Saturday, July 25, 2020

Rifles and Carbines on the American Frontier by Zina Abbott

As part of the research, I came across a weapon with which I was not familiar.

This from 1864-69 Defense of the Kansas Frontier by Garfield, 1932

…Newspaper accounts of the battle stated that there were from six hundred to seven hundred Indians well-armed with Spencer carbines and heavy rifles….

1865 Spencer repeating carbine - .50 caliber


… On September eleventh the Governor had telegraphed Sheridan as follows:

         "Will you issue to me five hundred stand of Spencer carbines with           accoutrements and ammunition?...

From Atlas of Cheyenne Wars Atlas by Charles D. Collins, Jr.

…Believing it would be two or three days before he linked up with his main trains again, Custer distributed supplies from the wagons to the troopers. Each soldier carried 100 rounds of ammunition for his Spencer carbine and enough hardtack, coffee, and forage to get by for a couple of days….


…Godfrey frequently had to face his soldiers about and form a skirmish line to drive back the oncoming Indians with carbine fire,…


…The soldiers’ .50 cal. Spencer carbine, a seven-shot repeater, was a good weapon, but its effective range was, at the most, only 300 yards….


…Equipment [distributed by the quartermaster] included a leather saber belt with a pistol holder, percussion cap pouch, pistol cartridge box, carbine cartridge box, and a leather carbine sling. Weapons included a carbine, pistol, and saber. The issue carbine was a .50-caliber Model 1865 Spencer seven-shot-repeating carbine….

And from "Hostile Actions with Indians" (

The herder, named as Charles Teck, went down fighting; being well armed with a Winchester carbine or rifle which unfortunately for him jammed on the sixth shot…

From Wikipedia, the specifications for a Spencer Repeating Rifle are as follows:
         47 inch (1,200mm) rifle with a 30 inch barrel
         39.25 inch (997mm) carbine with a 22 inch barrel

From Wikipedia: a Sharps rifle weighed 9.5 pounds and was 47 inches in length.

A Sharps carbine, like all carbines, weighed less and the barrel was shorter.

Large quantities of breech-loading carbines were procured by the military because they gave cavalrymen the firepower they needed while in the saddle. The simple-to-use cartridges of these carbines meant that soldiers could carry two dozen rounds or more on their belts, plenty of rounds for a quick fire fight while the cavalry feels out the strength of the enemy before him.

The greatest quantity of carbines produced for the American Civil War were the Sharps, followed by the Spencer, and third, Burnside carbines.
1863 Sharps breech-loading carbine - .50-70 caliber

The military Sharps rifle was used during and after the American Civil War in multiple variations. Along with being able to use a standard percussion cap, the Sharps had a fairly unusual pellet primer feed. This was a device which held a stack of pelleted primers and flipped one over the nipple each time the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell—making it much easier to fire a Sharps from horseback than a gun employing individually loaded percussion caps.

Berdan Sharps Rifle

The Sharps Rifle was produced by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. It was used in the Civil War by multiple Union units. The Sharps made a superior sniper weapon of greater accuracy than the more commonly issued muzzle-loading rifled muskets, primarily due to the higher rate of fire and superior quality of manufacture. It could easily be reloaded from a kneeling or prone position. However, Sharps never sold as many standard rifles to the military as they did their carbines.
Unlike the Sharps rifle, the carbine version was very popular with the cavalry of both the Union and Confederate armies and was issued in much larger numbers—almost 90,000 were produced—than other carbines of the war. More were produced than either Spencer or Burnside carbines. By 1863, it was the most common weapon carried by Union cavalry regiments, although in 1864 many were replaced by 7-shot Spencer carbines. The falling block action lent itself to conversion to the new metallic cartridges developed in the late 1860s, and many of these converted carbines were used during the Indian Wars in the decades immediately following the Civil War.

The Model 1873 Winchester was produced in three variations: a 24-inch barrel rifle, a 20-inch barrel carbine, and a "musket"—which was aimed at military contracts and only made up less than 5% of production. The standard rifle-length version was most popular in the 19th century, although Winchester would make rifles to order in any configuration the customer wished, including longer barrels or baby carbines with barrels as short as 12 inches and other features.

The short version about carbines is this: many people think soldiers (and some civilians) carried a standard rifle in a holder attached to their horses’ saddles. Most of them were technically carbines, or saddle guns, as opposed to the heavier rifles with longer barrels.

Since my current work in progress, Mail Order Penelope, involves a military escort patrol traveling with the stagecoaches from the railroad's "End of Track" at Wilson's Station, I mention carbines. This book is on preorder now and will be released August 14, 2020.

My other two recent books, Mail Order Roslyn and Mail Order Lorena, are currently available. Please click on the book titles above to find the book descriptions.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


“A man only learns by two things, one is reading, and the other is association with smarter people.” – 
Will Rogers

I am thrilled and very honored to learn that my book RED RIVER RIFLES has been selected as a finalist for a 2020 Will Rogers Medallion Award in the Western Romance category. The Will Rogers Medallion Award honors, “those books that represent an Outstanding Achievement in the Publishing of Western Media. Your book exemplified the combination of excellent content, high production values, and honoring of the Cowboy Heritage that the Award was created to acknowledge.”

If you are too young to be familiar with Will Rogers (November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935),  he was a respected writer as well as a cowboy entertainer and philosopher who did much to embody and demonstrate western traditions.  The award was created to help expand the “Heritage of Literature which honors the traditions and values of the American Cowboy.”

He was also an American stage and film actor, vaudeville performer, cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator from Oklahoma. He made frequent use of puns and terms which closely linked him to the cowboy tradition. From about 1925 to 1928, Rogers traveled the length and breadth of the United States in a lecture tour. He began his lectures by pointing out that, "A humorist entertains, and a lecturer annoys."

In the mid-1930s Rogers was hugely popular, the leading political wit in the United States, and the highest paid of Hollywood film stars. He died in 1935 with aviator Wiley Post when their small airplane crashed in northern Alaska during bad weather.

His Hollywood Star

Will Rogers's tomb from the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma

Perhaps Rogers most famous saying was, "I never met a man I didn't like.” He has many famous quotes that can be found at. and Three of the ones I liked the best are:

·         “Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.”

·         “What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.”

·         “We are here just for a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose it, you are ahead.”

Like the characters in my novels set on the American frontier, Rogers believed in hard work in order to succeed and realize individual success. He symbolized the self-made man and woman. He believed in America and the American Dream.

So does Samuel Wyllie, the hero of RED RIVER RIFLES. In 1818, the bravest of the brave settled a narrow strip of land along the Red River in Texas. A place where death and life held equal strongholds. For Samuel, his family’s land south at Pecan Point was a nearly sacred place, as beautiful as heaven must be. He has big plans for the future and will do what it takes to carve a new life out of the wilderness.

A gritty western, a love story, RED RIVER RIFLES, Book One in the Wilderness Dawning Series, is a clean, yet romantic historical set against the stunning backdrop of the Province of Texas. It has a 4.6 star rating out of 5 with 75 Amazon reviews and is available in ebook and print at

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

WHAT MAKES A HERO? By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

Ah, the character traits of a romance hero.  I remember the old Mills and Boon days, Harlequin’s parent company for those of you who remember back that far, when we referred to the hero as an SSB. A sneering, sardonic bastard.  He didn’t get a point of view in the story and the heroine was forever trying to interpret his hot/cold actions toward her.  Not until the very end did the heroine find herself swept against his manly chest and reassured that he had always loved her.  True love conquered all.

I’m happy today’s romance novels have come a long way.  What are some of the attributes that readers enjoy in a hero?  Given that single dad romances are enjoying a strong following right now, I would have to say compassion is right up there.  Today’s hero needs to be nurturing, but not wimpy. 

Personally, I prefer alpha males over beta males.  Men who are strong and capable and able to take charge, whether they are saving the world, saving the family ranch, or saving a kitten from a tree. 

As Jayne Anne Krentz states in the introduction to “Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women”, Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, “…women value the warrior qualities in men as much as their protective, nurturing qualities.”   Krentz goes on to add that he is taught to control the two halves of himself, “so that he can function as a reliable mate and as a father.”     

That sounds about right to me.  And those traits were never far from mind as I created the heroes in WIDOWS, BABIES AND BRIDES, FOUR COMPLETE HISTORICAL WESTERN ROMANCES together in one convenient boxed set.
I believe a true hero is one who is willing to sacrifice himself for the betterment of others, whether it is the heroine, her family, or an entire community. 

Rafe, in CALLIE’S HONOR has loved and lost and has only revenge on his mind.  Until he meets Callie and his protective instincts kick in.

Jesse, In ANORA’S PRIDE is a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy.  But he can’t leave Anora.

Jud, in MADDY’S FUGITIVE, is a fugitive on the run, intent on clearing his name.  He has no time for Maddy, yet puts his own needs aside to offer her protection and respectability.

Dex, in GRACE’S FOLLY, is a Pinkerton detective whose mission is in complete conflict with what Grace needs from him. Yet somewhere along the way, Grace’s needs take precedence over his own.

I love each of these heroes and hope you do as well.  The box set is on sale until tomorrow only for 99 cents.  That’s a $9 saving, so go ahead and treat yourself to a dose of strong western heroes and the women who tame them.