M1903 Springfield

The 1903 Springfield was the preferred weapon of the miners; however, it only saw limited usage by them. It was one of the many small arms used by the Logan defenders on a wide scale and to a limited extent, the guards at mines.

The M1903 Springfield, formally the United States Rifle, Caliber .30-06, Model 1903, is an American clip-loaded, 5-shot, bolt-action service rifle used primarily during the first half of the 20th century. It was officially adopted as a United States military bolt-action rifle on June 21, 1905, and saw service in World War I.

The basic time line is that work began on creating a rifle that could handle higher loads and adopted some of Mauser’s features, began around the turn of the 20th century by Springfield, with a prototype produced in 1900, and going into production in 1903, thus gaining its nomenclature. There was actually an interim rifle that almost entered production, the Model 1901. Springfield was sure enough that the Model 1901 would be accepted that they began making some parts, but it was not accepted and further changes were asked for. The design was further modified and accepted, type classified and entering production in 1903.

The War Department had exhaustively studied and dissected several examples of the Spanish Mauser Model 93 rifle captured during the Spanish-American War, and applied some features of the U.S. Krag rifle to a bolt and magazine system derived from the Mauser Model 93, to produce the new U.S. Springfield Rifle, the Model 1903. Despite Springfield Armory’s use of a two-piece firing pin and other slight design alterations, the 1903 was in fact a Mauser design, and after that company brought suit, the U.S. government was forced to pay royalties to Mauser Werke.

By the time of U.S. entry into World War I, 843,239 of these rifles had been produced at Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal. Pre-war production utilized questionable metallurgy. Some receivers were improperly subjected to excessive temperatures during the forging process. The carbon could be “burnt” out of the steel producing a brittle receiver. Despite documented evidence indicating some early rifles were improperly forged, actual cases of failure were very rare.

Towards the end of the war, Springfield turned out the Model 1903 Mark I. The Mark I has a cut on the left hand side of the receiver meant to act as an ejection port for the Pedersen device, a modified sear and cutoff to operate the Pedersen device; a specialized insert that replaced the bolt and allowed the user to fire .30 caliber pistol cartridges semi-automatically from a detachable magazine. The stock was also slightly cut down on the left side to clear the ejection port. In all other respects, the Mark I is identical to the 1903. Temperature control during forging was improved prior to Mark I production. The receiver alloy was toughened by addition of nickel after Mark I production.

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Published in: on March 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm  Comments Off on M1903 Springfield  
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Happy Veterans Day

November 11, 1918 / November 11, 2011……in Memory and Honor of the 10 million men killed, 20 million wounded in the senseless and unncessary waste that was the Great War (1914 – 1918). This is the first Veteran’s Day commemoration since the death of the last combat veteran of the Great War. Memory has now become history. I’d like to thank my great-grandpa, whom fought in the Great War and all the men and the women in today. Thanks and a great big thanks to all the vets. It’s your day.

Published in: on November 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm  Comments Off on Happy Veterans Day  
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Bordie Helmet

The Brodie helmet, called Helmet, steel, Mark I helmet in Britain and the M1917 Helmet in the U.S., was a steel combat helmet designed and patented in 1915 by the Briton John Leopold Brodie. Known in the US as the “tin hat” and “doughboy helmet.”

It was first introduced to the United States Armed Forces when they entered the war late in 1917. The United States government initially purchased some 400,000 helmets from Britain. From January 1918 the U.S. Army began to use helmets manufactured in the U.S. and these helmets were designated M1917. None of the steel helmets were intended to protect against bullets, but aimed at reducing head-wounds from shrapnel.

These sorts of helmets can be found in a number of original photos from the era by the miners and members of Chafin’s militia since many of them were veterans of the First World War.

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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Harry Hill Bandholtz

Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz (1864 – May 11, 1925)was born in Constantine, Michigan and a graduate of the United States Military Academy. In 1902 he served as Provincial Governor in Tayabas Province in the Philippines. He was promoted to Brigadier General and served as Chief of the Philippines Constabulary between 1907-1913 supporting America’s colonial government in the Philippines during the Filipino-American War. He served in NY as Chief of Staff in the NY National Guard and went with it to the border in Mexico during the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villia in 1916. In 1917 he became commander of the 58th Brigade of the 29th Division. He went with his unit to France in June of that year and served with it for three months. On September 27 he was named Provost Marshal General to General John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force in France serving through the end of hostilities and beyond. In 1919, he became the US representative of the Allied Military Mission in Hugary in 1919, making sure that the Romanians and Serbian armies left in a timely manner.

After Sid Hatfield’s murder, the Mine Wars grew into the Battle of Blair Mountain. With a 2,000-man detachment from four U.S. Army regiments and 14 bombers commanded by the military aviation pioneer, Gen. Billy Mitchell, Bandholtz quickly reestablished law and order in the coalfields without firing a shot. Bandholtz’s smoothly executed double envelopment on September 3 and subsequent disarming of the combatants at the Battle of Blair Mountain effectively ended the Mine Wars. Neither side wished to exchange fire with federal soldiers. Bandholtz expressed disgust that West Virginia state and local government in the aftermath.

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 11:07 pm  Comments Off on Harry Hill Bandholtz  
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Don Chafin’s Militia

Most of Don Chafin’s private army was made up of the recently created WV State Police, WV National Guard, hired guns, citizens from Logan, members of the American Legion, strike breakers, and a variety of others. For those that wanted to wear a uniform, khaki was the most common color. Khaki generally meant what we would consider Olive Drab now a days. Like the miners, many of these men were also veterans of the Great War and would have worn their service uniforms. In many pictures, these men are seen wearing the campaign hats, which was a common head gear for the state police and soldiers of the US Army. The other option was to wear a white armband to “counter” the red scarves that the union men would wear. Since these men were armed by the coal companies, they were almost exclusively armed with the M1903 Springfield rifle and to a lesser extent, the M1917 Enfield rifle. In addition, they were also armed with Winchester lever action rifles, Thompson sub-machine guns, Colt and Browning machine guns, and even ex-military light artillery. In the end both sides did minimal damage to each other since both sides were under disciplined and many were not trained in military warfare; over a million rounds were fired in five days resulting in less than 50 dead on both sides.

Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. He led the United States into the First World War in 1917. Wilson’s administration did not plan for the process of demobilization at the war’s end. Though some advisers tried to engage the President’s attention to what they called “reconstruction”, his tepid support for a federal commission evaporated with the election of 1918. Republican gains in the Senate meant that his opposition would have to consent to the appointment of commission members. Instead, Wilson favored the prompt dismantling of wartime boards and regulatory agencies.

The Great War had brought labor new powers and could threaten to go on strike if these demands weren’t met since a majority of the workers had gone off to fight. In promising not to strike, the workers got higher wages and better working conditions. In the post war years this would change.

Fears of German sabotage led to the political supression of another, but more militant, union the IWW. By the fall of 1917, over 200 leaders were charged with sedition and espionage. Then in 1917, the Red Revolution began in Russia; to many industrialists, they viewed this a connection between labor and violent revolution. By 1919, these fears of Red Scare spread through the US, already fueled by fears of German spies. Several pipe bombs were sent to political leaders homes resulting in the Palmer Raids and establishing an ever greater paranoia to the US public. Wilson’s government soon started to abandoned their Progressive connections to the unions, leaving them to find for themselves.

He was still President when the shootings at Matewan broke out between Sid Hatfield and the hired thugs. With ever increasing demands from the unions for Wilson to intervene, he soon began to ignore their requests making his focus on the affairs in Europe. To many in the UMWA this was a stab in the back since they helped him win the election of 1916. However by this point in his presidency, he had lost most of the function in his body due to a stroke.

It was clear in the elections of 1920, Americans were no longer going to accept liberalism aboard or at home with the election of Harding as the 29th President.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm  Comments Off on Woodrow Wilson  
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William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell

William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell (December 28, 1879 – February 19, 1936) was a United States Army general who is regarded as the father of the U.S. Air Force. He is one of the most famous and most controversial figures in the history of American airpower.

Born in Nice, France, to John L. Mitchell, a wealthy Wisconsin senator and his wife Harriet, Mitchell grew up on an estate in what is now the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, Wisconsin. Mitchell served in France during the First World War and, by the conflict’s end, commanded all American air combat units in that country. After the war, he was appointed deputy director of the Air Service and began advocating increased investment in air power, believing that this would prove vital in future wars. He argued particularly for the ability of bombers to sink battleships and organized a series of bombing runs against stationary ships designed to test the idea.

Mitchell was dispatched by president Harding to West Virginia. His mission was to stop the warfare that had broken out between the United Mine Workers, Stone Mountain Coal Company, the Baldwin-Felts Agency, and other groups after the Matewan Massacre. When fighting broke out, he flew to Kanawha City, where citizens from Charleston and other nearby communities went out to see the airplane in a carnival like setting. He later promoted the idea of using airplanes at Blair Mountain as scouting tools and if need be weapons of war. General Bandholtz ordered Mitchell’s planes disarmed and allowed their use only for reconnaissance missions. This episode marks the only time in U.S. history that air power was deployed against domestic civilian forces.

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm  Comments Off on William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell  
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On the Topic of WW1 US Uniforms

If you watched the UMW’s video, “Into the Darkness,” one of the narrator’s mentions that some of the miner’s wore the uniforms that they had worn in France during the Great War. There is enough evidence to prove that this statement is correct through picture’s taken during the ten days that the battle took place and the surrender to Federal forces.

From what I can tell, the most common items would have been the “Bordie” helmet, M1910 ammo belt, and occasionally the M1903 Bandolier. Some men did wear the full uniform into battle, though. My general opinion of guerrilla fighters, however; is to keep full military dress to a minimum

Since the subject of US Army uniforms is rather detailed I’d highly recommend visiting theHeartland Doughboys. They are an American Expeditionary Force reenactment group based in the upper-Midwest.

Schipperfabrik and What Price Glory are amongst the best and most recommend vendors for items.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm  Comments Off on On the Topic of WW1 US Uniforms  
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The First “Rednecks”

When Miners March

The earliest example I can find used within the US dates from the 1890s. The term had also been used in the 1600s to describe Presbyterian Scottish rebels by the British nobles just prior to the English Civil War. It seems that some historians say that with the large amounts of Scot and Scot Irish that moved to the south, the term stuck around. What I learned was that it’s from farmers that got sunburned on their necks from being out in the fields all day. It meant a poor farmer, because he doesn’t have field hands working for him, so he had to do it himself.

Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 4:39 am  Comments Off on The First “Rednecks”  
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