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Special Interests - Groups & Societies => The American Plainsmen Society => Topic started by: LongWalker on January 05, 2019, 08:19:38 pm

Title: Shotgun quotes
Post by: LongWalker on January 05, 2019, 08:19:38 pm
Betwixt time and $$$, I've not yet scrounged up my choice of long guns for the 1840-1865 era.  I do have a rather nice sxs 11 gauge double roughly of the period, which has taken the place of my old Bess.  Same bore, same loads, two shots instead of one.  As a result I'm sort of primed to notice mention of doubles in the literature of the era.  I thought I'd note some of these here, both to share and so I can find them again when I want them.

Commerce of the Prairies by Gregg: (published in 1844), "In the article of fire-arms there is also an equally interesting medley. The frontier hunter sticks to his rifle, as nothing could induce him to carry what he terms in derision 'the scatter-gun.' The sportsman from the interior flourishes his double-barreled fowling piece with equal confidence in its superiority. The latter is certainly the most convenient description of gun that can be carried on this journey; as a charge of buck-shot in night attacks to which are the most common, will of course be more likely to do execution than a single rifle-ball fired at random." 

The Prairie Traveler by Randolph Barnes Marcy, Captain, U.S.A. (published in 1859), in the context of buffalo hunting:
"If the hunter be right-handed, and uses a pistol, he should approach upon the left side, and when nearly opposite and close upon the buffalo, deliver his shot, taking aim a little below the centre of the body, and about eight inches back of the shoulder. This will strike the vitals, and generally render another shot unnecessary.  When a rifle or shot-gun is used the hunter rides up on the right side, keeping his horse well in hand, so as to be able to turn off if the beast charges upon him; this, however, never happens except with a buffalo that is wounded, when it is advisable to keep out of his reach."

The Indian War of 1864
by Eugene Ware: (published in 1911), "On September 28, 1863, we started early in the morning, and camped on Shell Creek. It was quite a long, deepcut stream, but apparently not flowing much water. We camped on the stream a half-mile above where the road crossed it. Captain O'Brien and I went out hunting for ducks, the Captain having bought a double-barrel shotgun and ammunition at Fremont." 

Of the following day, he wrote,  "Upon September 29, 1863, we marched to Loup Fork, and camped a half-mile from Columbus. Captain O'Brien was dissatisfied with the shotgun he had bought at Fremont. In fact it was a weak gun, and at Columbus he looked around until he found a man who had a large, powerful duck gun, and the Captain traded off his old gun for almost nothing, and bought the new one. As the game would be consumed by our mess, we agreed that the cost of all of the Ammunition should be charged up to our officers' mess. It was a gun of the old type, with a wooden ramrod, but it shot well."

Any other quotes/references?  I recall that Logan Fontanelle had a double when he was killed, but don't recall if it was a shotgun or combination gun.  There is mention of doubles in Baird's books and Hanson's The Plains Rifle and The Hawken Rifle: Its Place in History
Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: Oregon Bill on January 07, 2019, 09:31:15 am
Very useful firearm, the double. I've seen the Josiah Gregg quote before -- and Marcy as well.  Will root around and see what I can find.
Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: LonesomePigeon on January 07, 2019, 06:39:26 pm
Interesting stuff. I am reading a book now called Journal of a Trapper (1834 - 1843) by Osborne Russell. It's a word for word reprint of the man's own journal. Lot's of quotes about rifles and fusees and some pistols but nothing about shotguns yet.
Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: Tsalagidave on January 08, 2019, 12:31:53 am
Great original references LongWalker. Although I can understand why mountaineers and plainsmen would vehemently stick to their big bored rifles for the larger game on the frontier, I can definitely appreciate the value of a good fowler or double barreled gun. These are great sources.  Thanks for sharing.

What shot size/measurement are you using to win your meat with that shotgun?

Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: LongWalker on January 08, 2019, 11:44:13 pm
I'm using the same loads I used in my Bess: 110 grains FFg, a card wad (notched), and a patched .735 round ball.  Balls hit roughly next to each other at 50 yards (I can't tell if I need to file some more or if I'm just not holding steady), or about 3" high at my usual big-game range.  Keith recommended a big-bore to "let the light in" your target; I prefer to be close enough the ball pulls the muzzle-smoke in.

Over the years that load has proved out on whitetails, mule deer, black bear, buffalo, an incredibly-dumb pronghorn, etc.  Even got a grouse with it last year.  (Note to self: when carrying cross-loads, do not shoot with the right barrel.)  In all candor, at my usual ranges there's not a lot of difference between the performance of an 11 gauge and the NorthWest gun I used earlier.  I just decided I wanted a bigger bore after a couple of encounters with grizzly bears. 
Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: Tsalagidave on January 09, 2019, 12:04:22 am
Outstanding feedback LongWalker. 110g of FFg is pretty spicy but then again, you are taking down much bigger game than I do with my fowler. I typically go with the "less powder more lead" taking bunnies and avian game with #5 shot. Thanks for the feedback. If you have any pictures of the kit to post, please do.

Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: Mogorilla on January 09, 2019, 07:04:34 am
Loving this thread.  I expected to come in here and read quotes from that Great Western Rio Lobo (okay, not great but it makes me 'comfortable')

"Got another barrel, get in there!"

I obtained what I thought was a Brown Bess Replica, ended up being a 1740 Naval Musket replica.  It is out of India, so I loaded gingerly, I use 70 grains of ffg, card, wad, ~70 grains worth of #6 shot and a card.   It did not pattern too bad at 25 yards.   

Question, why notching the card?   First true smoothbore I am dealing with.

I do have a coach gun that takes those new fangled self contained cartridges, but we can talk that on another board.
Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: LongWalker on January 09, 2019, 07:52:43 am
Mogorilla, long time gone I shot in an annual invitational match where one of the common prizes was Elephant brand powder.  Not the best stuff, decent shooting most of the time but a slow powder.  If I used enough in my Bess to get consistent velocities in the range I wanted, I'd get burn-through of the patch, so I started experimenting with wads under the patched ball. 

When loading, a wad can create a gas seal under a tightly-patched ball.  If there is compressed air between the wad and ball, the ball can be pushed off the wad--and then you've got a bore obstruction.  I started notching the card (just a nick with my pocket knife) to allow the gas to vent when loading.  I never noticed any burn-through of the patch, and recovered wads seemed to suggest the notch was getting "ironed out" on firing. 

BUT when loading a patch ball over a wad, you have to keep this in mind.  Make sure the ball is seated firmly on the wad, and that the ball is not being pushed forward over time.  A marked ramrod is almost a necessity. 
Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: Mogorilla on January 10, 2019, 06:53:40 am
Thanks LongWalker, that makes good sense.   I love how much there is to learn with these old style guns.

Title: Re: Shotgun quotes
Post by: LongWalker on January 19, 2019, 02:56:45 pm
From The Prairie Logbooks: Dragoon Campaigns to the Pawnee Villages in 1844, and to the Rocky Mountains in 1845 by Lieutenant J. Henry Carleton:

" . . . That pack belongs in part to our hunter of last year--and that is him sitting there at the mouth of his tent, and busily engaged in unscrewing the locks from his double-barreled gun, and oiling them up for immediate service . . . ."

Fascinating book by the way.  The author gives longitude and latitude where they struck the Nebraska (Platte) river on the second expedition: it works out roughly to downtown Kearney Nebraska.  Since the expedition was traveling from the south--and the Platte currently runs south of Kearney--I wonder if the coordinates given were taken in camp after crossing the river. 

There's some great descriptions in the book, ranging from the 1844 guide (a model of incompetence), to the Reverend John Dunbar and his conduct towards members of the expedition, to passing references to picketing horses, interactions with emigrants, their guide on the second trip, and descriptions of interactions with and between the tribes.

Thomas Fitzpatrick--Broken Hand--was the guide in 1845.  "Our guide has a beautiful rifle that throws about a two ounce ball, which was made expressly for killing tigers in India, and presented to him by its former owner, Sir William Drummond Stewart.  But with the exception of carrying, suspended in front, a powder flask and russet leather ball pouch, above which a small belt is buckled to keep them from swinging, he has made no preparations for its use yet awhile."