And a thing which tells time.
Really interesting - and at the same time it seems really impractical. Who wants to hump that added weight on the battlefield? Would it affect the structural integrity when you're forced to use your rifle as a club?
You'll still probably shoot your eye out...
If it's impractical for grinding coffee, what makes anyone think that it would be practical for grinding grain, which usually is done in a much larger mill? My guess is that it was done more as a conversation piece than as practical field equipment; see previous BB posts about guns being incorporated into various things--tableware, wooden legs, etc.--without any evidence that they were actually used as firearms, as opposed to being simply collector items.
Cory, If you're interested in this facet of coffee history you might want to get your hands on Mark Pendergrast's excellent Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. Among his references (the bibliography is 34 pages!) are the memoirs of a Civil War artilleryman who described his company's daily coffee ritual.
Kid, you'll shoot your eye out.
If anyone is interested, my home town, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia is on the north edge of Chickamauga Battlefield National Park. The visitor center there has an attached museum with the world's largest collection of Civil War armaments. I haven't been there in some time but I seem to recall one of these.
There's also a green glass hand grenade, which as a kid fascinated me no end.
It hardly matters whether it was "suited" to coffee beans. If the idea was that a soldier didn't have to carry a coffee grinder and had to use a substandard grinder in his carbine stock, that would have been fine—the amount of weight of gear an infantryman had to carry on his back in the Civil War, before ALICE gear and all that, and the simple need for caffeine in any form would have justified this. And it was probably made by the lowest bidder.
I'm thinking that this may also have been a bit of a visual pun. I remember reading that some early Gatling guns were used during the American civil war, and they became known as coffee grinders because of their shape and hand-crank action. This might just be a reference to that.
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