Can anyone help me ,I have a colt.45 and when you take the grips off there is a hand inscribed William h Bonny silver city NM 1873.Could this be billy the kids gun?
Highly unlikely. He would have been in his very early teens.... and the revolver would have to have been a first year production model.... which is very rare... especially for civilians.
There were only about 200 Colt SAAs made in 1873, all of them in December. Nearly all of the 1874 production was bought by the US Army and various state militias. The likelihood of an SAA getting into civilian hands before 1875 is extremely slim. Check the serial #. If it's above about 30,000 Billy was dead when the gun was made.
I often wonder how long it took the public to make the switch from Navy Colt to Colt Peace Maker. I think Colt stopped making the Navy in 1872, but they must have been around for decades after that. Also, while we usually load our Navy's with lose powder and ball they used packaged paper cartridges most of the time. Certainly they did in the army. I've read that the loads varied from 20 to 35 grains of FFFG and a conical ball. I have never shot a conical ball in a percussion pistol, original or replica, ever. Does anyone?
Fact is, the Colt Navy was a very comfortable pistol to shoot and it poked a pretty deep hole and being hit by one would/could kill you. I doubt that anyone reloaded their Navy/Army Colt while in a battle. They sometimes carried two pistols which gave them 12 shots; enough if you are close. I read that men would carry extra loaded cylinders, but I don't know if they actually did, or if they did, they used them. I suspect that a soldier who relied on his Navy or Army Colt, shot his rounds and then turned the pistol around and used it as a club, or he threw it at someone. Who can be calm enough to stick on those little caps when the bullets are flying all around? I'd rather draw my sword and go to slash'n.
I've seen cartridge boxes with a space for a loaded spare cylinder. Also, most of 'em carried cappers, which let you cap up with much more ease than using your fingers. In the cavalry the revolver was supposed to be a secondary, support weapon. You were supposed to use your saber first, then--when the enemy was retreating--sheath the saber, draw the revolver, & fire into their retreating backs.
I've fired both round & conical balls, in both the Navy & the Army percussion Colts, as well as in a replica Walker. Generally, it's difficult to load more than 15 gr of FFFg into a Navy with a conical, & that was the recommended chg. It gets a lot better penetration with a conical than with a round ball.
Captain--later BG--Randolph B. Marcy, in THE PRAIRIE TRAVELER, told of an incident with a grizzly. He shot it with his rifle but didn't kill it, which annoyed the bear. Some of his fellow officers rode up & shot it with Navies, which didn't appear to faze the bear. Then an officer shot it with an Army Colt & it rolled over dead. When the bear was skinned it was found that the Navies' balls stopped in the fat layer below the skin, but the Army's ball 'penetrated to the beast's vitals' & killed it. "For my part," wrote Marcy, "I resolved to carry only the Army revolver." Since the book was written abt 1857, the 'Army revolver' at the time would have been a 3rd model Dragoon, not an 1860. It was a lot heavier & less maneuverable than the lighter Navy, but apparently much more effective. Marcy didn't say whether the loads were round or conical balls. They were probably round. My experience with conical balls in the Navy indicates they had a lot of penetration, even with the 15 gr chg.
I no longer own a replica Navy. I have owned an original since 1972 and I used to shoot it often. I replaced the original nipples with replacements that I bought through Dixie Arms. After I shot it, I'd replace the original nipples. I cannot recall my load...maybe 20 grains of FFFG under a round ball. The pistol shot pretty well; high of course. All of my original percussions guns (Navy, pocket Navy and DA Starr) shoot high as a cat's back. So, frankly do my original rifles and carbines. I have to carry a very "fine bead" in all of them. Some have the front sight pounded flat, which causes them to shoot even higher.
I have three replica Remington's and I like them. One can shoot them pretty hot. As I recall I can jam 40 grns of FFFG in them. Replica Remington's have a higher than original front sight so they don't shoot high, least mine don't. During the CW Remington's didn't have the reputation for quality that the Colt's had they weren't as popular. Also if one was carrying a spare cylinder it'd be easier to replace it in the Remington. No key to lose.
One wonders how long a pitched battle during the CW war lasted. Certainly it varied, but I doubt a cavalry fight lasted more than 10 or 15 minutes. First they'd posture, then charge, fight at close range, sword to sword, for a few minutes, then one side would retreat to lick their wounds...or dismount and take up their carbines and fight like infantry. That's what Forrest said he did. Early mechanized infantry.
The sixth Indiana Volunteer Infantry (the unit my relatives were members of) usually numbered 300 men. They'd line up and face a Rebel unit of about the same size, probably standing 100 yards away. How long would they stand there and fight? The 6th fought at Shiloh on the second day, and at Chickamagua the following year, where one of my uncles, John McCarty, was captured, along with about 70 others. He ended up in Andersonville, also in Georgia. His elder brother William Henry McCarty survived the war to die in 1928.
I often ponder what it was like standing in a line of fighting infantrymen during the CW. Was their panic? Cheering? Growling? Even singing? Laughing? Apparently the Rebel Yell was kind of a yelp, or yelping or squeeling. Union troops, according to Shelby Foote, made a different sound...kind of a growl.
I've read that the wounded tried to make as little fuss as possible, not wanting to bother the unwounded, so they'd keep on fighting. The wounded, if they could, would crawl away to a low spot and wait to be picked up. About a 1/3rd of the wounded eventually died. In some battles, where they layed in the field for a long time, as at Cold Harbor, essentially all of them died.
If you joined the Army in 1861 chances were you would survive the war. If you did die you would most likely die of disease, usually not long after you joined up. If you were wounded you had a fair chance of surviving. However a serious head wound or bullet in the guts usually killed. Hit in an extremety they cut it off and you had about a 50/50, or slightly better chance of surviving. Blood poisoning killed people. Infection was expected and called "laudable puss". Maggots helped and are even used today to eat away rotting flesh! Shock killed. Most surgery was done with anesthesia and they did use morphine for pain.
After an army had been in the field for a year or so the men became very healthy (weak ones died) and tough. They learned to live on the food they were issued. When they haulted they'd dig in. If ordered to move they'd dig in again. A 20 mile march was not considered a long march. The infantrymen of the CW was no fool and he was dedicated. He wanted to win. He considered that he was in a "modern army" and he was proud of it and proud of himself, which is why we see so many veterans groups after the war. Win or lose the vets were a proud lot.
If we could go back in time and join the army, or even command an army, how differently would we behave than they did? We'd dig in. A soldier fighting from a ditch is safer than one standing up in plain sight. He could rest his rifle and he had a better chance of surviving to fight.
Petersburg looked like a WWI battlefield. Genuine "modern war" of the time. Artillery was very primitive when compared to what army's had in WWI. Indirect fire essentially did not exist and most guns, by far, were muzzle loaders. However, many men killed in the CW died from artillery fire, which were pretty much used as the machine gun was used in WWI.
A little trivia. The 1st US General Officer killed in the European Theater in WW II was BG Nathan Bedford Forrest III, US Army Air Corps, a West Point grad. He was shot down in his B-17 over France, leading his men from the front just like his grandfather did.