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Old July 6, 2017, 11:20 AM   #1
briandg
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can anyone explain this?

A broken and discarded trapdoor found at little bighorn, credited to indians, all damage seems to be deliberate, and the curators say that it was done by the owner of the weapon.

Myself, after a whole lot of thinking and finding lots of reasons to believe it, that certainly looks more like the rifle was deliberately destroyed by the army or other persons who carried it after it became damaged. Barrel twisted in tree branches and stock broken, but why wasn't the hammer broken off? why is the trap still on?

The indians were spiritual, superstitious, bound by a lot of curious ideas. I believe that the rifle was found by an indian, repaired to their standards, and kept as a totem. It was probably carried into battle by a warrior as a charm. It may have been intended for use as a club. It may even have been used on us soldiers after the battle.

I don't believe for a minute that one of the indians got hold of that rifle, then bent the barrel, broke the stock, wrapped it with rawhide, then replaced the sights?

Wife is reading about the battle, and asked me what it meant. I couldn't answer. That always irritates me when I have to say that I don't now.





https://www.nps.gov/media/photo/gall...se&startrow=21
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Old July 6, 2017, 12:42 PM   #2
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It could be as simple as it being a Indian rifle that was used until the horse was shot out from under the rider and the horse landed on the rifle. The rifle was then simply discarded. They carried their medicine in a pouch around their necks, they didn't carry broken rifles as charms.
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Old July 6, 2017, 12:59 PM   #3
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"...why wasn't the hammer broken off..." Probably because the Sioux ATF didn't have the technology to break steel. Bending a barrel is relatively easy. However, the 'more' link says the lock is jammed and the extractor is gone. The previous owner may have destroyed it so his brother in law couldn't have it. There were no Indian gunsmiths either. Once a trade firearm got damaged it was only kept as a status symbol. Certainly not as a totem.
I think .50-70 TD carbines were given or traded to the tribes before the U.S. government decided to ignore the treaties with the Sioux. The thing is an 1866 TD.
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Old July 6, 2017, 01:08 PM   #4
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Obviously the barrel was bent after the stock was once repaired with rawhide. RJay's suggestion is plausible.

if it was in a white man's hands, it would have been rebarreled and restocked by a gunsmith.
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Old July 6, 2017, 05:26 PM   #5
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It was the quickest , easiest way to disable a gun ! Or else the horse rolled over it.
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Old July 6, 2017, 05:45 PM   #6
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Rifle Captured on Bozeman Trail?

From Wikipedia( with all of the associated caveats) regarding the 1866 model rifle: "The Model 1866 was issued to U.S. troops in 1867, and was a major factor in the Wagon Box Fight and the Hayfield Fight, along the Bozeman Trail in 1867. The rapid rate of fire which could be achieved disrupted the tactics of attacking Sioux and Cheyenne forces, who had faced muzzle-loading rifles during the Fetterman massacre only a few months before. The new rifles contributed decisively to the survival and success of severely outnumbered U.S. troops in these engagements." Possible Indian battlefield capture in 1867, reused and damaged at LBH?

Some other interesting info from history.net on results of battlefied archeology:
"Not until archaeological investigations were conducted on the battlefield during the 1980s did the extent to which the Indians used gunpowder weapons come to light. Modern firearm identification analysis revealed that the Indians had spoken the truth about the variety and number of weapons they carried. The Cheyenne warrior Wooden Leg went into battle with what he called a’six-shooter’ and later captured a Springfield carbine and 40 rounds of ammunition. The Miniconjou One Bull, Sitting Bull’s nephew, owned an old muzzleloader. The Hunkpapa Iron Hawk and the Cheyenne Big Beaver had only bows and arrows. Eagle Elk, an Oglala, started the battle with a Winchester. White Cow Bull, an Oglala, also claimed to have a repeater.

There were 2,361 cartridges, cases and bullets recovered from the entire battlefield, which reportedly came from 45 different firearms types (including the Army Springfields and Colts, of course) and represented at least 371 individual guns. The evidence indicated that the Indians used Sharps, Smith & Wessons, Evans, Henrys, Winchesters, Remingtons, Ballards, Maynards, Starrs, Spencers, Enfields and Forehand & Wadworths, as well as Colts and Springfields of other calibers. There was evidence of 69 individual Army Springfields on Custer’s Field (the square-mile section where Custer’s five companies died), but there was also evidence of 62 Indian .44-caliber Henry repeaters and 27 Sharps .50-caliber weapons. In all, on Custer’s Field there was evidence of at least 134 Indian firearms versus 81 for the soldiers. It appears that the Army was outgunned as well as outnumbered."

Last edited by Lprmcnit; July 6, 2017 at 06:05 PM. Reason: Additional Info
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Old July 6, 2017, 06:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
From Wikipedia( with all of the associated caveats) regarding the 1866 model rifle: "The Model 1866 was issued to U.S. troops in 1867, and was a major factor in the Wagon Box Fight and the Hayfield Fight, along the Bozeman Trail in 1867. The rapid rate of fire which could be achieved disrupted the tactics of attacking Sioux and Cheyenne forces, who had faced muzzle-loading rifles during the Fetterman massacre only a few months before. The new rifles contributed decisively to the survival and success of severely outnumbered U.S. troops in these engagements." Possible Indian battlefield capture in 1867, reused and damaged at LBH?
I believe you are thinking of the wrong rifle. The 1866 was a Winchester lever action...the rifle in the post is an 1873 Springfield "Trapdoor" Carbine. Addendum: whoops...there were two, 1866 guns.

Last edited by dahermit; July 7, 2017 at 03:38 PM.
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Old July 6, 2017, 06:42 PM   #8
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I admit could never tell the difference between an 1866 Model Springfield TD and and 1873 model ( other than by caliber i guess) i believe the troops at both Wagon Box and Hayfield used single shot TD rifles. Dee Brown's book on the Fetterman massacre discusses how suprised the Indians were higher rate of fire of the TD rifles, as opposed to the muzzle loaders used by the infantry troops at The Fetterman fight. The cavalry troopers that died at Fetterman were using Spencer rifles and were killed when their ammo was exhausted and their targets concealed by the smoke of black powder. The Wikipedia article i quoted, ( with all the limitations of Wikipedia) was on the 1866 model Springfield TD.
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Old July 6, 2017, 07:24 PM   #9
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If I am not mistaken, the 1866 Model Springfield was in 50-70 and was a rifle, not a carbine.
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Old July 6, 2017, 08:55 PM   #10
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The Model 1866 was a musket conversion, chambered for the .50-70 CF cartridge. The earlier Model 1865 was made for the .58 caliber rimfire and no relining was needed.

FWiW, I think the original gun was given at least two different "treatments" at different times by different people. The old rifle, probably already with a broken stock, was salvaged and "repaired" by Indians. It was then captured by soldiers or other whites, but in poor condition and with no ammo available, its new owners simply bent the barrel around a tree and discarded the remains.

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Old July 8, 2017, 09:07 PM   #11
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Easily explained. That was Custer's rifle. He was out behind the guy's looking for a way out and ran into Sitting Bull. He fired and missed so grabbed the gun by the barrel and hit ole Sitting Bull in the back with it. Well that upset Sitting Bull so he took the rifle and bent the barrel. After thing's cooled off a bit, Custer apologized for the sneak attack and they sat down and smoked a joint together. That's my story, I was there! Seen the whole thing!!!
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Old July 10, 2017, 08:21 AM   #12
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"The Model 1866 was a musket conversion"

Exactly.

After the Civil War the Army was looking for a way to use the millions of still serviceable rifled muskets.

As Jim mentioned, the first attempt was the .58 rimfire 1865 using either the Allin or Miller conversion system. These guns were quickly replaced by the 1866, which used a liner in the .58 caliber barrel to reduce it to .50.

These conversions were moderately successful and were issued to troops who used them to great effect in a number of battles against the plains Indians.

I say moderately successful because after a few hundred rounds fired, the liner would start to separate and the gun would become non-functional.

That put an end to the relining program with the adoption of the Model 1868, which fitted a new barrel to the action.
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Old July 10, 2017, 08:15 PM   #13
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The liners separated because they were held in by soft solder that had a lot of "holes" in it, probably due to not wanting to get either the barrel or the liner too hot. They look good, but if one is cut off, the gaps become evident. By the time the .45-70 was adopted, SA had pretty well given up on the idea of using old musket parts (probably never a good idea, though it would have sounded great in testimony before the military appropriations committees) and the Model 1873 was a new rifle, with few parts that were left over.

Jim
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Old July 19, 2017, 12:25 PM   #14
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Muskets were used until '68. Easy to tell as the pre-68s didn't have serial numbers. The '68 50-70 TDs did.

They were produced until the Model 73 Trapdoor was developed.

The bottom gun in this photo is the '68 version of the 50-70 trapdoor, the top is the a 1878 made Model 73.



The 1866 Springfield was know as the Second Allen Conversion, and it was used in the Wagon Box and Hayfield Battles, both in 1867 and gave good accounts of themselves.

Its doubtful any 50-70 Trapdoors were used by the Army at Little Big Horn.

If one is interested in what rife was used where, the should contact Casey at the Wyoming State Crime Lab, Firearms Investigation.

For her college Theses, she did a study on all the firearms and recovered bullets she could find among the museums in the Mountain West, tracing bullets to different battle fields (bullets from one rifle she found she traced to 4 different battles ending up at the Little Big Horn. She told me it was from an Indians' rifle so I'm going to assume it was a 50 cal bullet. I'll ask her next time she comes back to town.

She was also going to give me a copy of her thesis, and with her permission I'll post more info.

She owes me, it was her mother, a county commissioner, who got me stuck doing Women's Firearm SD classes which has turned into 5 years of nothing but a headache.

She owes me.

Any way, this young lady is quite knowledgeable of the period weapons of the Indian wars of the Mountain West.
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Old July 19, 2017, 02:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
The liners separated because they were held in by soft solder that had a lot of "holes" in it, probably due to not wanting to get either the barrel or the liner too hot.
There were a lot of Sharps and Spencers with lined barrels. Were they subject to such separation?
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Old July 20, 2017, 01:08 PM   #16
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Don't know, but something to look for.

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Old July 20, 2017, 02:40 PM   #17
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In WWII there were guns developed with bent barrels to shoot around corners , but they never gave the Indians credit for inventing the idea !
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Old July 21, 2017, 02:34 PM   #18
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Perhaps a disgruntled trooper who got fed with the constant jams due to the soft copper cases. I read a cavalryman back then could swear for 20 minutes straight without repeating himself.
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Old July 22, 2017, 12:01 AM   #19
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I read a cavalryman back then could swear for 20 minutes straight without repeating himself.
And a good DI can do the same thing today

Mine certainly could in the 70s!

I heard a story that R. Lee Ermy was originally hired to coach the actor who was going to be the DI in Full Metal Jacket. Supposedly he cursed for 20 minutes without repeating himself while Kubrick bounced tennis balls off him to try and distract him. This impressed the director and Ermy got the part instead of the actor they had planned on using.

don't know if its true, and can't say its not, but there's been talk!
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Old July 22, 2017, 11:30 PM   #20
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Anyone who had to ride for miles in a McClellan saddle, would learn a lot of new cuss words.

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Old July 23, 2017, 11:30 AM   #21
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You only need to read the cavalry book...

"40 miles in the saddle" by Major Arseburns

to under stand that,
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Old August 16, 2017, 11:33 PM   #22
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I heard about that book over 50 years ago.
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