How many guns?

Discussion in 'General Reenacting Discussions' started by tenngun, Oct 5, 2016.

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  1. Oct 5, 2016 #1

    tenngun

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    He who dies with the most toys wins.
    Most of us like our guns and we have more then one.
    I was watching the Alamo thirteen days of glory with kieth and arnes and it got me thinking about the number of guns men/families kept. Some of the boys at the Alamo are said to have hade up to eight long guns loaded and stacked near them. This was largely milita with their own arms.
    We know Carson or bridger had several guns in their estates. How many guns do you reckon most men owned?
     
  2. Oct 5, 2016 #2

    Elnathan

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    When and where? I recall Henrietta Arnow claiming that in East Tennessee during the later Revolutionary period most men owned at least two, due to the high number of fatalities. A lot of these were smoothbores. I don't think she gave any hard numbers though.
     
  3. Oct 5, 2016 #3

    tenngun

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    Well I was just up to ft Osage for an event. On of the boys had Blanket on display holding all the goods left by a voyager in his estate. A capote a bed with a small tent , toiletries pipe ect. One gun, a horn of powder and ball, and small stuff.
    Living a life on the move would be different then a settler. So your point is on mark. Meek in 28 ain't the same as 'old Joe near the wabash.
     
  4. Oct 6, 2016 #4

    BCarp

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    Many colonies' - then states' - militia statutes mandated that militia members (pretty much all able-bodied males) own and maintain a weapon suitable for that duty. Smoothbores of "musket bore" (.69 - .80 cal) were often specifically required. This led to gunsmiths building so-called "fowler-muskets" (a modern term) for the fellows who could only afford one gun. These were light enough for hunting, but had the required big bore. I would guess that a majority of men owned the one piece. That might mean more than one gun per household, because sons of militia age had to be armed, too! Men with greater means would presumably own more weapons: their militia piece, plus strictly hunting guns, including rifles....
     
  5. Oct 6, 2016 #5

    Loyalist Dave

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    Well males left home a lot sooner than they do these days. Pennsylvania didn't have a militia law; Maryland had militia laws dating back to the 17th century. Some men may have owned at least one stand of arms, meaning musket, bayonet, and cartridge box, or something in lieu of the bayonet, while others were armed from Maryland's armories, so had no need to own such, but merely to show up to muster and be issued a musket. So..., depending on the geographic location, it may be tough to say how many.

    LD
     
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  6. Nov 15, 2016 #6

    Barry Stewart

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    This is a very interesting topic. I for one own way more guns than I really need. I collect guns that I like and "want." There is nothing wrong with this but I do think it illustrates how relatively rich we are in comparison to our frontier ancestors. Sometimes I have the urge to get rid of most of my guns, bows, knives etc..and just keep what I "need." I believe that the old timers were much more in tuned with their weapons because they only had one or two and really needed them for survival. I don't think it would be practical for a long Hunter to carry more that one rifle or smoothbore. A western mountain man may have had a spare on a pack animal or maybe an additional shotgun. However in both cases life was hard and it was not uncommon to be robbed or have to "run for it" do to hostiles. Having several firearms is a nice idea but traveling light was often important and that extra weight was probably saved for other essential items. Anyway just some thoughts. Thanks for posting the question.
     
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  7. Nov 15, 2016 #7

    Crewdawg445

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    This is a very interesting question and one I've actually wondered numerous times when I crack the safe door and gaze upon all my perdy toys... Wife always asks why I need so many, and it always goes back to "why do you need so many shoes?".

    However, again a very interesting topic! Personally I never have read anything stating the number of arms owned. Outside of every able man be armed... To what extent besides the usual?
     
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  8. Nov 15, 2016 #8

    Artificer

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    It all depends on the time period, location, what the men and/or families were doing for a living, what their economic situation was, how many sons were old enough to use guns, etc.

    Poor families on the frontier probably had at last one gun, while the poor back in the settled areas often could not afford to own a gun.

    Families with some resources on the frontier probably had two or more guns, both for one for the wife to reload while the husband was shooting the other gun and/or a gun/s for sons who were old enough to hunt with or use the guns.

    It seems that even the rich often only had at most four to six guns.

    Gus
     
  9. Nov 16, 2016 #9

    Artificer

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    BTW, for the estimate of the number of guns for the rich, I'm going off probate inventories I have seen in the 18th century. George Washington was a notable exception to only owning 6 guns and one has to look at the inventory done room by room and even some outbuildings, to count up how many guns he owned when he passed.

    Gus
     
  10. Nov 16, 2016 #10

    Spence10

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    It seems to be accepted as a truism that guns were so expensive their ownership was limited to the well-to-do. That's probably true in some places at some times, but apparently not always and everywhere. Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania, for instance

    "The Pennsylvania Gazette
    December 3, 1747

    FORM of the ASSOCIATION into which Numbers are daily entering, for the Defence of this City and Province----- With Remarks on each Paragraph.

    REMARKS in ARTICLE I.
    As use is in our Case more to be regarded than Uniformity, and it would be difficult so suddenly to procure such a Number of Arms, exactly of the same Kind, the general Word Firelock is used (rather than Musket, which is the Name of a particular kind or Gun) most People having a Firelock of some kind or other already in their Hands..........Those who on Account of their Age or Infirmities ought to be excused from the common Exercises, yet will do well to keep Arms and Ammunition ready in their Houses, that when Occasion calls, they may either use them if they can, or lend them to those who happen to be unprovided. The Expence of providing these Arms is small, and may be saved in some other Article; and they will always fetch near the Money they cost."

    Spence
     
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  11. Nov 16, 2016 #11

    Loyalist Dave

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    Note that Spence's reference is in PA. Where there was no militia law, BUT that didn't stop even Quakers from having hunting guns. Today, several of my acquaintances who are members of the Religious Society of Friends, shun firearm ownership of any sort..., but this was not always so with them.

    There is a Quaker town in Virginia known as Waterford, and several of the men in that town were "read out of meeting" for taking up arms on behalf of the Continental Army during the AWI. They were known as "fighting Quakers" in some history books.

    LD
     
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  12. Nov 17, 2016 #12

    Artificer

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    Yes, I agree that the theory only the rich had guns due to their expense at the time is not supported by historic documentation. Yet guns were more costly than that quote suggests. The person/s making that claim was no doubt a leading citizen of at least some affluence and to him/them, guns were probably not all that expensive. Yet to those in the lowest economic classes, even a relatively inexpensive "made for the trade" smoothbore gun could cost between a month to two months wages. For those in the trades that were above the labour class, such a gun could cost between 2-3 week's wages and up to a month's wages.

    The person/s who wrote that legislation were most likely correct in the belief someone who could not or would not fight, might be expected to lend their guns to someone else who could/would fight for immediate defense of the City. That OR those guns could be confiscated by authorities to arm those who did not have guns, in case of serious threat of or actual attack. Both happened when Andy Jackson needed arms prior to the Battle of New Orleans.

    One also has to consider what was "going on" when that quote/documents were penned. They were actually nearing the end of King George's War, 1744-48, (though I'm sure they did not realize it then) and that was part of the War of Jenkins Ear/War of the Austrian Succession. So it was more likely more Philadelphia citizens decided to arm themselves during the war, than might otherwise have normally done so.

    Please understand I am not trying to make the case that guns were even uncommon in Colonial America and certainly not so rare that only the rich could afford them.

    What I have tried to suggest is that the poor usually only had guns when there was a real or perceived need for them, such as on the frontier. Then it was worthwhile for their living and survival to go into serious debt to buy them.

    Gus
     
  13. Nov 17, 2016 #13

    Artificer

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    P.S. I may be mistaken, but the first part of that quote seems to be a justification not to spend money on Military or "Military Style" contract guns from contractors such as Wilson.

    "REMARKS in ARTICLE I.
    As use is in our Case more to be regarded than Uniformity, and it would be difficult so suddenly to procure such a Number of Arms, exactly of the same Kind..."

    This theory worked well for a while when a major American City was attacked by enemy forces in the not too distant future AND until they ran out of powder and ball. That's when many found it would have been better to have military muskets and especially bayonets fitted to their guns at the Battle of Breed's Hill.

    Gus
     
  14. Nov 17, 2016 #14

    Nativearizonan

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    As far as handguns go, Confederate Partison Rangers were able to capture weapons during long period of conflicts or were given weapons by those that had too many, and they were known to sometimes carry several. When they were pardoned, they were allowed to keep only two revolvers and one long arm. Two handguns were considered normal before the advent of quick loading cartridge guns. Single shot flintlock and percussion pistols were often sold in pairs, and not just for dueling purposes; so if a person chose to own a pistol, he may well have owned a brace rather than a single pistol, especially if he were a gentleman of means.
     
  15. Nov 19, 2016 #15

    Alden

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    Fewer than I.
     
  16. Jan 2, 2019 #16

    Rich

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    Just 1 more than you have now
     
  17. Jan 3, 2019 #17

    Dr5x

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    I PEAKD AT ELEVEN GUNS BUT THEY FELL AWAY BECAUSE BEING LESS EFFECTIVE I GAVE ALL BUT TWO AWAY, A KIT BUILT TC H
    HAWKEN AND A CUSTOM BUILT EXACT (AS POSSIBLE) COPY OF A GENUINE HAWKEN, WHICHM SADLY, VISION FAILINGM I GAVE TO MY GRANDSON WHO IS INTERESTED INSAIL BOATING.

    THE TWO HAWKENS SHOT EQUALLY WELL WITH THE KIT BUILT HAWKEN POSSIBLY A SHADE TIGHTER.
    THAT'S WHEN IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT HOW MUCH YOU SPEND ISN'T THAT IMPORTANT. IT'S HOW STRAIGHT IS THE BARREL.

    DUTCH SCHOULTZ





     
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  18. Jan 3, 2019 #18

    Juice Jaws

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    This is another of those questions that most of the answers are guesses. So here is my guess. I think there were far fewer guns than we think. If you live in the city's I would think few people had guns. In the city's I think more men carry daggers than firearms. Now if you were on the border country then I would think ever one had at least one gun. If you were young and just starting out you had one, as you got older and guns were pass down then a few more. The MM for the most part would have one I would think. Carrying two rifles around 24/7 is not easy. When Jim and Kit were old men I have read that they had a couple of rifles. If you were a gentlemen with money, then you had a few, a working man, most likely one or two. Guns were tools back then, so how many shovels do you really need. Like I said in the beginning, I am just guessing.
     
  19. Jan 3, 2019 #19

    Leadball loader

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    In New England there were many muskets in families to counter the attacks of French and their Indian allies. The area endured about a century of this hence when the Revolutionary era arrived it was no stretch for armed residents to be able to muster to defend their state. It was a public response they learned from childhood.
     
  20. Mar 2, 2019 #20

    smoothshooter

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    Most of the extra guns at the Alamo were captures from the Mexican forces.
     

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