Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 25
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Model 1842 U.S. percussion
pistol was standard issue for
the cavalry from 1845-1855.
A short description of some of the types of arms
known to have been brought from home, issued, or
captured in 1861:
Model 1842 Percussion Pistol: Single-shot, muzzle
loading, .54 caliber gun with an overall length of 14 inches.
Standard issue U.S. cavalry pistol from 1845 to 1855, this
firearm was normally issued in pairs in a saddle bag-type of
holster to be carried only on the horse. It is likely that a pair
was issued to each member of the 3rd Cavalry from the San
Antonio shipment to Dallas in 1861.
Model 1851 Colt Navy Pistol: Six-shot percussion,
revolving cylinder, .36 caliber pistol. Reliable and easy to
carry and shoot, the 1851 Navy Colt was the most popular
side arm of the Confederate cavalry and was often described
as a "six-shooter." Being the most desirable handgun of its
time, it is doubtful that many Confederate privates were
able to carry these early in the war, unless they were brought
by individuals from wealthy homes. By mid-war, thousands
of these guns were in Southern soldiers' hands, as the Con-
federate government contracted for thousands of Colt Navy
copies to be made in the South.
Model 1860 Colt Army Pistol: A .44 caliber, six-shot
revolver that went into production in 1860 by Sam
Colt and was considered the "big brother" of the Colt
Navy. While if any of these made it to Dallas in July
1861 is anyone's guess, in subsequent years the boys of
the 3rd were able to capture or procure many of these
Percussion Civilian Rifles: Known as the famous
squirrel or Kentucky (Tennessee, too) rifle. These firearms
ranged from .30 caliber up to .75 caliber, with any length
barrel and stock dimension. With these, the boys of the 3rd
Texas had learned how to hunt and shoot and were the tra-
ditional guns that they took to Dallas. These are likely the
"common rifles" so often spoken of in official Confederate
army correspondence and the personal letters or recollec-
tions from soldiers of the 3rd Cavalry. Single-shot, long and
heavy, these rifles were a nightmare to carry on horseback and
because of the variety of calibers, to supply with ammuni-
tion. Therefore, each soldier probably brought his own bul-
let mold, powder, and caps. Some of these private firearms
were militarized, shortened, re-bored, or even fitted for
bayonets. By mid-1862, these guns had been generally cast
off and replaced by uniform caliber muskets and rifles.
U.S. Model 1816 Flintlock Musket: This .69 caliber,
flintlock, smooth bore 42" barrel musket was standard is-
sue to all U.S. and militia infantry from 1816 to 1842.
On hand in massive quantities throughout the nation, this
weapon became the mainstay of Southern and Northern
forces in 1861. Many were cut down and used as single-
barrel shotguns with devastating effect. Private Cartwright
did mention "Army guns or muskets" were received in Dal-
las from the San Antonio shipment.
U.S. Hall Breech-Loading Carbine: Made from 1833
through 1853, this model was a favorite of the U.S. dra-
goons during the war with Mexico. Being breech-loading,
it was much easier to load on horseback and was capable of
a higher rate of sustained fire. Ranging in caliber from .52
to .64, many were on hand at the beginning of hostilities in
1861. The 3rd Cavalry Dallas shipment possibly included some
of these Hall carbines (Victor Rose referred to them as "old United
States carbines") left over from the War with Mexico.
Shotguns, Double-Barreled: The common shotgun,
not unlike the common rifles as previously described,
became the early standard arm of the 3rd Texas Cavalry.
Loaded with buck shot, double-barreled, and cut-off, this
instrument of destruction was highly effective at close
range. As the Civil War campaigns wore on and as the op-
posing forces used better common sense in combat, the gap
widened between combatants. Once out of range, the shot-
gun became useless and was eventually replaced by more
effective, longer-ranged models.
David D. Jackson is the owner of Jackson Armory in Dallas
and an expert on historicalfirearms.
HERITAGE Volume 2 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/25/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.