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short guns
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Stalking Turkey
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Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject: short guns Reply with quote

this is a question that i'm sure has been on a few boards before.

Can anyone give me some information on the cut-down muskets that you see a lot of natives carring? some are no longer than 2'. I am interested because I think that they are cool. In my quest for information I have not found in documments.

Stalking Turkey
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Fitzhugh Williams
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Real Name: Fitzhugh Williams

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that the short guns, namely those which have not been shortened due to some damage, are a fantasy perpetuated by modern gun builders because people will buy them. Anything shorter than about 37 or 38 inches would not have been traded to the NDNs. Most would have been longer.
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Jason
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 9:38 am    Post subject: Short Guns Reply with quote

In trade lists here in the South you often see gun traded to the Southeastern Indians with barrels that measure 36".

They are listed as (paraphrased):

Guns of the common sort with 36 inch barrels for BOYS.

The Brittish 11 & 16 shilling trade guns (which I recently got to hold 2 originals from Wallace Guslers collection) had barrels around 46-48".

Benny Coogle is an excellent person to chime in on this topic as he has done a lot of research on the "Type G" trade gun.
JG

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Rod L
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

36 inches is about as short as was used. 4 foot and 3 1/2 foot barrels were the most common sold by the HBC, with 3 foot barrels introduced in 1688. They obviously weren't as popular as the longer ones, as they were only ordered intermittently until they were standardized in 1731.

By the way, barrels could be too long as well. The 5 foot guns didn't sell well and were dropped in 1685. Oddly enough, seven 5 1/2 foot guns were ordered in 1693, but never again.

It should be remembered that the fur companies were out to please the customer, and would deliver what the customer wanted. If the Indians of the time wanted 2 foot guns, they would have sold them. Judging from the orders, the customers wanted 4 to 3 1/2 foot guns.

See Gooding's Trade Guns of the Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1970 for more information.

Rod

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Pathfinder
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may need to be corrected on this but I think many of us got the idea of short indian guns from the many post fur trade pieces that have been found over the years, many of which were cut down "after factory" and most likely for easier carry on horse back! My speculation!

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Rod L
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many were cut down, but this doesn't really seem to gain much in popularity until post-1850's. The fashion of the northern plains Indians then became to cut down the now-obsolete trade gun into an oversized pistol, mainly for running buffalo on horseback and horse warfare.

Of course, there were undoubtably more than a few with shortened barrels due to firing with a barrel obstruction, but they weren't purchased that way --it was an expedient to keep the gun functional.

As I said before, if the Indians of the time had wanted trade guns with short barrels, the companies catering to them would have gladly provided them. That they did not indicates what the Indians wanted as far as barrel length.

Rod

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Okwaho
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Real Name: Tom Patton

PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rod and Fitz are right on here,but let me jump in. First of all there were some cut back Indian guns primarily, as Rod said, in the 19th century for use on horseback on the plains for buffalo. I also agree that there were some 36" guns{barrel length}but they weren't common, the 42" and 48" guns seemed to be most prevalent and apparently favored by Natives.As to "Boy's Length" the only reference of which I am aware refers to a group of 3/4 size French Fusils de chasse {les petite fuzee}. There are apparently 2 of these known with one being some parts found in a composite gun from about the Revolutionary period and the other was found in Quebec several years ago and belongs to a friend of mine as part of his collection. He also has a copy of the paperwork in French. The gun is now percussion.If Jason has documentation to "Boy's Guns" I would very much like to see it.I would suggest that such guns, if they exist other than the one I cited,are abberations or special orders for some Englishman or Frenchman.

Now as to the other guns which I have dubbed "Fantasy Guns". These are
1. Cut back ranger guns with less than about 42"barrels having started as Long Land Pattern muskets.The common argument here is that rangers and others of like persuasion needed short barrels because of the underbrush.The fly in that ointment is that in the 18th century as per material in the National Geographic citing the apprpriate Governmental agencies. there was no underbrush. Think 17th and 18th century Hudson Valley fowlers with all those 50" plus long barrels which were commonly found in New England where oddly enough most of the Rangers operated during the F&I War.
2. Cut back Brown Bess trade guns.Indians almost universally preferred light weight guns and again I would like to see the documentation.
3.The ubiquitous and ever popular Canoe and Blanket guns so beloved to reenactors who know no better and buy them leming like from Vendors who should know better.

As always I welcome responsible dissenting comment
Tom Patton
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Eric S. Campbell
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have always heard of guns being cut don during pontiacs rebellion to take forts. But we know that they were traded pistols so what would be the point of a hunting people to cut down perfectly good guns if they had pistols?
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Okwaho
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Real Name: Tom Patton

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric, it's true there were some pistols traded to or otherwise acquired by Natives in the 18th century but I doubt they were all that numerous. Scattered references do mention them however. On May 7,1763 Pontiac and a number of chiefs entered Fort Detroit with shortened {but by how much we don't know} guns,tomahawks,and knives hidden under their blankets. Apparently the Brtitish commander, Major Henry Gladwin was forewarned and the British were all well armed whereupon no attempt was made by the Indians to take the fort then. A siege was begun which lasted until October of 1763.There was also the instance of Fort Michilimackinac being taken by a similar ruse during a stickball game but there the weapons{knives and axes} were given to the warriors by the women aftre the gate was opened. There seems to have been no mention made of guns.
Tom Patton
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captchee
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have to go with what the others have said here .
With the exception of the Calvary carbine. These would be much smaller then a rifle ,yet longer then the now popular blanket or canoe guns..
The Museum up in Cody Wyoming has a number of these on display from both France and Britain .

However I cant say I have ever read documentation to support these weapons being used for trade to American Indian nations pre plains era
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Stalking Turkey
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you for the information. In my research I came across the same answeres that you all have put on the board. I just wanted to see what other opinon was on the short guns.


I had work at a historic site in New York state and we had a half dozen of Besses, most of the 54 mobel. The shortest barrel was 36", but who knows when the barrel was cut down.


thanks again
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killsmany
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most blanket guns were cut down fer bein hid under a blanket at treaty talks etc. Whites were well known fer double crosses at meetings,so they were carried in as insurance.They would be the cheapest thing in camp as they'd be not much better than a pistol & alot heavier.Those with pistols would've used them.It's alot like those of us who carry our pistols hiddin nowdays & refuse to submit to illegal permits & such.It would'nt have been evident to those watchin & so not as well documented.Just gotta put yerself in the period & what would you do in that situation with what was available then. I would want some close quarter weapons around the house before goin in with knife & club.There's alot more documentation in the west where horses were used more & you could afford more weight.I think in the east they'd of been kept in the villiage fer defence & not carried to battle.Well that's my two cents.There is a good talk on this at frontierfolk native questions.
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killsmany
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most blanket guns were cut down fer bein hid under a blanket at treaty talks etc. Whites were well known fer double crosses at meetings,so they were carried in as insurance.They would be the cheapest thing in camp as they'd be not much better than a pistol & alot heavier.Those with pistols would've used them.It's alot like those of us who carry our pistols hiddin nowdays & refuse to submit to illegal permits & such.It would'nt have been evident to those watchin & so not as well documented.Just gotta put yerself in the period & what would you do in that situation with what was available then. I would want some close quarter weapons around the house before goin in with knife & club.There's alot more documentation in the west where horses were used more & you could afford more weight.I think in the east they'd of been kept in the villiage fer defence & not carried to battle.Well that's my two cents.There is a good talk on this at frontierfolk native questions.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Loyalist Dave
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, the F&I period had rifles, but cutting one down is not nearly as simple as taking a file to a musket. I think that the use of a few cut down "blanket guns" for concealment for taking a fort by covert entry during Pontiac's Rebellion (which by the way would mean they only needed to do this for that operation..., after killing the soldiers there would be lots of muskets available) is what has lead to shorter guns and the idea they were often found.

Think about it..., IF it was common for Indians to cut down muskets, or to get really short muskets, then soldiers would've known to look under blankets, and the strategy wouldn't have worked. So this was an UNcommon practise, and the soldiers were taken by surprise.

LD

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