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

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  1. #1
    ECS
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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.

  2. #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.
    maipenrai likes this.

  3. #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.

  4. #4
    us
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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.

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

  6. #6
    us
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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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  7. #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.

  8. #8
    us
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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.

  9. #9
    us
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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.

  10. #10
    us
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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.

  11. #11
    us
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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.

  12. #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.

  13. #13
    us
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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.

  14. #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.

  15. #15
    us
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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.

 

 
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