Norwegian Vice Admiral Peter Wessel Tordenskiold was killed in a duel at Hildesheim in Germany. The occasion was a quarrel in which Tordenskiold accused Jacob Axel Stael von Holstein, a colonel who had been in Swedish service, to trick people for... Read more ...
Tordenskiold was killed
Norwegian Vice Admiral Peter Wessel Tordenskiold was killed in a duel at Hildesheim in Germany. The occasion was a quarrel in which Tordenskiold accused Jacob Axel Stael von Holstein, a colonel who had been in Swedish service, to trick people for money. The dispute ended in scuffles and Tordenskiold beat up the ten years older Staël von Holstein. Stael tried to pull the sword, but was unable to get it out of its sheath. Tordenskiold used it instead to beat him up. The injured von Holstein demanded redress through a duel.
At five o'clock in the morning of 12 November Tordenskiold was summoned by his second, named Münnichhausen – whom Tordenskiold had never met. It was predetermined that the duel would be fought with guns, but Münnichhausen told Tordenskiold that the duel was cancelled because von Holstein had traveled to Hamburg. Münnichhausen convinced Tordenskiold that for formal reasons he had to show up at the agreed site of the duel instead, but that there was no need to carry a gun.
When they arrived von Holstein was present and ready to fight. Since Tordenskiold had arrived without pistols, it was decided to fight with sword instead. Stael von Holstein was better armed with a long ‘karolinerverge’ while Tordenskiold just had a small parade sword. During the duel Tordenskiold was hit by a powerful thrust that went in under his arm and hit the spine. Mortally wounded, he died after a few minutes, just 30 years old.
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In the mid 1850s the Norwegian Army and Navy was armed with a very modern rifle that few contemporary armies could match. In Norway this weapon was called the \"kammerlader\" og \"chamber-loader\". In this article you can read more about the history of the kammerlader and its practical use.
Published: 24 November 2007 by Øyvind Flatnes.
Edited: 25 November 2007.
Click here to see my drawings of how the first models were loaded with the paper cartridge.
Find out more!
You can read more about the Norwegian chamber-loading 'kammerlader' rifles and other capping breech-loading rifles and carbines, as well as needle guns such as the Dreyse and Chassepot in the brand new book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge: A Practical History of Black Powder Firearms.
Some counterfactual thoughts
As the chamber-loading rifles never saw any combat in its service timeframe, we actually have to imagine what had happened if it was used in the hands of soldiers in a war. If we look to other nations and their armies, Norway was far ahead of most others. One exception is Prussia which adopted von Dreyse’s 15.4 mm (.60”) needle-gun in 1841. The needle-gun, or Zündnadelgewehr as it was called in Prussia, fired a self-contained cartridge, while the chamber-loader had to be loaded with paper cartridge and loose caps. However, the needle-gun had its limitations.
In the rest of the world the muzzleloader was still extensively used. At the outbreak of the American Civil War 19 years after the adoption of the chamber-loader Norway had already improved their first chamber-loader and reduced the calibre. The Civil War was largely fought with muzzleloading rifle muskets. Would the outcome of the war have been different if one or both of the opposing parties had been armed with the Norwegian chamber-loader? Probably not. First of all, the Civil War was largely fought with outdated battle tactics from the time of the smoothbore musket. Secondly, the troops lacked marksman training.
However, an army that was trained both with the kammerlader rifle and more appropriate battle tactics would probably have had some impact in the wars that were fought with muzzleloaders. One example is the battle of Königsgrätz in 1866 when Bismarck's Prussians armed with von Dreyse's needle-guns completely overrand the Austrians that were armed with muzzleloaders.
It can be a bit difficult to get hold of a proper bullet mould for a kammerlader. I have made my own drawings and made a bullet mould that casts a replica of the Model 1855 bullet.
To the left: Paper cartridges. To the right: Bullets cast from a custom mould.
To the left: A good group shot with a M/1849/55/59 two band kammerlader. Right: Shooting a M/1849/55/59 two band kammerlader.