Author Topic: Did they reload?  (Read 14642 times)

Offline Professor Marvel

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2019, 09:48:30 PM »
Greetings Rye & Everybody -

soemtimes I just talk ( or write) too much and people miss the point I am trying to make... it just gets lost in my own noise.

So I'll try bullet items, like in a boring speech :-)

First-
Rye, I am actually ON YOUR SIDE  -- I believe, but cannot prove , that reloading was done more often than can be documented.

WHY do I hold this opinion?
1) WE KNOW that prior to cartridges, even with revolvers, reloading was the only way to make it go bang
2) WE KNOW that during the transitional period many Remington and some Colt percussion revolvers were fitted and/or sold outright
      with both percussion and cartidger conversion cylinders, and existing advertisements touted the ability to load with loose powder and ball if needed.
       AT THAT TIME, reloading tools were not yet available so reloading spent casings was not yet "popular"
3) WE KNOW from military reports  and other letters that Indians were regularly observed relodsing spent casings and even using friciton matches for primer material.
4) WE KNOW prior to the Civil War  that hunters, frontiersmen, Indians, scouts, etc regularly cast their own bullets because we have diaries and letters and military and
       booshway reports of men "running ball" over the fire at night

For some reason, the amount of detailed written doco regarding the topic seems to wither right around 1865 and going forward. People just stopped writing
about a lot of things -  it is much like the infamous "what did they use for tinder  during the Rev War?"

Now, from here we can Surmise or suggest. 
It is VERY UNLIKELY that frugal men who were used to casting ball and loading powder and ball into rifles and revolvers would suddenly buy only factory cartridges
and throw them away once shot. There is to my mind no difference between loading a C&B revolver and  repriming (even with a percussion cap, I tried it and it works) and reloading  an empty casing with powder and ball.

The question was:  Did they reload?

Answer: Yes they did

What do we actually know?
- by 1873 ish  there were loading tools, primers, empty cases bullets and powder for sale,
- we know  they were bought and used, rcpts & records exist
- there are a few rare entries in journals, diaries, letters, ledger books (for business) , and newspaper articles of "this guy reloading cartridges"

Who, how much, and how do we know?

who:
        we know that buffalo hunters, market hunters, some gunstore owners, some ranchers , and some Native Americans reloaded.
               and "probably" a bunch of other guys but we cannot prove it

how much: buff and market hunters a lot, everybody else , WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH

how do we know:
         we know how much some buff hunters and market hunters loaded, because it is documented in store reciepts,
         factory orders ( with names and delivery details) , and some very specific entries in logbooks, ledgers, and diaries by these people.
         This doco still exists and can be referenced because these guys were IN BUSINESS, and these records were part of their business records.

         There are occasional ( rare in my mind) letters , diary entries or military reports that specifically describe reloading.

Letters & diaries are good doco because they are first person narrative to folks "back home" and the writer is telling them news and
what is going on, and unless he is bragging about how wonderful he is ( I caught over a thousand fish today alone!)  there
is no reason for them to lie. Diaries are often a narrative of how much they accomplished such as land plowed, crops planted,
harvest brought in, deer etc hunted for meat, so that the writer can keep track of how good or bad the year has been.

Very occasionally you may see in a letter or diary "load a quantity of shells " or "loaded some cartridges" for the upcoming hunt ...
or "won the ham at the town scheutzenfest, and so must make time to load more cartridges for the fall" .... Even so, except for
the Range Wars & Indian Wars, 50 cartridges would last a long time.

Military reports or letters are much better, since they are giving detailed factual reports . It is there I have found such gems as a report
that (paraphrased) " Local hostiles are using captured cartridge guns, and due to lack of ammunition, are loading spent shell cases with powder and
ball"  or " Private Smith has been put on punishment duty, to wit: cartridge loadiing , Due to shortage of ammunition for training" .

However I can only recall 2 or 3 about the Indians, and only found 1 about loading as punishment duty.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The big probelm is the lack of written supporting doco.

A lot of popular books are written on topics ranging from the Buffalo Hunters, to Mountain Men, to Cowboys and cattle drives...
but very often they are causually written for a casual audience, and they ought not to be used as factual source unless they use accepted
methods of references , footnotes, etc.     because, without verifiable doco to back it up it is at best hear-say and at worst fiction.
And books without quoted footnotes and sources are more often "passed down old stories" than we would like.


In History, Serious Scholars use what is called "Historical Method"  see here
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method

In general these include
- do not "assume"
- do not "guess"
- do not try to apply modern thought or modern "common sense"
- you actually need documented proof, usually they want at least 5 examples

So there it is.

I did not mean for it to sound like I was dumping on you, just trying to explain the more rigorous "proofs" needed for actual acedemic style  historical research.

and I STILL think they reloaded more than we can prove.

your humble servant
Prof Marvel

ps I will try to dig out more stuff later if anybody cares
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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2019, 10:02:29 PM »
Actually early in the last century many cowboys wrote down their memories and many of these books can be found at large libraries covered with dust from lack of use, none I read of maybe 2 dozen mentioned reloading.  The only mentions I've are the ones I listed.

So by the same "logic and common sense" it's likely very few people reloaded.

So we point out what we know and it don't fit your agenda so you have a small hissy fit and threaten to leave, that's not proper behavior for someone who claims to be 73 years old.

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Offline Professor Marvel

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2019, 11:38:03 PM »
Actually early in the last century many cowboys wrote down their memories and many of these books can be found at large libraries covered with dust from lack of use, none I read of maybe 2 dozen mentioned reloading.

Ah My Good Del
There is the thing... the diaries are you found are only accessible if one is as serious as you and are willing to do the work to travel and find them. I will have to inquire around my area and see what if anything is available and if they will let me at their archives.

Many of the docs from the Fur Trade era are only available because people like Hansen did the work like you are doing, and recently some libraries are digitizing the works.

BTW
Afteryou posted some of the historic photos of kansas and nebraska i bookmarked those sources and have been perusing them casually... they are a great source, thanks.

Yhs
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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #43 on: August 31, 2019, 01:20:59 AM »
Deep research takes time and effort, something many could do if they'd turn off the TV and do something useful.  The era of The History channel providing any useful information has long passed.

There are some amazing historical books on line now and most can be down loaded to a tablet and read at the Drs office while waiting or when left in the car by one's spouse while she shops at a store you'd rather not go into.
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2019, 07:22:29 AM »
Actually early in the last century many cowboys wrote down their memories and many of these books can be found at large libraries covered with dust from lack of use, none I read of maybe 2 dozen mentioned reloading.  The only mentions I've are the ones I listed.

So by the same "logic and common sense" it's likely very few people reloaded.

So we point out what we know and it don't fit your agenda so you have a small hissy fit and threaten to leave, that's not proper behavior for someone who claims to be 73 years old.

I never said that people reloaded where did you get that idea? I never said anything about reloading, NOT ONCE! My argument was that the price of ammo was misstated and it wasn't that expensive so they bought it. (Sears 1897 catalog .84 cents for a box of 50) I didn't have a hissy fit I just don't want to waste my time arguing over something that you seem to deem yourself an expert on and you allow no one else their point of view! Why don't you just drop this already and go do something constructive with your life!
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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #45 on: Today at 07:41:45 PM »

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #45 on: August 31, 2019, 08:35:03 AM »

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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2019, 10:47:50 AM »
The cowboys didn't shoot much I agree but I'm sure the lawman and bad guys bought more than a box in a couple years. Probably more like a box a month I would guess and maybe more. The bad guys probably had more money and could afford to buy or even steal more ammo than that. ;D

It's implied several places.   ;)
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2019, 12:34:29 PM »
It's implied several places.   ;)

 I said from the beginning I didn't say anything about reloading! Thanks for making my point! ::)
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Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #48 on: September 03, 2019, 01:47:58 PM »
I have returned to this topic in order to defend an early statement that was partly incorrect but was still for the most part correct but not believed by others.

In the 'TimeLife Series books the Old West the Gunfighter' page 106 second column.  The paragraph is written about the Ford elections where Bat Masterson was elected.  They state "But, once a sheriff attained office, he could scarcely avoid finding it profitable, for much of his time was spent collecting county taxes, and often he received a percentage of the take.  Combined, in some states, with a certain amount of judicious graft from road-building and other county contracts he dispensed, that sort of income could make a man 'wealthy':"

now the next is where my memory went wrong, because I did not like the western character.

"Sheriff John Behan... in Tombstone, was reputed to have raked in $40,000 a year during his term."

Back when I posted this statement I applied the dollar value to Masterson, but after reading this again and again I still believe that Masterson did become wealthy after having to cover a 300 mile radius on Kansas.

I still could not find the 25cent per cartridge statement.

Now for that topic of reloading and that no-one did and everyone bought ammo because it was so cheap.  The following is just another documented info that proves that reloading during the west was cheaper than buying for most and the common person.  But not those on the run, moving around from location to location, not willing to carry quantities of supplies.

In the book 'A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver' by Graham - Kopec - Moore on page 306 & 307 the text states that the Government in 1882 changed the proprietary Colt internal primed cartridge to the new outside primer in order to reload because cases were most expensive components.   At the same time they changed the 45/70 to outside priming.  Both for the purpose of reloading because they had Springfield Armory create reloading tools.  Then in 1888 or 1890 the Government demanded that brass cases be substituted for copper.  The Government start to but 'no-one else' did.  The armies did require troops to reload.

These next comments are just thoughts.  By the argument that no one reloaded then the best business sense would have been only manufacture rimfire cases.  This controls the consumer market and make everyone pay the manufactures.  No independence.  All the following goes against this logic and the belief that no on reloaded and everyone wanted to just buy and buy factory ammo.

The first Colt conversion was the Thuer with its internal cartridges.  They made reloading tools for it.  Why?  According to some just buy more bullets from Colt.  Case manufacturing was the most expensive part, that's why.

When S&W developed the 3rd Model there where rimfire 44's like the Henry or other why not just use them and keep everyone buying loaded cartridges, good for business and 'no-one' reloaded.  But they determined like others outside primed cases could handle more powder and they could be reloaded.

Why did Win continue developing a newer rifle after the '66, according to those thinking no-one reloaded it would have been the best product for business.  But they created an outside reloadable case with more powder.  And as I listed before they and S&W immediately created reloading tools.

I still believe, lawmen where supplied with ammo from the city councils and that outlaws bought or stole ammo.  They did not need to reload.  But I do not believe everyone else only bought factory ammo, as I stated earlier.
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #49 on: September 04, 2019, 09:51:42 AM »

BRS .....
Some serious suppositions there.  There is no "evidence" troops were required to "reload."  Just the government changed cartridge requirements.  "If" ammunition was reloaded, it would most likely been done at Depot level.

I have no doubt there were a percentage of folks that reloaded cartridges.  I seriously doubt it was widespread.  My suppositions are the same as your suppositions.  Just suppositions and for the most part based on what we know of economics "today."

I must return to the position ..... I/We don't personally know anyone whom was 'there."  We constantly referee to tomes written by people who weren't there and didn't talk to anyone whom was there either and as such didn't know anymore then we do.  It's foolish to keep hammering the same nail when the nail doesn't hold anything together.

Besides .... at this point in time .... Who Cares??  It simply doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  Your Nail, Your Hammer do with it as you will I suppose.

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #50 on: Today at 07:41:45 PM »

Offline Black River Smith

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #50 on: September 04, 2019, 02:24:03 PM »
Coffinmaker,

You are correct about stepping away from this topic,  better do it before someone comes in and says...??...


'Matt Dillon' did not exist in Dodge City during the Old West. :o
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Offline FriscoCounty

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #51 on: September 04, 2019, 05:44:10 PM »
I still could not find the 25cent per cartridge statement.

Just had a look at the UMC 1873 price list.  No. 44 Henry flat ran $24.00 per thousand. No. 56 Calibre 50 for Spencers ran $40/1,000.

In the 1877 Remington catalog .45-70 cartridges ran $37/1,000 and .45-70 Carbine ran $35.00/thousand.  Primed cases for .45 Gov/t were $20/1,000. .45 Gov't bullets were 12.75/1,000. 

I have a feeling that whoever quoted $0.25/cartridge was either mistaken about the quantity (ie, thinking it was $25/100 instead of $25/1000) or found a sutler's price list that really jacked up the price.

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Offline Trailrider

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #52 on: September 04, 2019, 06:07:48 PM »
IIn the book 'A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver' by Graham - Kopec - Moore on page 306 & 307 the text states that the Government in 1882 changed the proprietary Colt internal primed cartridge to the new outside primer in order to reload because cases were most expensive components.   At the same time they changed the 45/70 to outside priming.  Both for the purpose of reloading because they had Springfield Armory create reloading tools.  Then in 1888 or 1890 the Government demanded that brass cases be substituted for copper.  The Government start to but 'no-one else' did.  The armies did require troops to reload.
Quote

Not really getting into the argument as to whether and who reloaded. I will comment on the changeover by the Army from inside-primed central fire, "copper" cartridge cases (actually gilding metal) to outside-primed brass cases. The problem with internally-primed cartridge case was that they require a soft material that could be deformed by the firing pin's impact in order to set off the primer (Bene't cup or Martin bar primer). Another reason for using the softer material was the state-of-the-art in drawing brass into cartridge cases. The problem with the softer "copper" cases was that they expanded and stayed that way upon firing. Combined with the fouling produced by black powder, the fired cases became difficult to extract from the chamber after several rounds had been fired in succession. The result was jammed rifles and carbines. There is plenty of documentation to attest to this problem. (And, NO, this wasn't what lead to Custer's defeat. His troops didn't have time to fire enough rounds to jam their carbines! They were overrun too quickly. Reno and Benteen, however, did spend time clearing jammed weapons, and there were enough other complaints to the Ordnance Dept. from commanders in the field.)

So why didn't the government change over until the 1880's? Simple. They had too much of the old-style ammo on hand, and couldn't get funding, plus tooling, from Congress any sooner. At the same time, inside priming was not possible with brass, so the change to outside priming, plus the fact that the commercial companies were manufacturing externally-primed, brass cartridges proved the efficacy of the type.  I don't have the documentation, but I believe the external primers were of the Berdan type, at least initially. As to whether the troops in the field reloaded or not, I can't document. However, with the increased emphasis on marksmanship that came about after the Little Big Horn debacle, more ammo was probably needed at frontier posts for practice than the allocations would allow. I have documented records that troops in the late 1870's, after the introduction of the .45-70, were allowed three (3) rounds per man per month for target practice.  Some units retained their obsolescent .50-70 rifles in small quantities, and utilized these for both target practice and foraging (hunting).  Co. G, 3rd Cavalry retained five (5) of their .50-70 Sharps carbines at Sidney Barracks, NE, and had about 50,000 rounds of ammo for same on hand through the June 1876 Ordnance and Ordnance Stores in the Hands of Troops. (After that, unfortunately, those type of records no longer can be found! Because of this, we don't know how long that unit kept those Sharps, or when they finally ran out of .50-70 ammo...or when they were transferred to Arizona after Geronimo.) So, whether they subsequently wound up reloading ammo for practice and foraging, cannot be said, based on the available data.

I cannot comment on the extent to which private citizens, outside of professional hunters, reloaded prior to the 20th Century.
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Offline Rye Miles

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #53 on: September 05, 2019, 07:48:41 AM »
Just had a look at the UMC 1873 price list.  No. 44 Henry flat ran $24.00 per thousand. No. 56 Calibre 50 for Spencers ran $40/1,000.

In the 1877 Remington catalog .45-70 cartridges ran $37/1,000 and .45-70 Carbine ran $35.00/thousand.  Primed cases for .45 Gov/t were $20/1,000. .45 Gov't bullets were 12.75/1,000. 

I have a feeling that whoever quoted $0.25/cartridge was either mistaken about the quantity (ie, thinking it was $25/100 instead of $25/1000) or found a sutler's price list that really jacked up the price.

Like I quoted before, 1897 Sears Catalog $0.84 for 50 cartridges of .45 Colt!! That's less than 2 cents a round! :o
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Offline Sir Charles deMouton-Black

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #54 on: September 14, 2019, 10:17:42 AM »
I know the discussion focused on pistol and rifle ammo, but did not mention shotgun reloading. I just reviewed an old post of mine, the timeline of shotgun ammo development on the shotgun board, and other places as well. While shotgun ammo quite like the current paper shells were developed in the 1870's, LOADED ammo was not commonly produced until 1886 (Winchester). Components and tools were widely available and shotgun shooters had to reload in most cases.
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Offline Professor Marvel

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #55 on: September 14, 2019, 05:00:59 PM »
Thanks Sir C!

I had forgotten all about the scatterguns!

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Offline Tascosa Joe

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #56 on: September 15, 2019, 08:20:53 AM »
Some years back I was visiting Ft Garland, CO (1853-1883).  A semi local college was doing an archaeological dig in a trash pit on the fort grounds.  While visiting with the professor one of the students came to him and said we found a cartridge case.  I asked if I could accompany him to the sight and he ok'ed me to tag a long.  The cartridge case was a boxer primed 45-70.  Among other things in the pit were animal bones, mostly beef and sheep, old bottles of various sorts, etc.  The professor was dating the pit as belonging to the fort.  IMO this indicates the govt was using boxer primed 45-70 fairly early.
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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #57 on: September 20, 2019, 01:23:36 PM »
The first US Army boxer primed cases were supposed to be 1882
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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #58 on: September 21, 2019, 05:21:16 PM »
The first US Army boxer primed cases were supposed to be 1882

Seeing the head stamp on it would be useful.

Just because it ended up with other garbage in that pit don't mean a lot, a head stamp would date a military cartridge, or give a rough date for a civilian one.
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Offline Delmonico

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Re: Did they reload?
« Reply #59 on: September 21, 2019, 05:25:42 PM »
84 cents a box is almost a days wages in that era.

The 25 cents a cartridge that is often quoted for the era involves big long range rounds that were often shipped by wagons to trading posts through hostile country.  They would bring that where there was plenty of money and a dire need.

Simple economics.
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Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

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The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.

 

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