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    Description

    Model 1895 Krag Saddle Ring Carbine: Documented to Have Been Used by One of Teddy's Rough Riders at San Juan Hill. One of the most documented guns we have ever catalogued, it comes with a two inch thick dossier of information about its owner, Alvin Ash, and about the gun itself.

    This is actually a variant of the more familiar Model 1895. It differs in that it is dated 1895 or 1896 on the receiver, without the word "Model." The thumb safety is smaller, trap in the butt is not cut for oiler, and no fillet at junction of body and heel of the extractor (rounded in the Model 1896 and square shaped in this early variant (Norm Flayderman, Guide to American Firearms and Their Values, eighth edition, page 487).

    Condition is excellent and unmolested. Even gray patina with traces of blue. Bore excellent. Vestiges of inspector's cartouche on stock behind saddle ring. Wood is excellent, with only very minor wear and old abrasions as expected. Very pleasing display presence overall.

    A 2005 letter from the Springfield Research Service (reproduced in full on our website) confirms that this Krag, serial # 27892, was used in Company "G", 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry (the immortal "Rough Riders"), and the Regimental Records of Troop G, 1st U.S.V. Cavalry confirms that it was issued to Trooper Alvin Ash of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ash was wounded in the wrist in the San Juan Hill fighting on July 1, 1898, and after sick leave was mustered out of his unit on September 15, 1898.

    Only approximately 400 of these carbines were actually issued to troopers who served in Cuba, the rest going to those who joined up after Roosevelt and his men had set sail for Cuba, and thus spent the remainder of the short war in Florida. Of this number, it is said that only approximately eight can be conclusively shown to have seen action on San Juan Hill. In his familiar book The Rough Riders, Roosevelt mentions Alvin Cash several times, at one point calling him "his favorite horseman." In his account of San Juan Hill, TR notes that Ash was with Capron's Battery when he was wounded in the wrist by Spanish artillery.

    Seldom in America's military history has there been a fighting unit which so mirrored the personality and mentality of their leader. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War the U.S. Army, after thirty plus years of comparative peace, had become a diminished force. So President McKinley called for 1250 volunteers to help supplement the regular forces. They were to be irregular cavalry. Because of their inexperience and the lack of time for training, they were not taught conventional cavalry skills such as sophisticated, coordinated horsemanship and the use of sabers. Instead, they were issued revolvers and carbines. Their uniforms were appropriate: insouciant slouch hats, blue flannel shirts, and contrasting brown trousers, leggings, and boots. They looked and acted every bit the part of what would soon become their immortal nickname- "Rough Riders."

    They were heavily recruited from the Southwest on the theory that such men would be more accustomed to the sort of climate they would encounter in Cuba. Ivy League grads, cowpunchers, former cavalrymen and policemen, gamblers, and Indians would come together with a sort of camaraderie that would endure long after the war ended. Alvin Ash personified the Rough Rider: tough, athletic, adventurous, and looking for excitement. The perfect combination of Teddy Roosevelt's bravado and their rough-and-tumble nature would create an immortal image in the minds of Americans then and now. It is this mystique which makes this San Juan Hill carbine such a special acquisition for the collector of documented, battle-used American military weapons.

    In late September 1898, Roosevelt was running for governor of New York. Apparently Alvin Ash and four fellow Rough Riders had sent Teddy a telegram of support. A copy of a telegram sent in response by one of Roosevelt's aides is included with this lot, in which he sends Teddy's thanks for their support: "I handed [their telegram] to Col. Roosevelt yesterday afternoon, and he was very much pleased to receive it, stopping, when he was surrounded by a crowd of prominent men, and he mentioned and knew each and every one of you, and also knew the business in which you were engaged." Ash treasured his brief time as a Rough Rider, and for nearly fifty years he would be shaped by the experience.

    Alvin Ash was born in 1871, in his words "At the old stage station at Merrilltown [Texas]... twelve miles north of Austin." He retained vivid childhood memories of the coaches which stopped there to change horses before the railroad took over the route in 1880.

    Alvin's father planned for his son to be a farmer, but the lad felt the call of the West. As he recalled, "...there never was a day there wasn't two or three trail herds passing. And every cowboy had on his white handled six shooter and leather leggings and roundup pants and hickory shirt and big white hat, you know." The allure was too great for young Alvin to resist, and at age seventeen he left home to become a cow-puncher. He continued to do ranch-related work in West Texas and New Mexico until he joined the Rough Riders in 1898.

    After his war service, he settled in Arizona, where he worked briefly as a miner. But for the next several years Ash worked intermittently at ranch work and for the sheriff's office in Silver City before spending five years in charge of a "cow outfit" in the Chicos.

    In 1906, Ash began working on horse patrol for the U.S. Customs Service along the Mexican border, on assignment that would last eight years. His principal concern was catching horse smugglers. The duty on horses at that time was a substantial $30, which encouraged illicit importation. Employment in that service was apparently highly political, and at times he was temporarily out of a job as he was replaced by a political appointee. During World War I he returned to working for the sheriff's office in Silver City, handing down indictments and warrants before spending his last twenty working years with the El Paso police department. In later life he became a fixture at Rough Rider reunions. According to his 1946 obituary in the El Paso Times "...he corresponded for many years with Teddy Roosevelt, and later with the former president's widow."

    A remarkably colorful and evocative thirty-five page transcript of an interview conducted with Ash late in life accompanies this lot. Unfortunately, the photocopied pages are not of sufficient quality to reproduce on our website, but the buyer of this lot will derive great pleasure from reading the story of Alvin Ash's colorful life and career in his own inimitable vernacular!

    Although the biographical details about Alvin Ash are certainly "icing on the cake," it is the ironclad documentation of his Krag Carbine as a gun used in San Juan Hill which makes this a very special and historic firearm indeed.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2012
    10th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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