Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the Spanish-American war, Moro warriers and Colt .45

100 years ago radical Muslim extremists helped correct a U.S. killing policy

the Spanish-American War brought out plenty of man's brutality (maybe even helped bring about the Geneva Conventions?), but you can find that elsewhere. this is, instead, a war story about making death quicker and less brutal; it's well known among gun enthusiasts but much less so for the rest of us. being the eclectric trivia sponge I am, I enjoyed it and so pass it on here...

it seems that after the war was won and the U.S. gained several territories from Spain (Phillipines, Guam, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc.) there was still a matter of imposing our new superpower will upon the local population. most acquiesed, but not the wild fanatic extremist Muslims -- the "Moros" who would submit to no outside authority.

the Moro juramentado were among the fiercest guerrilla's ever faced. on their own personal jihad, these dudes took the fast track to paradise. imagine being encamped in a dark jungle clearing and being surprised by a suicidal savage armed with razor sharp machete like knives (the "kris" and "barong")
running and screaming at you, the target, to be hacked and slashed to death. actually "suicidal" is semantically incorrect because muslims are not allowed to go on a "suicide mission"... even though they prepare and expect to die (they even bound their limbs tourniquet style to slow blood loss to keep fighting despite multiple gunshot wounds). the attack is for the purpose of taking enemy lives -- just like the car bombers of today. a shining example of how religions distort our perception of reality if ever I saw one.

the old Colt 45 "Peacemaker" SAA (single action army) revolver, famous as the gun that won the West (or was that the Springfield Trapdoor?), favored by cowboys, had been issued by the U.S. Army as the "Calvary" model. problem was by 1893 they were considered old technology besides being worn out.

Colt brought out the "New Army" .38 model that had some technological improvements (double action) and was issued as the official sidearm for US officers for 17 years or so. big mistake if you were stuck in the Philipines with one of these though. that gun is infamous for not being able to stop the Moro warriors. sure they'd eventually die, but they could keep fighting and killing much too long with just .38 slugs in them. what worked was buckshot or big dum-dums.

quickly the US govt realized and dealt with the mistake. they refurbished and reissued the Colt 45, this time calling it the "Artillery" model.

that is the pistol you wanted to have handy if you were in the middle of the Moro rebellion in the 1890's.

so the .45 caliber became the new standard sidearm bullet for it's superior stopping power against the worst of 'em. later, the venerable 1911 semi-automatic govt model became the standard US military pistol for most of the 20th century all the way till 1985 when the beretta M9 (9mm) took over... but that's another story!

lessons learned: I was never taught any of this in high school american history. guess there was too many events to gloss over... I "remember the 'Maine'" but didn't get any of these gory details in school. but maybe someone will use this post as an inspiration for a theme paper or something! as for me, when I'm handed some weird 100 year old guns and get to hear their history while examining 'em (as I was)... that's what makes for an interesting history lesson.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

antiques roadshow moment...

Sidney Richard Percy (1821-1886), Victorian landscape artist extraordinaire

I'm no art expert, but I know what I like when I see it, and I saw quality.

as they say at

"Percy was a master of his craft...The artist seduces us with perfection - in the composition, in his technique, in the overall effect of achieving sublimity. He captures the full interplay between time, place, the elements - and his own emotions. S R Percy has emerged as one of the most accomplished landscape painters from a gifted generation."

how much perfection? well Mark Murray galleries has one of his works on sale for $28,0000. many of his works can be found in English museums.

so believe it or not, last week I got my own personal framed Percy original oil "Meadowland Home" at a thrift shop (location to remain undisclosed) for $10 (check out the pic)! but it's not for sale. I just like having it and enjoying it. studying it at my leisure is an art lesson in itself. and fine art makes for good long term investments...

so should I be planning a trip to be on "antiques roadshow" next time they're in town? mmm, maybe, but probably not. you see, I did some close comparison of the signatures and pretty much decided that my Percy is not THE Percy so admired. a nice painting in any case. and you never know (compare my pic with the links and you'll see what I mean)... anyway, the real lesson is that thrift shops in the right locations can be very good places to find your treasures.