Letters to Capt. Ball

Hello,

I just found your site in the course of doing some research for an upcoming film role.

In the meantime, I'd like to ask a technical question. The character I'm playing is described as half-Mexican, and the time period is roughly 1860-1880. The writers want to leave room there for some reason as they continue to work on the script. I want to buy my own guns and make my own gunbelt, boots, and some other things. I've pretty much decided on the 1851 Colt Navy revolver, both for period accuracy, the nature of the character, and the fact that it's black powder and the tech guys can just let me load my own blanks. Lots of fire and smoke onscreen!

My question is this: how to configure the gunbelt for black powder guns? I'd like to make Mexican loop-style holsters and a belt with some tooling, but obviously it won't have cartridge loops. I can't seem to find any historical photos of black powder rigs. Would there be loops for the powder flask? Would it be hung on a bag from the belt, maybe? The costume doesn't have a coat or a shirt with pockets.

I sure would appreciate any input from you or your readers, or if you can point me to a bulletin board where I could find some tips, that would be great, too. Thanks in advance,

J.W. Shofner
 


Capt. Nathaniel Ball, CSA Retired
c/o General Delivery
Post Office
Agua Negra, Territory of New Mexico

Dear Cap'n Ball,

I shore hopes this here letter gits to you since I ain't laid eyes on you fur a coons age, not since the time I set yore arm and stuck it in a splint that time you fell offen yore horse about 200 miles out of Shiloh. I hopes you remembers me. That was some ornery horse and he sure got his righteous upcomins with that shootin you gave him. Didn't taste bad either and he sure kept us in vittles for a spell.

It was mighty neighborly of you when you handed me (with yore good arm) yore next-to-last fifth of Tennessee mash, for me doin such a good job with yore arm and all!

I heerd tell from Pecos Billy that you been headed out to the New Mexico Territory. Billy is now cow pokin at the Y-Bar ranch out near Faywood and makin out right well with the senoritas. You know Billy. Took after his paw, he did. You remember his paw, Black Jack Rains? He used to be the head scout for Custer but he shore had a better eye for the ladies he did.

After the war I grubstaked for some gold prospectin with a feller whose handle was the Dutchman. Never told me his real name. Word was, he knew where to find gold. We broke up after he skinned me in a friendly game of Faro - tarnashun - and he went off prostectin fur hisself. Glad I was rid of him. Don't know what happened to him. Lost track of the varmint.

If'n you gets this letter, write me in Carson City. If'n you don't get it, write anyway.

Yore old cavalry sidekick,
Sargint Yancee Jefferson.

PS: Have you been shootin any more dang horses? Ha.


Captain Nathaniel J. Ball
General Delivery
Agua Negra

Dear Sir,
I understand that the US Army specified a spare cylinder to be delivered with every Colt revolver for quick reloading. I have not found any regulation belt pouch or box to carry this spare for uniform wear. Do you have any information about this?

Thanking you in advance,
Thomas Purcell

Dear Mr. Purcell,
I have heard something of the sort but have no personal knowledge of a supplied spare cylinder. During the period between the Mexican War and the War Between the States, I personally was in the state militia, not the yankee army. All we ever received were castoffs. Our enlisted men were issued sabers and carbines from the armory when we had a training, but officers carried their personal side arms. For several years I used my father's pistol which he had converted to fulminate caps from flint. It was about 16 bore as I recall and usually was loaded with number 1 or 2 buckshot. I later won a nice Colt's navy model in a card game and carried that for many years. It did not have a spare cylinder. We captured some yankee equipment one time and I got a nice holster but had to sew a piece of leather in to make it fit. There weren't any pouches in that batch. Maybe one of my other corespondents knows more.

Yr. obedient servant,

Nathaniel J. Ball
Capt. CSA Ret.

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