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Old 08-14-2016, 09:07 PM
PirataBill PirataBill is offline
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Default Large Quantity of Smith and Wesson Bullets found on Shipwreck

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum so I hope I am posting this in the right place. I and am seeking information on a shipwreck we discovered that had a large quantity of Smith and Wesson Bullets aboard when it was lost. The wreck was found In the Dominican Republic. I am attaching several pictures to this email in the hopes that you can tell me more about the bullets which could lead to figuring out what ship this might have been. We worked under a permit from the Government so we were totally legal and everything found was turned in to the Historical branch of the government.

The wreck was obviously a wooden wreck held together with bronze spikes. We found several thousand bullets in the remains of their boxes, one bronze sword handle, several grinding stones, and some bottles. We recovered these objects to attempt identification, then left the wreck undisturbed.

Any info you anyone might be able to provide me with or contact information on others who might help would be greatly appreciated. I have many other pictures if needed as well.

Thanks
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:13 PM
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I'll take a stab at it and say late 1800's. Maybe the Spanish/American War. Also could be 44-40 for a 1858 Colt conversion likely putting them in the 1880's if they are smokeless. Black powder loads could be earlier. Both loads could be later. A very interesting find.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:16 PM
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Welcome to the forum, and thanks for an interesting question!

To the experts = are these perhaps 38 cartridges? Or .44 S&W?

It looks like picture 4 is of some bullets for something like 45-70
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:17 PM
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I can't tell you much about these, but it does look like they were produced by the Union Metallic Cartridge Company.

They may be caliber .44 Smith & Wesson American for the New Model Army or no 3 revolver.

Or maybe some other caliber with Smith & Wesson in it like .38 Smith & Wesson, but I am not sure.

Hopefully some experts will be by soon.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:21 PM
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The Union Metallic Cartridge company later became Remington UMC. Maybe they (Remington) have some records?
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:23 PM
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S&W .44 Russian Model New Army Revolver?

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Old 08-14-2016, 09:39 PM
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Welcome to the forum.

Remington must be reusing them as Thunderbolts.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:43 PM
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Could you tell us what is printed on the side of the box in photo 2? I see "Smith & Wesson" and "...New Army", the latter reference likely to the Colt D.A. .38 service revolver of 1889-1903. If so, the S & W referenced is either the 1899 Army or 1902 Navy model DA revolver that used the .38 Long Colt.

A measurement of the bullet diameter and cartridge length would help also.
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Old 08-15-2016, 10:59 PM
charlie sherrill charlie sherrill is offline
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If you have a pic of some of the bottles they would be fairly easy to date.
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Old 08-16-2016, 08:01 AM
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Picture of an individual round of the ammo ( both ends and side),measurements of same. Any more photos of other cargo would help with dating. That might lead to registered bill of lading and ships registry.

Jose Marti and the Cuba Libre movement recieved weapons smuggled from the US during the later 1890's, while Hurst and his supporters were stirring up the war against Spain.
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Old 08-22-2016, 12:55 AM
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I wouldn't try to shoot those, especially in a primary self defense gun. I bet you'd get a high percentage of misfires.

Seriously, these are cartridges, not just bullets. A bullet is only part of a cartridge. The loose actual bullets are probably for other guns. Why would they ship loose bullets for guns using metallic CARTRIDGES? mAYBE THEY DIDN'T. if tHOSE WERE PAPER CARTRIDGES, FROM ThE us cIVIL waR ERA, THE PAPER AND pOWDER MAY HAVE ROTTED AWAY, lEAVING THE lEAD BULLETS, CALLED mINIE BALLS, IF FOR THE RIFLEd MUSKETS OF THAT ERA. bUT THOSE WOULD BE OLD, IF THE LOADED ROUNDS IN tHE BOXES WERE tHERE, REPReSENTING A LATER TImE.

I HATE the danged Capslock! I look down to type, and it gets me a lot.

Winston Churchill was a young cavalry officer, sent in 1895 to observe Spanish troops in Cuba. He reported both Mauser 93 and Remington Rolling Block rifles in use. The latter were in .43 Spanish caliber, probably 11.43mm. But they used metallic cartridges, introduced on a wide scale in the US Civil War for Henry, Spencer, and a few other arms. The .22 and .32 ctgs. for S&W of that time were small stuff. These look to be later. Are they rimfire or centerfire? What is the bullet diameter?

Clean the base of a ctg. and see what the headstamp says. You may need a magnifying glass, given the condition of the old ammunition that has been underwater for so long. Do you know how to clean brass or copper that has been under salt water? I think you may have black powder ctgs. Are you clear on how to handle those safely?

Smokeless ammunition appeared in France about 1886 and took a couple of decades to be available in most cartridges/ calibers. US troops fought the 1898 war largely with black powder, in obsolete .45-70 rifles. The .30-40 Krag was in short supply.

I think your question needs to be moved to the Ammo forum here.

Last edited by Texas Star; 08-22-2016 at 01:30 AM.
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Old 08-22-2016, 09:54 AM
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I don't see the large hollow base that Minie balls usually have, but the picture isn't very clear. Also, Sharps civil war period rifles and carbines used a bullet with either a paper or linen cartridge attached, and being a breech loader, would not have needed a hollow base. The best source for information on ammunition is here: Web Forum - International Ammunition Association.
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Old 08-22-2016, 10:58 AM
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Maybe it's just me and it bugs me too much, but there is a difference between "bullets" and "ammunition."
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Old 08-22-2016, 05:24 PM
Leslie Sapp Leslie Sapp is offline
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The head stamp may or may not identify what they are.
Clean one by dropping it into a 50/50 solution of hot water and vinegar, and see if there are any markings. If you will take an accurate caliper and post the dimensions of the cases, bullets and loaded cartridges, we should be able to identify them fairly quickly.
I've attached a drawing of a .38 special to give you an idea of what we need.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:41 PM
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Told you that you would get lots of feedback on this forum!!
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:27 PM
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It's for a New Army revolver. I'm guessing .38 Colt.

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Old 09-08-2016, 07:34 PM
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I hope some are S&W 38-44 so I can shoot my New Model #3.
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Old 09-11-2016, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targets Guy View Post
Welcome to the forum.

Remington must be reusing them as Thunderbolts.

***** !!!! Nice one !!
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Old 09-11-2016, 06:37 PM
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Dang, I wish my phone had a bigger screen so I could better see the pictures.

But as general trivia, I will observe that .44 Russian chambered topbreaks, and particularly Spanish copies thereof, were popular in late 1800's Cuba and Latin America generally. Arms shipments to pre-revolutionary Cuba for civillians / rebels would likely include some. Or quasi-normal arms trade in that part of the world for that matter.
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Old 09-14-2016, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LonChaney View Post
It's for a New Army revolver. I'm guessing .38 Colt.

There is a thread on a cartridge collectors website with a different photograph that shows the word preceding "New Army" ends in "ian." It has to be .44 Russian, in my opinion, but there's a caution nag going off in the back of my brain about a S&W model called the New Army from this time. I am a long way from being well informed about S&W top breaks. Can one of the specialists tell me if this is a phrase one would find in a catalog? I know "New Navy" in a Japanese context, but "New Army" makes me wonder.

On that other website the writer says he believes the full label; reads, "These cartridges are made expressly for use in Smith & Wesson's .44 calibre Russian Model New Army Revolver according to their specific directions. We unhesitatingly and strongly recommend them for use in this arm."

I won't post a link because the other site exists as a resource for old cartridge trading and commerce. But it's not hard to find it with a little personal research and the internet search engine of your choice.
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Old 09-18-2016, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeetr57 View Post
I don't see the large hollow base that Minie balls usually have, but the picture isn't very clear. Also, Sharps civil war period rifles and carbines used a bullet with either a paper or linen cartridge attached, and being a breech loader, would not have needed a hollow base. The best source for information on ammunition is here: Web Forum - International Ammunition Association.
The REAL ammo experts are to be found on the IAA website mentioned. It's nearly impossible to stump many of them on questions like these.
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