Sunday, January 8, 2012

Brownell's Rifle

In a slightly awkward upload, on the right, is the 1855 model .58 caliber U. S. percussion rifle used by Corporal Francis Brownell to defend Colonel Ellsworth by killing James Jackson, the proprietor of the Marshall House.

A saber bayonet was attached to it, and after Jackson fired, Brownell used the lengthened firearm to push aside Brownell's shotgun. He then fired the rifle, hitting Jackson in the face.

There is some question as to whether Brownell stabbed Jackson with the bayonet after Jackson fell.

My sources are split about 50/50. Some say, with a great degree of finality, that Brownell did stab Jackson. Others say that there was no evidence of a bayonet wound on Jackson's body.

An interesting source about Jackson is a pamplet-style book, written after Jackson's death, by a source who--to this day--remains anonymous. It claims that no bayonet wound was observed on Jackson's body at his, admittedly rudimentary, autopsy.

Did Brownell stab the floor next to Jackson's body? This would make a point--that Brownell could have inflicted further harm, but chose not to.

In the heat of this suddenly mortal moment, I cannot imagine Brownell, then twenty-two years old and having just seen his friend and Colonel shot dead, would have been this level-headed.

But with no definite proof of a post-mortem bayonet wound, and with several eye-witness accounts saying that Brownell stabbed something with the bayonet--something near enough to Jackson's body that they assumed it was Jackson himself . . .

Does anyone have anything to offer??

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