Author Topic: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine  (Read 310 times)

Online Coal Creek Griff

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Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« on: May 01, 2020, 11:00:21 am »
As a part of my quarantine reading, I am reading James Gillett's Texas Rangers memoirs, Six Years with the Texas Rangers, written in the 1920s.  Of course he was writing mainly from memory, so some of his details may be off, but I'm finding it to be very believable and well written.

In writing about the year 1875, Gillett records that he and some other Rangers purchased new Winchester 1873s.  He wrote:

As soon as we were located in the new camp, Privates Nevill, Bell and Seiker obtained permission from Captain Roberts to visit Austin to buy a case of ten Winchesters.  Up to this time the company was armed with .50 caliber Sharps carbines.  These guns would heat easily and thus were very inaccurate shooters.  The state furnished this weapon to its rangers at a cost of $17.50, and at that time furnished no other class of gun.  The new center-fire 1873-model Winchester had just appeared on the market and sold at $50 for the rifle and $40 for the carbine.  A ranger who wanted a Winchester had to pay for it out of his own pocket and supply his own ammunition as well, for the state furnished cartridges only for the Sharps gun.  However, ten men in Company D, myself included, were willing to pay the price to have a superior arm.  I got carbine number 13401, and for the next six years of my ranger career I never used any other weapon.  I have killed almost every kind of game that is found in Texas, from the biggest old bull buffalo to a fox squirrel with this little .44 Winchester.  Today I still preserve it as a prized memento of the past.

I found this paragraph to be very intriguing. I haven't done any research, but I wonder where that carbine is now.  Perhaps someone here knows.  Is it in a museum somewhere?  If I had tons of extra money, I'd send off for the factory letter--I think that would be interesting (I wonder how many times that gun has been lettered).

Also, I used an inflation estimator app to find the following.  The $17.50 charged for the Sharps carbines would be worth $410.64 in 2020.  The $50 for an 1873 rifle would be $1173.25 and the $40 for a carbine would be $938.60.  If Gillett's memory for prices is correct, those Winchesters were not inexpensive.

Anyway, I thought that this was interesting and thought that it might be of interest to others. 

CC Griff
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Offline Yeso Bill

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2020, 02:23:19 pm »
I have several Ranger books but don't recall reading what they were paid.  Wiki states that drovers were paid $40.00 a month.  I have been told that cowboy wages here in NM around the turn of the century were $30.00.  For the modern cowboy drawing wages, they still aren't cheap.
CC, that is a good book.   

Billy

Online Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2020, 04:12:32 pm »
I have several Ranger books but don't recall reading what they were paid.  Wiki states that drovers were paid $40.00 a month.  I have been told that cowboy wages here in NM around the turn of the century were $30.00.  For the modern cowboy drawing wages, they still aren't cheap.
CC, that is a good book.   

Billy

Per Gillett's book, when the Ranger force was established, the pay was as follows: Captains received a salary of $100 per month, lieutenants $75, sergeants $50 and corporals and privates $40.  He says that the legislature later reduced the salary for privates to $30 per month.  Rangers needed to supply their horses, which had to meet approval of the captain.

I am enjoying the book.  While I chose to track down a hardcover copy, the book can be read online or downloaded to an e-reader here: https://archive.org/details/sixyearswithtex00gill/page/n7/mode/2up.  I started reading the electronic version, but decided that it was good enough that I wanted to hold the book in my hand and add it to my reference library.

Note that there are two editions of the book.  The second one corrected some of the things stated in the first edition.  For example, Gillett was in a fight with a group of Apaches which included a white boy.  The first edition misidentified the boy, but it was later determined that he had been Herman Lehmann (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Lehmann) and that was corrected in the second edition.  The link above is for the second edition, but the same site has both available.

CC Griff
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Offline Buck Stinson

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2020, 10:07:41 pm »
Gillett's mention about buying his '73 carbine in 1875 is not correct.  Serial number 13401 was made in 1876.  I'm  not sure exactly what month or day it was shipped.  I have a 1st model carbine number 6857 which was shipped September 3rd,  1875.  This Winchester spent most of it's  life on ranches  here in Montana and then    northern Idaho.  My 1875 Winchester catalog lists the carbine at a cost of $38.00 during that time period.  Wish I  had  a case of them.

Online Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2020, 04:57:27 pm »
Thanks for the insight, Buck! I like to read these memoirs, but I always take them with a certain amount of skepticism. They're often written 40-50 years after the events and are almost completely based on the "memories" of the author.

I went back and re-examined this passage, though. I noticed that he had been talking about December of the year 1875, then mentioned them going into their "winter camp" prior to the passage that I quoted above. Likely, that would put those events in early 1876. It seems unlikely that he was exactly right regarding his memories of the dates, but that is remarkably close.

CC Griff

EDIT: I guess that I can't be too critical of Gillett for memory lapses. I initially read that passage last week and have since gotten much deeper into the book. I wrote all of my comments above by just flipping back and scanning the pages. In the paragraph after the one that I quoted in my first post, he talks about wanting to use their new rifles to get a Christmas dinner. That would place these events in December 1875. Still, I am impressed but he was as close to the right date as he was.
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Offline Buck Stinson

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2020, 06:34:53 pm »
I agree.  I love those first hand accounts.  For the most part, they are quite  accurate, especially if the history was written down as it was taking place.  I knew the carbine was part of the Texas Ranger museum, so I  went to that web site and found a lot of info dedicated to carbine #13401.  According to them, the Cody letter says the gun was received in the warehouse on the 29th  of December, 1876 and shipped the next day.  Their guess would be Austin, but the Winchester ledgers never list a destination.  I thought I had read long ago about a ranger who, while in a firefight, mistakenly pushed a .45 Colt cartridge through the loading gate on his '73 carbine, which of course caused it to jam.  He took his knife, removed the side plates , pried out the Colt cartridge and reloaded his carbine with the proper .44 WCF  ammunition.  I thought it was Gillet, but couldn't  find  the  reference.

Online Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2020, 07:51:39 pm »
I'm glad that you found more info about the carbine.  I'll take a look at the Texas Ranger's Museum website.  Here's a link to an article about this carbine: https://www.texasranger.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/ARTIFACTS-Winchester-Model-1873-owned-by-J.B.-Gillett.pdf

The incident that you remembered is in Gillett's book, in the chapter titled "Last Scoutings".  The ranger involved was George Lloyd.  Here is the paragraph:

In dismounting, Lloyd held on to the end of a thirty-foot stake-rope that was tied around his horse’s neck. Four of the scouts wriggled their way down the creek and got away. In reloading his Winchester after shooting it empty Lloyd unfortunately slipped a .45 Colt’s pistol cartridge into the magazine of his .44 Winchester and in attempting to throw a cartridge into his gun it jammed, catching him in a serious predicament. However, taking his knife from his pocket the fearless Ranger coolly removed the screw that held the side plates of his Winchester together, took off the plates, removed the offending cartridge, replaced the plates, tightened up the screw, reloaded his gun, and began firing. It takes a man with iron nerve to do a thing like that, and you meet such a one but once in a lifetime. When I was casting around for a man to go into Mexico with me to kidnap Baca I naturally selected Lloyd out of the twenty men in camp.

CC Griff
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Offline Buck Stinson

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2020, 08:19:54 pm »
That's  it.  Every time  I  read  this,  that incident IS the definition of "being cool under fire".  He had a job to do and did it.  Thanks for posting that episode.

Offline Abilene

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2020, 11:17:32 pm »
A cool head indeed!  I guess he didn't know the trick of prying the extractor off the rim, pushing the carrier down, and backing the round out of the loading gate.   But then if he didn't have his trusty screwknife, his regular knife blade might have been too big.  ;D

Offline Rube Burrows

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2020, 05:14:48 pm »
Sounds like an excellent read.
"If legal action will not work use lever action and administer the law with Winchesters" ~ Louis L'Amour

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Re: Texas Ranger '73 Carbine
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2020, 05:14:48 pm »

 

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