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Re: 45/70 info please

Posted by John S. on Saturday, 24 June 2017, at 9:11 p.m., in response to Re: 45/70 info please, posted by Jeffrey Hooper on Saturday, 24 June 2017, at 3:58 p.m.

While that is perhaps possible, the odds are very high that the gun is not the actual gun issued to an individual. Although policies have varied over the years, in general, the U.S. Army was very possessive about its weapons and did not allow troops to take them home. However, vets sometimes bought similar arms later on after they hit the surplus market. Thus, in family oral history Granpa telling the kids "I carried a gun like this in the war" is later remembered as "I carried this exact gun in the war."

A few exceptions that I know of, and there may be others:

At the end of the Civil War, the Ordnance Department realized they had a fully equipped million man army, and would very soon return to pre-war strengths of well under 100,000 (actually closer to 30,000 within a few years) and therefore be stuck with huge piles of obsolete arms, on top of all the stuff surrendered by the Confederates. The Army promulgated an order that troops being mustered out could purchase just about any type of handgun, longarm or edged weapon they used at a price well under the initial cost to the government. The price would be deducted from their final pay. This cut cash expenditures somewhat and got rid of some of the surplus arms, so everyone was happy. Many troops took advantage of this. But, it is nearly impossible to tell those arms from the identical surplus arms which were kept by the Army, sold to surplus dealers like Bannerman and then sold to civilian buyers at even lower prices.

At the end of WW1, officers were permitted to purchase their sidearms, and many did.

States had separate policies, and it is possible (but unproven as far as I know) that some National Guard units may have given, or sold, or had stolen, some of the arms in the hands of troops returning from the Spanish American War. Or, shortly thereafter when obsolete trapdoors were replaced by Krags or M1903 rifles. And, many of those arms not sold to individuals may have been sold locally and ended up in the hands of vets who had carried them.

In any case, your rifle is a nice piece with sentimental value, regardless if Grandpa actually carried it in war, or merely owned it later. The chances of proving one way or the other are very, very slim.


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