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Mar 25th, 2012
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Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian #7006949
12/22/17 02:42 PM
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Read about the Battle of Adobe Walls and you will read about Sharpshooter Billy Dixon, who using a borrowed .50-90 sharps rifle, knocked an Comanche off his horse at a distance of 1 mile on his 3rd shot.

Even Dixon admitted it was a luck shot.



Discussion for the Day.....


Do you believe that these ranges talked about of "up to and including one mile" were accurate? Not doubting the indian was shot and killed as there were several witnesses on both sides, but do you believe the ranges were really as they were? If you have not ever been to the flat country, ranges that appear to be long are often not really are not as long as they appear. I ranged a deer the other day that I would have bet money was 500 yards....pulled the rangefinder out, it was 384. in a land before rangefinders and yardage sticks, is it more probable that when talked about hitting targets a mile away, this was an approximation of it "being a great distance" and not actually 1760 yards?


my doubt to these yardage claims are they were shooting slow, black poweder rounds that had trajectories that were slightly better than a thrown rock, at unconfirmed distances prior to the shot. Practice was not feasible for most due to the scarcity and cost of ammo. even a misjudgement of 50 yards would mean a miss.

my guesstimation that often times these claimed distances were 1/3-1/2 the actual distance




Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
I think the deer hunting shows and "Bro' Country" are going to be the downfall of this once-great nation.
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7006969
12/22/17 02:50 PM
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Great post. I have read accounts of this amazing feat and often wondered about the accuracy of distance. I think it would be difficult to prove or disprove at this point in time so I have decided that it must have been a really long shot and greatly impressed all who witnessed it.
Adios,
Gary

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7006998
12/22/17 03:01 PM
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What an amazing fight that took place there. Bat Mastererson was 1 of the Buffalo hunters, & (as I read it) Quanah Parker was wounded (shot thru a buffalo carcass while hiding behind it).

I read that after the fight, people paced off the difference at about 1,500 yds. There's a museum in Borger that covers Adobe Walls I've been meaning to go see.

Now read about the Buffalo Wallow fight. Billy Dixon & Amos Chapman were bad azzez. 2 of only a handful of civilians who were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7007108
12/22/17 03:46 PM
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I think it is possible that he was able to judge the distance well enough to make the shot. With a ton of practice, modern snipers can get very, very good at estimating distances. No reason to think he couldn't have developed the same skill. That being said, I have personally witnessed a couple of amazingly long shots that were very impressive. One of them was nearly as long as the shooter later claimed wink

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7007180
12/22/17 04:18 PM
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The last LF ranch in S. Texas
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Back then did they even measure miles?
Most of the time they referred to distance as "it's a days ride from here!"

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7007377
12/22/17 06:23 PM
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I read that an Army survey team measured the distance at a later date to verify the claim and found it accurate. Wether this is true or not that was one smokin shot! texas cowboy

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7007678
12/22/17 10:03 PM
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Great story and awsome shot


I know allot about everything-Everything about nothing!!!!
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7007936
12/23/17 12:48 AM
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A couple of things to keep in mind, most of this gathered from reading different accounts over the years since I first ran across the Book Adobe Walls in the TAMU Bookstore some 35 years ago:

1. Billy Dixon was a professional hunter. You read his book and you find out he loved to shoot and hunt, and when most of the other teamsters and buffalo hunters were holed up for the winter in the saloons drinking and doing whatever one did back then to pass the time, Billy was hiring himself out as professional hunter to supply meat to the towns, camps and forts.

2. He describes himself as always shooting, shooting for meat, shooting for pay, shooting for fun. I'll bet that there was more than one wager made between buffalo hunters out on the trail about hitting that "rock, way over yonder..." The bottom line is he probably shot his rifles nearly everyday, at known and unknown distances and probably had a good idea of what he could do.

3. Who says that the shot he made was his first shot? He may have made several shots in that direction as a part of the fight and had a good idea of the elevation needed to get there.

4. As to the scarcity or cost of the rounds, I read that the US Army was in the habit of giving away cases of 45-70 rounds to parties they found out on the Prairies. The Buffalo hunters would then pull the bullets, salvage the powder and melt and recast the lead to reload their Buffalo Rifle cartridges. Additionally Hanrahan(?) had brought stock for his trading post that included rifles and cases of various cartridges for the Buffalo Hunters.

5. I also read that Quannah Parker in an interview later in life said the shot was short, but ricocheted up and hit Coyote ****, knocking him off his horse. Coyote **** was seen as being protected from bullets, so once he was hit and wounded, the rest of the braves figured his "medicine" wasn't that powerful. This lead to many of the braves loosing interest in continuing the fight.

Could a 50-90 travel a mile? I believe it could. I think the Army tested 45-70's out to 3000 yards or something like that.

Could the 50-90 be accurate? I think so, the bullet probably weighed upward of 500 to 600 grains and was probably moving just over 1,000 feet per second. (I think I read that it would have taken 8 seconds for the bullet to travel that distance.) Imagine seeing a puff of smoke from the roof of the trading post. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five, one thousand six, one thousand seven, one thousand eight. THUD, sucks to be Coyote ****...

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: adobewalls] #7007985
12/23/17 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted By: adobewalls
A couple of things to keep in mind, most of this gathered from reading different accounts over the years since I first ran across the Book Adobe Walls in the TAMU Bookstore some 35 years ago:

1. Billy Dixon was a professional hunter. You read his book and you find out he loved to shoot and hunt, and when most of the other teamsters and buffalo hunters were holed up for the winter in the saloons drinking and doing whatever one did back then to pass the time, Billy was hiring himself out as professional hunter to supply meat to the towns, camps and forts.

2. He describes himself as always shooting, shooting for meat, shooting for pay, shooting for fun. I'll bet that there was more than one wager made between buffalo hunters out on the trail about hitting that "rock, way over yonder..." The bottom line is he probably shot his rifles nearly everyday, at known and unknown distances and probably had a good idea of what he could do.

3. Who says that the shot he made was his first shot? He may have made several shots in that direction as a part of the fight and had a good idea of the elevation needed to get there.

4. As to the scarcity or cost of the rounds, I read that the US Army was in the habit of giving away cases of 45-70 rounds to parties they found out on the Prairies. The Buffalo hunters would then pull the bullets, salvage the powder and melt and recast the lead to reload their Buffalo Rifle cartridges. Additionally Hanrahan(?) had brought stock for his trading post that included rifles and cases of various cartridges for the Buffalo Hunters.

5. I also read that Quannah Parker in an interview later in life said the shot was short, but ricocheted up and hit Coyote ****, knocking him off his horse. Coyote **** was seen as being protected from bullets, so once he was hit and wounded, the rest of the braves figured his "medicine" wasn't that powerful. This lead to many of the braves loosing interest in continuing the fight.

Could a 50-90 travel a mile? I believe it could. I think the Army tested 45-70's out to 3000 yards or something like that.

Could the 50-90 be accurate? I think so, the bullet probably weighed upward of 500 to 600 grains and was probably moving just over 1,000 feet per second. (I think I read that it would have taken 8 seconds for the bullet to travel that distance.) Imagine seeing a puff of smoke from the roof of the trading post. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five, one thousand six, one thousand seven, one thousand eight. THUD, sucks to be Coyote ****...



interesting way to look at it...

no doubt, the guy knew how to handle a Sharps rifle. it has inspired me to look into getting one


I think the story goes as he hit him on the 3rd shot.


and the ricochet story is a twist I have not heard before, but it makes sense


Originally Posted By: Nogalus Prairie
I think the deer hunting shows and "Bro' Country" are going to be the downfall of this once-great nation.
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008024
12/23/17 01:59 AM
12/23/17 01:59 AM
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Good post, adobewalls.

I've shot high BC bullets, with high MV for several years. 3 months ago I connected a shot at a sure enough mile, on steel, with someone else's rifle/scope/ammo, I had never shot. But I had some of the best optics, rifle, powder, and bullets available. Even then, when one translates hold-over of feet, at the target, it was 38 feet above.

For a guy to have less BC, less, MV, and iron sights, his shot is far more impressive than mine.



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Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008073
12/23/17 02:22 AM
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With a name like that, he may have been relieved to be killed.


Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008108
12/23/17 02:40 AM
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I have read the account in several different novels. I must say it has always captured my interest. Some day I will visit the site and hope I can feel some energy from the event. I have been to Wounded Knee, the Black Kettle massacre site and another site in western Kansas where an army contingent with buffalo hunters held off a large group of Sioux. I sure love that era.

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008123
12/23/17 02:46 AM
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I say more like 700-1000yd. Very interesting conversation! TT85, I like this thing you've been doing, great convo and history and info!

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008312
12/23/17 05:20 AM
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I too would like to visit the site. I bet it would be readily apparent to someone standing there the likely locations for the shot.

I apologize, I distinctly remember reading an interview held with Quanah Parker around the turn of the century where he stated the shot hit short in front of them, but ricocheted. But, I have been googling for an hour and cannot find a link confirming that - so, I'll just have to add that might be hearsay.

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008421
12/23/17 01:15 PM
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The site itself is easy to find. It actually pops up on Google maps.

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008431
12/23/17 01:30 PM
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Great thread.
I remember reading about the http://home.earthlink.net/~sharpsshtr/CritterPhotos/SandyHook/SandyHook.html years ago that adobewalls mentions. It's a good technical read that's not too long.

Another point that adobewalls makes in regards to ammo is also mentioned in "The Buffalo Harvest" by Frank Mayer. This move was intended to keep the hunting pressure on the buffalo to remove the Native American's foodsource.

adobewalls - were or are you a BPCR shooter by chance?


Press for an AMERICAN.
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: Jimbo] #7008625
12/23/17 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted By: Jimbo
Back then did they even measure miles?
Most of the time they referred to distance as "it's a days ride from here!"


Just like us they used a range finder......LOL

Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008636
12/23/17 03:38 PM
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Great history. This one was actually the second battle at Adobe Walls. An earlier one took place a decade earlier.
As said above, a post-battle Army survey crew did verify the distance of the shot at 1580 yards - so that’s as close to documented fact as one can have from that period.
Also as said, the key was killing Coyote ****** the Medicine Man. Comanches were only loosely organized into roaming bands. The way large war parties were formed was almost always because a medicine man declared his “strong medicine” that would lead to victory. The war chiefs were the leaders for battle, but the medicine men were the engines that drove the bands to organize and fight. CPs “medicine” of no bullet touching him was broken - so the will to fight was broken.

I should add that the Comanches (and other tribes) had been much more “organized” from a “nation” perspective in earlier times, but by 1871 much of the nations had been decimated and separated into “bands” - which led to more alliances with “bands” from other tribes in order to gain the numbers necessary to wage large scale battles with the whites.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008688
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I’ve also read a lot about that fight and have wondered about the will to fight was broken. I figure they realized that they just might be the next target


Without a sense of urgency, nothing ever happens.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley, Rancher Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: decook] #7008696
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Originally Posted By: decook
Great thread. ...
adobewalls - were or are you a BPCR shooter by chance?


I'm just a hobbiest now... Life has not let me get into it as much as I would like, so I have been collecting the tools to make this one of my post retirement hobbies. I play with and shoot a Pedersoli Sharps in 45-70 and an 1885 Winchester (Miroku) in 45-90; both are capable of amazing things when I can hold hard. But I have not yet jumped into shooting matches, just no time.

I am a voracious reader though, especially of Western US history.

Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson
I’ve also read a lot about that fight and have wondered about the will to fight was broken. I figure they realized that they just might be the next target


Read DuPicq's Battle Studies for his take on Morale:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=duPicq+Battle+Studies&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3AduPicq+Battle+Studies

Last edited by adobewalls; 12/23/17 04:18 PM.
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: Dave Davidson] #7008703
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Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson
I’ve also read a lot about that fight and have wondered about the will to fight was broken. I figure they realized that they just might be the next target


That’s the common assumption, but if you think about it, it doesn’t really add up. Warriors perfectly willing to ride through a hail of fire right up to the structures as their comrades fell left and right were not going to just cower away from a long-distance threat they could easily avoid just by staying down/behind a hill.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008716
12/23/17 04:19 PM
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Plenty of stories I've read of Civil War, Viet Nam, through Iraq, and Afghanistan suggest a sense of fear the enemy exibits when comrades are falling from shots so far away the rifle report is never heard. Their behavior has been that since they can't isolate the source, they suspect they may be surrounded, so they surrender. Weather or not Comanches were of the same mind-set we will never know. They were extremely hard men, and master horsemen.

An entire 100' (if memory serves) Union boat hoisted a white flag surrendering the ship to what the Captain thought was almost 100 Confederates well hidden. In reality, it was Jack Hinson firing from a cave above them. The ship sat still preparing to surrender for 30 minutes. Jack being alone remained in his hide, until the ship lowered the white flag, and proceeded up river.

"One Man's War" Excellent civil war book.



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Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008736
12/23/17 04:31 PM
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Well, I do not presume to know the mindset or motivations in every battle for sure.

We do know the mindsets/motivations on this one though from the accounts of those present - including Quanah Parker himself and many of the battle’s participants.


Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.


Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008744
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I just want to add one more thing, I am not sure how large a target of a man on a horse at a mile would appear when looking across the iron sights; but I have this personal experience at 300 yards with a 45-70. I shot at a target with a 10" bull. At 300 yards that bull appeared to me to be no larger than the period at the end of this sentence.

BUT, as long as I could keep that "period" sitting on top of my front sight, and held hard, my shot would go into the bullseye. If I waivered or jerked a little, my shot might hit the paper.

I suppose that the riders made the mistake of silhouetting themselves against the sky. Such a contrast would allow the buffalo hunter to enough contrast to line his sights up. Still a lucky shot, but luck favors the bold...

Last edited by adobewalls; 12/23/17 04:36 PM.
Re: Friday Discussion Topic-Billy Dixon and the unlucky indian [Re: txtrophy85] #7008750
12/23/17 04:39 PM
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Horse and rider at a mile would look tiny. In September we went out to steel, at a mile, and looked back from where we were shooting. A four door long bed F-250 with a topper looked smaller than an ant.



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