Neat New Stuff -- and Yet More Whitworths

S&S Firearms (74-11 Myrtle Ave., Glendale, NY 11385, 718-497-1100, 718-497- 1105 fax, has recently received a variety of new products which are not yet cataloged. The most notable is a virtually indestructible gun case, ideal for protecting your valuable original or reproduction Civil War guns when traveling by air to shoots or reenactments.

John Jenkins of the 69th New York, my N-SSA outfit, lives in England. John commutes to the U. S. for skirmishes several times a year with his valuable original Brunswick rifle packed in one of the Impact Case Company (ICC) gun cases now being offered by S&S. ICC cases are made of 16 gauge aluminum and feature heli-arc corners, a full length staked steel piano hinge and a stainless steel locking rod. They are weather sealed as well. S&S is offering a whole series of ICC sizes, but the most popular will probably be the musket size #6212, which is 62" long and 12" wide and sells for $205.

S&S is also now selling "Bright Sights" high visibility gun sight coatings, which come in various iridescent colors. Unlike many of the paints we apply to sights, Bright Sights are made to adhere to metal, and, if properly applied, are very durable, They can often make the difference between a hit and a miss on a cloudy day. Bright Sights paints, which will be of interest to N-SSA and other Civil War shooters, are $4 a color, and are packed in a convenient little jar which you can slip into haversack or pocket.

Other new goodies from S&S include a replica Civil War era knife, fork and spoon kit ($8.50), Laurel Brigade hat badge ($8.50), a reprint of the Smithsonian's 1961 edition of Uniform Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861, illustrated with period photographs, and a reprint of the 1880 Maynard breech loading rifle catalog ($7.50). S&S has also received a new shipment of quality reproduction parts for Maynard, Starr and Gallager carbines, as well as muskets. If you are in need of parts for these arms, call or email S&S

CCI, (Blount SEG, POB 856, Lewiston, ID 83501; the well known ammunition components company, has introduced a new musket cap, no doubt due to the increasing number of hunters who are retrofitting their "in-line" muzzle loading rifles (argh!) with musket nipples. Musket caps have a longer and hotter flame, which provides superior ignition with the Pyrodex pellets many in-line shooters use as a propellant. The advent of the new musket cap, of course, will be of interest to Civil War skirmishers and reenactors as well. As of this writing, CCI has yet to receive DOT certification for shipping musket caps. By the time you read this, however, you may be able to purchase these caps from your local gun dealer or sutler.

CCI has also introduced a #10 percussion cap, which is readily available and provides a much better fit on most revolver nipples than the squeezed down #11 caps many sixgun shooters have been using. Ill fitting caps are the cause of the vast majority of "chain fires," or multiple ignitions, in revolvers, and the new #10 caps should go a long way towards eliminating the problem.

The CCI #10s fit my Navy Arms Remington reproduction, my original Remington New Model and my second generation Colt Dragoon like the proverbial glove. They are, however, too small for my Euroarms Colt 1860 Army. It's better to have caps which are too small than too large, however, as the nipples can be turned down a tad for a perfect fit.

Last month I reported on Tom Neigebauer's success with the new Romano bullet mold for the Whitworth rifle. Subsequently Tom informed me that he chronographed his Whitworth, loaded with 100 grains of Fg powder, a Wonder Wad and the Romano bullet and got an average velocity of 1,350 feet per second, about 400 feet per second more velocity than possible with the .58 Springfield rifle musket service load.

There's some new historical information on the Whitworth as well. Steve Peterson, author of the excellent article on the Model 1861 Navy Colt in the last Dixie Gun Works Annual, has been poking around in the Mississippi state archives. In the course of his research Steve discovered a letter dated June 20, 1863, from Confederate Ordnance chief Colonel Josiah Gorgas to Captain J. R. Evans, chief of Ordnance for General Joseph Johnston's army, which was hovering in the vicinity of Jackson, Mississippi during General Grant's siege of Vicksburg. Gorgas informed Evans that he had "sent to General Johnston "20 Whitworth (Telescopic)...rifles, along with 20,000 rounds of ammunition." Someday we'll get a total number of Whitworths issued to Confederate armies, and I wouldn't be surprised if it is significantly higher than has been previously believed.

If you have a Whitworth projectile or a photo or any artifact pertaining to the Whitworth which you are willing to donate or loan to a worthy cause, the volunteer custodians of the Bleak House in Knoxville TN would like to hear from you. The Bleak House (Shades of Charles Dickens!) is the building from which Confederate sharpshooters, reportedly armed with at least one Whitworth, shot and killed Federal cavalry Colonel William P. Sanders at the beginning of the siege of Knoxville in 1863, and the Bleak House preservation committee would like at least one Whitworth artifact to use in their interpretive display for visitors.

Federal soldiers subsequently killed all three of the sharpshooters, and the Bleak House owns a pencil sketch of the three dead Confederates lying in the building's turret, drawn at the time of their death by an unknown artist. The preservation committee has been trying to identify these forgotten men, one of whom was buried in the house's side yard, and any identification which would assist them in this task would also be greatly appreciated.

Please direct any correspondence on either of the above subjects to Mrs. Clara P. Smith, Board of Directors, Bleak House Confederate Hall Preservation, 325 Russfield Drive, Concord, TN 37922. Ms. Smith, a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy and of the Revolutionary War and an amateur genealogist, is dedicated to preserving the memory of the Civil War -- as we all should be. I would personally appreciate any help you can give her.

1998 by Joe Bilby

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