Monday, February 21, 2011

One Of Our Nation's First Gun Safety Demonstrations


The Unintended Target
A Bonnet of 1802




Lewis and Clark's secret weapon - a late 18th Century .46 cal. 20 shot
repeating air rifle by Girandoni , as used in the Napoleonic Wars.

"Lewis had proceeded only three miles when he pulled over at an island and at the request of the pioneers living on it gave a demonstration of his air gun, purchased from gunsmith Isaiah Luken of Philadelphia. It was a pneumatic rifle. The stock was the reservoir, and it could be pumped full of air to a pressure of five to six hundred psi, at which point it was not much inferior in hitting power to the Kentucky rifle. That it produced no smoke or noise astonished the frontiersmen.

Lewis fired seven times at fifty yards 'with pretty good success.' He passed the curiosity around for examination. It went off accidentally; the ball passed through the hat of a woman about forty yards off, 'cutting her temple; she fell instantly and the blood gushing from her temple. we were all in the greatest consternation supposed she was dead but in a minute she revived to our enespressable satisfaction, and by examination we found the wound by no means mortal or even dangerous." Never again did he pass the air gun around when it was pumped up and loaded. (Emphasis added.)"

Sources:


Ambrose, Stephen E. Ambrose.
Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the opening of the American West. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

A Treasure Gun from the NRA National Firearms Museum. See more at http://NRAmuseum.com. Narrated by Phil Schreier.

Note: Lewis & Clark Expedition (1806-1806). Could only find an 1802 bonnet illustration, but doubt pioneer women had the latest fashion.

2 Comments:

Blogger Cheri Hopkins aka You Go Girl #2 & Sweetwater Sherry said...

I was delighted to see your article here on the subject of the Girandoni air rifle. As an avid genealogist, firearms collector, shooter, history buff,and blogger this was a fun and different topic to see covered on a primarily genealogy/photo blog. Thanks for sharing!

Cheri Hopkins
aka: You Go Genealogy Girl #2
thoseoldmemories.blogspot.com
yougogenealogygirls.blogspot.com

March 6, 2011 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Thanks Cheri:

I was a competitive Trap and Skeet Shooter, so old articles about firearms fascinate me!

-fM

March 6, 2011 at 3:56 PM  

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