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Thread: "30 of them were lost at Caloosahatchee..."

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  1. #1
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    "30 of them were lost at Caloosahatchee..."

    Has anyone searched for the 8shot Colt revolving cylinder carbines mentioned by Col. Harney,Nov 8,1850? The carbines were sealed in zinc lined,greased filled Oak boxes,and allegedly fell out of a US Dragoon canoe,somewhere near modern day Harney Point,Cape Coral.

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  3. #2
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    Treasure lore, loosely based on fact.

    The 1839 Colt carbines weren't being hauled in a canoe in their packing crates...They were issued and being used by the 2nd Dragoons. That is fully documented. They were attacked in the early morning of July 23, 1839, and about 12-14 killed while they slept in camp, protecting the newly constructed trading post.

    I believe a later account by an interpreter that was with the indians, stated that some of the weapons were left behind at the indian camp with their locks (I would assume hammers) removed. They were percussion cap weapons, so they would have limited use without caps.

    I also believe there was a report of some being recovered by the troops moving back into the area...probably the damaged ones left behind.

    I one time read the "source" of the "crates of greased filled carbines"....it was one of those "treasure indexes" full of badly researched legends, and "ghost towns" that are still very active communities. It stated that they "might" be in grease and zinc filled crates, and if so...might still be in good condition......

    So the whole "crate in a canoe" thing came from speculation based on Harney's foggy recollection in an 1850 statement regarding the Carbines....I've never seen the source of that quote, just that it was in 1850, and said 30 were lost at the Caloosahatchee river (not IN the river...but at the attack at the Calossahatchee trading post).

    I believe the official count was about 14 rifles lost in the attack.
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  4. #3
    ECS
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    Thanks for the feedback,Jon. I have read many different accounts,many conflicting,but none from an original source.

  5. #4
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    I have read many accounts of the attack, and loss of the carbines, all from Seminole War history books and articles, and they are all basically in agreement. Recollections of details in a situation like that are hard to nail down by the witnesses! I was right in the middle of a situation where some clowns that just robbed a nightclub had wrecked into a truck at my work, and bailed out shooting at the guy they had just robbed that was now chasing them! Boy was I a worthless witness! I couldn't get hardly any of the details of what had actually happened correct! Too much adrenaline!

    Harney made that statement (alledgedly) in 1850....after hunting down and killing the indian leader responsible for the attack, finishing up in the Second Seminole War, fighting in the Mexican War, and later, serving as military commander in Texas, off and on, between 1849-1851, so a lot had transpired between the time of the attack, and the time of the statement, so getting the numbers wrong is not that unbelievable.

    I believe there is stuff still around that area, if the river wasn't dredged, or widened....but I think it will be small things that were dropped or thrown in the water. Of course, under current Florida law, it would be illegal to bring any of it up out of the river.....

    I actually have quite a few small, glass, trade beads that were picked up at the site years ago....I didn't find them, so I don't know the details of it.

  6. #5
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    There are many items in Florida rivers,the St Johns,Oklawaha,Black Creek-but State Of Florida law...

  7. #6
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    Yeah...it's some of the most well preserved stuff too...we need the Isolated Finds Program back....and some new faces in the state archaeologist positions....
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  8. #7
    ECS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Phillips View Post
    Yeah...it's some of the most well preserved stuff too...
    Case in point-the Union riverboat MAPLELEAF in the St Johns near Mandarin.

  9. #8
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    I read much about the incident and about Harneys revenge ater. My good friends hunting camp was on Chekika where the Indian was killed and hung and 90 soldiers camped. They also buryed a US Army soldier on that island.

    Chekika Island is now protected in Everglades National Park and it has been a while since I read the story but I thought someone was in a canoe. I dont know the Caloosahatchee location its probably on private land. It would be interesting to read it again. The entire Harneys Revenge would make a great movie someday.

  10. #9
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    The canoe part in the actual story came from the fact that Harney had found a canoe when he escaped. He had been hunting, so he was just outside the camp sleeping when the attack happened. He escaped in his underclothes, and he was a little "miffed" to say the least!

    I think the site of the attack has a bridge going over it now, and was mostly destroyed. There is a thread on here about it, and another trading post that was burned during the Third Seminole War.

    According to Mahon's History of the Second Seminole War 1835-1842...Harney armed 50 Dragoons with the Colt rifles, and had 26 of them with him at the trading post. The indians took $2,000-$3,000 in trade goods, and $1,500 in silver coins, plus the rifles, and personal effects of the soldiers.

    Later, Harney had 21 men armed with them when he went after Chakaika (Mahon's spelling of the name), and there was a later, Naval, expedition that carried 30 of them of which 5 misfired, and burst.

    I can't remember which book I read about the seminole version of aftermath of the Harney Attack in...but it is one of the readily available ones on the Seminole Wars.

    It's funny that you mention a movie on the Harney story....I have had an awesome (to me anyway) story in my head that centers around that incedent, but is fictional, and somewhat supernatural...that would make a good "historical horror" movie....Unfotunately...I have no money or film experience to make it happen.

  11. #10
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    I've been doing a little more research on this incident. In the book "From Everglades to Canyon with the Second Dragoons" (Now 'United States Cavalry' in the title.), it states that the indians did get away with some percussion caps, so they might have kept some of the rifles besides the ones that were destroyed by breaking the "locks" (I don't even think these versions had exposed hammers, and it is unknown if they were the 10 shot, smaller caliber, or the 8 shot larger caliber.)

    I also read in an article by M.L. Brown, that Samuel Colt tried to sell revolving muskets (Which I never knew existed), the revolving rifles, and revolving pistols to the military, but they were not interested in the muskets, so he brought 10 cases of rifles (100), and some unknown amount of pistols, plus percussion caps (and I would assume bullet molds) to Florida in February of 1838. General Jessup was only going to buy 30 rifles, but finally bought 50 at Col. Harney's insistence. They also bought 25,000 percussion caps. There was never any indication that any pistols were purchased (I can't imagine why...I would have wanted 2!).

    I think this next part might be where this story of the cased rifles falling into the river came from.....

    About February 28...Colt stopped on his way back to Charelston, at Ft. Marion at St. Augustine, pressumably to demonstrate the rifles and pistols. On his way to shore, the schooner's yawl capsized and Colt lost "the precious Treasury drafts...most of his personal belongings, all of the pistols, and the fifty unsold rifles." They replaced the treasury drafts for Harneys's rifles and caps later that year. That was footnoted to be from a biography of Samuel Colt by William B. Edwards.

    I would imagine that this is the source of the "lost rifle's in their cases" story....only it was the Atlantic, not the Caloosahatchee...along with Harney's statement of some being "lost at the Caloosahatchee". The story just got mixed up. That means there probably are some still off St. Augustine a ways. I don't know how far out the schooner was anchored while the smaller boat went to shore, but Samuel Colt was rescued after four hours floating in the ocean...so it must not have been too close to shore.

  12. #11
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    I will also add....I highly doubt the rifles were packed in anything other than some straw or such to protect them, as he was demonstrating the guns and they would all need to be easily set up and fired at any time.

  13. #12
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    Many locks,which contain spring(s) and sear,tumbler, held on by two large screws. Not saying these were. Pulling locks off would hinder use. Also valuable for parts if they didn,t get pitched.

  14. #13
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    These were Colt "Patterson" revolving rifles. They were built before the pistols, and the first revolving weapon used by the U.S. military. They came appart like most revolving cap and ball pistols of the era...remove the retaining wedge (or bar), and pull the barrel away from the cylinder/reciever, and the cylinder will pull off of the centering rod. The early models were cocked with a ring lever in front of the trigger guard... the hammer was concealed (internal), so there was no actual lock or hammer to break off, but being a totally new weapon and operating system, I could see how somebody might use familiar terms to describe it, even if they didn't apply.

    Or....the guns that had their locks broken could have been some of the Hall carbines that were also taken...they could have been leftover flintlocks, or converted or purpose-built percussion cap by that time. The way I understand it...most of the Hall's were percussion at that point.

  15. #14
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    JP i found a pic.of early model with cocking ring, your right on unexposed hammer and no lock seen.

  16. #15
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    Yeah, they might have been just using familiar terms for an unfamiliar weapon...or like I said, confusing the Colt's for the Hall's. That story came from a captured, black interpreter a couple of years later, I believe.

  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigcypresshunter View Post
    I read much about the incident and about Harneys revenge ater. My good friends hunting camp was on Chekika where the Indian was killed and hung and 90 soldiers camped. They also buryed a US Army soldier on that island.

    Chekika Island is now protected in Everglades National Park and it has been a while since I read the story but I thought someone was in a canoe. I dont know the Caloosahatchee location its probably on private land. It would be interesting to read it again. The entire Harneys Revenge would make a great movie someday.
    chekika is. is not the is. where chekika was hung. That is further north.

    an article in the ocala banner in the 50s said harney recovered 14 carbines from chekika at that time.
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=1752,6145796
    Last edited by scaupus; Nov 01, 2012 at 12:35 PM.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Phillips View Post
    I've been doing a little more research on this incident. In the book "From Everglades to Canyon with the Second Dragoons" (Now 'United States Cavalry' in the title.), it states that the indians did get away with some percussion caps, so they might have kept some of the rifles besides the ones that were destroyed by breaking the "locks" (I don't even think these versions had exposed hammers, and it is unknown if they were the 10 shot, smaller caliber, or the 8 shot larger caliber.)

    I also read in an article by M.L. Brown, that Samuel Colt tried to sell revolving muskets (Which I never knew existed), the revolving rifles, and revolving pistols to the military, but they were not interested in the muskets, so he brought 10 cases of rifles (100), and some unknown amount of pistols, plus percussion caps (and I would assume bullet molds) to Florida in February of 1838. General Jessup was only going to buy 30 rifles, but finally bought 50 at Col. Harney's insistence. They also bought 25,000 percussion caps. There was never any indication that any pistols were purchased (I can't imagine why...I would have wanted 2!).

    I think this next part might be where this story of the cased rifles falling into the river came from.....

    About February 28...Colt stopped on his way back to Charelston, at Ft. Marion at St. Augustine, pressumably to demonstrate the rifles and pistols. On his way to shore, the schooner's yawl capsized and Colt lost "the precious Treasury drafts...most of his personal belongings, all of the pistols, and the fifty unsold rifles." They replaced the treasury drafts for Harneys's rifles and caps later that year. That was footnoted to be from a biography of Samuel Colt by William B. Edwards.

    I would imagine that this is the source of the "lost rifle's in their cases" story....only it was the Atlantic, not the Caloosahatchee...along with Harney's statement of some being "lost at the Caloosahatchee". The story just got mixed up. That means there probably are some still off St. Augustine a ways. I don't know how far out the schooner was anchored while the smaller boat went to shore, but Samuel Colt was rescued after four hours floating in the ocean...so it must not have been too close to shore.
    Colt and some others had taken a yawl to get into st. augustine harbor because a head wind prevented the ship from getting into the narrow entrance to the harbor. The yawl swamped (don't they always? Cf. gold lost in ft. pierce old inlet) and Colt lost the draft. He finally got paid about 6 months later.

    The draft was drawn on the quartermaster at st. augustine. Colt had no reason to bring the guns with him on the yawl, he certainly must have left them on the ship. I have never read anywhere else that any of his guns were lost at st. augustine.

    Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaupus View Post
    chekika is. is not the is. where chekika was hung. That is further north.

    an article in the ocala banner in the 50s said harney recovered 14 carbines from chekika at that time.
    Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search
    Chekika was indeed hunted down, scalped and hung by Harney at my buddies hunting camp on Chekika Island.. The tree was still there.

    Chekika the last of the Calusa/ the Spanish Indians, considered of Calusa ancestry. Harney got his revenge, ambushed and hung him, A soldier named Hall shot him on his island camp then they scalped him. I found a silver birth and death Hall family coffin or memorial tag engraved and dated dec 30- '43-- jan 2- '44 (3 days apart) near an Army fort on the coast... Is there a connection?

    I spent nights on Chekika Island, my good buddies hunting camp, where Chekika was hung. Not to be confused with Chekika State Park further south.

    The camp burnt down. Its now protected in ENP. I didnt know he recovered rifles on the island. I remember broken pottery everywhere.
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    Last edited by Bigcypresshunter; Nov 04, 2012 at 01:36 AM.

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaupus View Post
    Colt and some others had taken a yawl to get into st. augustine harbor because a head wind prevented the ship from getting into the narrow entrance to the harbor. The yawl swamped (don't they always? Cf. gold lost in ft. pierce old inlet) and Colt lost the draft. He finally got paid about 6 months later.

    The draft was drawn on the quartermaster at st. augustine. Colt had no reason to bring the guns with him on the yawl, he certainly must have left them on the ship. I have never read anywhere else that any of his guns were lost at st. augustine.

    Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search

    I can only say what I read. The article you reference pretty much follows exactly what I read...except that it doesn't give a reason for Colt's visit to St. Augustine, and says he stowed his baggage on the schooner. Whereas, the article from "THE GUN REPORT" Jan. 1986, tittled: "Samuel Colt's Florida War Rifles" By the late M.L. Brown, states that: "It is believed that Colt left the schooner to demonstrate his repeating arms to the garrison at Fort Marion". It goes on to state: "Rescued after four hours adrift in the Atlantic, Colt lost the precious Treasury drafts vital to the economic future of the company, most of his personal belongings, all of the pistols, and the fifty unsold rifles."

    The footnote indicates that the information came from "THE STORY OF COLT'S REVOLVER, THE BIOGRAPHY OF COL. SAMUEL COLT" by William B. Edwards (New York, 1953) pages 70-71.

    To be fair, the article does say "It is believed" that Colt was going ashore to demonstrate, and try to sell the remaining weapons, so he could have been going to St. Augustine for some other reason. I don't know what other reason it would have been, as it was important to get back home with the Treasury notes, and pay his debts, and save the company. I would think that the chance of selling the remaining weapons, and more than doubling his money would be a good reason to delay the trip home. If all that is true...that would be a very good reason to bring the guns with him on the yawl, as well as some of his personal items, as he would need his paperwork and related items if he sold any, or got any orders for aditional weapons...or changes of clothes and personal items if it required him to stay at Fort Marion for a longer time.

    I had never read anywhere that the guns were lost at St. Augustine...until I read that article. The source material for the article seems to be available for download, but it was encrypted for a certain electronic reader or something...so I wasn't able to read the specific passages.

    The only speculating that I did, was that the incedent of them falling off of the yawl, and the incedent of Harney having some captured at the attack at the Caloosahatchee, were probably the contributing stories that gave birth to the treasure lore of them falling off of a canoe, in the crates, at the Caloosahatchee. I believe that through the years, the stories kinda got mixed together to form the unlikely scenario of troops in the field carrying their guns still packed in the crates on canoes, instead of loaded in their hands!

 

 

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