French M1842 Dragoon Rifled Musket

A man stopped into my tavern recently and upon learning that I had served in the French Army asked if I might have any interest in a French rifle. I shrugged my shoulders and said I might. He stepped out to his wagon and asked me if I would give him $9 for it. Well after a little bit of haggling and a half bottle of cognac we settled on $7 and I paid him from the till.

The French M1842 was the first rifle I ever held in my hands. I had been chosen to learn how to use a rifle instead of the typical musket because of good eyesight and an apparent natural aptitude. This one is the Dragon modele 1842 T, Dragoon model intended for mounted Infantry, I learned on the Voltigeur model which was some longer. At the time I liked the weapon immensely finding it handy, accurate as well as easily cleaned and maintained. I used the weapon to some effect in both North Africa and the Crimea. At the time I felt it compared favorably to the P51 & P53 Enfields I had an opportunity to compare it to. But now I know that to have been a biased reaction. The reality of the M1842 is that while I believe it to have been a revolutionary arm that changed the face of warfare forever it was a far cry from the best. The angle of the hammer made the rear sight rather difficult to use in an effective manner as it obscured the sight picture. The weapon was also not an interchangeable arm which put it second fiddle when compared to modern US made arms

Several regiments carried these in the Civil War along with a variety of newer models of French rifles and rifle muskets. Generally they were not all that highly thought of in comparison to American made arms such as the M1841 and M1861 series arms. When the opportunity to trade them for a new Springfield arose I know of no instance where anyone thought twice.

The Dragoon model M1842 is similar in length but a touch lighter than my beloved M1841. I will admit it took me a little while to re learn how to hit anything with her but I satisfied myself that I could still shoot straight if need be. But if it comes time to pick up a rifle again it will not be an M1842 such as this one but my tried and true M1841, Springfield or Sharps rifle. This nice old M1842 is past her prime surpassed by designs that improved upon the road she set the world upon. I hold a fondness in my heart for her as she reminds me of times long past, a time in my life of blistering sands and numbing cold.

Spoon Augers

The spoon auger is another ancient tool that lives on today. Simple and easy to use it takes only a steady and and some effort to use one to make a hole. They are becoming scarce as more modern auger bits and braces replace them. But so long as men wish to save coin and try to squeeze a little more out of an old tool they will remain in use. I really don’t know where I acquired these but like most tools I like them.

There is a movement in manufacturing to replace wood tools with those made of cast iron. I do not much care for that as I prefer the feel of wood under my hand. On a cold day that cast iron handle will be quite cold, painfully so. Also if dropped onto a hard surface that cold cast iron is as like as not to break. With the American method of mass production prices of all sorts of tools has reached a level where the average man can afford all sorts of tools. With every year new tools or improvements upon old emerge in the marketplace. The world is changing and changing quickly. I hope this is a change for the better.

Books, a life within.

While in the Legion my copain Remi would sometimes read out loud to us in the barracks. He was the first to introduce me to the joy and friendship of the written word. Alexandre Dumas was certainly his favorite and it is also mine. ‘Life is a storm, my young friend. you will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks then next. what makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you.’

A book is a friend that will never cast you away or leave you when life becomes difficult. A book can be set aside and will remain there until you return and pick it back up. The written word is a way to broaden the mind and experience life in ways beyond what you can see. The book expands the imagination and aids in the creation of wisdom and intelligence.

I did not learn to read until I was near to forty; but I have made every effort to catch up. I am lucky in that there are books near to me and there are those who know I appreciate the written word. Since I opened my tavern I have read many excellent works that have opened my eyes and my mind. Blackstone, Plutarch, Erasmus, Kant, Shakespeare, Voltaire and so many others. There are works out there that can make a man think, that is what a book should do.