View Full Version : Museum excited about firearm, encourages artifact donations

12-16-03, 06:32 AM
Museum excited about firearm, encourages artifact donations
Submitted by: MCRD San Diego
Story Identification Number: 20031215165826
Story by Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(December 12, 2003) -- Officials at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego's Command Museum recently welcomed a Model 1896 Krag-Jorgensen Carbine to its varied collection of military artifacts.

Billy Joe Williams, a former Marine lieutenant who served under then Capt. James L. Day, donated this historic weapon to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Museum Historical Society Nov. 20.

"When he (Williams) found out the building housing the museum was renamed after his former mentor, it reinforced his efforts to donate the weapon," said Dale L. Hatten, docent and board member, MCRD Museum Historical Society.

Before the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine arrived at the museum, it readily served in United States military campaigns during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Much like today's special and reconnaissance forces, Army cavalrymen were called upon to survey enemy territory and serve as an integral part in military operations. The Krag-Jorgensen Carbine was the standard issued weapon to men serving in the cavalry during the Spanish-American War from April 1898 to December 1898 and the Philippine insurrection from February 1899 to July 1900.

While the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine was mainly issued to Army cavalrymen, the Krag-Jorgensen Rifle, which is a longer version of the carbine was issued to infantrymen.

The Model 1896 Krag-Jorgensen Carbine was identical to its big brother, the M1896 Krag-Jorgensen Rifle, except for a few changes in the sights, barrel length, and handguard. The carbine also included a sling ring that enabled cavalrymen to attach the weapon to their saddles.

Since the first model of the Krag-Jorgensen Rifle/Carbine came out in 1892, the weapon has come out in a number of different models. However, the weapon has generally maintained the integrity of the original piece.

Nevertheless, the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine's historical significance is directly linked with President Theodore Roosevelt's legendary Rough Riders.

The Rough Riders notoriety was centered on their ability to attack enemies on horseback while, at the same time, skillfully engaging the enemy with the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine, according to Hatten.

The Krag-Jorgensen became the Army's first small caliber, high velocity, magazine-fed rifle.

Prior to the government's decision to mass-produce the Krag-Jorgensen Rifle and Carbine, the standard issue weapons were single-shot, heavy caliber Springfield rifles that used black powder in their cartridges. The new .30-.40 Krag cartridge used smokeless powder. Compared to the firearms issued to European troops at the time, which were able to shoot five consecutive rounds and use smokeless powder, these pre Krag-Jorgensen firearms were at a distinct disadvantage. However, the Krag-Jorgensen would later equal the playing field.

Roosevelt reported on some of the tactical advantages the Spaniards' smokeless (M1893 Mauser) firearm presented during the battle of Las Guasimas "... as we advanced we were, of course, exposed ... but they were entirely invisible. The jungle covered everything, and not the faintest trace of smoke was seen in any direction to indicate from whence the bullets came."

Specifically, the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine is exclusively noted as being a highly efficient weapon used on horseback, according to Hatten.

Since World War I was the last major war in which cavalry soldiers were used, the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine was no longer issued to troops. However, militia units and training commands continued to use the weapon.

Today, the Krag-Jorgensen Carbine is worth approximately $1,450, but to the historians at James L. Day Hall, it is priceless in historical value.

"The Historical Society feels indebted to him (Williams) for donating this historical carbine to our West Coast museum," said Hatten.

The Historical Society encourages those who wish to donate artifacts from the Marine Corps' past or present to contact Pat Hawkins, administration chief, MCRD Museum Historical Society, at (619) 524-4426.

Those with a personal story to tell should contact Barbara McCurtis, director, Historical Society, (619) 524-6719.


Krag-Jorgensen Rifle Photo by: