Discussion in 'Rocky Mountain Fur Trade' started by crockett, Sep 21, 2018.
Journal of a Trapper - Osborne Russell
A hunter in the mountains may have arrived with a smoothbore,
but I wager a rifle would be his first acquisition.
Does depend on who he was, as quoted above French descendent and Indians often reached first for the fusil.
Then the fact most people who needed glasses didn’t have them. A rifle starts to loose its effectiveness at any thing less then about 20/30 vision.
This discussion has been made before. One valid counterpoint is that vast parts of North America were heavily forested and having shots over 40 or 50 yards in some of these forests was rare. In that case a smoothbore was superior in many ways to a rifle.
In the Rockys....I want a rifle.
Other than distance, often invalidated by heavy timber, a rifle wasn't a significant advantage. In the period, rifles were far more expensive and difficult to obtain.
In the last 30 years of hunting with muzzleloaders and centerfire rifles in the Rockies, only 2 shots come to mind that would have been out of range for a smoothbore - both at over 200 yards and would have been out of range for (nearly) everyone with a muzzleloading rifle too.
Interesting discussion and I am by no means a historical expert on any of the topics covered here as many of you appear to be, but I do know something about photography. I wonder if the photos that were shot in studios were staged. It looks odd to me that these men would wear some of the ridiculous looking trappings. I can imagine that the photographer, wanting to make for a more dramatic and interesting photo, had props for the subject to pose with. Having said that, why not the rifle too?
As photography did not appear to be in common use in the USA until the 1860's, what is seen in photographs is unlikely to be indicative of what was carried in the early 1800's.
And several things of note. Long before the fist brigades went trapping the buckskin clad frontiersman was already a stereotype. ‘Davy Crockett’ existed on stage and in dime novels while David Crockett was still alive.
Photographers did have a wagon full of props for the subjects. The myth of the old west is as old as the reality.
Miller does paint a little more ‘wild’ then Bodmer, Kurtz,or Brigham. I THINK Miller was painting for a perspective audience.
Some apparently were staged using props owned by the photographer, but not all. In the photo posted of Tom Tobin, he is holding his Hawken rifle and wearing his clothes. There are written period descriptions of Tom Tobin wearing these clothes at special events. The clothes are still in the possession of a direct decedent. The Hawken rifle has a known provenance and is currently in the collection of James Gordon.
Here is another photo of Tobin with his plainsman coat, which also survives, and holding his Hawken.
Off topic, but still interesting, Tom Tobin was a friend of Kit Carson. In fact, Kit Carson's oldest son, William, married one of Tom Tobin's daughters, Maria Pascuala Tobin. William Carson and Maria had three daughters and two sons. The oldest son they named after his grandfather Kit Carson. Below is a picture of Kit Carson III wearing his maternal grandfather, Tom Tobin's, coat, vest, pants, moccasins, and knife and holstered pistol.
But it gets even better. The Tom Tobin coat may not be hand made by Indians as it appears. The History Colorado's collection includes two similar coats, one of which has connections back to Kit Carson. Here is a picture of Kit Carson II, brother of William Carson and uncle to Kit Carson III in Kit Carson's coat. The Carson coat was definitely made by machine as determined by the History Colorado curators.
As mentioned, the History Colorado has a second coat of similar design in their collection. Here is a photo of a John S. Hough wearing it.
Thanks for sharing those neat photos.
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