A Mystery to Solve
received a letter requested any information pertaining to an artifact that is
believed to have belonged to Captain Forbes. The letter is as
The Mystery is Solved
This piece was known as a "Duck-Billed Pistol" or "Boarding Gun". Many British gunsmiths made similar weapons from the 1840`s onwards. The gun was designed obviously to fire a spread of shots in the direction of advancing pirates or mutinous crewmembers. A similar device made to be mounted on a swivel on the ground was also manufactured for landowners to protect their estates from trespassers and poachers. Each barrel was loaded separately with powder and ball or shot, then a primer was placed on the priming nipple with the hammer at half-cock. Later variations had the action reversed, with the hammer under the barrels, striking upward against the primer. This allowed the maker to put a large spring clip on top of the barrel arrangement so that the weapon could be carried on a belt or waistband. In the annals of clipper ship history, Capt. FORBES, sometimes referred to as "Bully" FORBES, was known to stand the deck with a pistol or pistols as terrified passengers begged him to trim the sails during particularly high winds.
The information above was sent to us by Keith Facey, thanks Keith!