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Bravery without forethought causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull. Such an opponent must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.

-- Ts`ao Kung

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
1798: Believing that a French invasion of Ireland is imminent, Irish nationalists rise up against the British occupation.

1846: General Zachary Taylor captures Monterey.

1861: General Benjamin Butler declares slaves to be the contraband of war.

1863: Bushwackers led by Captain William Marchbanks attack a Federal militia party in Nevada, Missouri.

1864: Union General Ulysses S. Grant continues to pound away at Robert E. Lees Army of Northern Virginia in the engagement along the North Anna River that had begun the day before.

1941: Germanys largest battleship, the Bismarck, sinks the pride of the British fleet, HMS Hood.

1943: The extermination camp at Auschwitz, Poland, receives a new doctor, 32-year-old Josef Mengele, a man who will earn the nickname "the Angel of Death."

1951: Lines Kansas and Wyoming became increasingly important with the possibility of a cease-fire and the demilitarized zone that might be required.