Part 8: No Country for Dry Feet
History begins to get wholly rewritten under the narration of Silas and were fast drifting into the preposterous, a trend were not leaving any time soon.
This part, and the last one, had sub-titles referring to old Terence Hill movies, My name is Bounty Hunter, and Bounty Hunter is still my name. Also, I think I was a tad too close to the mic which seems to amplify bass sounds a bit too much. Perhaps it's not noticeable, but it wont happen again and Im currently re-recording the next part.
Nuggets of Truth
Charles Earl Bowles, better known as Black Bart, was undoubtedly among the Wild West's most unusual stagecoach robbers. British by birth, Black Bart was a polite man, known for his manners and refined taste. It is difficult to believe that such a gentleman-bandit really operated in California and Oregon in the 1870s and '80s. Legend has it that on at least two occasions he left handwritten poems at the scene of the crime. This one is from 1877.
I've labored long and hard for bread,
For honor, and for riches,
But on my corns too long you've tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches.
[Addition: the second verse was left at a stagecoach robbery in 1878:
Here I lay me down to sleep
To wait the coming morrow,
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat,
And everlasting sorrow.
Let come what will, I'll try it on,
My condition can't be worse;
And if there's money in that box
'Tis munny in my purse. ]
Black Bart never lacked personal charm. After getting out of jail, he was asked by a journalist about returning to his criminal ways. He answered with a smile, "No, gentlemen, I'm through with crime." Then another reporter wanted to know if he would write any more poems. Black Bart laughed and replied, "Now, didn't you hear me say that I am through with crime?" He never fired a gun during any of his robberies and all of them were done with him getting to the crime scene on foot due to his deeply held fear of horses.
While the founding fathers of the United States were writing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, over in France the first successful steamboat was completed. In the United States, the First steam-powered boat was built by John Fitch in 1787. By the first half of the 19th century, American rivers were teaming with steam ships.
It was a blessing for the economy. River transport was much faster and cheaper than any kind of land transportation. Numerous ports and shipyards appeared. The ships themselves needed maintenance and dock workers and all that meant new jobs. Of course, early steamboats were far from perfect. Many sunk for any number of reasons. Boiler explosions and fires were common causes of accidents. Between 1811 and 1899, 567 steamboats were lost in the United States. Despite that, people were eager to use this new means of transportation. There were even the enormous "palace steamers" built to ferry passengers and cargo across the North American Great Lakes in the mid-19th century. The Titanic was the largest steamship in the world when it sank and remains history's most famous and decidedly unlucky steam powered ship. In the second half of the 20th century, steamers were almost completely replaced by diesel-powered ships.
Built by Richard Gatling in 1861 and first deployed in combat during the Civil War, the multi-barreled Gatling gun was one of the precursors of the modern machine gun. But unlike modern machine guns, it was not fired automatically, but rather operated by a gunner who had to crank it. During each turn of a hand crank, each barrel fired a single shot, after which it ejected the spent cartridge, loaded a new round, and in the process, cooled down. This allowed for a higher rate of fire without the barrel overheating.
The Gatling Gun offered an unheard of high rate of fire and was relatively easy to reload. In the right hands, they were a devastating weapon. Gatling guns were finally replaced by the self-powered Maxim machine guns that used recoil energy to eject spent cartridges and insert fresh ones. In its prime, however, the Gatling Gun was a fearsome weapon.
[Addition: On the Maxim gun, in the words of Hilaire Bellocs Captain William Blood, in the 1898 The Modern Traveller, a satire on colonialism:
'Whatever happens, we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.' ]