This just keeps happening. I am NOT a gun crank. A firearms enthusiast, yes. A shooter, definitely. I don’t obsess over ballistics tables and firearms specs. So I’m not just being a fussbudget when I run across egregious errors and bellow out cusswords to make Al Swearengen blush.
Clay Risen, in his new book The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders And The Dawn Of The American Century writes this:
The Spanish carried, as their standard rifle, the M1893 Mauser, developed specifically for the Spanish Army by a German weapons manufacturer. Unlike the lower-velocity fire of a Remington or Krag-Jorgensen carbine rifle, which the Rough Riders used, the Mauser bullet flew fast and straight, some 300 feet per second, making a high-pitched PHEWWW, rising and then falling in pitch as it sped pat the ear…
Uh… “carbine rifle”? And 300 feet per second? C’mon man! That’s not even a typo — the 7×57 Mauser sports a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,300 fps with a 173-grain round nose bullet and 2,700+ fps with a spitzer (pointed) bullet. That takes about 20 seconds of google-fu to nail down. Risen clearly doesn’t know a damn thing about rifles and neither do his editors. Maybe he got confused by the fact that the .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen rifle produced about 2,000 fps muzzle velocity with its 220-grain bullet, which is about 300 fps below the mark set by the Spanish Mauser. Still… c’mon man!
I don’t think you have to be a shooter to write about firearms in a military history, but you do have to make an effort to get your book-learning right. The performance of the Mauser had tactical significance in the battles Risen is writing about, so the data actually matters. The Mauser shot flatter and outranged the Krag, which didn’t crack 2,000 fps in the carbine version issued to the Rough Riders, and the American troops that were still using old .45-70 Springfield Trapdoor rifles were totally outgunned. It wasn’t just muzzle velocity, either. The Mauser was charger-loaded, which improved infantry firepower.
The Krag-Jorgensen was a good rifle, and it endured in the deer woods for decades after the turn of the 20th Century. But its .30-40 cartridge and it’s loading system wasn’t up to snuff in a world that included Mauser rifles and the Lee-Metford or Lee-Enfield. So the U.S. soon enough knocked off their own Mauser, called it the Springfield M1903 and, after a cartridge modification, chambered it in the grand and glorious .30-06.
And, as the great Col. Townsend Whelen, outdoorsman, hunter, writer and RIFLEMAN, noted:
“A .30-06 is never a mistake.”
Speaking of grand and glorious, John Rigby & Co. continues to tease us with the Karamojo Bell rifle…
And while we’re speaking of Karamojo Bell, here’s a link to a delightful 2014 story from Gray’s Sporting Journal about two men and a rifle build project in the spirit of the great elephant hunter.
For nearly 400 years, the Comanche tribe controlled the southern plains of America. Even as Europeans arrived on the scene with guns and metal armor, the Comanches held them off with nothing but horses, arrows, lances, and buffalo hide shields. In the 18th century, the Comanches stopped the Spanish from driving north from Mexico and halted French expansion westward from Louisiana. In the 19th century, they stymied the development of the new country by engaging in a 40-year war with the Texas Rangers and the U.S. military. It wasn’t until the latter part of that century that the Comanches finally laid down their arms.
How did they create a resistance so fierce and long lasting?
My guest today explores that question in his book Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. His name is Sam Gwynne, and we begin our discussion by explaining where the Comanches were from originally and how their introduction to the horse radically changed their culture and kickstarted their precipitous rise to power. Sam then explains how the Comanches shifted from a hunting culture to a warrior culture and how their warrior culture was very similar to that of the ancient Spartans. We then discuss the event that began the decline of the Comanches: the kidnapping of a Texan girl named Cynthia Ann Parker. Sam explains how she went on to become the mother of the last great war chief of the Comanches, Quanah, why Quanah ultimately decided to surrender to the military, and the interesting path his life took afterward.
Border banditry returns next month with Season 2 of Mayans M.C. From Deadline:
The new episodes find Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes (JD Pardo), once the golden boy with the American Dream in his grasp, trying to reconcile with his brother Angel (Clayton Cardenas) while searching for the truth behind their mother’s death. Meanwhile, their father Felipe (Edward James Olmos) is struggling to lead his sons down a righteous path — even as secrets emerge about his past.
Last week’s podcast listen was Vice News’ multiple-part series on El Chapo. The scope is considerably broader and deeper than a simple look at Joaquin Guzman. It takes the El Chapo trial as a jump-off for a dive into narco-culture in Sinaloa. Worth the time.
Martin Scorsese is filming a very dark chapter in Frontier Partisans history — location scouting has begun in Oklahoma. From The Oklahoman:
Martin Scorsese has begun location scouting in Oklahoma for his film adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon.
Over the past couple of days, the Academy Award-winning director has shared via Instagram two photos picturing him in Oklahoma, where he plans to make the fact-based crime drama.
As previously reported, Scorsese and others involved in the eagerly anticipated production met last Friday with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and other representatives of the Osage Nation on the tribe’s Pawhuska campus, per a report from the Osage News.
The focus of the meeting at the Osage Nation headquarters was how the Osage Nation could help with the filming, with Scorsese confirming that the production will be working closely with the tribe to accurately depict its culture, history and the language.
As previously reported, the movie, which will be directed by Scorsese and star Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio, is being adapted from the critically acclaimed true-crime best-seller by David Grann (“The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon”).
“Killers of the Flower Moon” tells the story of the Osage Indians, who, in the 1920s, became the wealthiest people in the world because of oil under their land in Oklahoma. They were then serially murdered off in one of the most sinister crimes in American history. The case became one of the FBI’s first major homicide investigations. The FBI sent in a team of undercover agents, including one of the only Native Americans in the bureau. They eventually caught one of the masterminds. However, as Grann documents, there was a deeper and darker conspiracy that the bureau never exposed.
A fascinating tale of lethal and possibly extralegal anti-poaching operations in Africa has resurfaced in the wake of the stunning publishing success of the remarkable Delia Owens’ Where The Crawdads Sing. As Slate notes (in the expected pearl-clutching fashion that befits a site that mixes news with columns about sexual dysfunction):
…what most of Crawdads’ fans don’t know is that Delia and Mark Owens have been advised never to return to one of the African nations where they once lived and worked, Zambia, because they are wanted for questioning in a murder that took place there decades ago. That murder, whose victim remains unidentified, was filmed and broadcast on national television in the U.S.
The 2010 New Yorker story The Hunted by Jeffery Goldberg is a better read.
The great Don Troiani has given us a depiction of Brady’s Rangers.
Captain Samuel Brady’s Spy Company, Western Department of the Continental Line (8th Pennsylvania Regiment at Fort Pitt) , c. 1778-1779. They disguised themselves to look like Indians , used warpaint and dyed their skin brown.
As some wag commented on Facebook:
“How very Selous Scouts of them.”
Hah! Right? Continuity & Persistence. Brady’s outfit was directly analogous to the Rhodesian counterterrorist unit of 200 years later.
I’ve alluded to Captain Samuel Brady several times, but have yet to do a post on the man. That needs to be fixed. Brady was one of the all-time badass Frontier Partisan warriors — the equal of his contemporary Simon Kenton, who operated down the Ohio River from him.
A West Virginia gent by the name of Pete Kosky has composed a spoken-word narrative folk song about Brady.
Then there’s Wolves of the Mohawk Valley. Just fantastic…
This painting depicts the aftermath of the Battle of Wyoming (also known as the Wyoming Massacre) which took place July 3rd, 1778 in Exeter and Wyoming, Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. In early June, Colonel John Butler (of Butlers Rangers fame) led a force of 1,000 loyalists and Iroquois allies against the 5,000 inhabitants of the valley—mostly American women and children gathered a Forty Fort. About 300 men and boys left the protection of the fort to meet the attackers. In the massacre that followed, 360 men, women, and children lost their lives, and many others who escaped to the forests died of starvation or exposure. Butler’s forces then moved northward to continue the raids along the frontier settlements of New York, eventually leading to a more aggressive American action against the Iroquois. After the battle, settlers claimed that the Iroquois raiders had hunted and killed fleeing Patriots, then committed ritual torture until death against 30 to 40 who had surrendered. Butler reported only two Loyalist Rangers and one Indian killed out of 1,000 men, and eight Indians wounded. He claimed that his force took 227 scalps, burned 1,000 houses, and drove off 1,000 cattle plus many sheep and hogs. Only about 60 of the 300 militiamen and 60 Continentals escaped the disaster.
Troiani’s new book Campaign to Saratoga — 1777: The Turning Point of the Revolutionary War in Paintings, Artifacts, and Historical Narrative drops August 1. Frontier Partisan warriors were central to the campaign — particularly Morgan’s Riflemen. I reckon I’ll pick this up at some point, when I return to the Revolutionary War frontier. The new paintings above make me wonder if Troiani is working on a specific frontier project. I’d throw down my plews in an instant for that…
We are so fortunate to have a bevy of outstanding artists working the trails of the North American Frontier — artists committed to getting it right. Another of the great ones has a new painting:
Midday Break on the Scioto
During the 18th century the Scioto River was an important waterway for the Native people of the Ohio territory. The painting depicts Ottawa leaders from the northern villages on the Sandusky. They are traveling to the Lower Shawnee Town (at the confluence of the Ohio) for council. Their Shawnee warrior guide has successfully guided them to this point where they take a much deserved Midday Break on the Scioto.
Discovered an outstanding American roots music outfit last weekend at the Sisters Rhythm and Brews Festival. Larkin Poe throws down — heavy, blues-based sound and a deep grounding in dark and gritty Americana. Daughter Ceili interviewed them for a profile in The Nugget prior to the event:
Larkin Poe — sisters, Megan and Rebecca Lovell — will be playing the Sisters Rhythm and Brews festival this weekend. The Lovell sisters spoke with The Nugget on how they got into music together and what they love most about playing together.
The sisters grew up in a very musical household in Georgia, where they were born and raised. Their parents taught them to play from a young age and appreciate music.
“It really became a passion for us,” said Megan Lovell.
Originally a three-sister band called The Lovell Sisters, they played all around their hometown and state playing originals and Americana-style music.
“It was really cool to have built in band members and we were able to sing three part harmonies, it felt very organic and natural,” she said.
When their older sister stepped away from music and did other things, Megan and Rebecca knew they still wanted to continue music as their career path and passion. They decided to change their name so their band could be their own and they wanted to keep the name in the family. Larkin Poe was the name of their great, great, great grandfather who also happened to be the cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. They decided on a name that was in the family that had a connection to the southern gothic writer.
“We hoped that some of his dark, gothic writings would drip down into our content,” said Rebecca.