I would respectfully submit that the term "caliber" was used in a different way back then. Many years ago, I had a single barrel smoothbore, imported from Spain, which had 28 Calibre deeply imprinted in the barrel. I habitually loaded it with a .530" patched ball. Obviously, it was a 28 gauge, in current American terminology.I believe in Osborne Russel's book, he relates having a 30 something caliber rifle when he went west.
True enough.I would respectfully submit that the term "caliber" was used in a different way back then. Many years ago, I had a single barrel smoothbore, imported from Spain, which had 28 Calibre deeply imprinted in the barrel. I habitually loaded it with a .530" patched ball. Obviously, it was a 28 gauge, in current American terminology.
plmeek wrote a virtual thesis on this topic in his post, "What Gauges and Calibers Were Most Common in the Fur Trade"
The authors of the books on which Jeremiah Johnson was based were able to spin a good yarn, but both authors and screenwriters have a hard time really getting things right before a well-informed audience. I thought it was a good movie, nonetheless.
Sounds like it might be a target gun intended for either chunk (supported over a log or "chunk" of wood) or benchrest shooting - target shooting becoming a popular hobby after the ACW.Grenadier, the movie took a line from Crow Killer, which appears on pages 25 and 26 of my copy:
"A Hawken rifle, .30 caliber, cost Johnson fifty dollars. This was double the price charged at St. Louis -- but not out of reason. It was the best make, and made all the difference between life and death."
I don't find any similar reference in Mountain Man but it's been a while since I read it last.
The movie Jeremiah Johnson uses a line that goes something like: "He bought a Hawken rifle of .30 caliber. He wanted a .50 but it was a genuine Hawken." The real Johnson may well have carried a Hawken. He came to the mountains almost at the end of the Fur Trade Era, and Hawkens were available then. Most mountain men who were active during the height of the Fur Trade probably did not, at least most of their years in the Shinin' Mountains. The more common rifles then were flintlock JJ Henry's and Lemans and Derringers. It's a certain fact that Bridger owned and used a Hawken towards the end of his trapping, and when he ran Bridger's Post and Kit Carson had one as did some others, but the heavy caliber Hawkens were not available in the early years.
Re: Small caliber Hawkens. I personally inspected one several years ago at a gun show in Houston. I believe it was a .36 caliber and it was built with a 1-1/8" or 1-1/4" octagon barrel about 36 inches long and was as heavy as a section of railroad track! I called a friend who collected original Hawkens and put him in touch with the seller and I believe he bought it.
Granted, the "myths" of the fur trade since the 70's are still alive and well. The movie The Revenant had "experts" on set to help with the historical accuracy. Based off the inaccuracy of some of the "experts" work that I've read it's no wonder the myths are still alive and well.I believe in Osborne Russel's book, he relates having a 30 something caliber rifle when he went west. Also the Lewis and Clark expedition had a small (.36?) that was one of the Captain's personal rifle. Neither of these were Hawken style rifles for sure, but at least give credibility to small bore rifles in the early fur trade, even if only 2 examples.
I'm sure , as mentioned, the movie industry in the 70's was not so interested in historical accuracy.
One scene shows the adopted boy randomly dumping beaver castor near a trap-a modern #4 Victor longspring. He is holding his nose. As a trapper myself, I find beaver castor to be a very pleasant scent. It is used in the perfume industry even today.
UmphI would also suggest The Revenant, n excellent movie based on a true story..
Dag nab it, all this Jerimiah Johnson talk just made me rent the Jerimiah Johnson movie ( $3.99) from my cable provider! Even though I must've seen it 20 times, I watched it again with slightly different eyes.
Regarding Jerimiah's Hawken; I used to work in Civil War and Old West movie productions ( long story there), both as an extra and later as movie music composer, but it gave me access to movie armourers, the guys who make, re-make and procure firearms and all things weapon for tv and cinema.
The reason why Jerimiah's Hawken is hard to pin down for type is simple- it never was. That is, an armourer would be given the task of creating props, both working and non-working for the actor. In the old days they'd often take an exisitng rifle and modify with any existing parts from other guns) to resemble the actual rifle being represented. It was cost effective to do so and that explains why so many old movie westerns have odd looking guns.
Somewhere along the line it became important to represent those gubs accurately by having them custom made for the production ( Tom Selleck's Sharps rifle for instance), but before that movie makers just didnb't believe audiences were sophisticated to know the difference.
When Sydney Pollack made Jerimiah he realized that the Hawken rifle was central to the Jerimiah character, hence the armourer being given the task to create one.
And so that's what he did; walked into one of the studio prop gun storage units, found a few which closely resembled the Hawken and essentially created them as close as he could. Nowadays the movie studio would budget x ammount of dollars to have custom Hawken rifles made. But back in the 70's ?
Not so much.