Tuesday, August 2, 2016
The Gun that Won the West
Historical fiction requires a lot of research, even the small details. Since a pistol would play a small but important part of my Intrigue under Western Skies series, I dove into the history of firearms. The plot demanded that it be a revolver, a six-shooter, and I didn’t have to dig into my research long before I found the gun. The Colt Single Action Army, SAA, Model P, Peacemaker, manufactured in 1873, invented by Samuel Colt.
Mr. Colt was an interesting man, though he didn’t have a thing to do with my novel. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1814 and was indentured to a farm at the age of eleven. Unlike most of his peers of such low birth, he had an opportunity to go to school, but it was his natural creativity that led to his patents.
His plants produced several versions of revolvers for the army until his company began production of the 1873 model. It became popular with ranchers, lawmen and outlaws alike. Bet you didn’t know only five bullets were loaded into the six shooter at the time. The first cylinder was kept empty since the gun could fire accidentally, so that first shot had to be cocked twice. I had to tweak my plot to accommodate that fact.
Here’s another interesting tid-bit. Samuel Colt didn’t design the Peacemaker. He died in 1862. His wife, Elizabeth who was pregnant with their fifth child at the time, took over the company. She worked behind the scenes, but she managed the plant and its 1500 employees.
How did the gun get its name? From Mr. Colt’s quote, penned in 1852, over twenty years prior to the Peacemaker’s introduction. “The good people in this world are very far from being satisfied with each other, and my arms are the best peacemarker.”
I’m not really a gun person, but I got so caught up in my research on the Peacemaker, I desperately wanted to put this gun on the cover of the second book in my series. Antiques being too expensive, I ordered a replica. It even weighs four pounds like the original. Naturally, I had to get a replica gun belt too, complete with bullets. Here’s to the revolver that won the west. No cowboy would leave home without it. This picture isn't for the cover, but you see how realistic it is.
Carianne Barlow never expected to leave her Philadelphia townhouse and travel to the wild west of 1884, but when she inherits a fortune, conditions are attached. She must carry out her grandmother’s vision of a western culture center anchored by a library to rival those of the east.
Such an undertaking takes political support, and no one is more influential in the west than Rhyan Cason, a handsome cattle baron with the reputation of hardened businessman and rabble-rousing lobbyist. Carianne gets on the west-bound train with no thought of the treacherous world awaiting her in the little prairie town near Rhyan’s sprawling ranch.
When Rhyan asks her to catalog his library, Carianne jumps at the chance without considering the ramifications. But menacing undercurrents run through the town, and she learns too late Rhyan is pursued by a sinister enemy determined to destroy everything he cares for—including her.