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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have all heard about the dastardly hiders who under the request of our government killed off the herds that roamed all over the plains.A few well known rifles come to mind like the Sharps and Rem.Rolling Blocks, but very little or nothing about the rifles that must have killed more than any other. Any ideas come to mind?? It is a known fact that the Army had thousands of troops in the west at the time who were armed with Trapdoors.Doesn't it seem logical that they trained them on the hapless Buffalo??I have heard that the government supplied the Hiders with Ammunition by the rail car full. Wouldn't it seem lodgical for the troops to take a hand in the killing. I've always wondered why I have NEVER heard about that.I would like to follow up on ANY information you guys can supply. There just has to be written word about this. Thanks to one and all for reading this.Sure hope you can help.modoc
 

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With it's early date of manufacture, the Trapdoor Springfield was definitely around during the buffalo slaughter. From the early Allin conversions in 1865 to the 1873 version that was a trapdoor from the beginning. The earliest were .58 cal. rimfires, and later converted to .50-70 to hold a lighter bullet with more powder, and finally the .45-70 cal.
Many Trapdoors were sold by the government to federal employees, and state militias, for defense against hostiles. I'm sure they were also used to shoot some buffalo too, although not nearly as many as the other more common rifles took. I've also read where soldiers would sell their guns to civilians, and report them lost or stolen afterwards too!
As for soldiers with Trapdoors being used as buffalo hunters, I've never read anything about that. It might have been hard for them to patrol for Indians, and follow the buffalo herd too. I wouldn't be surprised if they shot buffalo when the opportunity arose, but that wouldn't be a regular thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Could it be the government in all it's wisdom kept it from the reporters of the day so as to seem more tolerant of the Indians ? Much like clinton asking what the definition of IS, IS?? Probably another incident of hiding the truth so no egg is spilled upon thy face.Like they say, we have the best POLITICIANS money can buy. :wink:
 

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modoc,

I have done considerable research concerning certain forts in Wyo & Dakota Terr & the Gov't was not financially healed up enough from the civil war to bankroll buffalo extermination. In fact, they were too broke to allow regular target practice. The main way the Army tried to control the Indians was by depleting their horse herds. In some instances, large numbers of Indian horses were done away with by cutting their throats rather than shooting. ( Slim Buttes fight ) The Army actually had a reloading program about this time, & it was considered very unpleasant duty. Due to accidents with cigarettes & black powder, it was eventually abandoned. When the cavalry at the Wyo forts went on a campaign, they typically took a pitifully small ration of ammunition.

I believe there were much larger numbers of buffalo killed with civil war era muzzle loader muskets than with trap doors. A lot of veterans from both sides drifted westward after the war, many armed with surplus or stolen muskets.

You are right about the devious gov't practices, though. For example, the Army wanted a census of Lakota & Cheyenne on the reservation in Dakota Terr, but the Indians were understandably wary of such an intrusion. To further their cause, the Army contacted a Yale professor of paleontology - O.C. Marsh & did some pretty underhanded & outright deceitful things to entice him onto the reservation to explore for fossils. - There were actually quite a variety of fossils there - first discovered by Custer's Black Hills expedition. I have copies of the Army's correspondence to prove the intended deceit.

Anyway, the ploy was to get Prof. Marsh onto the reservation with an escort of cavalry who were going to be more concerned with counting heads than digging 'ghost horse' bones. In the end, the plot failed. Sitting Bull was able to win Marsh over & he went east to convince society of the wrongful treatment the Indians were receiving at the hands of the Army & Indian Dept.

My own opinion is that the buffalo herds were eradicated by opportunists who killed them simply for the small worth of their hides. What a waste! SW
 

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Modoc,

19th Century conspiracy theories? Got nothing else to do? :wink:

Seriously, trapdoors were used, notably by Buffalo Bill Cody, to kill buffalo. However, troops didn't kill more than they were allowed and foraging was strictly controlled as was the ammo.

I'm convinced that the buffalo was slaughtered in the west (and east) for purely economic reasons and the Army just took advantage of the situation.

BTW, Wyatt Earp used a 12 ga. SxS shotgun using a .690" ball to do his buffalo shooting. He reckoned it as a business and found he made more money this way.

I find it interesting that many think of the Native American as pure and a wonderful conservationist but after introduction of European goods, the NAs killed great numbers of deer and fur-bearing animals solely for their hides. The hides were traded for European "luxuries". It is somewhat ironic that the NAs were being aculturated to the European/American system and the US forced them out of the southeast. What would our country be like today if we hadn't done this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Heck,I can't right the many wrongs done by your'our' government. But on the long end I happen to own an original Trapdoor carbine and felt it was hi time it got just deserts for patriotic duty. Long have I suffered under the thought that it,they must have played a bigger part in the Buffalo destruction. But according to what I have thus far learned it just AIN'T SO. OK,It must have been rough on the soldiers seeing the rail cars opened up and ammo being fed to Buff hunters and nothing to them.. Not much different in the way your,our,politicians work these days.Feeding the folks overseas and allowing our own folks to go hungry. Thanks guys for the input even tho it isn't quite what I had hoped for. modoc
 

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By the way Modoc, great topic! I love history of the Old West, and it seems we have some closet historians here! Enjoyed reading your replies guys!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well old sureshot really fixed us up with facts. Thanks for that.All the rest have great ideas also.But until I can read all of the above information I'll keep busy.modoc
 

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modoc,

For the ammunition being issued from trains story, don't overlook the possibility that the railroad was funding the extermination. The immense herds were a detriment to their schedules, and they also made money selling passage on buffalo shooting specials.

For the Army's part, it was much to their benefit for the RR & civilians to do the eradication since it was much cheaper to guard the RR than actually fund the shooting. There is mention of this in the Time-Life series on the old west, Railroad edition. SW
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
AHH, that is more like it..Even with considering the guns in the hands of the actual Buff hunters being other than Springfields,the trapdoors were in constant supply to hundreds of westeners all the time.
Like an old dog achewing away on a bone,I just can't turn loose of the notion that the other guns could NOT have killed more Bison than the trapdoor. I guess it is a moot point in any case.Not really important and I suppose we'll never know for sure.Thanks one and all for the HELP.modoc
 

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MODOC, I have 4 trapdoors and they are nostalgic as H&*^%*&^. I have two in 45-70, one in 38-55 and am building a sporting model in 4065. All metal work done to it and waiting on stock. I consider it the rifle that won the West. If it wasn't so difficult to clean one when compared to a falling block, I would shoot silhouette with mine. I wish the ones I have could tell stories. It would seem like a given they were used in the big slaughter. moodyholler
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hot Damn Moodyholler...I've never heard of one in 38-55,must be pretty special,like custom. My old gal is a 1873 Carbine with the buffington rear sight.Barrel like perfect. Tha 40-65 ought to be a real smasher.Good for you. Yer right about them being used for buff slaughter but what percent we'll probably never know. Someone a whole lot smarter than I, once said the gun that won the west was the shotgun since every sodbuster had one to keep his family fed...Seenms like Custer could have used a few..Or better yet waited for his Gatling guns to catch up...Such an arrogant S O B.Glad for his demise,sorry he had to take the troops and his guests with him. Three members of his own family..brought along to cheer his destruction of the REAL AMERICANS. Aw,you can't tell I'm partial can you?? Thanks guys for very good history lessons.I only hope it continues.modoc
 

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Modoc, my G-G Grandfather was part of the 30th Battalion Sharp Shooters here in Va. during the late Conflict between the States. CUster captured part of his Co. including My Grandfather at Staunton,Va and marched them for three days with no food, during March, 1865 up the Shenandoah Valley to Winchester, and put them on open railcars to Point Lookout Prison in Md. Anyone with shoes had them taken. They say you could track them by the blood in the snow. Custer and is troopers had free rein to rape and pillage the Valley as it was the breadbasket of the Confederacy. He burned Staunton to the ground and several other small towns and hundreds of farms. Newspaper clipping in Winchester from 1876 celebrated his death and the towns in the Valley celebrated for three days. moodyholler
 

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Moodyholler,

A resident of Staunton, a keeper of the history of "The Stonewall Brigade" (of which I am a member and former active duty member), and an amateur historian I can say that I've never read nor heard of Staunton being "burned to the ground".
 

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My apologies, Hobie. I was under the impression the Courthouse, general store, newspaper, and numerous residences,outbuildings, barns, crops, ..... were destoyed during Feburary and March 1865 in the Staunton area. It was also my understanding that Custer was under orders to destroy everything in the valley. As Staunton was a jumping off point to Richmond and the theatre to the west, it bore the brunt of damage. It has long been a passion of mine to write a book about the terror he brought with him to the Kanawha River area and Staunton. Any information you can point me to would be appreciated. Thanks, moodyholler
 

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Hobie, and Moodyholler,

I've long been a history buff as well. Of course I'm way out here but every time I go back East I just love the history you all have back there.

When I was in college there was a book in the library that I just read cuz I enjoyed it so much. It is called " I rode with Stonewall" by Henry Kyd Douglass. Absolutely one of the best books bar none that I have ever read. Well time went on and I married a Virginia girl from Fairfax. I know thats Northern Va where they don't even talk southern anymore but at least she went to college at JMU at Harrisonburg. Well we spent our honeymoon up at Harpersferry. I couldn't believe it there was that same book for sale "I rode with Stonewall" and I bought it there in Harpersferry

In that book H. K. Douglass I believe mentions a Yankee general by the name of David Hunter that was the most hated of all for destroying the Shenendoah valley so cruelly. I don't believe that he mentions with so much hatred Custer and Sheridan. You have piqued my curiousity and I'll go recheck what Douglass says about them.

Have you guys read that book????? If so what do you think of it????? I think Henry Kyd Douglass' uniform is on display at the museum at the battlefield of Sharpsburg. He had alot to do with preserving some of those battlefields. He was badly wounded at Gettysburg.

As Sherman said so correctly WAR IS HELL. I know it was a long time ago but it was just my great grandpa who fought for the 8th Michigan volunteer infantry, went down to James Island, South Carolina where they got whipped, he got shot and captured. This was in 1862 and I have some Southern family to thank for being kind enough to nurse him back to health. He was paroled, rejoined and ended the war at Petersburg but mustered out before Appomatax. My great, great, grandpa on the other side was near you, Bedford county and fought for the south but I do not know which unit. The Stonewall brigade was the best. Hopefully he was affiliated with them. Fill me in on any other items of interest regarding the Stonewall brigade etc.....


Geoff
 

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The Stonewall Jackson/Virginia angle gets close to home for us. Stonewall's 2nd in command, Andrew Jackson Grigsby is a direct descendant. If I've read the genealogy right, Abe Lincoln's family was from the same part of Va. as Jackson, Grigsby & the majority of the 23rd Va Volunteer Infantry.

After Stonewall perished in battle, Grigsby was passed over for command of the regiment and went directly to Jeff Davis to 'get in his face' about it.

Can you imagine the furor today if an Army officer challenged the prez to fisticuffs over a promotion issue? History is fascinating!! SW
 

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My mother's side of the family ended up in Oregon, thanks to Phil Sheridan. My great grandfather was a drummer buy for Sheridan during the Civil War. After the war, Sheridan was sent out west to deal with indian problems. My grandfather was then a regular soldier, and came with Sheridan to California, and eventually Oregon. Settlers were having trouble with indians in King's Valley, Or. and my grandfather met Nathan King's daughter, and left the Army to get married and settle down there! He homesteaded 640 acres in King's valley, which was given to the county last year as a park.
I love history, and enjoy reading about it, as much as guns!
My father's side of the family settled in Hogger's neck of the woods, (Ashley, S.D.) when they came from Russia, but later moved to Geoff's area, settling in Ruff, Wa. in the late 1800's.
 
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