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1849 DATED INSTRUCTION PAMPHLET FOR LOADING THE MODEL 1842 SINGLE SHOT PISTOL AS ISSUED TO THE DRAGOONS AND MOUNTED RIFLEMEN – SCARCE DOCUMENT IN EXCELLENT CONDITION – SIGNED BY THE ADJUTANT-GENERAL OF THE ARMY:  Printed at the end of the Mexican War era, this three page pamphlet or manual is one of the earlier, and as a result scarcer, publications prepared by the US Army for the instruction of the private soldier in the use of his weapons.  The date of this manual, 1849, and the process of loading described in the text, establishes this manual was intended for use with the Model 1842 Single Shot Pistol manufactured by Henry Aston and Ira Johnson.  It is interesting to note that the first paragraph of the manual states that this manual is a “substitute for the present method of loading the pistol”, suggesting that this manual replaced a manual tailored for the Model 1836 Pistol which would have included instructions for priming that earlier pistol’s flintlock.

This particular printing of this manual bears the original signature in ink of Colonel Roger Jones, Adjutant-General of the Army.  According to the Historical Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army, Volume 1, by Heitman (pages 38 and 582), Col. Jones was a native of Virginia and began his military career in 1809 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Promoted to a first lieutenant later that same year, Jones resigned from the Marine Corps in 1812 to transfer to the Corps of Artillery.  His career continued to advance and he was appointed as the Adjutant-General in 1825 and continued to serve in that position until his death in July of 1852.  Col. Jones was brevetted to the rank of major and then lieutenant colonel for gallantry in 1814 during two engagements in Upper Canada during the War of 1812; to the rank of brigadier general in 1832 for faithful service; and to the rank of major general in 1848 for meritorious conduct during the War with Mexico. 

This three page manual describes the process of loading and priming the pistol in six stages, and provides some interesting points in the details.  The manual instructs that the captive ramrod is to be applied to the ball in the barrel using the small end of the rod against the ball, rather than the larger end as most would assume.  The instructions are specifically intended for the use of mounted troops as indicated in the section dedicated to priming the pistol where the soldier is admonished to direct the muzzle of the pistol away from the horse’s head – apparently a caution found to be necessary due to previous tragedies resulting from unintentional discharges.  The manual measures 5 ½” by 3 ¾”, likely sized to fit in the soldier’s pocket. 

That any of this type of small, apparently inconsequential document survived the passage of time is remarkable in it self.  The unlikely survival of this document preserves the history of the early efforts by the army, and in particular the Ordnance Department, to provide adequate education and training for the individual soldier.  This is a significant US Army Ordnance manual in its own right, made more so by bearing the original signature of the Adjutant-General of the Army, and one that would add nicely to a display of the early single shot US martial pistols.  SOLD


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