Muzzleldrs About Plains rifles.

Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Hey folks, I was looking around Pendersoli's website, and noticed their Hawken of the Missouri river variant. This got me thinking, were Plains rifles used during the conflict? Just to be clear, I'm not specifically talking about rifles made by the Hawken brothers, I'm talking about what we typically think of as a Plains rifle. The type that would've been used by Fur Traders and Mountain men.

I though I read somewhere that there were a few at Wilson's Creek? Does anyone have documentation of this?
Hawken.jpg
 

Lampasas Bill

Corporal
Joined
Sep 24, 2018
In 1861 many members of the Missouri State Guard were armed with civilian weapons. The majority of these were probably shotguns, which many farmers owned. I have read an account by a participant that some units from deep in the Ozarks carried "squirrel guns" which were certainly small-bore rifles. "Plains" rifles tended to be large-bore to bring down buffalo and bear. There may have been some of these used by Missourians, for a number of them had been involved in the Santa Fe trade, although I've seen no reference to them during the Civil War. I think one would not be inappropriate if you're portraying a Missouri State Guardsmen at Boonville, Carthage or Wilson's Creek, but probably no later than that. My two cents worth.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
In 1861 many members of the Missouri State Guard were armed with civilian weapons. The majority of these were probably shotguns, which many farmers owned. I have read an account by a participant that some units from deep in the Ozarks carried "squirrel guns" which were certainly small-bore rifles. "Plains" rifles tended to be large-bore to bring down buffalo and bear. There may have been some of these used by Missourians, for a number of them had been involved in the Santa Fe trade, although I've seen no reference to them during the Civil War. I think one would not be inappropriate if you're portraying a Missouri State Guardsmen at Boonville, Carthage or Wilson's Creek, but probably no later than that. My two cents worth.
Thanks for the insight man!
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
Hey folks, I was looking around Pendersoli's website, and noticed their Hawken of the Missouri river variant. This got me thinking, were Plains rifles used during the conflict? Just to be clear, I'm not specifically talking about rifles made by the Hawken brothers, I'm talking about what we typically think of as a Plains rifle. The type that would've been used by Fur Traders and Mountain men.

I though I read somewhere that there were a few at Wilson's Creek? Does anyone have documentation of this?
View attachment 350259
Some people confuse a plains rifle with any rifle that is half-stocked. Although half-stocked rifles have been around for centuries, they became more common in the early 1800's, about the same time as the ignition system went from flintlock to percussion. As tastes and applications changed, so did the style of fire arms. Different areas of the country had their own styles too. The Ohio school of gunsmiths are noted for their half stock designs. The Hawker style is noted for their large calibers and thicker wrist design so they could better stand up to the rigors of hard use.
As far as to your question of halfstocked rifles rifles being used in the Civil War, I recall that there was at least one Union regiment, or part of a regiment that used a halfstocked rifle, but for the life of me I don't remember their name or the rifle they used. I know that there has been a discussion of that unit here on CWT, and I'll try and see if I can dig the old thread up.
 

FedericoFCavada

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
NPG-NPG_2006_31Tubman_d1.jpg

Admittedly, just an engraving... Still, here is Harriet Tubman, aka. "Minty" Araminta Ross (*Mar. 1822 MD--†10 Mar. 1913), abolitionist, "slave stealer," spy, scout, suffragette, coming soon (maybe?) to a 20 dollar bill near you... Perhaps.

In this image one sees an army camp or tents in the background, and she is carrying a tarred U.S. army haversack, which suggest the image was meant to convey the spy and scout working for the Union. She holds a Hawken type "Plains rifle." This is one of the images released into the public domain not long ago by the Smithsonian.
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Ned Roberts who wrote the book THE MUZZLELOADING CAP-LOCK RIFLE mentioned his uncle Alvarado (A Union veteran and a substitute for another man) picking up a little half-stock percussion rifle from a dead Confederate. I think it was about .30 caliber. The barrel had been damaged but it was brought home, repaired and used for many years until it was given to Ned in 1880's. As far a "Hawken" or "plains rifles" are concerned they probably saw some use early in the war among volunteers and some militia. "Kentucky" type rifles were often bored out to take a .58 minie. And a few were adapted for bayonets. But I tend to think the civilian guns were phased out fairly soon. Some snipers used their own target/slug rifles for sharpshooting. Some Texas Rangers were carrying their personal flintlock and percussion rifles during the war.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Some people confuse a plains rifle with any rifle that is half-stocked. Although half-stocked rifles have been around for centuries, they became more common in the early 1800's, about the same time as the ignition system went from flintlock to percussion. As tastes and applications changed, so did the style of fire arms. Different areas of the country had their own styles too. The Ohio school of gunsmiths are noted for their half stock designs. The Hawker style is noted for their large calibers and thicker wrist design so they could better stand up to the rigors of hard use.
As far as to your question of halfstocked rifles rifles being used in the Civil War, I recall that there was at least one Union regiment, or part of a regiment that used a halfstocked rifle, but for the life of me I don't remember their name or the rifle they used. I know that there has been a discussion of that unit here on CWT, and I'll try and see if I can dig the old thread up.
That's it, I think you're right, I'm confusing a certain look with something else.
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
I though I read somewhere that there were a few at Wilson's Creek? Does anyone have documentation of this?
View attachment 350259
I finally found the union unit I was thinking of, the unit that used half-stocked "plains rifles"; it was a unit that as the war went on, their unit designation changed.
They were first known as "Binge's Western Sharpshooters" mustered into service in Nov. 1861. With their first name change they became the "Western Sharpshooters-14th Missouri Volunteers, and later their name was finally changed to the 66th Illinois Infantry Regiment. The idea for the unit was one of Gen. Fremont's and was to be the western version of the Burdan's Sharpshooters, to act as "sharpshooters" and skirmishers. They were first supplied 1,000 half stock "plains rifles" by the St. Louis firm of Horus E. Dimick, although Dimick could only supply around 150 of these rifles from his own shop, the rest he sourced from other suppliers. The men of the regiment stated they were "well pleased" with the accuracy of their rifles and used them until the fall of 1863, when the men began to individually purchase the Henry Repeating Rifle to take the place of the Dimick rifles. While the government didn't purchase the Henry rifles, it did supply the ammunition.
As I stated earlier, the regiment was formed in Nov. of 1861 so they did not take part in the battle of Wilson' Creek, and spent the first few months of their service in central Missouri chasing guerrillas. Their first major battle at Shiloh, then battles in Mississippi, and later in the Atlanta campaign, Shermans March and finished the war in the Carolina Champaign, taking part in the Bentonville battle.

When the unit was first formed, the men were supposed to wear a type of hunting frock, to denote their use as sharpshooters. That didn't last long, but the men did manage keep their unique "suger loaf" hats (which looked like a high pointed hat, much like a witches hat), with three squirrel tails attached. About 1/2 of the regiment was recruited from Missouri, and the rest from Midwestern states.

There you go, a regiment that used civilian half stocked rifles, with distinction!
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Hey folks, I was looking around Pendersoli's website, and noticed their Hawken of the Missouri river variant. This got me thinking, were Plains rifles used during the conflict? Just to be clear, I'm not specifically talking about rifles made by the Hawken brothers, I'm talking about what we typically think of as a Plains rifle. The type that would've been used by Fur Traders and Mountain men.

I though I read somewhere that there were a few at Wilson's Creek? Does anyone have documentation of this?
View attachment 350259
I like the flinter on the bottom! Is that a custom gun or ?
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
… They were first known as "Binge's Western Sharpshooters" mustered into service in Nov. 1861. With their first name change they became the "Western Sharpshooters-14th Missouri Volunteers, and later their name was finally changed to the 66th Illinois Infantry Regiment. The idea for the unit was one of Gen. Fremont's and was to be the western version of the Burdan's Sharpshooters, to act as "sharpshooters" and skirmishers. They were first supplied 1,000 half stock "plains rifles" by the St. Louis firm of Horus E. Dimick, although Dimick could only supply around 150 of these rifles from his own shop, the rest he sourced from other suppliers. The men of the regiment stated they were "well pleased" with the accuracy of their rifles and used them until the fall of 1863, when the men began to individually purchase the Henry Repeating Rifle to take the place of the Dimick rifles. While the government didn't purchase the Henry rifles, it did supply the ammunition...
Just for the record, I believe that should be BIRGE'S...
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
In this image one sees an army camp or tents in the background, and she is carrying a tarred U.S. army haversack, which suggest the image was meant to convey the spy and scout working for the Union. She holds a Hawken type "Plains rifle." This is one of the images released into the public domain not long ago by the Smithsonian.
You will also see that in a scene in the recent Movie. It is towards the end of the movie when she is said to have lead a raid to rescue ex-slaves.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
There are several stories of Confederate sharpshooters who had special rifles. But I'm like @Booner --- for the life of me I can't remember the details.
One was a Confederate cavalry raider in Mississippi area who had a 4 gauge gun. I don't think he was Clubfoot Fort.
Then there is the civilian in middle Tennessee who took on the Union army to revenge the death of his son. Can't recall his name either.

But these are individual cases and relate more to guerilla's than regular military.
 

seirbhiseach

Cadet
Joined
Feb 26, 2020
Location
Western PA
I like the flinter on the bottom! Is that a custom gun or ?
If I am not mistaken, Pedersoli sells most of their Hawkins style guns in both percussion and flint variants, with a few being percussion only. The brown finish on the lock looks consistent with the guard and barrel, but I don't remember their "Rocky Mountain" or "Missouri River" Hawkens' having a factory patch box...
 

Similar threads

Top