Author Topic: Blakeslee quick loader  (Read 26627 times)

Offline Cinch ring Sam

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Blakeslee quick loader
« on: August 16, 2006, 05:38:49 PM »
HELLO THE CAMP;

Got a question for the group. How do you wear a Blakeslee box? I jost received mine from BRI, it looks well made.(in USA). Its the six tube model. I'm working on an 1866-1870 Cavalry Trooper w/1860 Army to go along with the Spencer (new) in 56-50. Can't see winning any shoots, but should score on style points.
The few photos I have seen appear to show it on the left side, kind of high.

Any advice would be appreciated

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Offline St. George

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2006, 05:49:15 PM »
Being quite heavy and cumbersome - the Blakeslee Box was never popular - most Troopers carried their ammunition in pouches - but when issued, they were worn over the shoulder - on the left side.

The saber was also worn on the left, while the revolver was worn butt-forward on the right and the carbine was slung on the right side as well.

Owning one and using it gives folks a good idea just how well-armed the Cavalryman of the late Civil War and early Indian Wars could be.

Vaya,

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Offline geo

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2006, 03:29:39 PM »
i agree...a six tube box weighs a ton, can't imagince toting the ten tube box. you can use the blakeslee box/tubes reloading system in nssa repeater team competitions. it's the only way spencer shooters can keep up with the henry shooters. in the individuals the spencer has to be reloaded one round at a time. i have a belt cartridge box with a wooden insert for twenty individual rounds. thanks to the fellow who listed how the box was worn. i have looked at civil war pictures and wondered how some poor cavalry grunt carried the box, the carbine, the saber, the pistol, reloads for the pistol, and then the horse carried one or two walkers, the soldier's gear, etc. early version of the light tank? geo.

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #3 on: Today at 01:47:51 AM »

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2006, 05:20:33 PM »
Howdy,

I had a ten tube Blakeslee and sold it.  It weighed a ton full of 56-50s!  During the CW era, Cavalry troopers just had leather boxes with a 20 round block in it, similar to the Sharps box, and extras in their saddle bags.  Infantry had a different variation box that held six (7) round paper pacakges.

As to a bunch of gear, it is a lot.  In CW re-enacting, I am a cavalry trooper.  I wear a saber belt, holster, 1860 Army revolver, cap pouch, pistol cartridge box, carbine cartridge box, 1860 Ames Saber, carbine sling (wide leather across the chest with large snap) and an 1863 .54 Sharps carbine hanging from the sling.

When dismounted, add a haversack and canteen.  If it is raining, add a rather heavy rubber covered poncho.  Try running across a field wearing all that and loading the Sharps on the run!
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
CO. F, 12th Illinois Cavalry  SASS # 6127 Life * Spencer Shooting Society #43 * Motherlode Shootist Society #1 * River City Regulators

Offline Two Flints

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2006, 09:21:06 PM »
A very interesting web site -  http://www.horsesoldier.com/catalog/c0052.html - that has information on the Ten Tube "Quickloader". Check it out for information about other Civil War artifacts.

Regarding the Blakeslee Quickloader:

Presented here is a wonderfully fine, original specimen of a seldom seen Federal cavalry ammunition carrier, commonly referred to as the Blakeslee carbine cartridge box. This rare artifact of leather and wood is referred to as the Blakeslee "Quickloader", the name christened by the Union cavalrymen for this customized carbine cartridge box. Invented in the Fall of 1864 by Erastus Blakeslee, Colonel of the First Connecticut Cavalry Regiment, this device perfectly complimented and enhanced the firepower of the renowned 'Spencer' seven-shot repeating firearm. The 1st Connecticut Cavalry regiment, as well as selected other Federal horse units, was armed with the new Spencer 7-shot repeating carbines, and in the hands of these horse soldiers the 'Spencer' carbine soon acquired an outstanding reputation for firepower, ruggedness and reliability. However, when reloading the weapon while mounted, the troopers found it difficult to coordinate the handling of the heavy carbine, a loose magazine tube, a handful of rimfire cartridges, and the reins of their horse at the same time. Colonel Blakeslee, a proven combat leader during the War, solved this dilemma when he designed a unique cartridge box for his men. Unfortunately, production and distribution of these accoutrements took until late 1864 / early 1865 and few, if any of the 32,000 boxes made, ever saw action in the Civil War.

According to U.S. Ordnance records, Blakeslee called for his cartridge box to be constructed of 'the best oak-tanned leather, wood block to be of well-seasoned poplar, bored with ten longitudinal holes to hold ten tin tubes.' The wood block was wrapped in smooth black bridle leather with a hinged leather lid to protect the open tops of the tin tubes from the elements. A leather shoulder strap attached to the box held the device close to the trooper's left side. This arrangement allowed the soldier to reach across with his right hand, flip open the 'Quickloader' box lid, draw out a single magazine tube filled with seven cartridges and insert the bullets into the stock of the Spencer weapon.


This fine, 10-tube, cartridge box specimen measures 12½" high x 4" wide and is wonderfully complete except for the original shoulder strap, now missing. A 22½" long section of period leather belt with an attached brass hook was used as a replacement. The six-sided wooden block exhibits ten cylindrical holes, each 5/8" in diameter by 11" deep, arrayed in three horizontal rows. The top row holds three magazine tubes while the second row four, and the last row three tubes. When each tin tube was fully loaded with seven cartridges, the trooper had seventy rounds available in the box, not including the eight rounds in his loaded Spencer. Hence, he carried an awesome source of sustained firepower to the fight. The upper end of the wood block was wrapped with a metal band for strength and the box lid was secured by metal hinge riveted to the box backside. On this specimen, the lid hinge is tight and strong but the six-sided, leather lid shows a weak seam with broken stitching along the backside. Lid is missing its original, leather closure tab with only a ½" square piece still sewn and riveted to the front edge. The dark brown, almost black leather cover on the exterior is in very good condition, still tightly wrapped about the wood block and shows remarkably strong seam stitching overall with no seam separation. Just a few areas of crazing and scuffing are visible. Embossed on the front face of the box is the maker's stamp that reads "BLAKESLEE'S CARTRDIGE BOX / U.S. / Pat'd DEC 20, 1864 / E. GAYLORD / CHICOPEE / MASS." Leather surface is slightly pocked and scuffed at the left side of the stamping but letters are clearly discernable. Located on the front of the box above the stamp is the brass, pear-shaped finial that secured the lid closure tab. Stitched to the cartridge box leather exterior are two brass loops, one a "D" ring located a few inches below the lid and a rectangular loop located below the maker's stamping. The ring and loop served to hold and secure the shoulder strap worn over the left shoulder of the trooper.









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Offline Grizzle Bear

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2006, 10:26:13 AM »
For the recent GAF Mini-Muster held near Topeka, Kansas, I made myself a couple of quickloaders.  Found some brass tubing that would hold .56-50 catridges, and cut off sections that would hold seven rounds.  Silver-soldered a cap on one end, and found some corks to fit the other end.

Just stuck these tubes in my belt at the shoot, and after firing my first seven rounds, I could pull the magazine plug, pull out a tube, remove the cork with my teeth, dump the catridges, replace the magazine plug, and be back in action.  The tube was just thrown aside.  (There was a gunfight goin' on!)

If the scenario calls for everyone to reload their rifles, I can almost catch up to the folks with Winchesters.  If it's just a 10 round stage, I can still get those last three in there mighty fast.

And my quick reloads on the Spencer got me a lot of style points as well!

My point is that it isn't necessary to lug around that heavy 6 or 10 tube Blakeslee box to get the advantage of a rapid reload on the Spencer.

Grizzle Bear



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Offline Two Flints

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2006, 10:33:01 AM »
Grizzle Bear,

Where did you find the tubing and caps?  Great idea of a modified "quickloader"!

Two Flints

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Offline Grizzle Bear

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2006, 10:58:44 AM »
Found the tubing locally, (Kansas City) and bought a 10 foot section.  The caps were just sheet copper, soldered on.  The corks I had, but I am replacing them with some rubber stoppers I found in a scientific supply store.

Sorry I can't be more specific about the tubing, but it was kind of a "junk" store, and I just happened on it.

GB

Rob Brannon
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Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2006, 12:05:27 PM »
Howdy to the camp,

I just noticed something for the first time.  On the original 10 tube box, there is a tin liner between the exterior leather and the poplar wood block.  The reproductions, even the best ones, don't have this.
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
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Offline Frenchie

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2006, 12:59:35 PM »
Infantry had a different variation box that held six (7) round paper pacakges.

Tuo, I think I'm going to need one of those. Can you (or anyone else) point me to a source for a good one? Thanks,
Yours, &c.,

Guy 'Frenchie' LaFrance
Vous pouvez voir par mes vêtements que je ne suis pas un cowboy.

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2006, 03:49:12 PM »
Pard,

http://www.civilwarleather.com  Ten tube, $225 with tubes, and excellent quality.  Worth every penny.
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
CO. F, 12th Illinois Cavalry  SASS # 6127 Life * Spencer Shooting Society #43 * Motherlode Shootist Society #1 * River City Regulators

Offline Two Flints

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2006, 04:13:29 PM »
T.L.,

I had to change your link because the one you posted was not going to Civil War Leather Home page.  I made the correction and now you can view the home page and from there go to the Blakeslees under Civil War Leather.

Question for you.  Will a .45 Schofield round fit inside the 44-40 tube they have for their 44-40 Blakeslee?  How do the two rounds compare in terms of their circumference for fitting into thew tube (44-40)?

Two Flints

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Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2006, 04:17:57 PM »
hOWDY,

The "44-45" tubes will fit: (9) 44 Russians, (8) 45 Schofields, and (7) 44-40s.

THe 56-50 tubes hold (7) 56-56 or 56-50s
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
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Offline Cinch ring Sam

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2006, 08:37:24 PM »
Hello the camp;
 
Pards, thanks much for all the info. I'll try it out. may end up going to belt pouches. Found the quick loader at Blockade Runner in Tenn. For $99.95 Plus shipping. Total was $108.93. Says made in USA. As I recall they had both six and ten tube models, same price.

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cinch ring sam

Offline Two Flints

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2006, 05:41:56 PM »
Hello SSS,

Does anyone know how the two companies compare in terms of the quality of their Blakeslee Quickloader models, as there is a big difference in price,  between the Civil War Leather Blakeslee and the and the Blockade Runner Blakeslee?

Two Flints

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Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2006, 12:33:25 PM »
Howdy,

Two flints:

The Blockade Runner box is very nice, and a better buy for the buck than the Civil War Leather one.  The CW leather one is REALLY nice, though<g>!
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
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Offline Bead Swinger

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader, other Spencer-boxes
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2006, 02:33:59 PM »
Hi All -
From what I remember from Marcot's book, the 6-tube variety was only manufactured in a very small quantity - maybe 2000.  Virtually all of these were issued, and apparently all saw heavy service.  Who got them?  I don't remember.  I think some of the infantry companies that received the re-issued rifles just prior to the 1864 overland campaign did.  Probably some of the Cav. regiments did.  I'm not sure Blakeslee's unit ever did!! The six-tube is nice, as it has a tool box, and holds exactly 1 42-rnd box of Spencer Ammo. The 10-tube boxes apparently were never, or rarely issued. 

The way the box was worn is on the left, attached to the waist belt, kinda-sorta under the left arm-pit. At least that's where the bottom of the box should ride. There is a leather strap that goes around the belt from the outside, attaching it to the belt. The shoulder strap goes over the right shoulder.  If you have a saber belt, then the belt attachment is just behind the saber hook, and the shoulder strap goes over the saber cross-strap. It is a bit awkward, but I'd take this in a heartbeat over 40rnds of .58 Minnies. And whatever you do, don't bend over to pick up something with the box unfastened - then all the rounds dump out on you.  :( The only down-side to the box is that there is no place to put the Spencer Tool and the cleaning brush that came with the rifle/carbine.

A friend made me a nice 10-tube Blakeslee, and I built tubes out of soldered sheet-tin. I lined the box with tin, but have yet to successfully manufacture the wooden block. Do put something soft down at the bottom of each of the tubes though - a piece of inner-tube or cloth or something to keep the last round from clanking on the bottom too badly. I saw this in Marcot, and it makes sense. If someone's selling a complete one for $100 or so - that's a great price.

The other spencer box that was issued, besides the 20? round cavalry box with a wood block was built to hold 42 rounds packaged in the six 7-round cardboard boxes from the factory. Marcot had great pictures. These look really nice, and are documented to have been issued with the rifle/carbine from the factory. Even the 1863 Manual from the 1st OH SS called for this box in its use.  Unfortunately, I have not found the time or money to build one yet.  I did reproduce the cardboard boxes from the dimensions and labels provided in Marcot. 

'Still waiting to get out to my first CBA shoot and try it out.  I was getting very nice groups (<2", ~4" high) from my 56-56 at 50'.  If I don't run out of ammo, then I might actually be able to compete!   :)

Q: Will they let me shoot a 56-56 rifle?  How about the Blakeslee - Will they let me use that too?

Q: Can someone with a copy of Marcot post (or send me) nice pictures of some 56-56 labels?

1860 Rifle SN 23954

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2006, 03:01:33 PM »
Pard,

Send Me your email address.  I have a variety of labels.  25 round or 35 round boxes.  I also have a copy of the original 42 round "No. 56 cartridge label.
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
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Offline Two Flints

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2006, 04:15:28 PM »
Bead Swinger,

How about these labels?









Two Flints

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Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: Blakeslee quick loader
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2006, 04:58:44 PM »
I also have some word document labels that fit Cheyenne Cartridge Boxes .45 Schofield or Colt Boxes.  They hold (35)  56-50s or 56-56 very nice.  I have them for both 56-56 and 56-50.  I also have a misc. label for (25) 56-50s for a smaller box.
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
CO. F, 12th Illinois Cavalry  SASS # 6127 Life * Spencer Shooting Society #43 * Motherlode Shootist Society #1 * River City Regulators

 

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