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The warning message we sent the Russians was a calculated ambiguity that would be clearly understood.

-- Alexander Haig

Bolt-Action Rifles

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Nearly all infantryman in the First World War used bolt action rifles. This type of rifle had been invented by a Scottish immigrant to the United States, James Paris Lee. The bolt is the device that closes the breech of the barrel. The bolt-action rifle had a metal box, into which cartridges were placed on top of a spring. As the bolt was opened, the spring forced the cartridges up against a stop; the bolt pushed the top cartridge into the chamber as it closed. After firing, the opening of the bolt extracted the empty cartridge case, and the return stroke loaded a fresh round.

Cartridges were injected into the magazine by means of a clip. They consisted of open-ended slides or cases within which a number of cartridges, 3, 5 or 6 were gripped by the spring metal of the case or a spring incorporated in the base.

The Lee-Enfield was the main rifle used by the British Army during the First World War. Other popular bolt action rifles included the Mauser Gewehr (Germany), Lebel (France), Mannlicher-Carcano (Italy), Springfield (United States), Moisin-Nagant (Russia), Mannlicher M95 (Austria) and Arisaka (Japan).


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This Day in History
1792: Verdun, France, surrenders to the Prussian Army.

1798: The Maltese people revolt against the French occupation, forcing the French troops to take refuge in the citadel of Valetta in Malta.

1862: President Lincoln reluctantly restores Union General George B. McClellan to full command after General John Popes disaster at Second Bull Run on August 29th and 30th.

1870: Napoleon III capitulates to the Prussians at Sedan, France.

1898: Sir Herbert Kitchner leads the British to victory over the Mahdists at Omdurman and takes Khartoum.

1914: British forces withdraw to Chantilly-Nanteuil.

1914: The Battle of Lemberg ends with the rout of the Austrian forces who lose 130,000 men.

1915: Austro-German armies take Grodno, Poland.

1917: British and Belgian operations drive German detachments from River Ruaha to Mahenge.

1944: Troops of the U.S. First Army enter Belgium.