Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yesterday In History............

Due to a bunch of distractions, I almost missed this one.

In 1814.............

The Battle of Bladensburg MD was fought. This was an attempt by the American forces to protect the American capital of Washington from a force of 3000 British soldiers and sailors. The leadership of the American forces which was mostly made up of militia was poor. In less than a hour of fighting the British forces managed to flank the Americans and turned a retreat into a panicked route. The American loss was so profound that the battle was called the "Bladensburg Races" and some of the British soldiers chasing the fleeing Americans suffered heat stroke from over exertion. When the Americans fled, this left the way open for the British to take Washington, which they did that night. The British burned most of the public buildings in Washington, to include the White House and the Capital building.

O.K. Mac, This Is For You..........

Here is the new addition to the armory.

The barrel has been bobbed back to 19 1/2". I thought about cutting it back to 18" but thought better of it since my tape measure and the A.T.F.'s might not measure the same. Also, the under barrel rib on this weapon has a series of slots milled in it and if I had cut it down to 18" it would have come in the middle of one of the slots and left the two barrels unconnected on their bottom.

Plus, I don't think that the 1 1/2" makes that much of a difference one way or the other.
So now all that's left is to go to my "poor man's lathe" (my drill press) and turn out a brass bead for the front site. As for reshaping the stock, to a more English style, well there is always time over the winter to do it if I get the overwhelming urge .

Monday, August 23, 2010

You Can't Talk To A Man, With a Shotgun In His Hand...........

Give Doc the shotgun. He'll be less apt to get nervy if he's on the street howitzer.


Like anything else, I have a short list of guns that I just can't live without, and a very long list of it would be nice to have. These list change grow and shrink depending on time and finance. This past week I knocked one off my nice to have list.

On one of the shooter's boards I belong to, a gentleman advertised that he had a SXS 12 gauge shotgun for sale. Looking at the photos he provided and checking out the price it seemed like it was doable so I got in touch with him.

I have wanted a "double barrel" for a good while but have never been able to find one within the price I was looking for, or one that was a good workhorse grade weapon. It seems to me that Southerners have an attraction for double barrel shotguns. Almost every one I know has one, either heirlooms from Grandpa or great Grandpa, or one they just picked up.

The shotgun the gentleman was selling was a Brazilian made gun imported by Stoger Inc. It had 28 in. barrels and looked to be in very good condition. We haggled a bit on the price and came to an agreement of gentlemen. One think I really liked about this gun was that it has 3" chambers so I can shoot a wider variety of shell types in it. I currently have it on my work bench and plan on bobbing the barrels so that I can use it as a home defence weapon and possibly a Cowboy Action Shooting firearm. I may even reshape the stock a bit to make it a English style (without a pistol grip) Time will tell. But in the meantime, I am doing the new gun "Happy Dance"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Today's Birthday...........

In 1920.............

Miss Maureen O' Hara who was as much of a woman, (And still is) as John Wayne was a man.

Two Observations.............

I will comment on two items that caught my attention.

First, the mosque controversy. While there is a right to freedom of religion in our country and Muslims have a RIGHT to practice their religion as they see fit, I think that common sense should be used. I would no more try to pray in front of a on coming train than I would to build a church on ground zero. Add to this the fact that the building that they want to tear down to build the mosque was damaged by landing gear from one of the aircraft that crashed into the world trade center, I would consider it as being a part of ground zero. This case is no different that the case some years back when a group of (I think) Carmalite Nuns wanted to build a convent on or near the grounds of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Of course there was a great hue and cry about the appropriateness of the convent (By many of thee groups and individuals who are supporting the mosque today) The Catholic church after a bit of debate agreed and moved the convent further away. Let's hope that just a wee touch of common sense (a very rare commodity these days) will come into play.

Second, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the Stolen Valor law is unconstitutional. They state that to lie about military service and the awarding of honors and medals for valor is protected by the first amendment's freedom of speech clause. I fully expect that this decision will be overturned but what boggles my mind is that this judgment was made in the first place. To lie is protected by the constitution? What does this say about the various laws against perjury? Some will say that since you are taking a oath that it would be different. I disagree. Medals and such honors are earned by the men and women who receive them. (They are never won as many people sometimes say) To earn them, cost the individual blood, sweat, tears and many other things that we (that never have been in such situations) will never be able to understand or appreciate fully. How can this be even compared to an individual taking a oath in the quite serenity of a courtroom? And yet this the court doesn't seem to think that the cost that these heroes pay for this isn't worthy of a law that allows for the punishment of those who would steal the honor and degrade the meaning of these awards by pretending and lying about receiving them.

It is a piss poor country that doesn't honor it's heroes and warriors in anyway that it can even to the point of punishing those who would steal even a small portion of honor from true heroes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back To It...............

Today I spent some time catching up on the honey-do list. I replaced some interior light switches, fixed a screen door on my front porch, finished unloading my equipment from the weekend. I had to oil and clean my musket, pistol, and cutlasses to remove all the fingerprints that the public left on them over the week-end.

All in all, not the most exciting day I have ever had, but it did give me a sense of accomplishment. So that is more than just a little satisfying to me.

9-11 Mosque........

'Nuff said.............

(H/T to The Grouchy Old Cripple, whom I shamelessly stole this from)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back Home Again...............

I made it back home this afternoon and still have a bit of a afterglow. It was a fun event and even though I had never done this time period before, I was able to drop into my comfort zone fairly easily.
I focused on doing some fancy knot work while talking to the public and got the larger part of a lanyard for a Boatswain's whistle done for a friend. We had pretty good visitation all day Saturday. This is photo of me knotting while talking.
Since we were commemorating the many ships named North Carolina, I was telling the public what life was like for the sailors on the Civil War ship of the line U.S.S. North Carolina. Below is the model of that ship that is in the museum/visitor center.
For all the gun cranks ( This one is for you Jay) we had quite a few weapons to show the public. These included the various U.S. Muskets (1841, 1842, 1855, 1861) British muskets (mostly 1853's) Pistols, cutlass, and other odds and ends. We also had a Spencer and a Sharp's carbine. These are just a few of the weapons we had out to show the public.
As you can tell, when I have to put down my knot tying to make a point with my hands, it's a serious discussion. And last, after a long day, your humble correspondent shows off his own 1842 musket as well as his 1851 Navy Revolver.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

U.S.S. North Carolina.............

The hangman's a Yankee. They say he won't spring the trap on a boy who wore the blue.......

True Grit

I leave out tomorrow morning for Wilmington NC. This weekend I am joining my friends and messmates in The Carolina Living History Guild to set up a presentation at the site of the WW II battleship U.S.S. North Carolina. We are commemorating the service of ships named North Carolina. For the very first time, I will be wearing the uniform of a Union sailor from the time period of the Civil War. I never thought that I would ever do either this time period, or wear that color of uniform but I find that times change and so have my attitudes. So I will be telling the tale of the U.S.S. North Carolina a 74 gun ship of the line that was used as a receiving ship for new navy recruits in the Civil War. I will also talk a bit about ropes and knot work and maybe demonstrate the use of my 1842 musket. It should be fun.

So Barrack Obama Goes Into This Bar......

Some dared me to post this.........

So Barrack Obama walks into this bar with a parrot on his shoulder. The bartender looks up and says " That's interesting, where did you get that from?"

The Parrot replied "Kenya, they got thousands of them"

Me So Horney.............

No, not that way. Get your mind out of the gutter. I am talking about Animal Horns.

I have been doing a good bit of horn work these days. There is something very satisfying about working with horn. It is relatively easy to work and it looks good if you spend either a great deal of time finishing it or not so much. You can make almost anything out of horn. In the 18th and 19th centuries, horn was their equivalent of our plastic. With the proper amount of heat, horn becomes flexible and can even be molded into various shapes that when cool it stays in the shape that it is molded into.
I have almost finished three new powder horns. This first one is made of a buffalo horn. I have a rough horn with it just to show you a "before and
The second horn is a generic powder horn made of a good size cow horn. The rough horn is again a before and after.
The third horn is a small hunting horn, with a applied turned bone tip. This style is a typical North Carolina pattern from the late 18th century early to mid 19th century. I even did a bit of scrimshaw on it. Also notice the beehive style woo
den plug. Again a very old style from North Carolina.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knots Are Us.............

On various occasions I have posted about my doing knotwork. I thought that with your most kind permission that I would show some examples of what I do. This is the handle of a common seaman's knife. The center is French hitched and it has Turk's heads as a guard and pommel.

In this photo, from top to bottom:

Cat o' nine tails

Another seaman's knife w/ lanyard. (Handle made of Alligator leg bone, with cox combing.

Walking stick, cox combing, French hitching, needlepoint and Turk's heads

Seaman's knife

Another view of the Cat O' Nine Tails. Strands are tarred as the originals were.

Cutlass grips that have been French Hitched for better grip when wet.

Remember boys and girls, as Granny W. would tell me, "Idle hands are tools of the devil"

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Toys...................

In the above photo, from left to right British Navy Boarding axe, Bayonet, two hand Grenades, British Navy Boarding Axe, Belaying Pin, American 1797 Boarding Axe, Seaman's knife, Officer's dirk, Sugar Cane knife, British Hanger, Naval Cutlass, Naval Cutlass, 1690's Hanger, 18th Century Naval Cutlass.

In this photo, are the long arms. (Sorry for the quality of the shot) from top to bottom, 1710 doglock musket, 1730 Sea Service musket, Cut-Down "Brown Bess" musket, Brass barrel Blunderbuss.
These are Naval boarding pistols with a gentleman's R.W. Wilson pistol in the middle.

Lastly your humble correspondent wearing the clothing of a common seaman of the 1812 period.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, And The American Victory Over The Japanese Empire............

On August 9th 1945 a B-29 bomber named Bock's Car piloted by Col. Charles W. Sweeney released a Atomic Weapon nicknamed "Fat Man" over the city of Nagasaki, Japan. At 11:02 local time the device detonated at 1,650 feet above the aiming point. The blast yielded a estimated 21 kilotons, about 40 percent greater than the bomb that had been dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th. It has been estimated that 40,000 died in the initial blast with 60,000 injured.

There has been a great deal of observation and comment on the anniversary of this event. A great deal of pontification on the horror of these acts and even questioning of whether or not the bombing was justified. I would like to explore these thoughts just a bit. Since this was just a bit before my time, I have asked almost every vet of World War II what they thought of using the bomb. I have yet to find one that disagreed with the decision to use this weapon.

It seems to me that people are looking at this without looking at the context of the time and place that the decision was made to drop the bombs. Japan as late as 1945 was NOT a defeated nation. Granted, the Allied forces had pushed the majority of Japanese forces back to the home islands and American submarine forces had a stranglehold on the abilities of the Japanese nation to bring in raw materials and food via shipping channels. What few Japanese garrisons and occupied islands which still existed in the Pacific had been cut off to "wither on the vine" However, the Japanese military and people were still ready, willing and able to fight, even to their death.

Japanese tactics had changed by the last year of the war. The Japanese view was to cause as many casualties to the Allies as they could. Their thinking was that if they made the Allies pay a high enough cost in blood, that they could win a negotiated settlement to end the war. The Japanese use of Kamikaze aircraft and the Japanese defense of Iwo Jima and Okinawa were prime examples of these new tactics. The American plan for the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall gave estimates of over 1,000,000 Allied casualties before the landings were secured.

The American forces had also changed their tactics. High level strategic bombing had been ineffective due to poor weather conditions over the targets and to the fact that the Japanese has dispersed their factories and had developed a piece meal method of manufacturing that placed smaller factories in residential neighborhoods. Army Airforce General Curtis LeMay leader of the newly formed XXIst Air Force developed the concept of the incendiary raid. Since most Japanese buildings were made of wood and paper, they were very vulnerable to fire. LeMay ordered his B-29's to be stripped of defensive armaments loaded with incendiary bombs and flown at low altitudes. The results were shattering. Tokyo was hit by 325 bombers on March 9-10 1945. They dropped 1,665 tons of bombs and burned out 16 square miles of the city in three hours. Casualties were estimated to be over 100,000 dead. The crews of bombers in the end of the bomber strings reported the smell of burning flesh being noticeable in their aircraft at 8,000 feet. This bombing mission produced a firestorm which had been observed first in German cities bombed by the British and American forces. A firestorm acts very much like a hurricane of fire destroying everything in it's path. In this three hour raid, more civilians were killed than in either the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

By the end of the war, LeMay's tactics had destroyed 40% of 66 major cities in Japan. It was getting to the point that it was hard to find a suitable target for bombing missions by August of 1945.

So based on this information I don't think that using the bomb to stop the war was a bad thing, in a twisted way it may have saved lives American, Allies and Japanese.

Oh and a couple of other things. Because of the mountains surrounding Nagasaki, and the general layout of the city, even though the Fat Man bomb was more powerful, the amount of damage was on a par with Hiroshima. Also the aiming point was somewhat off. You see, Nagasaki was not the original target. The primary target was the city of Kokura. When Bock's Car arrived over Kokura, it was clouded over so they had to divert to their secondary target Nagasaki. When they arrived over Nagasaki, it too, was clouded over. With barely enough fuel to get them back to their base, the clouds cleared just long enough to site their aim point and release their weapon.

So once again fate and luck changes history.............

Sunday, August 8, 2010

With Love To Rick................

I saw this on the wall of a local biscuit place and thought of my buddy, Mr. Bacon, A.K.A. the beloved Miss Nancy's Shorter Half.

I think it says it all.............

Feeding The Inner Geek.............

Since most all gun cranks are also into sharp pointy things. (Yep Breda and Mike, saw your post)

I thought I would share with you what I picked up at a yard sale yesterday. I haggled them down to $8.00.

I think I have this photo thing figured out. Now at least, you will have pictures to look at when I get boring.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interesting Combination........

I just heard through the grapevine that a new album is coming out in December that is a collaboration between Leon Russell and Elton John. I just can't see it myself, but maybe it will make some music worth listening to. I guess there have been much stranger combinations, but I can't think of any right off hand.

But then, I like gin and margarita mix and named the cocktail I made up a Maggie Thatcher. So what do I know?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Today In History.........

In 1693...............

Dom Perignon invented champagne.

In 1735................

In New York, John Peter Zenger was acquitted of libel in a court case that established the tradition of freedom of of the press in America. It's a shame what the modern press has done with this freedom.

In 1753................

George Washington was raised to Master Mason. No black helicopters were reported in the vicinity of the ceremony.

In 1790................

The U.S. Coast Guard had it's beginnings in the development and birth of the Revenue Cutter Service. I have a great deal of admiration for the Coast Guard, it and it's other predecessor the Live Saving Service has a long history on the coast of North Carolina and it's "Graveyard of the Atlantic" The unofficial motto has long been, "You gotta go out, but you aren't guaranteed that you are coming back" Brave bunch o' folks.

In 1862...............

The first Federal Income Tax was collected. And I thought gambling in Vegas was bad for pissing money away.

In 1892................

Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered with an axe in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. A daughter, Elizabeth "Lizzy" Borden was charged with the crime, but was acquitted in a trial. Based on the reading I have done on the case, I don't have any doubts that she did the crime.

In 1944.................

In Amsterdam, Holland Anne Frank and seven other people were arrested by police acting under orders of the Nazi occupation government. Anne's diary, found after World War II ended, was a testament to both the horror of the "final solution" as well as to the resilience of the human heart and soul.

Anne Frank who was 15 at the time of her arrest, died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

Oh Muse Where Art Thou?

I will not say that my writing muse has abandoned me, but she has taken a very LONG lunch break. Nothing of note to mention here at Casa W, and the normal antics of our "leaders" doesn't even bother me anymore. I just don't expect any better thus am not disappointed.

I shall get better, with time.