  That is the burden of proof required for historians.  If you can't meet that burden of proof, its just a good story.
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2013, 10:36:22 am »

The whole 'reins in the teeth' trick could be pulled off by a man who was 'one with the horse' and instinctively rode.

The Cavalryman of the era wasn't that man - nor was he as well-trained as one might've thought - having come largely from the cities and encountering horses for the first time.

The 'Cavalry Drill Regulations' spell out the various saber maneuvers - and they did get pretty proficient with those, since they competed constantly in Garrison - and they did fire the handgun while mounted for the same reason - however very few were seasoned campaigners as they were during the Civil War.

Those were some damned forgiving horses...

As to the movies - if they ever filmed 'real life' of that time - folks wouldn't've stayed for the second reel - no matter how 'air-conditioned' the theater may've been in the summers.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!





My Father was a horse cavalryman in the 20s and 30s, at one time serving, as an enlisted man, under Colonel Patton.  When I was a boy he taught me how to ride.  He stressed controlling the horse with my legs saying that the cavalry was trained to do that since they were to go into combat with the saber in one hand and their pistol in the other. The horses were often trained better than the men even responding to bugle calls even when not mounted.  He said that one of his horses was the meanest horse in the troop, but it was his job to ride it according to SOP, if he ever was to be promoted.  He was a city boy, but did get the extra stripe, eventually reaching the rank of colonel. 

He said, "Adapt, adjust, overcome and win."

As to some men being issued two pistols . . . I have no direct knowledge, but my experience in the Army is that some units, because of their mission and the planning of their officers, sometimes carried non-authorized equipment in a combat situation. I know I did.  He told me that the ARs are a guideline not Scripture . . . that a good officer is suppose to be innovative in how best to use his weapon, his men, to achieve his mission according to the operation orders.  It is entirely possible that some units, especially scouting cavalry, might have extra non-authorized equipment.  Combat is not a place for cookie-cutter parade ground thought.
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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2013, 04:30:09 pm »

I too had an uncle that used to tell us kids some whoopers! Wink  I like the part about the charge with the reins in the teeth.  Cool! Grin
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« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2013, 02:39:47 pm »

The United States Army has never issued two sidearms to anyone since the late 1840's. Some officers did buy a second pistol or revolver carried in pommel holsters. Officers or Enlisted may have purchased a second sidearm, privately but the odds against it being a 1911 are pretty high as there weren't that many around at that time.
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« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2015, 04:24:35 am »

Did they carry two 1911 pistols? They might have. Is there categoric proof. Probably not, but anyone reading this thread must be asking themselves about the stories that their aunts, uncles, father, mother, grandfather and grandfathers have told them about any aspect of their lives. I live in Ireland, believe me , we have plenty of stories. Do I believe them all? It never entered my head to question them. They are stories that weave a picture of the past that become part of you and your family.  I love history and the broad strokes must be true, but what happened on a particular day will always be open to a bit of conjecture.
Photographic proof is great but can a two edged sword. While watching Flags of Our Fathers it showed American units with Doberman dogs working over the beachhead. I looked at these scenes and thought "No Way. That just doesn't look right". But at the credit sequence at the end Eastwood used photographs taken at the time. Not fuzzy snaps but pin sharp, medium format beauties. Hmmmm I thought, " See our wrong".
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« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2015, 11:35:20 am »

Speaking of horses...

Patton very deliberately shot the bad guys' horses as part of his encounter with Julio Cardenas' bunch in his famous gunfight.

"Patton explained that Texas Ranger Dave Allison—whom he had
 befriended a few months earlier in El Paso—advised him to do just
 that if he got into a fight with cavalry."

(I often have to resist throwing shoes at the TV set when I see all the Westerns where the horses aren't the first targets)

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