Alamo relics: Need help with identifying

mikekj

Corporal
Joined
Feb 19, 2014
Location
Cobb Co. Georgia
Some hand wrought nails did have bulges, to help hold in wood.

9(1).gif
 

OldSarge79

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Location
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
I believe the item that is on the top row, third from the left and directly above the large “hook” might be a farrier’s hoof knife. They are used to trim the underside of hooves.
Can you put something beside it to illustrate the length and width?
If you’re unfamiliar with a farrier hoof knife - I ve attached a modern photo. (The item in your display is turned upside down when compared to the modern photo.)
The item you have appears to be the correct size and shape, including the inward turn at the end of the blade.
You have a nice accusation!

View attachment 386233
Interesting thought. Might be a possibility. Package4 said he thought there were corrals in that area.
I'm familiar with those, we actually have two horses.
The photo has a ruler at the bottom for ideas on length, but I just measured the item at 3 7/8 inches.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
I got imaginative and put the musket balls in an adjustable crescent wrench, then measured the gap in the wrench. It came to right about .69 caliber for all three.

The rifle balls are .50 and about .437
I just read an account that the US Army had built corrals and stables in the area of the History Shop, while they were repairing the compound for Quartermaster stores in the 1840s. Some of the relics could possibly be from this period.

I have always been amazed with the two battles fought there and at one time was a member of the Alamo Society. Somewhere around here I have their periodicals, that are extremely well researched.

I do know that the North wall was reinforced with wooden cribbing of timbers that were 5”-6” thick, so fairly stout nails would be required in certain areas. The timbers and stone walls behind them were torn down per Santa Anna’s direction after the battle of SanJacinto and the remaining Mexican troops were ordered back to Mexico City.

Tearing all of this down would most likely have been done using horses/ mules in harness and dragged across the area, into the space later occupied by the History Shop. Just speculation.
 

Package4

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
That almost fits with what I have, but there is no tapering as it goes down toward the end. There just seems to be a 4-sided section near the tip with only a little bulge involved.
There was a blacksmith shop located at the Alamo, if I recall correctly and they would have been able to make nails, but not necessarily taper them as time was critical. These would have been more like ship’s spikes.
 

OldSarge79

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Location
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
I just read an account that the US Army had built corrals and stables in the area of the History Shop, while they were repairing the compound for Quartermaster stores in the 1840s. Some of the relics could possibly be from this period.

I have always been amazed with the two battles fought there and at one time was a member of the Alamo Society. Somewhere around here I have their periodicals, that are extremely well researched.

I do know that the North wall was reinforced with wooden cribbing of timbers that were 5”-6” thick, so fairly stout nails would be required in certain areas. The timbers and stone walls behind them were torn down per Santa Anna’s direction after the battle of SanJacinto and the remaining Mexican troops were ordered back to Mexico City.

Tearing all of this down would most likely have been done using horses/ mules in harness and dragged across the area, into the space later occupied by the History Shop. Just speculation.
Sounds plausible.
My only thought on the large "hook" was that it is something we might see today on a tow chain. In that era, maybe something similar....to drag large timbers for instance. Or maybe part of a wagon harness system.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
That almost fits with what I have, but there is no tapering as it goes down toward the end. There just seems to be a 4-sided section near the tip with only a little bulge involved.
Oh Well. I took a guess based on the photo. Since you have horses, and the actual item, your judgement is best. But they may have been made different 200 years ago; but 4 inches seems small.
 

OldSarge79

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Location
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
Oh Well. I took a guess based on the photo. Since you have horses, and the actual item, your judgement is best. But they may have been made different 200 years ago; but 4 inches seems small.
I'm not ruling out your guess at this point. It's very thin on the left half, and some of it could have broken off or rusted away. In other words, it may very well have been longer originally.

Something else just occurred to me. At least two of the other lots sold at the auction had....horseshoes!
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
From the very few bona fide Mexican Besses I've seen, (three), their all commercial 3rd "India" Patterns, with the post-1809 cock. One in San Jacinto has the commercial markings, and I've seen two with British commercial marks removed and a Mexican Eagle and Snake with a sunburst engraved slash stamped.

As for Bakers....

While Mexico did buy them, I've about decided they were not used in the Texas Revolution. Kind of admission I hate to make as I love the Baker, but the evidence of their not being used to overwhelming. All the archeological dig data I've read, everyone I know who's dug Texas Rev. sites, has found ZERO evidence of Baker Rifles. No bullets, no parts, no nothing. Heck I know one guy who dug an area confirmed to have had Mexican Cazadores there and found a bunch of dropped Brown Bess balls, and even a Brown Bess lockplate.

I have read of smoothbore New Land Light Infantry musket parts and bullets being found. I'd personally hypothesize these and regular Brown Besses were the weapon of the Mexican light infantry. I know there's a picture of a Baker Rifle floating about the internet in a Mexican museum, but besides that and very outdated references to Mexican documents, (which an American would have better luck getting a private audience with the Pope than even locating much seeing due to Mexican suspicions of us), I'd say Bakers around is a big question mark.

If I were to make a guess about Santa Anna's light infantry, I'd say they didn't use Bakers but Besses and possibly New Lands. Reasons being to simplify supply of the troops in Texas, save money which was in short supply, and to avoid the necessary proper time consuming training in use of a Baker Rifle.
Well I've seen Baker sized balls recovered near La Villita and what could be a Baker trigger guard. I tend to think there were some Bakers in Texas Rev. A lock plate that could be from a Baker was found near the Alamo in 1986. But the majority of parts found in digs are Besses. Its extremely unlikely that the powder horns and equipment used by the 95th rifles made it to Mexico. Some modern artists depict it but I dont see it in inventories of captured/surrendered gear or stuff in storage in Bexar. It just "ain't there".
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Well I've seen Baker sized balls recovered near La Villita and what could be a Baker trigger guard. I tend to think there were some Bakers in Texas Rev. A lock plate that could be from a Baker was found near the Alamo in 1986. But the majority of parts found in digs are Besses. Its extremely unlikely that the powder horns and equipment used by the 95th rifles made it to Mexico. Some modern artists depict it but I dont see it in inventories of captured/surrendered gear or stuff in storage in Bexar. It just "ain't there".

A lot of Bakers had been modified to a new cheaper pattern by 1827. I've known folks to mistake New Land parts for Baker ones. Plus I think they were the same caliber if I remember right.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
The rifle balls are probably incomming rounds from Texian fire. Neat stuff!!!
Yea. The probability of the balls being Texan would make the purchase worthwhile. But since they missed their target - they likely weren’t from Davy Crockett LOL 😂
But it would be an interesting project to research the names of the Americans on that side of the Mission. But I suppose that would be nearly impossible.

I was in San Antonio a number of years ago on business. I wanted to tour the Alamo soooo bad. I got out of my meeting in the afternoon and raced there - only to arrive as they were closing for the day. I had to leave the next morning.
 

OldSarge79

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Location
Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
Well, I had a friend measure the balls with his electronic caliper today. I was a bit off on my previous efforts to measure them with the adjustable wrench.
Two of the musket balls came out at about .64 caliber. The third is just shy of .66.
As for the rifle balls, I was pretty accurate on one, at about .509.
The other was not round, being pushed out of shape, but it was .375 one way and .463 the other.

None of the five are perfectly round.

The question now is, are the musket balls too small for Brown Bess use? Sounds more like rounds for a .69 caliber musket.

I have found posts on the Alamo Studies Forum (very similar to CivilWarTalk) that refer to 20,000 arms shipped to Mexico from the U.S. in the 1820's, and some talk of whether some Mexican units at the Alamo had US Model 1816 muskets, which were .69 cal.
Apparently there were some shipments of arms from Spain and France in the preceding years as well.

I assume also, that some of the Texians used smoothbores also, which, of course could be anything.
Any thoughts?
 
Last edited:

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Well, I had a friend measure the balls with his electronic caliper today. I was a bit off on my previous efforts to measure them with the adjustable wrench.
Two of the musket balls came out at about .64 caliber. The third is just shy of .66.
As for the rifle balls, I was pretty accurate on one, at about .509.
The other was not round, being pushed out of shape, but it was .375 one way and .463 the other.

None of the five are perfectly round.

The question now is, are the musket balls too small for Brown Bess use? Sounds more like rounds for a .69 caliber musket.

I have found posts on the Alamo Studies Forum (very similar to CivilWarTalk) that refer to 20,000 arms shipped to Mexico from the U.S. in the 1820's, and some talk of whether some Mexican units at the Alamo had US Model 1816 muskets, which were .69 cal.
Apparently there were some shipments of arms from Spain and France in the preceding years as well.

I assume also, that some of the Texians used smoothbores also, which, of course could be anything.
Any thoughts?

I think I know what forum your referring to. As for American weapons, M1816's and 1798 Contract muskets made their way to Mexico and other Latin countries.

As for the .64's and .66's there's one possible explanation. Fowlers.

Rifles were never as common in Early America to the extent of everyone having one. Fowlers were a lot cheaper and way more plentiful. A 20 gauge or 16 gauge on the smaller ones would account for those bullets, more or less. Load them with round shot you got a handy musket.

Another explanation is the Mexican weapons. It wasn't uncommon to issue ammunition smaller than the actual bore for muskets back then so the guns could be loaded as easily after 30 rounds as on the second or third ones. Also Paget carbines, British ones were .62 caliber, and I've read once some commercial pattern copies, (Mexico got commercial military guns from Britain, NOT surplus), could have been .66 caliber. But I can't confirm that....

Also Texans had plenty of military muskets on their own. Cheap wore out old muskets made good fowlers, plus the Alamo contained a lot of Mexican weapons when San Antonio was surrendered to the Texans
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Well, I had a friend measure the balls with his electronic caliper today. I was a bit off on my previous efforts to measure them with the adjustable wrench.
Two of the musket balls came out at about .64 caliber. The third is just shy of .66.
As for the rifle balls, I was pretty accurate on one, at about .509.
The other was not round, being pushed out of shape, but it was .375 one way and .463 the other.

None of the five are perfectly round.

The question now is, are the musket balls too small for Brown Bess use? Sounds more like rounds for a .69 caliber musket.

I have found posts on the Alamo Studies Forum (very similar to CivilWarTalk) that refer to 20,000 arms shipped to Mexico from the U.S. in the 1820's, and some talk of whether some Mexican units at the Alamo had US Model 1816 muskets, which were .69 cal.
Apparently there were some shipments of arms from Spain and France in the preceding years as well.

I assume also, that some of the Texians used smoothbores also, which, of course could be anything.
Any thoughts?
At one time Mexico had a factory that produced all types of military weapons. Because it was a "child" of Spain they copied Spanish guns. Notably the variations of the 1752 musket. Some of those were still rattling around in the 1830's. There was a lithograph published in 1827 showing two types of Mexican "soldados" with this pattern musket. By the time of their independence from Spain in 1821 the factory was shut down. Machinery was worn out and unrepairable. And it was more economical to buy fully assembled weapons (albeit surplus) FWIW: The ship Hannah Elizabeth had a load of these along with India Pattern Besses that had been stockpiled in New Orleans since 1812. The ship was bound for Tejas to supply volunteers in the Texas War. It sunk near Pass Cavallo. Recently this shipwreck was found and a LOT of those muskets recovered. Now I'm pretty sure Mexico still had some of those older muskets and issued them to the Indio conscripts. This could explain some of the smaller balls found in digs. A ball size of .620 to .640 was typical in .69 cal muskets. And any Tejano scouts, spies, draymen and others who volunteered to help Santa Anna could have been issued this size ammo for their "escopetas" which tended towards .56 - .70 caliber
It wouldn't surprise me if some arsenal in the deep south still had some of those Spanish muskets and converted them to percussion for use by Confederate militia or home guards.Anything that could go "bang" and sling a ball.
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
I think I know what forum your referring to. As for American weapons, M1816's and 1798 Contract muskets made their way to Mexico and other Latin countries.

As for the .64's and .66's there's one possible explanation. Fowlers.

Rifles were never as common in Early America to the extent of everyone having one. Fowlers were a lot cheaper and way more plentiful. A 20 gauge or 16 gauge on the smaller ones would account for those bullets, more or less. Load them with round shot you got a handy musket.

Another explanation is the Mexican weapons. It wasn't uncommon to issue ammunition smaller than the actual bore for muskets back then so the guns could be loaded as easily after 30 rounds as on the second or third ones. Also Paget carbines, British ones were .62 caliber, and I've read once some commercial pattern copies, (Mexico got commercial military guns from Britain, NOT surplus), could have been .66 caliber. But I can't confirm that....

Also Texans had plenty of military muskets on their own. Cheap wore out old muskets made good fowlers, plus the Alamo contained a lot of Mexican weapons when San Antonio was surrendered to the Texans
I saw an 1842 US percussion pistol that had been remarked with the Mexican eagle and snake. They probably anealed the plate, filed off the US markings and restamped it. Then reharden and temper. Viola ! A useable pistol
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
It wouldn't surprise me if some arsenal in the deep south still had some of those Spanish muskets and converted them to percussion for use by Confederate militia or home guards.Anything that could go "bang" and sling a ball.

I don't know about that....

The War of 1812 was just about the last hurrah of Spanish guns in the US. Just about what left got issued out to militias, such as at New Orleans, and I'm pretty sure they went home with the men that got. Plus the guns were already viewed as near useless because they were so old and wore out I doubt they lasted very long. One broke part and it was a worthless piece of metal and lumber, with no way to repair the miquelet locks and so.

But as far as old guns in Southern arsenals, there were apparently M1763 and M1766 US surcharged "Charlevilles" around to be converted to percussion for Confederate use. College Hill Arsenal had one from North Carolina a while back.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
At one time Mexico had a factory that produced all types of military weapons. Because it was a "child" of Spain they copied Spanish guns. Notably the variations of the 1752 musket. Some of those were still rattling around in the 1830's. There was a lithograph published in 1827 showing two types of Mexican "soldados" with this pattern musket. By the time of their independence from Spain in 1821 the factory was shut down. Machinery was worn out and unrepairable. And it was more economical to buy fully assembled weapons (albeit surplus) FWIW: The ship Hannah Elizabeth had a load of these along with India Pattern Besses that had been stockpiled in New Orleans since 1812. The ship was bound for Tejas to supply volunteers in the Texas War. It sunk near Pass Cavallo. Recently this shipwreck was found and a LOT of those muskets recovered. Now I'm pretty sure Mexico still had some of those older muskets and issued them to the Indio conscripts. This could explain some of the smaller balls found in digs. A ball size of .620 to .640 was typical in .69 cal muskets. And any Tejano scouts, spies, draymen and others who volunteered to help Santa Anna could have been issued this size ammo for their "escopetas" which tended towards .56 - .70 caliber
It wouldn't surprise me if some arsenal in the deep south still had some of those Spanish muskets and converted them to percussion for use by Confederate militia or home guards.Anything that could go "bang" and sling a ball.
Wow! Fascinating insight. Thanks for sharing
 

R. Porter

Private
Joined
Oct 6, 2020
I believe in Phil Collins' book on Alamo related documents and artifacts he has collected over the years he discussed the excavations at The History Shop. Apparently the most common artifact found, and it was by far the most common, was the lowly iron horse shoe. It was supposed that the site of The History Shop was on top of a place where horses were shod. This could have been related to the Mexican army, the Texan army, the activities at the mission, the period from about 1850 when the site was taken over by the U.S. Army, then the Confederate army, then the U. S. Army again until the 1870's when they Army moved operations to a near by fort, or a civilian business like a stable or blacksmith shop. There was a lot going on in the area and without a firm context for each item you can't make an educated guess of whether or not it was even there during the famous siege. In the Collins book there is a photograph of a short sword that was dug up at the site during construction work many years ago. It is identified as a sergeant's sword. It looks like it could have been a foot artillery sword and has been identified as such in many eBay auctions, but, in fact, it is a sword for a fraternal organization and dates to after the Civil War. The hilt is a pattern that appears in old Ames catalogs but there are many versions of the hilt and it was married to various styles of blade. In one example it was paired with old Ames made bayonets that were produced for the U.S. Navy and show a date and an inspector's mark. This version was thought by some to represent an undocumented pattern naval cutlass from the 1870's but it was instead someone trying to use surplus equipment. From what I've read, the Alamo did have a fraternal organization that held meetings in it during the latter half of the 19th century, which provides a convenient source for the sword. Iron artifacts can look much the same over years of production and without carefully documented excavation notes you can rarely attribute them to a particular time period.
 
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