Between the Lines: Civil War Guns and Ammo #amwriting #PNR #research #historical #weapons

Before we get to this week’s blog post, I’ve announced the winners of the July 4th giveaways, so please check here to see if you won either of the swag bags. Now on to today’s topic.

Have you read The Touchstone of Raven Hollow yet? In it, I talk about how Tara and Grant stumble upon some Civil War era pistols. In order to make sure I had my facts straight, given that I am no gun expert, I went to two men who are experts, Brad Butkovich and Tripp Corbin, and they filled in the details for me so I could ensure my story’s facts made sense.

Here’s what I asked:

Q: I need to know about Civil War era pistols and ammunition. I’ve heard from a local man here in south-central TN that the CW troops used caves and sink holes to stash their weapons and supplies. If present day people stumbled upon such a stash, what condition would the pistol and the ammo be in? Would the gun still fire? Misfire? Explode in your hand if you tried to shoot it? If either of the latter, how much damage to the hand/person would there be? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Brad gave me an extensive reply including this picture of a Remington Model 1858, which he said was a popular pistol for both sides during the war. He told me that “firearms hate moisture” unless when they were packed that grease was smeared over them to protect them. If not greased, then the guns would rust and be worthless as a firearm. But if they were in a dry cave, and wrapped with burlap or packed in wood crates, they’d survive. He noted that the wood would deteriorate but their contents might survive. He cautioned that “a sinkhole would be right out” because of the “direct contact” with moist earth over 150 years.

Remington Model 1858Brad also talked about issues with attempting to fire such old weapons. How rust could cause misalignment between the cylinder and the barrel, which would cause problems. “The round will jam between the cylinder and the barrel, and those explosive gasses will have nowhere to go but to the side and back toward the user.” The result? The gun would explode and mangle the hand, or “a flying hammer, or spring, could take out an eye, nose, knock out teeth, etc. easily. Even kill.”

Well, I didn’t want to kill Grant, so I had to choose what could go pretty bad without such a dire outcome. Rather, I wanted Tara to be forced into revealing her, um, hand – literally by having to heal Grant using her touch. So a mangled hand sounded like an appropriate situation for Tara to have to face her fear of revealing her abilities to this man she’d grown fond of.

Tripp added some more details on the ammunition. He told me that black powder becomes “unstable over time” as the components separate. Therefore, it might have a more explosive effect or not fire at all depending on the amount of moisture the powder had been exposed to. The kind of gun also plays a part in how the ammo detonates. Both men agreed that misfires were common both then and with later models and ammo. I used Brad’s suggestion that the first time trying to fire the gun it not detonate, but the second time it would go off, for good or bad.

So there you have it. The historical facts that are the basis for the pistol Grant ends up carrying with him into Raven Hollow and that becomes the catalyst for Tara’s big nearly-calamitous reveal to him.

If you haven’t read The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity! This is one of my favorite stories so far… But then I’m pretty fond of all of them. Happy reading!


P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

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The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic…

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?




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