Civil War Soldiers Loved Their Coffee. So This Colonel Invented a Coffee Grinder-Gun.


Necessity is the mom of invention, because the saying goes, and lots of Civil Warfare troopers undoubtedly ranked espresso as a necessity—proper there with footwear, tobacco, and bullets. That prompted one enterprising colonel to invent a tool utilizing two of the 4 collectively: espresso and bullets. At his personal expense, Colonel Walter King of the 4th Missouri State Cavalry (Federal) tailored a Sharps breech-loading carbine to incorporate a easy espresso grinder. In idea, the idea was good. Espresso beans—or maybe corn or wheat kernels—can be inserted in a compartment contained in the the buttstock after which crushed by cranking the hooked up grind deal with, with the contents then poured from a brass opening within the inventory. Because it turned out, the contraption simply wasn’t that environment friendly when it got here to grinding entire espresso beans.

The .52-caliber carbine above—a part of the John L. Nau III Civil Warfare Assortment in Houston, Texas—is recognized as a “New Mannequin 1863.” Aside from the deal with, it seems to be in any other case unaltered.

King would have solely a small variety of the weapons modified. The resourceful colonel believed they’d be notably advantageous for troopers serving in frontier areas, the place entry to quartermaster shops was restricted. He included his carbine as a part of a “Cavalry Using Tools” package deal that he took for approval on January 6, 1865, earlier than an inspection board convened by the U.S. Ordnance Division. The board thanked him for his efforts however deemed the package deal unsuitable for additional growth.

The 4th Missouri served within the Division of Missouri from Might 1862 till the top of the struggle, working in opposition to Accomplice cavalry raiders and bushwhackers. In late summer season 1863, King and his troopers crossed into Kansas as a part of the Federal pursuit of William Quantrill’s Raiders after the Lawrence Bloodbath in August. In his report back to Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing Jr., commander of the District of the Border, King described his technique: “Considering he designed returning to the Blue Hills to scatter out, I marched as quickly as potential to the place that might allow me to chop him off…and preserve him within the open nation.”

Quantrill and his males escaped the entice and disappeared inside Missouri. The 4th was later a part of the Union effort to thwart Sterling Worth’s ill-fated 1864 Missouri Raid. It was a stable, although not extraordinary, document for a unit that in all probability would have gained little consideration in Civil Warfare annals if not for the distinctive invention of its one-time commander.

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