Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Diary of John Hay: August 19, 1863

. . . . This evening and yesterday evening an hour was spent by the President in shooting with Spencer’s new repeating rifle. A wonderful gun, loading with absolutely contemptible simplicity and ease, with seven balls, and firing the whole, readily and deliberately, in less than half a minute. The President made some pretty good shots. Spencer, the inventor, a quiet little Yankee who sold himself in relentless slavery to his idea for six weary years before it was perfect, did some splendid shooting. . . . An irrepressible patriot came up and talked about his son John who, when lying on his belly on a hill-top at Gettysburg, feeling the shot fly over him, like to lost his breath — felt himself puffing up like a toad — thought he would bust. Another, seeing the gun recoil slightly, said it wouldn't do; too much powder; a good piece of audience shouldn't rekyle; if it did at all, it should rekyle a little forrid.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 93-4; For the whole diary entry see Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and letters of John Hay, p. 81-2.

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