Author Topic: Red River Campaign - What guns?  (Read 8377 times)

Offline Bottom Dealin Mike

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Red River Campaign - What guns?
« on: November 24, 2005, 05:23:36 am »
Here's a frontier army question for you all, What arms would have been issued to the 5th Infantry, the 4th cav and the 6th cav at the time of the Red River campaign in 1874? Colt Army C&Bs? Remington C&Bs? Colt Richards? S&W Americans?

Maybe even SAAs?

How about long arms? .45-70 Springfields? .50-70 Allen's...maybe Spencers?

If you don't know, do you know where I can find out?

Thanks in advance for your help?

Offline US Scout

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2005, 06:23:27 am »
Mike,

It was not unusual, in fact it was typically the rule rather than the exception, that regiments, and indeed companies sometimes, carried a variety of weapons.  There might be as many as three or four different types of pistols and carbines in a cavalry regiment, though the infantry by this time tended to be more standardized.

Below is some research I did a couple of years ago.  It would appear that by the summer of 1874 (when the Red River campaign began) the 6th Cav was pretty much exclusively using the Colt 1873 SAA, while the 4th was using a mix of Colt Richard's conversions, S&W Americans, and the newer Colt SAA. 

The Army purchased 1000 S&W 1st Model #3 revolvers in .44 American in Dec 1870, with delivery beginning in March '71.  The first cavalry units to receive the pistol were I Company/1st Cav in WY; I Co, 3rd Cav in AZ; L Co, 5th Cav in NB, and one nickled and 5 blued each in A, B, C, D, I, and K of the 4th Cav in TX.  By the fall of 1871, every cavalry regiment except the 8th, 9th and 10th had the "American" S&W.

Late in 1871, the 1860 Colt with Richards' conversion were issued to the 2nd Cav in NB and WY, and the 6th Cav in KS.  By Feb 1872, A and D companies, 9th Cav, and B and L Co, 4th Cav, all in TX, had the new pistol.  By the end of the year, the 3rd and 5th Cav had also received the converted Colts.

By 1872, Regimental quartermasters had to supply ammunition for the Colt conversions, the S&W, the .44 cal percussion Remingtons and Colts, the .36 cal Colt Navy, and the single-shot .50 cal Remington rolling block pistol, a mix of which could be found in every cavalry regiment.
 
The first Colt SAA reached the Army in Nov 1873, going first to the 2nd, 4th, and 10th Cav.  By mid-1874 the 6th and 7th Cav used it almost exclusively, and the 10th had a large number as well.
 
In Sept 1874, the Army ordered 3000 of the new S&W Schofield model, and another 3000 in March 1875, though the first field issue did not take place until April when F Co, 9th Cav and the 10th received some.  Col Mackenzie, commander of the 4th Cav, liked the S&W and particularly the improvements found in the Schofield and requested 1000 for his regiment, which he received by Sept 1875.  Both the Schofield and Colt SAA served side by side but the S&W was gradually phased from service as more Colts were purchased (35,000 SAA vs only 8000 Schofields)

In June 1873, the 4th had 52 M1865 Spencers, 838 M1868 Sharps, as well as a variety of experiemental weapons for field testing: 20 Springfields, 26 Remington RB carbines, 54 Sharps, and 23 Ward-Burtons.  The 6th Cav had 74 Spencers, 870 Sharps, and 44 Springfields, 42 Remingtons, and 18 Sharps.

In March 1874, only about 1000 1873 Springfields were in service, most being in the 10th Cav, but it appears that more were issued prior to the Red River campaign.  The 4th had about 80 in Co I, and the 6th had 84 in Co E.  The 2nd had 168 in Co D and I, and the 10th had 670.  By September (at the time of Palo Duro Canyon), the 6th and 4th were armed almost exclusively with the Springfield (according to John McAuley's "Carbines of the US Cavalry, 1861-1904, pp. 101-102). 

Garavaglia and Worman (Firearms of the American West: 1866-1894), state that between late 1873 and mid-1874, over 10,000 1873 Springfield carbines and 18,000 new rifles were made, and began immediate issue for the spring campaign.   The 1st through 5th Infantry Regiments also received the new rifles at this time.

Hope this helps.  I'll see what else I can dig up.

US Scout
Bvt Col of Marines

Offline Bottom Dealin Mike

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2005, 07:01:08 am »
Thanks Scout!

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2005, 04:35:12 pm »
Heck, BDM, when I saw the title of your post, I immediately thought of Canada's Red River Campaign!   ;D  Yes, we had one too - it was also a frontier military expedition sent west in 1870 to the Red River Colony (the area which became the Province of Manitoba later that year) in reaction to the "First Riel Rebellion" coupled with a renewed threat by the Fenian Brotherhood to invade from Minnesota and the Dakotas ... It was led by a very famous British Empire military personage - then-Colonel Garnet J. Wolseley (serving as Deputy Quartermaster-General in Canada at the time) who became Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley, and whose distinguished career is an absolute mirror of Victorian military history: http://www.pinetreeweb.com/wolseley.htm   (The Wolseley Pattern pith helmet is named after him ....)

Anyway, if it were the Canadian Red River Campaign you had been enquiring about, the answer would be simple - .577 Snider-Enfield rifles and carbines for longarms; London Model Colt 1851 percussion revolvers would be on issue to any cavalry troops and officers would have supplied themselves with sidearms of their own choice, at personal expense ....

***************

And here is a little "message from the past" which might be of some small interest:

A Letter from Colonel Garnet Wolseley to The Regular Troops of the Red River Expeditionary Forces, August 28, 1870.

"I cannot permit Colonel Feilden and you to start upon your return journey to Canada without thanking you for having enabled me to carry out the Lieutenant-General's orders so successfully.

"You have endured excessive fatigue in the performance of a service that for its arduous nature can bear comparison with any previous military expedition. In coming here from Prince Arthur's Landing you have traversed a distance of upwards of 600 miles.

"Your labours began with those common at the outset of all campaigns, — namely, with road-making and the construction of defensive works; then followed the arduous duty of taking the boats up a height of 800 feet, along fifty miles of river full of rapids, and where portages were numerous. From the time you left Shebandowan Lake until Fort Garry was reached, your labour at the oar has been incessant from daybreak to dark every day. Forty-seven portages were got over, entailing the unparalleled exertion of carrying the boats, guns, ammunition, stores, and provisions, over a total distance of upwards of seven miles. It may be said that the whole journey has been made through a wilderness, where, as there were no supplies of any sort whatever to be had, everything had to be taken with you in the boats.

"I have throughout viewed with pleasure the manner in which officers have vied with their men in carrying heavy loads. I feel proud of being in command of officers who so well know how to set a good example, and of men who evince such eagerness in following it.

"It has rained upon forty-five days out of the ninety-four that have passed by since we landed at Thunder Bay, and upon many occasions every man has been wet through for days together.

"There has not been the slightest murmur of discontent heard from any one.

"It may be confidently asserted that no force has ever had to endure more continuous labour, and it may be as truthfully said that no men on service have ever been better behaved, or more cheerful under the trials arising from exposure to inclement weather, excessive fatigue, and to the annoyance caused by flies.

"There has been a total absence of crime amongst you during your advance to Fort Garry, and I feel confident that your conduct during the return journey will be as creditable to you in every respect.

"The leaders of the banditti who recently oppressed Her Majesty's loyal subjects in the Red River Settlement having fled as you advanced on the fort, leaving their guns and a large quantity of their arms and ammunition behind them, the primary object of the expedition has been peaceably accomplished. Although you have not therefore had an opportunity of gaining glory, you can carry back with you into the daily routine of garrison life the conviction that you have done good service to the State, and have proved that no extent of intervening wilderness, no matter how great may be its difficulties, whether by land or water, can enable men to commit murder or to rebel against Her Majesty's authority with impunity.

"G. J. Wolseley, Colonel,
Commanding Red River Expedition.

Fort Garry, 28th August, 1870."


The Red River Expedition at Kakabeka Falls:
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Dr. Bob

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2005, 06:50:56 pm »
RJR,

Thanks for adding to our knowledge.  Ft. Garry is located near Winipeg, MB which is just north of the US/Canada boundry at the end of I-29.

Sounds like a rather difficult journey.  Bet they would have really appreciated a few helicopters! ::) ::)
Regards, Doc
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Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2005, 12:40:34 am »
Sounds like a rather difficult journey.  Bet they would have really appreciated a few helicopters! ::) ::)

Actually the present-day Canadian Forces would really appreciate having a few reliable helicopters ... and lots of other stuff!!  ::)  :'(
God save us all from Liberal politicians!   :-\  :P

In fact the difficulties experienced by the Red River Expedition in reaching that nearest portion of the North West Territories (only then being transferred to the Dominion of Canada) were a major impetus in state-of-the-art transportation (for the Victorian-era, anyway) reaching our West, in the form of a transcontinental railway line.  When the more significant North West Rebellion broke out fifteen years later, the Canadian Pacific Railway was largely constructed so that, despite some sizeable incomplete sections in the rugged country north of Lake Superior, the military forces sent west in 1885 reached Winnipeg - and beyond - in a matter of days rather than the four months it had taken the Red River Expedition to get there ....

« Last Edit: November 25, 2005, 12:51:14 am by RattlesnakeJack »
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Dr. Bob

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2005, 02:21:24 am »
RJR,

Great stuff!  It would be much nicer to ride a train [cinders, smoke & all] than accumualte 7 miles of portages.

I rode a steam powered train in Colorado when I was a teen and remember the small particles getting in my eyes and nose.  It was fun any way!  A lot different than the trains today.  Thanks for sharing!
Regards, Doc
Dr. Bob Butcher,
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HR 4
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NRA Life,
KGC 8.
Warthog
Motto: Clean mind  -  Clean body,   Take your pick

Offline Ol Gabe

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2005, 12:49:00 pm »
RJR,
Nice pic of the Railcar & Troopers. I noticed quite a variety of headwear in the pic and I'd be interested in your comments on them. For example, it looks like 2, one fellow in the middle of the top row with his head tilted back and one in the next row down, to his right, are both wearing the Wolseley-style of Pith Helmet, a few are donning what look like a Fez, some have the NW-style Fur caps and others a Scottish Bonnet while the rest seem to wear the standard Pillbox or Fatigue cap. Can you 'splain a bit better?
Best regards and good researching!
'Ol Gabe

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2005, 12:36:47 am »
Ol Gabe:

The picture I posted is online at the National Archives of Canada, so I don't have access to a higher-resolution version. - however, I have enlarged the center part as much as seems feasible so we can take a better look. (I have also split that enlargement in half, since this website automatically reduces images to a 600 pixel width ...)





I think it is apparent that there isn't a fez in the lot ( ;) ) but there is undeniably quite a variety of headwear - and other dress, for that matter.   The majority seem to be wearing standard "field service caps" (very like what Americans now refer to as fatigue caps) and there may be some pillbox hats (though I have my doubts, since these men all appear to be infantry, and the pillbox was headress primarily for cavalry, horse artillery, etc.)

The one fellow near the center of the third row does indeed appear to be wearing a pith helmet of some kind (not as "flared"  as the later Wolseley pattern, though seemingly a bit bulkier than the standard foreign service helmet of the day) but I think the other man in the back row is actually wearing a peaked cap with a white Havelock cover and neck curtain, like the chap on the left end of the second row, and perhaps a few others.

Others seem to be wearing examples of the field caps improvised (along with other gear) during the campaign from feedbag fabric.  Here is a photograph of Rifleman J M Austin of Company "H", Midland Battalion wearing such a cap, as well as a bandolier improvised from the same material:



I'm not convinced that there are any fur hats in evidence - they are seen in photos taken during the campaign (April/May) but this picture was taken on their return to Ontario - in June or later.  Mind you, it does look like one or two of them are wearing toques (i.e. relatively long knitted "watchcap"-type headgear) - such as the fellow sitting on the fence third from the left end in the back row. 

There is at least one officer wearing a peaked "forage cap"  - he is the chap reclining in front, on the right.

The lack of "uniformity" apparent here is likely a result of the composition of the forces dispatched to the west.  The total number of personnel in the field was several thousand but, since Canada had virtually no "regular" military at that time, it was composed almost entirely of Militia mobilized for the purpose.  Canada had many Militia units, but they varied rather greatly in degree of organization and strength, so many of them could not field an effective battalion for expeditionary service such as was needed here - especially since these were all part-time soldiers - with businesses, jobs and families - serving in Militia units whose primary intended purpose was local military service and defence.  As a result, Provisional Battalions were formed of those men available and fit for service from several different Militia units in a given area. 

A prime example was the Midland Battalion (put together in an area of Ontario known as the Midlands) from units designated as Infantry, Light Infantry, Rangers and Rifles.  Its composition was as follows:
"A" Co. from the 15th Battalion, Argyll Light Infantry, Bellevile Ont.
"B" Co. from the 40th Northumberland Battalion, Cobourg Ont.
"C" Co. from the 45th West Durham Battalion, Lindsay Ont.
"D" and "E" Co. from the 46th East Durham Battalion, Port Hope Ont.
"F" Co. from the 47th Frontenac Battalion, Portsmouth Ont.
"G" Co. from the 57th Battalion, Peterborough Rangers, Peterborough Ont. and
"H" Co.from the 49th Battalion Hastings Rifles, Hastings County, (Belleville) Ont.

It is not surprising that such groups lacked uniformity of appearance!

While I'm at it, here is another photograph taken during the North West campaign in 1885 - a number of Troopers of the Governor-General's Body Guard (in the pillbox hats) and members of the York & Simcoe Rangers (Other Ranks in blue "Home Service" helmets, and two officers - one in a field service cap and the other wearing a peaked forage cap ...)   Dashing fellows from Eastern Canada on an adventure in the Wild West - having their photgraph taken with some non-hostile Natives .... (I'm not sure what you'd call that thing on the head of the Indian standing at left!)


Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Ol Gabe

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2005, 04:57:36 pm »
Thanks Old Chap, knew you'd have the straight Poop!
Best regards and good researching!
'Ol Gabe

Offline Spanish Marshal

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2005, 12:06:39 pm »
  Hi from Spain comrade-in-arms :    
 I am professional soldier and since I was boy, I like the military history a lot.
 I have read on the Spanish and European military history mainly, but I enjoy learning in this forum a lot. It is a pleasure to read your notes. ;) ;)

     Spanish Marshal
Warthog

"Buena suerte amigo"

Offline ColonelFlashman

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2006, 12:46:07 am »
That "Sun Helmet" in the picture is called a "Solar", it's civilian piece of headgear rather popular @ the time.
The "Pillbox" cap are Correctly called "Lancer" caps & the complete item of Cap Cover & Neck Curtain, if it is of a 1 Piece Construction, is known as a "Havelock" after Gen. Havelock of Indian Mutany fame.
The "Neck Curtain" was a seperate piece of material that could be manufactured to fit Any Type of Headgear used in the field.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2006, 12:56:01 am by ColonelFlashman »
Colonel Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE USMH;
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Offline Ol Gabe

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2006, 05:11:22 pm »
Flashy, Old Top! How pleasant to see you back!
'Solar', interesting nomenclature, I was beginning to think perhaps it was a something similar to the the type that Gen. Crook wore in the Apache Campaign, rather bulky and flat on the brim but servicable. I've seen some of these for sale on various websites that specialize in Pith Helmets, most interesting.
Hope you can break away and join us next October at the Muster, I know we would all like to meet you and see your kit, outstanding I'm sure. Post me off-line if you need other details and I'll be happy to accomodate or steer you in the right direction.
Best regards and good shooting, if your shoulder is up to it!
'Ol Gabe 

Offline ColonelFlashman

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Re: Red River Campaign - What guns?
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2006, 06:27:20 pm »
Gabe, olde son, glad to be back.
I've not had Net Access for over a Month, suffered from w/ drawls rather badly.
The "Solar" had several Manufacturers around the world & all the Catalogs I've seen them in from the era listed them under that name.
If the 1 in the Picture isn't the Same as Gen. Crook's, it rather close.
By-the-byThe "Pith" helmet terminology is more of a 20th C. useage than a 19th C. 1.
That's rather decent of you olde boy, we'll see what occurs, as we've just become 1 of the 12% in California that are now Mortgaged up to our bleedin' eyeballs payin' off a Home, so there's rather little liquid income @ present
« Last Edit: February 13, 2006, 06:32:52 pm by ColonelFlashman »
Colonel Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE USMH;
Colonel 17th Lancers Staff Political Officer;
Staff Corp Commander & D.o.P. Command Staff
WartHog, Pistolero & Mounted Shootist
 :uk:  :usa:  :canada:  :dixie:  :ausie: