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Re: Son's Gun Purchase

Posted by John on Friday, 6 May 2011, at 12:34 a.m., in response to Son's Gun Purchase, posted by Paula on Thursday, 5 May 2011, at 11:03 p.m.

Paula- Searches in the National Archives for serial numbers of trapdoors have not found any information on 500323. However, several nearby numbers were documented as being used by various volunteer units during the Spanish American War in 1898, mainly from Nebraska and some from Iowa, but there is no direct correlation that this one was used by any of those units.

I applaud your son's interest in collecting historical artifacts, and hope that a half century from now he can look back on as much pleasure as I have gotten from the hobby.

The ramrod bayonet design was adopted at a time when the supply of surplus Civil War musket bayonets was exhausted, which had previously had been converted for use on the trapdoor rifles. It was decided that the idea of a ramrod bayonet would be a good solution, save money and slightly reduce the load the soldiers had to carry in the field. The Indian Wars were about over, and bayonets had seen almost no use in them, so there was not much interest in bayonets of any type, leading to the adoption of the rod-bayonet rifles.

The rod bayonet idea had been tried sporadically since 1833, and after being used on the trapdoors, it was tried again in 1903. That was the final use, as the newly elected President Teddy Roosevelt wrote the Chief of Ordnance "I must say that I think the ramrod bayonet about as poor an invention as I ever saw."

One unit that used the rod bayonet trapdoors during the SAW was the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry, and one of their soldiers wrote a fascinating account of his experiences. It is widely available in reprint editions at very modest prices, and I highly recommend "The Little War of Private Post" by Charles Johnson Post.

Hope that helps.


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