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Smashed Shell Directive?


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On another forum I'm on, there is someone metal detecting and finding .45-70 and .50-70 spent cases and complete shells. Another poster mentioned that the smashed cases were on purpose. Does anyone know anything about this? I assume it was so the Indians could not use the shells for their guns, correct?

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Hi,

 

I used to have an interest in the 1860s-1880s 'Indian Wars' era. As I recall, there is an official ordnance memorandum (maybe dated around 1877-1878) that does suggest either retrieving fired cases , or rendering them useless. It may even be referenced in one of the period Ordnance reports which are online. A place to ask for further information would be the trapdoor collectors forum, where I'm sure one of them would know. http://www.trapdoorcollector.com/cgi-bin/afrasca/bulletin/config.pl

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."

*Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia"*

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Hello Squeaker

 

This from www.oldammo.com

 

I often receive e-mails from metal detectors and the occasional archeologist who have found cartridge cases that they would like to have identified. More often than not, these are the heads of old paper hulled shotgun shells, or modern military or sporting cartridge cases. However, sometimes their finds are quite interesting, such as the .45-70 cases shown in this picture, all of which exhibit varying degrees of flattening. They were found in Eastern Nebraska and, beginning with the Benet primed example on the left, were made in 1880, 1883 and 1884. I had always assumed that the damage exhibited by cartridge cases such as these was caused at some point after they were discarded, either from having been stepped on by a person or a heavy hoofed animal, or from being run over by a vehicle or a piece of farm machinery. While these causes may account for some of the damaged cases found, the more likely cause is that they were intentionally flattened, in accordance with military orders. It had been found that Indians were reloading inside primed .45-70 and .50-70 cartridge cases that were discarded by the Army. This was accomplished by inserting a percussion cap in a hole punched in the base of the copper case, filling the case with black powder, and inserting either a newly cast or a reclaimed bullet. In an effort to put an end to this practice, the Secretary of War ordered that officers exercise 'great care' to prevent Indians from procuring any empty cartridge cases that were thrown away. This was General Order No. 13, issued February 16th, 1876, and reproduced here. Apparently, one method adopted by the troops in the field was to flatten the empty shells, perhaps with the butts of their rifles, and then bury them all together in a single hole. Consequently, rather than being found individually, these cartridge cases are usually found in bunches. A lady recently sent me the picture of the cartridge case shown here, which was found near Rath City, Texas, a ghost town in the western part of the state. From 1876 through 1879, this area was a center for buffalo hunting, and she thought this cartridge case may have been used by one of those hunters. Those who hunted for their livings tended to be a frugal lot, who saved and reloaded their cartridge cases. This is an externally primed case, and was intended to be loaded a number of times, so it is not likely that a buffalo hunter would have thrown it away after it was fired. The fact that the case has been flattened, and then had the mouth folded over would indicate that the person who fired it was intent on ensuring that it would no longer be serviceable. For this reason, I believe this cartridge case was used by a soldier who was cognizant of General Order No. 13 and fully understood its intent.

 

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Thanks
Don

....The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

 

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Thank you RC and 45govt. The cartridges that he dug with the metal detector were apparently found in TX also. I think it is interesting that an Order had to be issued to get soldiers to do this. I wonder how long they were actually able to reload before this was issued?

 

I've seen where the Indians basically fired any cartridge that would remotely fire in their guns. I imagine they tried to straighten some shells out and use them anyway.

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  • 3 years later...

I just found this thread which answers questions I posted earlier here: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/317706-indian-wars-smashed-50-70-govt-brass/

 

Thanks!

Check out my website of Military Relics and Collectibles: http://www.ourboysof98.com
I try to update it by adding several new items each month, so keep checking back.

Thanks,
keith

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Interesting. It shows that "policing the battlefield" is not a new concept.

 

I remember reading that troops in Vietnam were directed to crush or bend discarded LAW tubes after it was found the the enemy were turning them into ersatz mortar barrels.

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War

burkcats@hotmail.com

 

"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."

 

Moliere: Tartuffe

 

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Always great to see old topics come up.Some thing to always learn and the community can benifit as well.

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

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On metaldetectingforum.com there have been some posted that were found in Kansas and Arizona. I am sure they are found in other plains/western states also.

I scanned the titles on the last 7 pages of that website and didn't see any? Would you pin point a couple entries for me? I would like to look. Thanks.

Check out my website of Military Relics and Collectibles: http://www.ourboysof98.com
I try to update it by adding several new items each month, so keep checking back.

Thanks,
keith

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