Christmas Goodies

I'm writing this column after returning home from the N-SSA Nationals, where I had hoped to accumulate a list of possible Christmas presents with a Civil War theme. Frankly, however, I spent more time turning a pig on a spit down at the 69th New York campsite than I did browsing sutlers' row. A few things you might want to put on your Christmas list did catch my attention, however.

If your family feels generous you might consider asking them to put a $500 deposit on one of the L. Romano Rifle Company's (551 Stewart's Corners Road, Pennellville, NY 13132. tel 315-695-2066) new reproduction Second Model Maynard carbines. I've sung the praises of Romano Rifle Company Spencer rifles and carbines in this column before, and the prototype Romano Maynard I handled at the Nationals was of equal quality. Over the years other Maynard repros have come and gone

, and some were good shooters, but Romano's gun, which uses Larry Gollahon's excellent internal parts, has a top quality barrel and the best fit and finish I've ever seen. The price of the new Maynard is not fixed as of this date, but I've been told it will run around $1,200 once production gets underway.

Dixie Gun Works' Sharon Cunningham pulled a new percussion revolver off the wall at the Dixie booth, deposited it in my hand and challenged me to identify it. Fortunately for me, I had just reread William A. Albaugh's Confederate Handguns the week before, immediately noticed the lack of a recoil shield and properly identified the gun as a reproduction of a Texas made Dance Brothers .44 caliber. An unknown but small number of these (Albaugh guesses at 324) .44 caliber guns were made at Columbia, Texas in 1862-1863. Most, if not all, of the Dance revolvers were issued to Texas troops serving west of the Mississippi. If you're portraying a trans- Mississippi Texan (or have ambitions to be a Geronimo impersonator) a Dance sixgun would be just the ticket. Dixie's version of the Dance revolver is priced at $225. (Box 130, Gunpowder Lane, Union City, TN 38281, catalog $5)

The 1998 Dixie Gun Works Blackpowder Annual ($4.99) is a perennial best choice as a stocking stuffer. The 1998 edition of this classic publication doesn't have as many Civil War stories as some in years past, but it is an outstanding issue -- and not only because I have an article in it!

Civil War related tales in this year's Annual include Linne Hansen's "Wisconsin's Great Indian Scare of 1862," and "Colt's Other Navy Six," an account of the often overlooked Model 1861 Navy, by S. W. Peterson. Other historical stories include my own piece on the Revolutionary War battle of Hubbardton, Vermont and George Layman's account of Florida's 1835 Dade Massacre. There's plenty of gun material as well. Having embarked on a similar search myself, I particularly enjoyed Rick Hacker's "The Search for the Ultimate Single Action." It is, by the way, a quest that never ends!

Another good stocking stuffer (if you have a long stocking) is Heritage Quartermaster's new cleaning rod. (5309 Tubbs Road, Waterford, MI 48327 243-673- 7789 price list $1). Heritage is offering "Scottie's Range Rods," which are splendid stainless steel rods with brass muzzle guards and ergonomically friendly round ball grips. These top quality yet reasonably priced ($11-$20) rods are available in lengths from 12 to 44 inches and are threaded for 10-32 accessories, including bore brushes and jags. Adaptors for 8-32 and standard shotgun accessories are also available. Heritage Quartermaster's cleaning rod goodies are as well made as the rods, and include a sturdy patch worm which works every time and a new four bladed carbon cutter which cuts through breech face crud better than any other style I have used.

Heritage also carries a full line of cleaning patches, a brass stuck ramrod puller, black powder solvents, books, Civil War clothing patterns and historical videos ranging from colonial subjects to modern day cowboy action shooting.

Benjamin Franklin is alleged to have said that New Jersey is "a barrel tapped at both ends," by the cities of New York and Philadelphia. Having lived in the state my entire life except for two years in the army, I tend to agree. New Jersey has always seemed to have little sense of its past, especially the Civil War era. What limited sense of state history exists has centered on New Jersey's role in the Revolution.

In recent years, reprints of classic works and new books, primarily the products of Longstreet House and Belle Grove press, as well as the founding of reenactment units honoring specific New Jersey regiments and the activities of local historical societies, have begun to increase public awareness of the state's significant contributions during the Civil War era.

I was a participating panelist on the New Jersey Historical Commission's Civil War program last year, where Bill Styple of Belle Grove Press and the 15th New Jersey proposed that interested parties should meet to address the status of the state's Civil War battle flags and, hopefully, raise some money to assist in displaying and, if possible, restoring them.

We first met last August, and, with the assistance of the New Jersey National Guard's Colonel Apgar, who lent us some excellent "facilitators" to help with organization, began to hammer out the details of creating an association which would not only address the flag issue, but also assist the state archives in the preservation of its Civil War holdings. Future projects will include support for preservation and access projects involving all of New Jersey's Civil War resources, in and out of the state.

The group evolved into the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association (NJCWHA), on which I am proud to serve. The board's membership includes representatives from the all of the state's Civil War interest communities, including historians and historical societies, publishers, reenactment groups, and North-South Skirmish Association units. Officials from the New Jersey State Archives, the New Jersey State Museum, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, the Office of the Governor and the state legislature advise the NJCWHA in an unofficial capacity.

The NJCWHA, which has taken on as its first project the creation of a public display of the state's Civil War flags, is actively recruiting members. Dues for individuals are $20 a year, and for organizations, $250 a year. Whether you live in New Jersey or not, if you are interested in the state's Civil War history, you belong in the NJCWHA. I can't think of a better Christmas present -- a present which will also make a tangible contribution to the preservation of New Jersey's Civil War heritage, than a membership in the organization. For further information, contact Peter G. Doroshenko, Corresponding Secretary, NJCWHA, 1959 South Beverwyck Road, Parsippany, NJ 07054.

Happy Holidays -- see you in the new year!

© 1997 by Joe Bilby

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