STAUNTON – When writing about history, Bob O’Connor isn’t one to let facts get in the way of a good story. In fact, he’s using those facts to weave together what he hopes will be a good story.
“The problem with non-fiction is that there are always holes in the story that cannot be filled,” O’Connor said in a telephone interview from his home in Martinsburg, West Virginia. . “For me, I’m trying to find as much information as possible. There are still holes in the story, but I’m making it up in the sense that… I put them in a situation where they should figure out the solution with it. what they have. “
After all, he joked, “it’s not like they could go to Walmart during the Civil War to get what they needed.”
O’Connor’s 20th book is titled “The Greatest Gun of Ages”. With a strong mix of fact and fiction, it tells the story of Lorenzo Sibert, a former resident of Mount Solon who patented a 48-shot repeating rifle in 1861 at the start of the Civil War. Unfortunately for Sibert, the pistol was never manufactured, although Sibert was able to obtain a patent for it.
O’Connor’s research revealed that the pistol had a rotating chamber much like a pistol, with each chamber containing six .24 caliber bullets. The user could fire 48 rounds before needing to reload.
“Imagine that soldiers on one side of the conflict had their standard one-shot musket while the soldiers on the other side were armed with 48-round rifles,” the book’s promotional material read. “It certainly wouldn’t have been a contest.”
Sibert filed a patent for the pistol he called the “Virginia Pacificator”. But by the time the U.S. government approved the patent, the state of Virginia had already seceded from the Union, making it the only patent in history that the U.S. government issued to a resident of the Confederacy.
So why was the weapon never made? According to O’Connor, it was supposed to be an arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, but this was destroyed in 1861. He attempted to have the work done by a factory in Staunton, but the agreement never materialized.
To complicate matters as well, O’Connor said, the fact that the gunsmith Sibert hired to build the prototype of the weapon – as well as that gunsmith’s descendants – claimed that Sibert and his business partner stole the weapon from him. ‘idea.
SIbert died in 1881 and is buried in Thornrose Cemetery.
O’Connor said he’s rarely criticized by his characters’ descendants for getting into the heads of those ancestors.
“In most cases, I know a lot more about the parent than they do,” he said.
“The Greatest Gun of Ages” costs $ 18.95 and is available at amazon.com. Personally signed copies can be purchased on the author’s website, www.boboconnorbooks.com.
O’Connor currently has a three-book set on hold behind the scenes that takes historical figures such as John Wilkes Booth, Nathan Bedford Forest and Jefferson Davis and tries them for crimes related to them but never tried. Booth murdered Abraham Lincoln, Forest was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan, and Davis was President of the Confederacy and therefore considered a traitor.
“The court site is in heaven, so I can call any witnesses I want for the trials,” O’Connor said. For example, for Booth’s trial, O’Connor said he called William Shakespeare as a witness because Booth was an acclaimed Shakespearean actor at the time he shot Lincoln.
Veteran reporter Bill Atkinson (he / him / her) is the Regional Daily News Coach for the USA TODAY Network’s United Central Southeast Region Group, which includes Virginia and North Carolina. He is based at the Progress-Index in Petersburg, Virginia. Contact Bill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.