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Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:18 am
by butlersrangers
I blundered into this copy of an original photo, on ebay today, from an Australian vendor.

The "Michigan" naval caps caught my attention, but, the picture was titled 'crew of the U.S.S. Yosemite'.
I assumed correctly that the men were from the Michigan Naval Militia (Reserves) and not U.S.S. Michigan crewmen.

(At first glance the men looked like re-enactors to me)!

I had to play with the photo a bit in order to identify the rifles, (Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in .45-70 caliber).

Almost miraculously, I found a copy of the log from the U.S.S. Yosemite, on google books, that could be viewed online.
The log verified that 260 men of the Michigan Naval Militia boarded the Yosemite, on May 7, 1898.
They were 'paid-off' and sent home at League Island, Pa., on August 20, 1898.

The ship's log inventories 6 mm ball ammo for two Colt machine guns, .45-70 ball ammo, and .22 cal. 'shorts' for practice.
I wonder how the 30 Marines were armed?

I wonder what the armed Naval Militia guys are doing with a bushel-basket of roses?

The Yosemite, a hastily armed commercial vessel called an 'auxiliary Cruiser', did blockade duty at Guantanamo & Santiago (Cuba) and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Re: Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 7:33 am
by butlersrangers
The U.S.S. Yosemite and some of the published Log pages.

Re: Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2021 5:40 pm
by Doubly Reincarnated
By identifying the rifles as Winchester-Hotchkiss you proved that you have better eyes and references than I. The Wikipedia reference to this Yosemite tells us that the Michiganders were the entire crew throughout the SAW and actually saw action in the Third Battle of San Juan, firing 251 shells from the 5-inch guns. Pretty remarkable for guys in the Naval Militia.

Re: Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:03 am
by butlersrangers
On June 28, 1898, the U.S.S. Yosemite, crewed by the Michigan Naval Reserves, engaged and forced aground the Spanish transport, "Antonio Lopez", off San Juan - Puerto Rico.
They also fended off three Spanish Gunboats and avoided being struck by shots fired from the shore batteries.
During this event, they were the only U.S. ship blockading the Port of San Juan and fired 251 large caliber rounds.

On August 12, 1898, orders were received for the cessation of hostilities with Spain.

Re: Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 5:37 am
by butlersrangers
The Michigan Naval Reserves were called "The Millionaire Navy".

The attached picture, (from the Burton Collection), shows six 'Ordinary Seamen' catching some relaxation time on the "Yosemite".
Four of them were Millionaires!

Some rich people are patriotic, love their Country, and do the right thing.

The men who crewed the "Yosemite" went willingly into Harms Way. They had many reunions to celebrate their Service.

Re: Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2021 7:58 pm
by butlersrangers
The Winchester-Hotchkiss 3rd variation (or model 1883) is a relatively obscure model and not as well documented as the earlier one-piece stock models.
(This model was fully manufactured by Winchester and did not have the Springfield Armory involvement of the first two variations).

I have read that the State of California purchased some of the model 1883 rifles for their National Guard Troops from Winchester.

Winchester went to the two-piece 1883 stock design to eliminate some of the weakness of the early one-piece stocks.

(A lot of wood was removed from the single-piece stocks to fit the early safety/cut-off assemblies.
All Hotchkiss system rifles had a five-shot magazine tube concealed in the wrist and stock-butt, which furthered added to stock weakness).

In the rush to expand the USN for war with Spain, some commercial vessels like the Yosemite, (a so-called "Auxiliary Cruiser"), were bought and retrofitted with mainly defensive armaments to supplement the regular Navy.

The model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss was an arm chambered for a U.S. Military caliber. The rifles likely were immediately available from Winchester and in sufficient numbers for use by U.S.S. Yosemite sailors.

The Navy had purchased and issued a number of the earlier Hotchkiss rifle models on U.S. ships, so there was some Naval Department familiarity with the Hotchkiss design.

(Ironically, photos taken in Detroit during an 1895 - Memorial Day Parade, show the Michigan Naval Militia armed with .45 caliber Remington-Lee rifles).

NOTE - I made some wrong 'speculations' regarding these model 1883 rifles. I have since discovered the "Crew" picture was likely taken at Detroit in the early 1900's. It is of a Veterans' Fraternal Organization.

Re: Model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles in use

Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2021 5:48 pm
by butlersrangers
I found the original source of the Australian eBay vender's photo.

He 'pinched it' from the Detroit Public Library's - Burton Historical Collection.
IMHO - He is doing "History" a disservice.

The photo is actually of members in a Detroit 'chapter' of a United Spanish War Veterans 'fraternal' group (USWV).
Most of the men, in the post-1900 photo, did serve as crew on the U.S.S. Yosemite, during 3 1/2 months of War in 1898.
This is just not a war-time photo, as implied on the eBay listing.

The DPL description of the photograph's back, reads:

Crew of the U.S.S. Yosemite
Gilbert Wilkes Camp No. 17
United Spanish War Veterans

L to R: AW Russel, Rice?, Ralph Dyer, Harry L. Russell, Harry Lewis, Harold McMillan, Edward Parker, John T. Nichols, Richard P. Joy

My research and conclusions:
260 men of the Michigan Naval Reserves served on the U.S.S. Yosemite from May 1898, to August 20, 1898.
They were involved in naval actions in the Caribbean.
The Volunteer Sailors were discharged and went home by train to Michigan, in late August 1898.
Many of the men continued to be involved in the Michigan Naval Reserves.
They also joined a veterans' fraternal organization, that would be active for well over 50 years.

The U.S.S. Yosemite was severely damaged in a Typhoon at Guam, in November 1900, and was intentionally scuttled by its U.S. Navy crew.

In March 1901, Lt. Gilbert Wilkes of the Mich. Naval Reserves died in Denver, Colorado and was buried at Detroit.

Various SAW veteran's groups organized nationally, as the United Spanish War Veterans, in 1904.

IMHO - The men in the photo are probably the 'Color Guard' from Gilbert Wilkes Camp No. 17, U.S.W.V. (Detroit)
Given the bushel-basket of roses, they are probably at some memorial, holiday, or funeral event.
Their rare model 1883 Winchester-Hotchkiss rifles, with proprietary bayonets, probably belong to the fraternal group and were likely purchased privately from Winchester or a dealer.
(I imagine the photo was taken around 1904).

Landing Party? - I was suspicious of this photo from the start - rare rifles, roses, shiny buckles, no cartridges in belt loops, and the second man from the left (Mr. Rice?) is wearing dress shoes!