A Living History Skills series by Colonel Jerry Tubbs

The first object that captures the public eye is usually the rifle or musket you carry. This is a touchy subject since everyone is proud of his or her weapon, and should be, but let's take moment to discuss whether it is authentic to the period.

History tells us that in the Texas Colonies not every man owned a rifle. In fact, a large number of colonists owned no weapon at all! This is evident by the Circular of the Committee of Safety, San Felipe deAustin, published on October 4, 1835:

"Arms and ammunition are needed: We have more men than guns.
Could not some muskets be procured from the other side of the
Sabine? … This is all-important; a few wagon loads of muskets
and fixed ammunition would be of the utmost service at this time."

The Telegraph and Texas Register of September 13, 1836, reports of the purchase of 1,004 muskets for use in the revolution. These may have been the arms reported arriving in Texas by the Telegraph & Texas Register of January 2,1836:

We are happy to learn that a armed vessel has arrived on the
coast to enter into the service of Texas… She also has on board
one thousand stand of muskets…

It is also interesting to note that information obtained from the muster rolls of various Texas companies show that only a small percentage of men owned rifles. They were the exception and not the rule. This would indicate that during the struggle for independence that most men were carrying muskets and not rifled guns.

Another controversial issue is, were flintlock weapons more predominant than percussion weapons? Noah Smithwick mentions in his diary, The Evolution Of A State, the use of flintlock rifles, but this is during early years in the colonies. Since flintlock weapons were being converted to percussion as early as 1825, it would be safe to assume that by1830 a portion of the personal rifles in Texas were percussion. Percussion caps were discovered inside the walls of the Alamo during an archeological dig in strata associated with the battle. Even the gun carried to Texas by Davy Crockett on his way to the Alamo was a flintlock rifle converted to percussion ignition. This particular rifle did not make it to the Alamo because Davy traded it to a local farmer for a shorter barreled gun that would later be used during the battle.

In choosing the weapon you carry, the main goal is to determine if your rifle or musket would have been in Texas before 1836. Take the time to read and study and you will find a wealth of books to help you correctly choose the weapon that will fit your persona.

I am not saying go out and sell your guns but if the day comes that you are looking to purchase a new one, take the time to be sure it is right for the time period and for the person you are portraying.

Creating a Character

Is That Gun Real?

What's in the Bag?

You need an Edge

What's Cooking?

Lighting up the Night

Keeping an Eye on the Sky

Getting Started

Then & Now

What type of Primitive Shelter is best for you?


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