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Excellent work! Thanks for posting, there's not enough information on Spanish arms in this country and that's a shame since they were a very important source of arms to us during the Revolution (Clark's troops that took Vincennes were armed, uniformed and supplied by Spain), the War of 1812 (Jackson's troops at the Battle of New Orleans in 1814 were partially armed with Escopettas in storage there), the Mexican War (Mexican troops used British muskets and Spanish made Baker rifles) and the American Civil War (Union troops received some Enfield-style rifles purchased from Spain) and especially in Florida and the Southwest. I look forward to reading it... or attempting to any way, I knew that 5 years of Spanish in High school and college would help me eventually. Just have to work on the "technical" language. :) Beautiful photography too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your comments, TP. Very interesting the information about the rifles purchased from Spain for the civil war. Look the chapter about the Belgian rifles; they are trade rifles as used by the scandinavian regiment in the American Civil War.
If you have any doubt about technical words, I'll try to translate as well as I can; my english is very poor.
 
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It is a shame but virtually nothing is known here about early Spanish firearms even though the Spanish controlled Florida and much of the area to the west for about 300 years before 1821 or thereabouts.

I have a very good friend who runs the state of Florida Archaeological Preservation/Restoration Lab. He has handled untold numbers of early Spanish arms recovered from shipwrecks, rivers etc here in Florida, and I'm sure that no one else this side of Spain knows and understands the functioning of early Spanish weapons as well as he does. Include in that knives, swords, rapiers,etc.
 

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Many, many thanks. It is an excellent book. Thanks to my high school spanish,
my three years in Mexico with the Wycliffe Translators (Aztec of Pomaro), my current regular visits to Tijuana for cancer treatments and the good writing, a preliminary viewing indicates that understanding will not be at all difficult.
 

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spanish rifles

i am interested in spanish rifles used by the florida indians in the second seminole war. historians say they were provided from cuba in trade, were smaller bore than weapons used by the u.s. army. were they rifled? i have found a reference to them being breech-loaders? has anyone seen one? does anyone know? thanks. norm
 
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It has been a number of years since I studied the early days of Florida and the Seminole Wars, but I do remember that the Indians were armed for the most part with Spanish .36cal (or close) rifled pieces. Aparently the Indians used a ball somewhat smaller than the bore of the weapon since they would simply pour powder down the bore and SPIT from their mouths a ball down the barrel. Accuracy reportedly was good on the first round fired in battle since it had been traditionally loaded with a patched round ball, but once the action got heavy they reverted to spitting a smaller ball down the bore. I remember reading one account written by a British medical doctor who was along with the USA troops for the fun of it, reporting that all of the Seminoles projectiles went several feet higher than the intended target because of the loading techniques. He reported that almost all US casualties occured on the first volley fired, and that it was very unusual to have wounded troops on the second and later volleys.

I have seen and handled several Seminole arms recovered from the point on a major river where the First Seminole War started. All of these were Carolina Type G and C Trade Guns manufactured in England and traded to the Indians for deer skins. These were smoothbores and about 16ga or 65cal. Before the Revolution, when the English had command and control, trading or selling to an Indian a rifled piece was not tolerated. Every effort was made to keep rifles out of Indian hands. This effort carried foward after the Brits were kicked out, but not to a great degree.

Give me a few days and I'll compile a list of references that you can refer to for the information that you want. I have three very good friends who are Florida archaeologists and are most knowledgable of the Seminole Wars. I'll ask them for reference material.
 

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Woodsrunner, you just gave me more information than i've acquired in 46 years of digging into florida history. i just never before needed to look at seminole weapons. i have tons of information about north florida general stuff if you ever need to have questions answered. i've published about 500 articles in my younger and more vulnerable years. again, thanks. norm
 
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tregojones,

I've had a little time to quickly brush up on what I know about Spanish arms used by the Seminoles, and I'll be glad to convey this to you. IMO the subject material strays too far from pouget's original post, however. I will send you a private message through the Gunboards message center here on the Forum. It is truly interesting info on what the Indians had!

woodsrunner
 
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At your request, then, Sir, I will add to and correct what was mentioned in my post above. I'm not a historian, however, so it's difficult for me to cite printed references to what I say. Three of my good friends and hunting buddies are archaeologists with in-depth knowledge of Florida Indian history and especially the Seminole Wars which flaired up, died down only to erupt again from about 1817 through 1858. I've talked to two of these friends today on the subject of arms used by the Indians, and here is what I can convey at this point.

The Seminoles early on were armed mostly with English Trade Guns, Type "C" usually, but later with a more advanced Type "G". These were smoothbores of around .62-.65 caliber. These pieces were and still are commonly referred to as Carolina Trade Guns. In my first post above I said that the Seminoles were later armed with small caliber Spanish rifles. This, I've learned today, is questionable. I remember having read this in a report written by the English doctor that I mentioned, whose name was Dr.Jacob Rhett Motte. It was commonly reported in the press at that time that the Spanish were arming the Seminoles with rifles with the intent of making it too difficult for the U.S. Government to rule its new Territory, Florida. The U.S. Army assigned a commissioned officer by the name of Sprague (first name?) to confirm or disprove these reports. Sprague reported that the rifles being used by the Seminoles were not Spanish but rather were .32cal-.40cal flintlock rifles traded to the Indians earlier under the direction of the U.S.Government to build goodwill! There is even some question wheather the Spanish were making rifled pieces at this time! Pouget, perhaps this is something that you can confirm!

In recent times, before Native Indians objected so strongly to archaeological diggings in Indian graves, these rifles were occasionally unearthed in burials. I've seen a couple or so, and these looked very much like the halfstock flintlock Lehman Trade Gun that's still commonly seen.

Now for tregojones' original question on the Seminoles using breech loading rifles: Rifles, yes as stated above. Breech loaders...possibily, on a very minor scale!

In the 2nd Seminole War the U.S. 2nd Dragoons (did I spell that correctly?) opposed the Seminoles. These troops were armed with Hall Carbines. These pieces began service as flintlocks, but were converted to breech loading percussion pieces and issued to the Dragoons. Some number of these were lost in battles, stolen, covertly sold to the Indians,etc, and it's very probable that these were used by the Seminoles. In addition to these Carbines the Indians had another source of advanced arms.

Samuel Colt had invented his famous revolving pistol in this time period. Hoping to win a government contract to build a long rifle version of his pistol, Colt made 50 revolver rifles, .45cal I think, and sent these to Florida for trial service against the Seminoles. By some means the Seminoles stole 14 of these rifles and turned them on the Dragoons! Turned out that the revolver rifle was as dangerous to the man pulling the trigger as it was to the man in front of the muzzle....but that's another story!
 

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Beautifully done color plates, excellent job.

I've never studied Spanish but I once studied Esperanto, which I'm told is much like Portugese, at least in spoken form.
I can pick out the gist of some of this, and it will be an interesting challenge, I might even learn Spanish before I'm through.

I ran across a Mexican War Brown Bess at a Museum in Charleston years ago, at least thats how it was presented. It was in a display along with the sword of a famous US General who had been shot at by a Mexican soldier at close range but the bullet had hit his sheathed sword which blocked the ball. The sword was still in its ripped open sheath, badly bent by the bullet.
The Brown Bess was in the White and highly polished, it might have been a reproduction placed there just to illustrate the type, or perhaps some overzealous caretaker had cleaned and polished it too much at some point.

I ran across a book online several years and two PC ago. If I can remember the title I'll post a link here because it tells of a naturalist's travels in the American South East in the late 18th century.
His name was William Bartram.
He ran across ruins of long abandoned Spanish settlements and you might find some interesting observations there. Great book in any case.

http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/bartram/menu.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks Woodrunner. This theme is absolutely new for me. What's the time of the semilone wars ?. Here in Spain I always heard that we give from Florida our mod. 1757 flintlock muskets to the Revolutionary Americans in the Independence War against Great Britain; this muskets can be easily confused with the frech models of the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you GunnerSam, it's a very interesting book. Some years ago I saw a good work about the Mexican Wars, and the use of Brown Bess muskets by the mexicans. I don't know if the english trade these guns or not, but during the Guerra de la Independencia Spain bought several hundred thousands of Brown Bess, is possible that a part ended this days in Mexico, when Spain tried to reconquest, but when this happened the Brown Bess were still in their original condition. In Spain were used during sixty years, but being improved time by time; first they were converted to percussion; after rifled; and even after converted to the last percussion system used by Spain (the mod. 1857). I found evidences of use of Brown Bess in the last Carlist War, and in the Cantonal Insurrection, when were in use breechloaders such as the Remington rolling block.
 
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William Bartram, Naturalist AND Intelligence Collector!

William was the son of John Bartram of Phillidelphia, also a Naturalist of world renound in the mid-1700's. Both spent time in what is now the Deep Southeastern States. William, the Son, came down into what is now the Carolinas, Georgia and East & West Florida in the 1773-1775 time period. He was on a covert mission formulated by the Continental Congress to gather intelligence on a number of items of intense interest on the eve of the American Revolution. His abilities as a Naturalist and collector of the flora and fauna of this Region was a perfect cover for his primary mission as Intelligence Collector!

Among his collecting efforts he was to determine the "probable" loyalty of the Backcountry English settlers, the Native Indians-Cherokee, Creek, Seminole and a few other somewhat related tribal groups. The armed capabilities of these Natives was of high interest since it was most probable that they would side with the English! Unknown to most of us now is the fact that many if not most of the Seminoles and other Indians in Florida were Spanish Citizens and even thought of themselves as such during the English ownership of Florida. Where the loyalty of these "Spanish Indians" lay was of great interest.

The Carolina and Georgia Backcountry Settlers were virtually 100% English and Scot-Irish, and these settlers were no more unified in their loyalties in 1776 than they were in 1861. The Regulator Movement in North and South Carolina was not fully understood in Philladelphia, and Bartram made a concentrated effort to sort this "bucket of worms" out.

That was Bartram's primary mission during his visit in the 1770's, and he reported some excellent and previously unknown intelligence back to the Continental Congress. Luckily for those of us who work in the natural invironment of this region, Bartram also left journals,descriptions and maps that are of intense interest even today! The copy of "Bartram's Travels" that I have was published in 1928, and all species of plants and animals are listed by Genus and species only with no common names. Much newer editions of the book are now available, so if this area of study is of interest to anyone be sure to get an updated version with common names as well as the scientific names of plants and animals. It will really be fun reading!

(We have wandered far from the original Post, but Pouget, assuming that you are Spanish I hope it has been of interest to you.)
 
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