Monday, April 13, 2015

5 Guns That Helped Shape The History of The Church and West

There are five guns that weave there way through Church and Western History. They helped shape Church history.

1. Joseph Smith’s Pepperbox
This is the gun that Joseph was given for self-defense at his martyrdom. June of 1844. Also Orson Pratt was sent to purchase $400 worth of these guns for the Saints as they started west. (See blog “Joseph’s Pepperbox 6/14/2014)
Initially Ethan Allen's firm manufactured single-shot pistols and rifles, but eventually moved on to early revolvers. The Allen & Thurber Pepper-box, known as the "Gun that won the East", was the most common repeating handgun of its day.
2. The Browning 1911
(John Browning was born in Ogden, Utah. He served a mission to Georgia and was an active member)
In 1910 the final prototype for the Model 1911 pistol, incorporating the addition of the manual safety lever, was put through an exhaustive test regimen. At one point, six thousand rounds were fired through a single pistol without a single jam or failure. On May 5, 1911 the Colt pistol was officially accepted as the “Automatic Pistol, Caliber .45, Model of 1911.” Following its adoption by the Army, the M1911 was also accepted by the Navy and the Marines. It was also adopted by Norway, for use by their armed forces. Supplemental production capacity was set up at Springfield Armory, in order to meet the heavy demand for the pistol. When the United States entered World War I, demand for the pistol was so great that contracts were let out to several other manufacturers. Only Remington/U.M.C. actually went into production, however, before the war ended, resulting in the abrupt cancellation of all outstanding contracts.
In service, the pistol was widely used as a side arm by officers and non-coms, as well as by such specialized units as the Military Police. It won a reputation for ruggedness, reliability and effectiveness, but a few more improvements were still to follow.

3. Mormon Battalion Harper’s Ferry Musket
Battalion members carried the US Model 1816 Flintlock Smoothbore Musket manufactured by Harpers Ferry Arsenal in 1827. The 1816 musket model was produced from 1816 until 1844 by Harpers Ferry, Springfield Armory and various other contractors. The 9-1/2 pound musket had the highest production of any US Flintlock musket and was the last flintlock martial arm to be produced. In total, all US government productions of the M1816 were 325,000 muskets produced at Springfield, Massachusetts and 350,000 muskets produced at Harper's Ferry in addition to 146,000 produced by other contractors. It served the US Army over 50 years and in two major armed conflicts. It saw service in the Mexican war in its flintlock version and in the US Civil War in both flintlock and percussion versions.
The flintlock ignition system employed a piece of flint clamped into the top of the musket hammer. When fired, the hammer fell forward, causing the flint to strike a spring-held vertical piece of steel called a frizzen. As the steel snapped back, the resulting sparks were forced downward to a priming charge of gunpowder. The ignition of this powder passed fire through a pin-sized hole and ignited the powder charge. The advent of the small brass percussion cap in the 1830s, with its self-contained explosive charge, eliminated the need for flint, steel, and priming powder and would eventually make flintlock arms obsolete.
It had a one piece full stock of walnut. The furniture and barrel were left in the white or browned depending on manufacturer and lot. The barrel was 42" long with a .69 caliber smoothbore (no rifling). The casehardened lock plate was marked with an eagle over "US" and dated 1816 on the tail. The 1816 had no front or rear sight. The bayonet lug was on top of the barrel at the muzzle. The three steel barrel bands were retained with barrel band retaining springs. A steel ramrod with button shaped head was stored under the barrel. The musket was converted from flintlock to percussion between about 1840-1860.
The earliest models of the 1816, including those dubbed the "Type I" musket, usually dated around 1817, featured a flat beveled lockplate and steel pan. There seems to be some variations between the placement of the bayonet lugs on the barrel, with some being produced for the 1812 bayonet and others for the 1816.
The next change of the 1816, the "Type II" muskets, produced 1822-31, are often referred to as the "National Armory Brown". It was called thus because of the browned finish on all metal parts except the lock and the sling swivel on trigger guard. These are often mistaken for "M1822" or "M1822" muskets.
The "Type III" muskets, produced 1831-44, are referred to as the "National Army Bright" models. Differences included a strengthened sling swivel and a bright finish on all metal parts.
A good deal is known about the Model 1816 flintlock muskets that were issued to the Mormon Battalion in August 1846 at Fort Leavenworth thanks to surviving weapons maintained by the LDS Museum of Church History and Art. These weapons have been authenticated by Battalion experts and are periodically displayed for the public by museum curators. All of the surviving Mormon Battalion Model 1816's in the LDS Museum collection are Type II weapons, stamped “Harpers Ferry” on their casehardened lock plates and dated “1827.”
Some US Model 1804 Rifles manufactured by Harpers Ferry Arsenal were also issued to the Battalion.

4. Orrin Porter Rockwell’s Navy Colt and Hawken Rifle
The first generation Colt single action Navy revolvers were produced in 1851. The most popular chambering was .45 but Port seemed to like the .36 maybe because it was smaller and not as heavy. He often wore two Colts in his belt for some open carry action.
The cylinder of this revolver is engraved with a scene of the victory of the Second Texas Navy at the Battle of Campeche on May 16, 1843.
He also carried the Hawken rifle. This was a .54 caliber black powder rifle. The Hawken brothers, Jacob and Samuel, were from St. Lewis, Missouri. They started to make guns together about 1825 to service the fur trade. This gun weighed about 8 ½ pounds, had a 28 inch octagonal barrel with a hooked breech system. The Hawken was known as an extremely accurate weapon and was used by Indians and settlers alike.

5. Robert LeRoy Parker’s (Butch Cassidy) Army Colt
(Butch Cassidy was born in Utah and was the son of stalwart members)
In 1873, Colt submitted a new pistol to the U.S. Army. It utilized an improved single-action mechanism coupled with a greatly-improved frame design. It was chambered for the newly-designed .45 Long Colt cartridge. The Army promptly adopted the new revolver as the new standard-issue sidearm. Colt also offered the pistol on the civilian market.
This was a very popular gun of the time.
In 1895–96, the Government returned 2000 SAA (Single action Army) revolvers to Colt to be refurbished; 800 were issued to the New York Militia with the 7 ½” barrel and 1200 were altered to a barrel length of 5½". In 1898, 900 of the SAA revolvers were altered the same way by Springfield Armory. The original records of the War Department do refer to these revolvers with the shortened barrel as the “Altered Revolver”. The name “Artillery” is actually a misnomer, which, it’s speculated, may have originated because the Light Artillery happened to have the first units armed with the altered revolver.

There you have it. Five guns that helped shape the history of the Church and the West.

Semper Paratus
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