Category Archives: History

Sturm und Drang

The term, sturm und drang, is German for storm and yearning–often translated storm and stress. It refers to the wild emotions and actions of romanticism in the arts of the late eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries. But for today’s discussion, I’m using the phrase about black powder guns.

firing

That’s me, touching off my Pietta copy of the muzzle-loader Remington New Model Army revolver–ably photographed by my partner at Oghma Creative Media, Casey Cowan. Regular readers of this weblog know that I enjoy firearms, but I have a special love for the charcoal burners. The revolver in the picture was, in fact, my first gun. Yes, my advice is to start with a .22 Long Rifle, but such words of wisdom as I have to offer come from going about things all the backward way. Or perhaps not, since pouring powder into one chamber at a time, ramming home a wad and ball, then smearing Crisco across it is an interesting occupation for an afternoon. Oh, and eventually, I get to shoot the thing…

800px-New_model_Army_IMG_3544

But perhaps you need a little more to see the joy here. As I said, it’s a fiddly beast, and I enjoy fiddling. Then there’s the connection with history. As a writer of westerns, I want the feel of the old smoke engine. Yes, I can read about that, but it’s a lot more fun to try it out myself. And no book can tell your nose what burning powder smells like. (O.K., it’s bad eggs, but you just have to smell it.) But the best part is the thuder. It’s not a crack or a bang. It’s a deep bass boom. All in all, this revolver lets me add realism to my stories of the Old West.

At least, that’s my excuse. It’s research, you see.

Whose Story Is It?

The other day, I ran across a word that drives me nuts:  herstory.  In the opinion of some, the subject of history derives from the English pronoun his and is thus hurtful to half the population.

This, of course, is nonsense.  The word history comes from the ancient Greek historia.  It meant a method of knowing.  The word itself is grammatically feminine, as were the terms for the arts and sciences generally.  It certainly has no relationship with English pronouns that are of Germanic origin.

Cuteness in thinking never resolves any problem and is best to be avoided.  May Clio save you from such lapses.