You’ll probably never hear this anywhere else but here at the lowly Thunderbox. For awhile I used to willingly associate with the eccentric and unsavoury black powder muzzle loading geeks. These guys were amateur curators and anachronists. They don’t give a hoot about political correctness… but they live and die for period correctness. They will almost get in fist fights over historical details they disagree about.
One thing most of them agree on is that the great Buffalo herds were not decimated by the white man as per the popular narrative. During the period there simply weren’t enough people in the west to do it. They argue that few people really understand how many animals there actually were at the time. The only thing that could have wiped them out in those numbers is disease.
It may sound like a lame attempt at historical revisionism and white washing, but no. They also agree on and acknowledge the buffalo eradication programs were a historical fact… but that they just couldn’t explain the massive die off seen in the great western herds of the day. The indians were subdued by warfare… not starvation. Make of that what you will; deliberate starvation of your enemy is an old form of warfare and is still in use today. Blaming your enemies for disease and pandemics is still around today too.
I used to wish I could hunt them, but in reality they don’t make good game animals. Other than man, they have no real enemies or predators that can effectively take them on. They aren’t good farm animals either, despite the novelty buffalo ranches. Your fencing has to be on par with the Maginot Line and these critters do not domesticate easily. The world moved on, and these guys had no real place in it.
Perhaps the same fate awaits us.
Glen - And it is just a passing comment, I proclaim no expertise - but at least the oral histories I have read concerning Crazy Horse indicate that starvation was a real problem. It could have been by extermination attempts or disease, but at least to the people of the time, the lack of food was real.ReplyDelete
We have seen them a couple of times at Yellowstone. They are enjoyable to look at in herds.
Funny story: One time at The Ranch - years ago, when my Great Aunt still lived there - a buffalo just wandered on the property and started hanging out with their cattle. It must have been a small one, escaped from somewhere local, but it was there a good month or so before someone came and got it.
The meat is interesting. In the aforementioned books, cattle meat was unfavorably compared to buffalo meat.
But - and this is just me going by what the other amateur historians and frontier hobbyists say - there also would have been deer, elk, moose and other game animals they could have eaten. What probably happened was that they were corralled into a smaller and smaller area by the military, and depleted the resources. Had they surrendered the starvation probably wouldn't have been an issue. It is a valid military tactic. America choked off Japan the same way at the end of WW2 - nothing went in, nothing came out, and if Japan wouldn't surrender... they would be starved out.
You may be right, I wasn't there... but even today, our Canadian first nation freeloaders accuse us every day of trying to starve and genocide them. When they kill their own kids in incidents involving drug and alcohol abuse, arson, incest - you name it - they always blame Whitey. They were hunter gatherers in the past, moving from place to place as the availability of food and resources dictated. If they wanted territory, and it was occupied - they murdered their rivals, usually to the last man, woman and child - and took it. I am not saying this to be mean, their own oral histories attest to this. Indians are a huge part of the black powder geek hobby, and no one benefits by judging history through the lens of today's politically correct double standards. They had their heroes and sinners just like us.
When retirement was on the future event horizon I started looking for something to do and focused on Civil War reenenactors.ReplyDelete
After reading some of the forums and reading of other's experiences, I now see that a lot of the reenactors are a hybrid of Home Owner's Associations, and the personality traits know as Karens.
Your mention of the disputes about "period correctness" brought that to mind.
If I dig deep and long enough, I might be able to find the scope mount that my Dad machined to go onto a Hopkins and Allen Underhammer rifle. Take that you period correct Nazis!
The underhammer ignition used the trigger guard as a mainspring, and it was a simple and strong action.
I have seen them John. They are elegant in their simplicity. And yep - those guys can be Karen's all the way. One day one of the guys in Montana shot a beautiful elk in Montana with a 58 caliber Isaac Haynes rifle. In no time at all the Karens gave him the bloody hell of it because he didn't do with with a patched round lead ball - but a conical instead. They're probably STILL fighting about it now, HAR HAR HAR!ReplyDelete
A scope on one of those would be a waste for me; the guns are only practical out to 100 - maybe 150 for a seasoned sniper... and scopes aren't really required that close in. But if it gets an elderly shooter with bad eyes back in the game... I am all for it.
With my eyesight, I have trouble at 25 yards. While I'm a believer in iron sights, I also enjoy being able to hit the target more than one in fifty times.Delete
My dad got interested in black powder shooting and found a club dedicated to muzzle loading shooting.Delete
I don't recall every running into a person what was upset because you were not "period correct."
They run formal matches and you compete in your own class.
They are still around.
Take a look at the photo album, and among the photos you can see people shooting while wearing jeans and a t shirt.
They had a 200 yard range for shooting the old time big bore bench rifles with false muzzles.
The black powder geeks are very welcoming to greenhorns and pork eaters. As they should be - it’s the way to grow the sport and community. You will never get flak for not wearing dressing up. The guys that do though, and go to all the rondy’s - fancy themselves as experts and authorities on the subject… and they do NOT like having their expertise challenged. Do not ask me how I know this…😉Delete
"The world moved on, and these guys had no real place in it."ReplyDelete
The same could be said of the African Elephant or the Indian Tiger but I still like having them around. Just not in my kitchen.
We've disagreed on this for several years:ReplyDelete
I still think that 1000 hunters with Sharps 50/90 rifles could easily shoot a million bison a year. In 20 years, that's 20 million bison.
For most of those years the muzzle loading rifle dominated the frontier. That radically changes the game - cartridge guns and the high power BPCR rifles only arrived at the tail end of the buffalo hunting era. Go and lay into a herd with your hawken, BP. See what happens after the first shot. Try and reload fast enough to make a dent. Do that within 100 yards of the animals. Do that without getting killed. Run down the stragglers and strays. 20 years is not a long time for a proposition like that. There are all kinds of holes in the narrative but I cannot attest to their accuracy.Delete
Worlds collide, BP. Atrocities happen in these things. Wherever there is money and power and men to fight over them... it is what it is. If we went to war today, the first thing we'd do is look for ways to break the enemy's supply chain and starve him into submission so we don't have to lose as many of our guys in firefights and clashes with him. They would have done the same to us and worse. They did it to each other, their oral history brags of their atrocities. Our monsters are no different from theirs. I am not defending any of it, I am just laying out what I see with 20/20 hindsight as objectively as I can... and if I am wrong in any of this - feel free to enlighten me.
A couple years back this creepy little aboriginal ran into me as I came out of a meeting up north. He spat at my feet and invited me to jump on a ship and go back to Europe with all my filthy people. I spat at his, and told him we'd take our medicine and technology with us, and he could live in a tent on a riverbank and watch half his kids die before they were five. I thought we were going to fight but he stomped off in a snit. Our indians in Canada get free food, free housing, free medical, free education, special consideration and affirmative action in the job market, and they don't pay any taxes. Not bad for an oppressed people. Yet their reservations are mostly hell holes and they all blame Whitey for it. They now have a ravenous appetite for welfare and entitlements and a murderous sense of entitlement. If I don't miss my guess, another clash of worlds will be upon us soon, and we can do all of this over again... and the robot archeologists can fight about numbers, tactics and atrocities.
Narratives will come and go, but the facts and details of any conflict are what they are - and those are what interest me.
Tell me all about the noble savage, and I'll listen for a minute or so.Delete
In the late 1990s I was in Pierre, SD on a contract with the State. A southerner from Tennessee worked with me, and we decided to drive out to the Sioux reservation and gamble at the casino. Wellsir, I was pretty well acquainted with the Poor But Honest Gun Trader of South Dakota, as his shop was right next door to me, and when I told him about our weekend plans he raised an eyebrow.
"Y'know Bill, you probably should take something with you. You got anything?"
"That .30-30 I cheated you out of a few months back, and the ammo you sold me at twice the normal price. I got that."
He just nodded and didn't say any more, except what everyone else told us. Everyone.
"Don't stay out there after dark, because the Indians will shoot at you."
So I loaded up my rifle and hid it in the back seat, and old Mister Tennessee drove.
Let me tell you something. That Rez was a DMZ. The Peanut President and his crew had been through there two years ago and built houses, and these were nice houses too. I would have lived in one and been grateful. But this place? Windows broken out, brand new cars all busted up, and the nicest building in the whole town was the casino. Right next door was a building of equal size for battered women and the official AA headquarters.
We left well before sundown and got back okay, but that Rez made every single ghetto I've been through look as safe as a church building on Sunday morning by comparison. I'll never in my life forget it.
It’s the same up here, WL. And it costs us billions of dollars a year. The more we give them, the more they hate us. These are not nice folks for the most part.Delete
I don't think anybody believes the white man decimated the bison herds. That's only killing ten percent--we devastated them.ReplyDelete
ah blocked my comments, bitch?ReplyDelete
I wouldn’t even know how to do that.Delete
Bison are susceptible to diseases carried by domesticated cattle, such as brucellosis, leptospirosis, and tuberculosis. If the indians got shwacked by honky devil diseases, I would think the bison did for a bit, too.ReplyDelete
I never thought about the rate of fire of a muzzle loading rifle. Nice point.ReplyDelete