Issue No. 5
SHOWDOWN IN IMELDA!
O’Reilly stood on the veranda out front of Joe’s café. His last gunfight had left a bitter taste in his mouth, even more so than the muddy coffee he was attempting to drink. He was having flashbacks about the old days when he was a peaceful farmer living with his young family in Missouri. One fateful night in ’62 that had all changed. Slim Jim Butler and his band of jayhawkers had got it into his head that O’Reilly’s politics weren’t neighbourly. So, as a fearful warning to the other slave-owning farmers in the vicinity, they set out to murder him.
The night they came for O’Reilly, he was away on business. But this did not stop their violent aims. They slaughtered his wife and his two innocent young boys, and then they burned his farm to the ground. An eyewitness said he saw Slim Jim laughing maniacally as he went about his bloody business.
O’Reilly was totally heartbroken. He threw in his lot with Rob Johnson in a hope that one day he would find Slim Jim and get a chance to avenge the murder of his family. For many long years his desire for vengeance had gnawed at his broken heart.
The day he had dreamed about finally came. It started like any other day in Imelda, calm and peaceful. He had just breakfasted and was strolling along Main Street when, in the distance, he saw the silhouette of the man who had been haunting his dreams ever since that terrible night long ago.
Slim Jim was walking along the Main Street towards him, seemingly without a care in his black heart. O’Reilly was frozen with shock and couldn’t help but stare as the murderer of his family steadily approached. He had come to within twenty yards of O’Reilly before his initial shock disappeared and the red mist of hatred cleared away from his disbelieving eyes. Almost without thinking, O’Reilly checked that his trusty shotgun was loaded and then he stepped out into the middle of the street.
“Hey! Jim Butler!” he shouted. Jim squinted at the lone figure who’d called out his name. Almost nonchalantly, he sneered and then turned slowly to walk away.
“Slim Jim Butler! If you don’t stop I’ll just have to shoot you in the back”. The bitter tone of this warning got Jim’s undivided attention. Slowly he turned back to face the angry man.
“Is that you, O’Reilly?” he answered, disdainfully. “You wouldn’t want t’go an’ shoot a lawman in the back, now would ya?”
“Lawman or no, you’re still a murderin’ son of a bitch!”
It was at this moment that Stephen the Heathen rode up behind O’Reilly on his dappled grey steed. O’Reilly heard him approaching and knew who it was, but this didn’t stop him carrying out the act he’d been dreaming of doing all these long, painful years. O’Reilly took aim at Slim Jim and fired off both barrels of his trusty sawed off shotgun… and missed his target.
O’Reilly and Slim Jim Butler exchange a few pleasantries
This classic Wild West showdown scenario was played out with the addition of the “duel” rule. O’Reilly and Slim Jim started out in the middle of the Main Street while the rest of the posses came into play on a 4/5/6 die roll. The Bushwhackers gained the initiative in the first 3 turns, but the majority of them failed to realize that there was anything amiss going down in town.
Sheriff Shirley’s boys came on immediately, and in force, but to no useful effect. Stephen the Heathen came to within 6” of O’Reilly before any of the Sheriff’s lawmen had got anywhere near to Jim, and this enabled O’Reilly to take action. He blasted Jim with both barrels, but when the smoke had cleared, his hated enemy was still breathing and in one piece. He’d ducked for cover behind the nearest wall and was hurriedly reloading. As the echoes of the initial gunfire faded, the posses proceeded to close on one another. Some walked boldly down Main Street in full view of their rivals, while others (the wiser ones) took to the back streets and alleyways of our beloved town.
Sheriff Shirley directs his posse up the back passage… ( titter ye not! )
As the gap between the rivals closed on Main Street, the Rebs got the drop… again! Stephen the Heathen leveled his rifle at Freddy Krueger and took him down with a crack shot. First blood of the morning to the Rebs. Rob Johnson led from the front and blew away Jack Splatt at close quarters; Splatt by name, splattered by nature.
Vigilante Legless Billy, incensed by Jack Splatt’s splattering and he returned fire at the Reb’s head honcho. He hit, he wounded, but luckily for Rob he managed to roll his fate and then pass his pluck test to survive what turned out to be a wincingly close shave.
It starts raining lead, so the boys rush to the laundry to get their washing in.
The posses closed in on each other around the town’s laundry and drying yard. For the first time in the game, Sheriff Shirley got the drop and, with his first shot of the game, he took out Frank T Winklebottom. Seeing Buckshot Bull about to let fly with his sawed off, Sergeant Baker cried out: “Fire!” Palmer fanned, Baker and Dutchie took careful aim, and all nine shots flew like an angry swarm of hornets towards Bull. Miraculously, he emerged unscathed. Bull then returned fire, but he did little more than drill half a dozen holes in the side of the clapboard latrine. It’ll be mighty drafty in that privvy this winter!
Meanwhile, back on Main Street, Rob espied Slim Jim skulking around inside the bank. He took aim through the window and squeezed off a round that shattered the glass and scraped a furrow of skin and hair off Jim’s skull, knocking him out cold.
Legless Billy took aim with his rifle and drew a sure bead on Palmer as he came hurrying along the middle of Main Street. The shot dropped him to the dirt. Finally ol’ Bowlegged Billy make his roll and came into play. Running just as fast as his bandy legs could carry him, he made his way towards the sound of the shootin’. Both posses continued to exchange fire in the laundry yard and around the bank. Dutchie fanned his six gun through the bank’s shattered window and hit lucky Bob three times, but still he failed to wound him. Lucky or what!? All the other shooting in this round proved to be just as close and equally as ineffective.
After taking 5 turns to reach the roof of the print works, English Tony realizes that he may be out of range… doh!
Sheriff Shirley and Legless went prone behind the laundry, and none of the Rebs managed to spot this dastardly trick. Johnson soon proved why he is the posse boss when he took out his third lawman of the morning. Buckshot Bull fell with a bellyful of Rob’s lead before he could squeeze both triggers of his sawed off. Sheriff Shirley lost his cool and blazed back, shooting Stephen the Heathen clean off his horse, but his bullet barely grazed this Civil War veteran and he was able to recover quickly, without any serious wound.
At the start of the next turn the lawmen were forced to take a Head for the Hills test. Unluckily, Sheriff Shirley got the drop. Then, miraculously, he proceeded to roll a double six!
During this critical round, all shooting turned out to be spectacularly ineffective. Rebel Rob charged into the bank and struck at Lucky Bob. He sensed an easy victory was to be had, but he ended up getting a smack on the nose. That’ll teach him to be so cocky!
Foul words and fisticuffs in the bank!
The lawmen won priority yet again and things started looking a bit dodgy for Rob Johnson and his bad boys, even though the odds were now 8:3 in his favour. Legless took out Dutchie on Main Street and Sheriff Shirley hit Stephen but failed to wound. Lucky Bob was still slugging it out with Rob Johnson in the bank and scored a lovely right hook, leaving Johnson nursing a humdinger of a black eye. He was now down to one wound.
Thornton saw his boss taking a pounding from what appeared, at least to him, to be a pugilist, and he rushed in to the bank to help him out. O’Reilly, Baker, and bowlegged Billy, all let loose a rebel yell and charged headlong at Legless who was standing in the middle of Main Street. While this was going down, Stephen the Heathen and Sheriff Shirley continued to hurl lead at each other, back and forth across the laundry yard.
Billy finds himself surrounded by damned Rebs!
With the odds doubled against him, Lucky Bob’s luck finally ran out. Rob Johnson got the critical on him and claimed his fourth victim of the morning. Outside on Main Street, Legless had little-to-no chance of surviving. Baker held him while O’Reilly took out his anger on his face. Realizing he had been left all on his lonesome, Sheriff Shirley decided the time had come to retreat.
Once the fighting was over, O’Reilly began to search for his hated foe: Slim Jim. He found him in the bank, just as he was regaining consciousness. Slim Jim squinted through blurry eyes and saw the grim reaper approaching, in the shape of O’Reilly. For the aggrieved Reb, this seemingly ordinary day in Imelda had turned out to be the day he’d been preying for for many long years. It was vengeance and judgment day all rolled into one.
Slim Jim was unceremoniously dragged from the bank, hog-tied, and then slung over the back of Stephen the Heathen’s horse. The lawmen escorted him out of town to the gallows tree where Sheriff Shirley passed a summary sentence of death upon him for several counts of cold-bloodied murder, and for one count of arson. When asked if he had any last words, the condemned man preyed for the forgiveness of the Lord for his crimes. O’Reilly was permitted to place the noose around Slim Jim’s neck and kick the log from under his feet, thereby sending him off to meet his maker. After several minutes of him swinging on the end of the rope, Sheriff Shirley pronounced that Slim Jim was dead and that justice had finally been served. The Sheriff ordered that Slim Jim’s body be left to hang for a week before burial, as a warning to others of the fate which awaits them if they are minded to commit murder and arson anywhere in Imelda County. Time for a lynching!
Although his posse was reduced to just a single man, Sheriff Shirley had some luck come his way at the end of the day. His entire posse survived the fighting, except for Slim “murdering son of a bitch” Jim Butler, who got what he richly deserved.
Jack Splatt became a pistoleer, and Legless gained +1 Pluck.
Jake Thornton, the new boy, proved himself to his new boss. Alas, this was by dying like a hero. Ah shucks!
Posse boss Rob Johnson, with his hard won hand-to-hand experience took a few lessons with a journeyman and gained 2 advances on his fighting skill.
All the other Reb posse advances were centered around Pluck.
$41 dollars were found on the body of Slim Jim which was donated to the Rebs collective cause.
O’Reilly got the revenge he sorely craved. Perhaps he’ll now be able to sleep at night? Well, maybe, if only Baker didn’t snore so loud.
Following the decimation of his posse in the back streets of Imelda at the (bloodstained) hands of the Apache, Jake Fargo hightailed it to Albuquerque to recruit brother Wells and sister Foxy into a new posse, entitled “Fargo Inc.” Pistoleer Dwight Wright skedaddled away to Texas after falling out with Jake during their hasty escape. Wells mustered an additional five cowpokes to the cause: Big Jim Douglas, Curley Spinks, Sam Sturgis, Chuck Kershaw, and the irascible Bushrod Wilkes. On their way back to Imelda, eagle-eyed Foxy spotted some half-smudged out pony tracks in the dirt of the Imelda Turnpike. They were Apache tracks. Jake was certain that these belonged to the nemesis of his previous posse, none other than Shami-(almost) leaves-no-Marks and he resolved to track down the itinerant injuns. As he crested the peak of Roughrider Ridge, located 5 miles west of Imelda, he spotted the redskins lying in ambush. On the main trail into town was a convoy of three covered wagons accompanied by a military escort. Barely able to believe his luck, Jake briefed his new posse to get ready to reap their vengeance on the Apaches. Then Foxy saw something that made Jake hesitate. On a ridge opposite the skulking injuns she had caught a glimpse of a swarthy-faced man waving a sombrero. Was he signaling to Shami? Or had Windy Valdez just let another one rip?
This scenario was played out on a 6’ x 4’ table representing a rugged area of valley terrain five miles west of Imelda. Ideal ambush country. The main turnpike cut across its centre heading west to east.
Lt. Norman House and his men had been detailed to escort the wagons safely through these badlands and into Imelda. For each wagon that reached the eastern edge of the table he would be rewarded with 3d6$s worth of bounty. Windy Valdez and Shami-leaves-no-Marks were set up ready to ambush the wagons as they approached the final, most dangerous leg of their journey into town. For each wagon they captured and held at the end of the game they would receive an extra 3d6$. Jake’s posse was hell-bent on avenging the deaths of the first posse members. For every Apache they took down, they would be rewarded with an extra d6$s.
If you go down to the woods today…
Lt House and his feisty Feds deployed on the western edge, in column of march escort on either side of the convoy wagons. The last wagon in the line had its rear base edge touching the eastern baseline. The Apaches and the Bandidos cut the cards for choice of either the north or the south side of the table. Shami won and chose the north side; Valdez settled for the south. Their posses started within 6 inches of their respective baselines. Fargo Inc. began the game off-table. They needed to roll a 6 to come on during the first round, a 5 or 6 for the second, a 4 / 5 / 6 for the third and so on. It turned out that they were to arrive at the start of the third round. Jake’s boys (and girl) had to deploy along the western baseline.
Each fighter who survived the game gained 1 experience point, as per normal, but this applied even if the fighter was taken out of action during play (just so long as he survived the resolution rolls and lived to fight another day). Additional experience points were up for grabs by fulfilling these special conditions:
Jake Fargo: +1 experience point if the Apaches headed for the hills.
Lt Norman House: +1 experience point if he managed to get a minimum of 2 wagons off the eastern edge of the table.
Shami: +1 experience point if he secured at least 2 wagons
Valdez: +1 experience point if he secured at least 2 wagons
Fighters: +1 experience point for every enemy figure they personally put out of action.
Every breath you take… I’ll be watchin’ you!
How it went down…
Lt. House and his boys had really picked the short straw this time. The rest of Fort Brannigan breathed a collective sigh of relief when they heard that they’d escaped the dangerous duty of escorting the sutler’s wagon convoy to Imelda. To reach the town, the convoy of three covered wagons would have to traverse the valley below Roughrider Ridge. The army called this notorious stretch of badlands ‘Ambush Alley’, and for good reason. This place put the bad in badlands.
As soon as the feds and the wagons came a-trundling into range, Windy Valdez took a pot shot at the lead wagon driver with his repeater. The bullet tore a neat hole in the canvas cover barely inches from the startled teamster’s head.
This alerted the Lieutenant to trouble and he ordered his best rifleman, David East, to return the compliment. East’s bullet punctured the Mexican leader’s sombrero and had him ducking for cover among the rocks. His accompanying bandidos cursed the federal sharpshooter; the near miss had caused a toxic hiss to issue from El Flatulencia, and they now found themselves engulfed in a mini methane maelstrom. Yuk-uloso!
Seconds after East perforated Windy’s sun bonnet, Shami signalled to his brave, Smaha, to let loose with his longbow at the federal flankers on the north side of the convoy. Predictably his arrow missed its target (have the injuns ever hit anything with their bowfire? I think not!), but it was enough to send a soldier ducking for cover on the valley’s rock-strewn floor. Fellow brave, Naiche, let twang his bow and another Apache feather-tailed pointy-stick was sent arcing away into oblivion. Jake’s posse heard the opening exchange of rifle fire, but they were still frustratingly out of sight of the action.
Shami’s redskins get stuck in to the convoy
The second round came around, but the Fargo posse were still nowhere to be seen. Shami had forgone his usual custom of having his tribal magician conjure up a downpour to dampen the powder and reduce visibility for the enemy lead-slingers. There was so much cover along the valley road that maybe he figured he didn’t need no deluge this time. The Apaches came screaming out of their wooded hide with ‘Shami-I’m-so-cool’ leading the attack on horseback. Pvt. Glen O’Reilly soon found himself the target of Shami’s disaffections. The injun leader’s tomahawk came whirling through the air at him, straight towards his trembling torso. Fortunately, the fed was wearing his oversized oval belt buckle which neatly deflected away the deadly
axe head. In his panic, O’Reilly fanned off a volley at the approaching Apache leader but to no discernable effect. Once again Shami had been saved by his kevlar fun furs. Whoopin’ and hollerin’, the Apaches covered the ground between their hide and the convoy and closed in quick for the melee. Lieutenant House signalled to his hired Gunslinger – the Man with No Name but who Everybody now calls Keith – to go after the two injuns who had remained behind in the hide of trees. He took aim and fired at the shadows lurking among the pine trunks, missing a critical but causing one of them to dive for cover. Meanwhile, Jacob Skinton got in a good shot with his rifle at Mahklo, one of the injuns near the rear of the attacking horde. The slug criticalled him fair and square, and Jacob gave thanks to the Lord for the point of fame resulting from his dropping of this reprobate redskin. Taklishin also got hit by a slug from the Lieutenant’s trusty heavy pistol, but a point of fortune saved the moccasined marauder from an unscheduled one-way trip to his Happy Hunting Grounds. The feds had pulled together a hasty firing line to counter the Apache attack, and their concerted fire caused a further two braves to duck for cover rather than press home their charge and join in with the bitter fray. Veteran Bill Bascom, and the spectacularly insignificant Charlie Plain, attempted to shoot the remaining two Apache tree skulkers but they were unable to spot them this time around.
Lieutenant House bravely stands his ground
Shami was in fighting mood par excellence. He declared it was ‘Time for a Whoopin’ on beleaguered Glen O’Reilly and a particularly tough hand-to-hand combat ensued. All credit to Pvt. Glen for fending off the furious Shami long enough for him to rejoin the federal firing line. The Apaches pressed home their attack and one helluva fight bust out around the wagon line. Daikaya hurled his tomahawk and missed. Have the injuns ever hit anything with a tomahawk throw? Where do they get their supply of tomahawks and arrows from… Naff Toys R Us? In the heat of the fight, plucky Lieutenant House found himself quickly surrounded by five howlin’ heathens. It was a close run thing for the federal leader, but he survived the fracas despite the odds being stacked heavily against him. Among his assailants, Hoo took 1 wound, Crow took 1 hit, Diyin escaped injury (barely), and the other two pulled off in poor order, muttering oaths about the Lieutenant’s claimed half-blood ancestry. The Lieutenant took 1 wound but he lives to brag about it; he did manage to fend off the enemy single-handed after all. Well done, son! Meanwhile, a dozen yards away from this unholy scrum, the Medicine Man and Taklishin were setting about Jacob Skinton. Taklishin took him down with his two attacks, but despite being brained unconscious by the blow, ol’ Jacob was destined to return at the end of the day. Dirty Daikaya charged Gunslinger Keith on horseback but the tough hired gun swiftly sent the arrogant Apache packing with his tail between his legs.
Windy Valdez with a pair of ‘human shield’ Peons
Meanwhile, Windy Valdez and his burrito bandidos were moving through the scrub and boulders to the south of the valley road. The injun attack had drawn away the federal flankers from his side of the convoy and he had his beady eye set on snatching the wagons from under Shami’s nose while the injun chief was caught up in the fight. And ol’ Shami was soon very much caught up indeed. O’Reilly’s retreat to the fed firing line had drawn the Apache chief forward, and he now found himself surrounded by four belligerent bluebellies. But in typical Shami style, ‘Le Grand Fromage’ of the injuns shrugged off their attempts to unseat him from his apollonian, and he made them all fall back.
Lieutenant House rightly considered his position to be untenable and he duly sounded the retreat. His decision to head for the hills necessitated abandoning the wagons, but it was either that or face inevitable slaughter at the hands of Shami’s Apaches and Windy’s opportunistic oppo’s.
Fargo Inc. Foxy, Jake and Wells.
The start of round three finally saw the arrival of the Fargo posse on the western baseline. Shami took one look at Jake’s grim visage and decided it was time to head for the hills. Eight angry palefaces with an axe to grind, and all of them armed with loaded sixguns ready to fan in his direction; this was more than enough to persuade the Apache chief to abandon the sutler wagons and haul his braves off into the hills. Shami’s pride may have taken a tarnishin’, but he and his ramblin’ redskins would live to fight another day.
Windy Valdez could barely conceal his glee as he and his compadres emerged from cover to claim the wagons without a fight. The Feds and the Reds had hightailed it to the hills, and Fargo’s newly-arrived posse were still too far distant to prevent the Mexican from getting his chilli-stained mitts on the convoy. Jake settled for the experience bonus gained from seeing Shami and his boys go hill-wards. He’s been denied his vengeance this time, but his newly formed posse had all gained experience at negligible risk.
Glen O’Reilly gained +1 wound. Jacob Skinton survived his critical and gained +1 Grit. Charlie Plain picked up a pluck, and Bill Bascom gained a new skill. He’s now a Pistoleer. Oh joy! The Feds had to forgo gaining any experience on account of them heading for the hill voluntarily, and their payoff roll was a little less than impressive. $28 dollars to add to their stash.
Infamy Rating = 114
Mahkro made a full recovery and gained +1 grit. He’s now Grit 5. Dakaya gained experience and added +1 to his shooting. Taklishin gained 2 experience points; he advanced and gained a new fighting skill. He’s now a strongman. All of the remaining injuns (Naiche, Smaha, Crow, Hoo, Shami, Diyin, and the Medicine Man) made no advances this time around. Shami took in a paltry $31 with 7 dice, and had to promptly pay back $15 of that for his Medicine Man’s upkeep.
Infamy Rating = 121
The clear winner of the game by a long chalk, Valdez grabbed all three of the wagons and made a great stash roll with the enhanced dice loading that the scenario gave him. 18 dice rolled for a total of $59. Mucho Pesos for ol’ fartydraws. Double helping of beans all round. Of his eleven man posse, only three made advances this time though. Rico added +1 to his shooting, Vasquez gained +1 fighting, and the lowly Peon Emillio picked up +1 wound. Looks like he’s now an armour plated human shield. Way to go, Emillio!
Infamy Rating = to be posted
Jake picked up 2 experience points (the extra one coming as a result of Shami’s Head for the Hills) and he advanced this time around. He added +1 Pluck, making him 5 Pluck in total. His green posse all gained experience but didn’t get to advance this time. The stash roll brought in $27; not a bad day’s pay just for showing up at closing time!
Infamy Rating = 69
WILD WEST FACTS
Theodore Roosevelt was sent to live in North Dakota for health reasons. He fell in love with the West and wrote a book titled "Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail" before becoming a US president. The book was illustrated by famous Western artist Frederick Remington.
Tombstone, Arizona in 1882
The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral did NOT occur at the O.K. Corral. When the Earps and the Clantons shot it out in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, their famous battle took place in a vacant lot between Fly’s Photograph Gallery and the Harwood house on Tombstone’s Fremont Street. The O.K. Corral was located nearby, however, and somehow its name became attached to the famous shootout.
The famous Lewis and Clark expedition covered 7,789 miles. Thomas Jefferson estimated that the trek would cost $2,500, but, in fact it cost $38,722.25.
Wyatt Earp once operated saloon in Nome, Alaska. In the late 1890’s U.S. Marshal Albert Lowe slapped an intoxicated Earp and took his gun away after Wyatt threatened to demonstrate how guns were handled “down Arizona way.”
About 1/3 of all gunmen died of "natural causes," living a normal life span of 70 years or so. Of those who did die violently (shot or executed), the average age of death was 35. The gunfighters-turned-lawmen lived longer lives than their persistently criminal counterparts.
1776 miles of track were laid during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento, California to Omaha, Nebraska. On April 10, 1869, 10 miles of track was laid in one day. This outstanding achievement has not been surpassed to this day in this country.
The Battle of Little Big Horn also known as Custer's Last Stand took place on June 25, 1876. Lieutenant Colonel Custer's forces—including more than 200 of his men were wiped out in less than 20 minutes.
America’s first train robbery is believed to have occurred on October 6, 1855 in Jackson County, Indiana. The two bandits, John and Simeon Reno, took $13,000 from the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.
Prostitution was tolerated in Deadwood, South Dakota until the last brothel closed down in October of 1980.
There were about 45,000 working cowboys during the heydays of the cattle drives. Of those, some 5,000 were African American.
Sixty-Five U.S. Deputy Marshals were killed in the line of duty between 1875 and 1891 while enforcing the law for “hanging Judge” Isaac C. Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Bannack, Montana Sheriff Henry Plummer secretly led a band of outlaws who robbed or killed more than a hundred victims. His hidden life was eventually discovered and in 1864, he and his gang were hanged by Montana vigilantes.
In 1876, the lawless town of Deadwood, South Dakota averaged a murder a day.
During the Wild West days in Billings, Montana, the cowboys and ‘scarlet ladies’ of every saloon performed impossible dances atop bars, tables, and in some instances upon atop the pianos.
Newspapers of the
There is an interesting story to relate concerning a particular newspaper from California. It was a Pro-Confederate and, thus anti-Lincoln, and was published in San Francisco with the name The Democratic Press. Shortly after Lincoln was assassinated, a group marched to the newspaper offices and literally destroyed the press and equipment. Editor William Moss had to change the name of the paper and soften his anti-Lincoln stance before he could safely re-open. He changed the name to the Daily Examiner. It was this paper that George Hearst ultimately bought in 1880 to lay the Foundation for the building of a newspaper empire.
The Lincoln assassination also played an important role in launching to fame another California newspaper. The Democratic Chronicle was edited and printed by two brothers named Charles and Michael De Young. The paper saw its first issue on January 16,1865. The brothers were 17 and 19 at the time! (Incidentally; the only other person working for their paper at the time was Mark Twain.) At any rate, on April 15, 1865 all of the San Francisco papers were already on the streets by 8 AM and none made mention of the news of the assassination. On their way home from working all night in getting their paper out, they stopped at the telegraph office to see if anything interesting had come through. There was a telegram relating that Lincoln had been shot the night before. They took the telegram and hurriedly produced an "Extra" with news of the assassination and got it on the streets. These two teenagers "scooped" all of the other papers in town. From that moment, their paper was destined for a new journalistic career.
There is an interesting story relating to how the first newspaper in Colorado came to be. In 1859 there was a "Pikes Peak Gold Rush" which turned out to be a false alarm. John L. Merrick came to Denver City with the intention of starting a newspaper. Four days later William Buyers came to town with the same intention.
Soon the pending competition became evident. Both publishers worked frantically to put their newspaper off the press first. Both were faced with many problems. One such problem to face was that the roof leaked and the rain was pouring over their presses and work area. Canvas was stretched over the presses to help keep them dry and in working order. Excitement was mounting among the townspeople. Bets were placed on just which would be the first paper off the press! Buyers produced the first copy of The Rocky Mountain News on Saturday evening, April 23, 1859. Just a mere 20 minutes later Merrick had the first copy of The Rocky Mountain News on the street. Very soon thereafter, Merrick so1d his press and left to seek his fortune in the gold fields.
Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut on July 19, 1814. He died in Hartford on January 10, 1862. He was an American inventor and industrialist, and founder of the Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company (which is now known as Colt's Manufacturing Company). He is widely credited with popularizing the revolver pistol. Colt's innovative contributions to industry have been described by arms historian James E. Serven as "events which shaped the destiny of American Firearms."
The Early Years
Samuel Colt's father, Christopher Colt, was a farmer in Connecticut, who moved his family to Hartford when he traded professions and got into business. Colt’s mother, Sarah Caldwell, died when Colt was almost two. He was one of seven siblings, 4 boys and three girls. Two of his sisters died in childhood and the other committed suicide later in life, but his brothers would be a significant part of his professional life. His father remarried when Colt was four and from then on Samuel was raised by his stepmother Olive Sargeant.
Samuel Colt acquired a horse pistol at an early age and his fascination with it led him to his eventual life’s profession.
He was indentured to a farm in Glastonbury at age 11, where he did chores and attended school. At Glastonbury he was influenced by the Compendium of Knowledge, an encyclopedia of scientific nature which he read instead of doing his bible studies. This encyclopedia contained articles on Robert Fulton and gunpowder, both of which provided motivation and ideas to the young boy. Reportedly on trips to the store as part of his chores Samuel overheard the military talk of the success of the double barreled rifle, along with the impossibility of a gun that could shoot five or six times. When reading Compendium of Knowledge “he discovered that Robert Fulton and several other inventors had accomplished things deemed impossible-until they were done” and “decided he would be an inventor and create the 'impossible' gun.”
In 1829 Colt began working in his father’s textile plant in Ware, Massachusetts, where he had access to tools, materials and the factory workers' expertise. Using the ideas and technical knowledge he had acquired earlier from the encyclopedia, Colt built a home-made galvanic gunpowder battery and exploded it in Ware Lake.
In 1832, his father sent him to sea to learn the seaman's trade. While sailing from Boston on the Corlo, Colt served on a missionary trip to Calcutta in an effort to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. Colt would later say that the concept of the revolver was inspired by his observations of the ship's wheel during this voyage. He discovered that “regardless of which way the wheel was spun, each spoke always came in direct line with a clutch that could be set to hold it...the revolver was conceived!”
When Colt returned to the United States in 1832, Colt's father financed the production of two pistols, but would only hire cheap mechanics because he believed the idea to be folly. The guns were of poor quality: one burst upon firing, and the other would not fire at all.
During this same period, Samuel again began working at his father's factory. He learned about nitrous oxide (laughing gas) from the factory chemist. He soon took a portable lab on the road and earned a living performing laughing gas
demonstrations across the United States and Canada.
During this time, he also made arrangements to begin building guns using proper gunsmiths from Baltimore. In 1832, at the age of 18, Colt applied for a patent on his revolver and declared that he would "be back soon with a model."
In 1835 Samuel Colt traveled to England, following in the footsteps of Mr. E.H. Collier (a Bostonian who had patented a revolving flintlock) and secured his first patent (number 6909), despite the reluctance from gun makers and British officials, because no fault could be found with the gun. He then traveled to France to promote his invention, where according to the "Spirit of The Times," he learned of the emerging conflict between the United States and France. Colt's patriotic ambitions were to serve his country, and he steamed for home, however, upon his return he learned of the mediation that England had brokered, and his ambitions to serve his country were foiled before he had a chance of disclosing them. It is thought that it was this incident that brought the manufacture of his firearms to Paterson, New Jersey. Shortly after his arrival home he rushed to Washington and on 25 February 1836 he was granted a patent for a "revolving gun" (later numbered X9430). "This instrument and patent No. 1304, dated August 29, 1839, protected the basic principles of his revolving-breach loading, folding trigger firearm named the Paterson Pistol."
Colt quickly formed a corporation of New York and New Jersey Capitalists in April 1836. Through the political connections of the subscribers the corporation was chartered by NJ legislature on March 5. It was named the “Patterson Arms Manufacturing Company”. Colt was given a commission for each gun sold in exchange for his share of patent rights, and stipulated the return of the rights if the company disbanded.
It was this first "practical revolver and the first practical repeating firearm," made possible by converging percussion technology, that would be the genesis of what would later germinate into an industrial and cultural legacy and a priceless contribution to the development of war technology; that was ironically personified in the naming of one of his later revolving innovations, the Peacemaker.
Colt never claimed to have invented the revolver, as his design was merely a more practical adaption of Elisha H. Collier's revolving Flintlock, which was patented in England and achieved great popularity there. Fortunately for Colt, he managed to secure his patent nearly two months before the Darling brothers (rival inventors with similar claims).
He did however greatly contribute to interchangeable parts. "Unhappy with high cost of hand made guns, and with the knowledge that some parts of guns were currently being made by machine, Colt wanted all the parts on every colt gun to be interchangeable and made by machine. His goal was the assembly line." In a letter to his father Samuel Colt wrote, “The first workman would receive two or three of the most important parts…and would affix these and pass them on to the next who add a part and pass the growing article on to another who would do the same, and so on until the complete arm is put together.”
Early Problems & Failures
Having trouble convincing the company’s owners to fund this new machinery to make the interchangeable parts, Colt went back on the road. Demonstrating his gun to people in general stores did not work, so with a loan from a cousin he went to Washington and President Andrew
Jackson himself. Jackson approved of the gun and wrote Samuel a note saying just that. With that approval he got a bill through Congress for a demonstration for the military, but no appropriation for them to purchase the weapon. A promising order for fifty to seventy-five pistols by South Carolina fell apart when the company did not move fast enough to start the production.
One recurring problem Colt had in selling his revolvers was that “it was not possible to change the provisions of the Militia Act of 1808. Any arms purchased under the Militia Act had to be those in the current service to the United States.” In other words, state militias could not officially allocate funds towards the purchase of weapons not also used by the United States military.
When Martin Van Buren took office, the ensuing economic crash almost ruined the company. The company was saved by the war against the Seminoles in Florida which provided the first sale of the revolvers, both pistols and new revolving muskets. The soldiers in Florida loved the new weapon, but one problem with them did emerge. It so happened that “there was the unusual hammerless design, sixty years ahead of its time…But at the time it lead to difficulty training men to use exposed hammer guns and many curious soldiers took the locks apart. This resulted in breakage of parts, stripped screw heads, and jammed actions.” Colt soon reworked his design to leave the firing hammer exposed.
In late 1843, after problems with the Militia Act and numerous other setbacks, including the loss of payment for the Florida pistols, the Patterson New Jersey plant closed.
The Two Sams
Colt did not stay out of manufacturing long however. Soon after, in trying to once again market his underwater electrical detonators, Samuel Colt met Samuel Morse. They became friends and both tried to lobby for funds from the government. The details on Colt's waterproof cable become valuable when Morse ran telegraph lines under lakes and rivers, or through bays, and especially when he joined men trying to lay his new telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean.
Getting appropriations from Congress toward the end of 1841 because of tensions with Great Britain, Samuel Colt began to show his underwater mines for the US government. In 1842 he was able to destroy a vessel while in motion to the satisfaction of the navy and the president. Opposition from John Quincy Adams, who personally disliked Colt, scuttled the project.
Colt then concentrated on manufacturing his waterproof telegraph cable, believing the business would boom along side Morse’s invention. Colt was to be paid $50 per mile for the cable. He began promoting the telegraph companies so he could create a wider market for his cable.
The Return of the Revolver
An order for 1,000 revolvers from the U.S. government and Capt. Sam Walker and the Texas Rangers, who had previously acquired some of the first productions of the Colt revolvers, in 1847 in the Mexican-American War made possible the reestablishment of his business. Not having the factory anymore, or a model, Colt hired out the help of Eli Whitney Jr., who was established in the arms business to make his guns. Colt and Capt. Sam Walker drew up a new improved model. Whitney produced the first thousand then another order for a thousand more and Colt took a share of the profits $10 a pistol. He later built the Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company factory at Hartford. His revolving-breech pistol
became so popular that the word "Colt" was sometimes used as a generic term for the revolver. The gold rush and western expansion made his business boom. He was continually forced to expand the Hartford factory.
Colt received an extension on his patent because he did not collect on it in the early years. He then waited for someone to infringe on it and sued. Samuel won the suit and received royalties on guns the rival company made, forcing the company to discontinue production. With a virtual monopoly, Colt began to sell his pistols abroad to Europe, where demand was high due to tense international relations. By telling each nation that the other was outfitting with Colt's pistols, Colt was able to get large orders from many countries fearing falling behind.
The Later Years
Colt later purchased a large tract of land beside the Connecticut River, where he built a larger factory (Colt Armory), manor (Armsmear), and workman housing. He established a ten-hour day for employees, installed washing stations in the factory, mandated a 1 hour lunch break, and built the Charter Oak Hall, a club for employees to enjoy with games, newspapers, and discussion rooms. In this way he was a progressive employer concerned with his employee’s well-being.
Now being completely successful in his professional life Colt wanted to also enjoy his personal one. On June 5, 1856 he married Elizabeth Jarvis, the daughter of the Reverend William Jarvis, who lived just downriver of Hartford.
When Samuel Colt died in 1862 his estate was estimated to be valued at around $15,000,000. This he left to his wife and son, while he turned the factory responsibilities over to his brother-in-law, Richard Jarvis.
Glossary of American Mountain Men Terms,
Words & Expressions
Dried meat made by cutting meat into strips about one inch wide, 1/4 inch thick, and as long as possible. This was then sun-dried on racks often with a small hardwood fire under the meat to smoke it and to keep insects off it. In good, hot weather the meat would be dry and ready to use in 3 to 4 days.
A day's journey. A journey between pre-determined points.
A 60- to 80-foot long flat-bottomed boat about 16 feet wide. In wide use before steamboats.
A man who is an exceptional shot.
A firm of smoking tobbaco made from the leaves of the tobacco plant plus the leaves and bark of other plants, the actual formula depending on the tribe making it.
A rawhide box designed to be strapped to a pack saddle.
To eat in a hasty and sloppy manner
Anything which has an extra fine flavor.
The rope used to tie a load to a pack saddle.
Time to roll out of bed. This expression, usually given in a good, loud voice, was used to awaken a partner or a whole party.
The buckskin, later blanket, trousers of the Indian.
LIGHTS WENT OUT, THE
LOCK, STOCK, AND BARREL
In total; the whole thing. For examples "He sold his shop, lock, stock, and barrel". This expression comes from the 3 major parts needed to construct a muzzle loading rifle or pistol.
The living quarters be it house, cabin, tipi, hogan, tent, or lean-to, of the Indian or mountain man.
The main cross-supporting pole of a lodge.
(Pinus contorta) Once one of the most valued trees in the Rocky Mountains, due to its many uses. Also known as "Screw pine" and "Tamarack pine".
A crude bench long enough to seat three or more people.
An early pudding made by stirring dry flour into boiling milk until thick, then serving with sweet milk and molasses or sugar.
A boat approximately 40 feet long, 10 feet across the beam, and 4 feet deep, pointed at both ends. This boat, widely used on the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio River systems, was capable of holding a cargo of approximately 10 tons. Often these were used for downstream travel only.
MADE WOLF MEAT, HE WAS
A dead man left where he fell, for the wolves to dine on. An act of contempt.
MAKE BEAVER, TO
To get a move on, to travel in a hurry.
MAKE MEAT, TO
To hunt for and lay in a good store of meat.
MAKE MEDICINE, TO
To hold a pow-wow or meeting. To pray for spiritual guidance. To hold a religious service. To actually look for and find herbs, etc. to be used as medicine.
MAL DE VANCHE
An illness common to the mountain man and voyageur, It was caused by eating too much fat or fatty meat and not enough vegetable matter.
MANGEUR DE LARD
Voyageur term for a fur company recruit. These men, considered useful for common labor only, were usually fed salted pork, hence the name. The term was later adopted by the mountain men to mean any man new to the fur trade.
A shawl used as a trade item with the Indians,
MEAT BAG, THE
The human stomach.
The magic, secret charms of the Indian. Also the bait used in trapping.
The small bag, used to carry the medicine of the Indian. Adopted by the mountain man and used to carry anything small, especially the "secret" bait he used near his traps.
The sacred pipe of the Indian. This pipe was used only during special ceremonies, was kept in a special, sacred bundle, and was NEVER allowed to touch the ground.
A sacred lodge used only for religious ceremonies. In some tribes it could also be used as a meeting place for the secret societies of braves. The sweat lodge (an early American form of sauna bath) used by many tribes was also considered a "medicine lodge".
A table-top (flat) mountain or hill.
The stone mortar used for grinding corn and other grains. The word is Spanish, not Indian.
The buckskin or moose hide shoe of the Indian and mountain man. Light, quiet, and comfortable.
A postal system devised by the mountain man. It consisted of leaving messages concerning the condition of the trail ahead, time and place of a rendezvous, etc, in trees, hollow logs, etc. Such messages were quite often put in an old moccasin so they would be easy to see.
Human feet. This expression is still often heard among country people.