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Re: The Starr Carbine...

Posted by John on Sunday, 20 March 2011, at 8:48 p.m., in response to Re: The Starr Carbine..., posted by Dušan P. Farrington on Sunday, 20 March 2011, at 7:01 p.m.

When using archaeological artifacts as evidence, it is important to remember that it is sometimes difficult to determine the exact date any specific artifact was deposited there.

In the case of camp sites, it is very likely that the same site might be used successively many times as their selection was likely based on availability of water, forage, firewood, protection from weather, or defensive location in case hostiles attacked. Similar criteria would have applied to cavalry troops, emigrants, buffalo hunters, outlaws, etc. So it may be hard to be sure exactly whose trash has been found.

Also, remember that in the post-Civil War migration west, many military arms had been sold to troops being mustered out, (with cost being deducted from pay due to them) and to assorted civilians under congressional authority to sell arms to western emigrants. Thus the presence of military arms or ammunition types does not always prove that it was necessarily in the hands of military forces.

I am confident that Dusan Farrington has superbly mined the surviving records in RG 156 in the National Archives. There may be some scraps of information in other published records in the Annual Reports of the various branch heads. While we would like to think that they would be in the Chief of Ordanance's report, the few possible clues are probably more likely to be casual mentions in operational reports from the operational commanders.

I don't know if any one has asked Doug McChristian about his knowledge of the subject, but he has done an awful lot of archival research beyond what has been published in his excellent books. (He was at Baltimore...) He may be able to fill in some gaps based on his research of records related to various posts, not just the Ordnance records in RG 156.

This is not to infer that archaeological evidence should be ignored, just that it should be treated with skepticism to be sure that you arrive at the truth, not the answer we might expect to find.


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