This is a revision of my old Chuck Versus the Daemon story, incorporating elements of some other steampunk stories that I've written since I took CVD down a year and a half ago.
Usual disclaimers, no rights to any characters portrayed and this is neither the real world nor a Disney Princess tale.
Boston, Massachusetts, late 1870
Returning from a delivery of a brace of custom pistols to one of their patrons, Chuck looked up at the sign across the front of their building 'Bartowski and Son Engineering', and grimaced, they were doing precious little engineering work up here, most of the money that they were living on at the moment was from the custom gunsmithing that he'd been doing.
He was thinking back to that as he started down the carriageway to the yard at the rear of the house, as even now it was a large part of what was preventing him and his father from completely healing this rift that existed between them, because his father had come back from the Mexican-American war a changed man.
That war had cost his father a leg and a lot of friends, and he was vehemently opposed to anything to do with war, the military, or weapons in general because of that, but now they were having to rely on weapons to support their family while they tried to pick up 'real' work.
Chuck shook his head, he certainly hadn't helped things at all by running away in March eighteen sixty at eleven to join the fight against slavery. At the time, he had been quite indignant about the very idea than anyone should be owned by another, to be used and abused as they saw fit.
He'd believed his father to be weak because he wouldn't speak out against slavery (which, in fact, he'd opposed just as vehemently as his son), even though that would have brought nothing but trouble down on them, living in the French Quarter of New Orleans as they were. Not knowing what what his father had gone through, his youthful self righteousness had led Chuck to dismiss his father as a coward who wouldn't stand up for what was right and run away to join the fight against slavery up north against his father's wishes, as he was determined that someone had to do SOMETHING.
Chuck had hitched rides on the railroads going North, but he had found out along the way that the fight against slavery that he wanted to join had been all but stamped out, so he didn't know what to do. While he was in Kansas City though, someone had showed him the ad for the new Pony Express company 'Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred' That sounded exciting and he decided that that it should be a good way to get the money he needed together while he worked out how he could join the fight, so he'd headed north to St Joseph.
He was still shy of twelve when he arrived in St Joseph, Missouri in early April eighteen sixty, looking for the Pony Express company. When he did find the Pony Express Stables, their rider was nowhere to be found and they were desperate, so they just gave him a map and a pistol, threw him on a horse and told him if he could do what was needed, he had the job!
When he came back and signed up, he did so as fifteen year old Charles Barton from Boston, because he wasn't ready to be found and dragged back home yet. He just took a bed at a cheap boarding house when he was in town, as he was trying to get a decent stake together for when he managed to work out where to head to.
He was told he had to get himself a revolver when he signed on as a rider, to take with him for protection on the rides, but he didn't know the first thing about guns, so he asked the other riders. Most of them were happy to give him advice, but they pointed him at the stocktender at the Rock Creek Station, Mr Hickock, as the one who really knew about handguns. One of the riders lent him his spare revolver until he could get one of his own, whispering to him him not to get one from the company, because they'd charge him forty dollars for something cheap that'd probably just blow up in his face when he tried to use it.
Chuck asked Mr Hickok about pistols when he saw him, and he was right helpful, telling him what to look for and saying "As you can see Charles, my personal preference is for the Colt Navy revolvers, but that new Remington Beals Navy that you've been loaned is a damned fine gun as well, especially if you like them newfangled cartridges*. They're not for me, I prefer to know exactly what's loaded in my guns, but it takes all kinds."
After talking to Mr Hickok, Chuck went out and bought himself a pair of the Beals Navy .38 cartridge revolvers, along with a couple of extra cartridge cylinders, as the extra cylinders the other rider carried to be able to quickly swap in a full cylinder for a quick reload made a lot of sense to him, as did the generally quicker reloading and greater reliability of the cartridges, though he did get one cap and ball cylinder as well, just in case.
When he was riding his stages, he'd normally just carry one pistol with extra cylinders, but when Mr Hickock was teaching him to shoot, he used both of them, set up just like Mr Hickock had them. He gave him lessons when Chuck handed off to another rider at Rock Creek and was waiting to head back. There were a number of incidents in the time he was working for the Pony Express company, and a whole lot more in the War, where he had to use what Mr Hickok had taught him, so he was right grateful for those lessons.
Even though Chuck hadn't been expecting to get more than two or three months at most work out of the Pony Express company before he moved on, he was regarded as one of their best riders, so he ended up keeping that job until they shut down at the end of October, sixty one. He also kept getting pay rises whenever they thought he was thinking of leaving, so he had over two thousand dollars in the bank by then.
While he was working for them, he bought his Kentucky Saddler mare, Betsy, off the company cheap when they decided she was ruined because she had been pushed too hard and came up lame. With enough care and attention though, Betsy came up fine, so he had a really good horse to move on to the next endeavour with when the time came, and she was with him through everything for years after that.
He didn't really know how he ended up in the cavalry, all he remembered was that he was made to go out drinking with the other Pony Express riders the day that the Pony Express shut down, and everyone was talking about 'What do we do now?' Next thing he knew, he was waking up in the barracks with his head feeling like it was splitting open, wearing a uniform! None of the other three ex-Pony Express riders who woke up in the barracks with him could remember what happened either, but they were shown where they'd signed to join up, so they just went along with it.
At the time he signed up, the Cavalry was having a lot of trouble getting all the horses and firearms they needed for the new recruits, so they were happy to let Chuck use his own. The quartermaster just made an official record of each item, identifying them as his personal property (and complimenting him on them and their condition), so Chuck just kept using Betsy and his Navy revolvers. After a bit, he issued Chuck with a pair of those Remington Cavalry Revolvers that had been created to match the Colt Walkers.
As of the start of the war, the regiment's official rifle and revolver had been the Sharps cap and ball carbine and the Colt 1860 Army (also cap and ball), but the quartermaster had some of the big Remington horse pistols with cartridge cylinders, complete with their saddle scabbards etc, in the stores from when they had been issued for trials. After some discussions between the senior officers about their impressions of Chuck, he issued the Cavalry revolvers to him. This drew comments from some of the men, as it was usually only the senior officers and sergeants who got those, but no-one was about to question the senior officers.
Their regiment had enough people (especially the experienced officers, NCOs and troopers) who only used cartridge revolvers and rifles that the quartermaster ensured that they always had supplies of all the cartridges that were used. This made it easy for Chuck, as he could just draw supplies of cartridges for the revolvers.
About six months after Chuck joined, the regiment was finally supplied with their 'proper' weapons, and some of the new officers tried to insist that he change to the approved Sharps carbine and Colt revolver like the other troopers, but one of the senior officers overheard this and dressed them down, saying. "The boy knows how to use his weapons and that's what matters, so stop trying to interfere with him!" The younger officers backed down, but Chuck wasn't popular with them after that.
Chuck was often being sent out as a scout, because he and Betsy could slip past most regular forces without detection and he had a keen eye and sharp mind, so he was good at gathering the information that they needed, but he still had to get into the thick of things all too often for his liking. He wished that he could forget about most of what happened in the war, but he couldn't. He'd quickly found that being in the cavalry involved a lot more than riding horses, that part was easy, but the killing and the death, that was something that he had a hard time getting out of his head.
Most of the sergeants and officers knew that Chuck didn't like killing, but they also knew that when he was in the thick of it, he did what had to be done better than most. The only reason that he hadn't been promoted was that it was commonly known that half of the troopers had sons who were bigger than him, so it was doubted that they'd take orders from 'the boy' as they called him.
Chuck's lot in the war changed in February, sixty three, after he was called to step in for the Regiment's ranking engineer after he was seriously injured in a bombardment. Chuck had spent what time he could with the Regiment's engineers, just like he had with the railroad engineers back in St Joseph, and they liked having him around, Captain Banner in particular, because he was a very bright young man with clever ideas who was always eager to learn whatever he could (not to mention that he had designed and built his father a clockwork leg that functioned almost as good as the real thing back when he was eleven).
That was why Captain Banner called for Chuck after his leg had been all but blown off in the bombardment. The mission that Captain Banner was being sent out for was crucial, as they had to take out a bridge to cut off the Rebs' supply chain damned quick if they were to stop them from getting the foothold they needed north of the river to push the Union forces back.
Captain Banner was by far the best and most experienced of the regiment's engineers, and this job would need an engineer who really knew what he was doing to determine a suitable placement for the powder that they had, one which would create enough damage to ensure that the Rebs couldn't just quickly patch up the bridge and go back to using the railroad to supply their troops. Yes, Captain Banner was desperate, but he also saw something in Chuck and believed that he could do this, where the other engineers couldn't.
While they were trying to stop the bleeding from his leg and save his life, Captain Banner filled Chuck in on what needed to be done and sent him off with the team who had the powder. The Sergeants and experienced troopers who made up that team were glad that it was Chuck that Captain Banner was sending in his place, as neither of the Regiment's other engineers had been out of West Point for much more than a year or so and they didn't have any real combat experience, so like most new officers, they tended to get people killed.
Captain Banner normally did these hard jobs, because he was the only one who could be depended on to get them done, those other two were likely to get them all killed by slipping up and giving them away at a critical time. They knew that Chuck certainly knew what he was doing as far as slipping behind enemy lines and fighting if he had to went, he was one of the best scouts they had, and Captain Banner wouldn't have given him this job if he didn't think he could do it, so they trusted Chuck to come through for them.
While Chuck didn't have a fraction of the experience of most of the old soldiers he'd been sent with on this mission, he and Betsy knew what they were doing, and he'd actually been the one who'd scouted the way through for this, so they had little trouble quietly slipping through a gap in the Confederate lines to get to the bridge that was their objective. When they got there, the others hid in the bushes while Chuck examined the structure and tried to determine where the barrels of powder they had would do the most damage. Unfortunately, when he decided where they needed to be, that point was over two thirds of the way up the structure, so they had to hoist the barrels of powder up to there and lash them in place without alerting the Rebs patrolling up top.
Just as they got everything in place and were setting the fuses, they heard the approaching train. There must have been a line of hills or something on the southern side of the river that had blocked the sound, because the train was almost to the bridge before they heard it. They quickly lit the fuses and started scrambling back down, but they had to be quiet to avoid tipping off the Rebs up top until it was too late, which meant that it was taking them longer to get down. Because of that, half of them hadn't reached the ground before the first of the barrels of powder went up.
When the first charge blew, they were blown off the bridge, but luckily a broken arm was the worst injury that came of that, and they quickly helped each other up to try and get out of the way before the second charge blew. The second charge sprayed them with pieces of wood, but while most of them got a few wounds from this, those wounds weren't enough to stop them getting out of the way before the bridge came down on them.
The ones who got down first watched as the bridge swayed one way when the first charge blew, then twisted back the other way when the second charge went off and tore itself apart as it collapsed. Chuck's charge placement had been right on the mark, because it brought down over two thirds of the span, and it was looking as though it was going be more than that when it stopped coming apart.
At that point, the loco of the Confederate supply train reached the other side of the bridge, but they had no way to stop when they saw the bridge go up. As soon as the loco, tender and the first couple of cars went out onto what was left of the southern end of the bridge, it collapsed, taking the loco with it, and once the loco and first few carriages went over, they dragged the rest of the train down with them.
They could see men jumping off the train as it headed onto the bridge, but they didn't wait to see what happened to them, because the Rebs up top had spotted them and started shooting by then. They got the trooper with the broken arm up onto his horse and took off up river as quick as they could, trying to get far enough in front of them to be able to hide and slip back through the Confederate lines unnoticed. Luckily their horses were waiting near by, ready to go, while the Rebs' horses were mostly picketed, and getting the mules that had been carrying the barrels of powder to go the other way when they got to the top of the embankment helped confuse things, because the Rebs chased after them in the dark. That gave the team the chance they needed to slip back through the Confederate lines once things had quietened down after those chasing had passed.
An hour and a half later, Chuck limped into the hospital tent where Captain Banner was laid up after they finished taking his leg off. Chuck had the two sergeants from the mission with him, and the dirt and soot on their faces and the cuts and scrapes they were all showing said that they'd been damned close to the explosion when it went up, but the proud smile on Chuck's face also said that they'd been successful.
Banner asked "How much damage was done to the bridge?"
Sergeant Parker laughed "What bridge Captain Banner? It's gone! The Rebs won't be using that railroad to supply no-one no more!"
Banner was in pain, so he snapped "Talk sense Sergeant! How much of the bridge is gone? How long would it take for them to repair it?"
"Sorry Cap'n, I guess I wasn't clear, the boy spent a while looking over the bridge, then he set the charges in two spots and as it came down, it pulled more of the bridge down with it. Over two thirds of the span had collapsed into the river by the time the Reb supply train went out onto the unsupported southern end of the bridge, and that brought the rest of it down. I'd say that over seven eights of the bridge, along with that supply train, are in the river now, and a lot of the wood was floating away, last I saw. Even before the train collapsed what was left on the other side, it would have been too much damage for them to repair, but now, there's nothin' left. It would take them months in peacetime to build a new bridge, and I don't see them being able to do it at all while we're at war."
Banner looked at Chuck in amazement, saying. "Good work Chuck! I knew I could count on you, but you've obviously exceeded my expectations! Now I need you to stay here in camp until we've reported to the Colonel about this, so you can't go anywhere."
He turned to look at Parker "Sergeant, please ensure that the officers know that Trooper Barton is to be kept out of any patrols or actions until after he's seen the Colonel, we'll work out what happens after that."
Parker saluted "Yes sir, Captain Banner!" He hesitated "And may I say sir, I'm damned glad that you ain't dead? I was sure that you were a goner when I saw you with your leg blowed off like that!"
Banner gave a wry laugh "Thank you Sergeant Parker, so was I." He reached out to squeeze Chuck's shoulder "You did a great job Chuck, from what the Sergeant says, I doubt that I could have done as well."
Chuck blushed at the praise "Thank you sir!"
With that, the head nurse shooed them out of the tent.
What Chuck didn't know at that point was that Captain Banner demanded pen, ink and paper, and started writing letters first thing the next morning. He talked one of the other engineers into going down with one of the scouts to examine the site and write a report on what had been achieved, and he had the sergeants on the mission write reports about what happened as well, or at least narrate and sign the reports.
Captain Thomas Banner was a highly respected officer, in the army at large as well as the Corps of Engineers, so when he made the case for Trooper Charles Barton to be transferred into the Corps of Engineers and commissioned as a First Lieutenant, using the supporting reports from the experienced and respected Sergeants who had accompanied Chuck on that mission, the other engineers with the Cavalry Regiment and the Regimental Officers and Non Commissioned Officers, it was listened to.
Before the recommendation for Chuck's promotion went off to the War Department though, Captain Banner had made a case to the Regiment's Colonel to have Chuck assigned to assist him. Once the doctors signed off to say that Captain Banner was fit to stay in camp once he was out of hospital, the Colonel approved this request and made Chuck a Brevet 2nd Lieutenant without question. He knew he wasn't likely to get another engineer of Tom Banner's calibre, so having him in camp to advise and direct the other engineers and his new 'apprentice engineer' was a boon that he didn't think he could afford to turn down. Besides, he agreed with Tom that the boy had the makings of a damned fine officer and engineer.
It took two months for the paperwork to come through to confirm that Brevet 2nd Lieutenant Charles Barton of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was now 1st Lieutenant Charles Barton of the Corps of Engineers, attached to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. By that point, Captain Banner's promotion to Major that the Colonel had submitted previously had come through. Assigned to Major Banner, Chuck was getting the education in engineering that he'd been missing out on since he left home, with the added bonus of also learning whatever else that Major Banner had put together and picked up in the Mexican-American war and the current war.
Chuck blossomed as an engineer, and quickly built his own reputation of being a fine young officer and engineer. That was why, in November, sixty three, Major Banner told him and the Colonel that the Regiment didn't need him any more, as Lieutenant Barton knew enough to take over from him, and with his leg, he couldn't handle another winter in the field. The Colonel was grateful for everything Tom had done when he stayed on after he lost his leg and wasn't about to make him suffer any more than he had to, so Major Banner went home, and Chuck pretty much took his place as the Regiment's lead engineer.
By and large, the rest of the war wasn't too terrible, and as one of the engineers, Chuck didn't get involved in the battles as much as he had as a trooper, though he was still involved in some actions, and he was picked for most missions like the one that he had been commissioned for.
In February, sixty five, Colonel Sanders had given Chuck a Brevet promotion to Major and used the reports of 1st Lieutenant Barton's many achievements and actions to support recommending him for permanent promotion to Major. The paper pushers in the War Office had deemed that at twenty, Lieutenant Barton was much too young to hold the rank of Major, but while they received no official notification, Chuck's permanent promotion to Captain Charles Barton was approved in March.
For all of the small decisive actions they were involved in, the Regiment wasn't involved in terrible battles, not until the last battle of the war for them in early April eighteen sixty five. They suffered heavy losses in that battle, losing the Colonel, their senior officers and most of the men. What possibly hit Chuck hardest though was that he lost Betsy in that battle, as she had been with him from before the war, only to be lost in a senseless battle they had no hope of winning. After that battle, the once proud 2nd Cavalry Regiment was reduced to a single company under the command of a Major who had no idea what he was doing, and that Major was the reason why they were all but wiped out when they were assigned to hold the Cripple Creek Railroad Junction.
What Chuck hadn't known (just one of the many things he hadn't known) was that his family had sold everything they had to come north to find him and bring him home safe after the war between the States started. It had taken them almost a year to sell what they had in New Orleans and get the money they needed to follow him in the war economy, and then several months more to get north of the Mason-Dixon line, battling to get the travel passes they needed to move into Union territory, and then rather longer before his father could manage to track down and make contact with a senior officer who actually remembered him from West Point and the Mexican American War.
When they finally reached the north, Stephen had gone straight to the Department of the Army, but they had just dismissed him as a southern liar, if not a Confederate spy, and threw him out when he tried to identify himself as Brevet Colonel Stephen Bartowski, a veteran of the Mexican-American war, refusing to even look at any of the documentation he had to prove this.
When Stephen finally managed to locate people who remembered him and were prepared to help him, they'd spent months chasing down all the Charles Bartowskis who were listed in the Army, but none of them was him.
Just as they were beginning to give up hope though, the report of the actions of one Charles Barton in what was being called the Battle of Cripple Creek came across the desk of one of his father's old friends, Brigadier General Cranston. Reading this report, he was struck by its similarity to the reports of Stephen's final action, where he'd lost his leg (for, in fact, Chuck and his father were very much alike in their ways). At that, he'd immediately wired the description that Stephen had given him for Charles down to the Depot Field Hospital in City Point where this Charles Barton was being treated, and the reply came back right smart that that was Colonel Barton all right.
General Cranston immediately arranged for travel papers and transport for the Bartowskis to take them to him. When they'd arrived at the hospital about three and a half weeks after the Battle of Cripple Creek though, the doctors were still doubtful whether he would live.
When they saw him, his parents and sister had cried at the state he was in, as he was all but shot to pieces and barely hanging on by a thread. His older sister Ellie was every bit as much of a prodigy in medicine as he was in engineering though, and she'd taken over his care. Under her care, bit by bit, he had improved until he was out of danger, but that day did not arrive until after the end of the war.
What they were told about what had happened to him, and what he'd done in that battle, chilled them, and this had only stoked his father's hatred of war.
That was why, in early May sixty five when that pompous General told them grandly (as if this were a personal boon from HIM) that Charles had been awarded a the Medal of Honor and promoted to the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel (with a brevet promotion to full Colonel as well) for what he'd achieved that day, especially given the grave injuries that he'd received, Stephen had bodily thrown the man out of Chuck's room. (They had been told at the time that these awards had been supported by his commanding officers, but months later Stephen was advised by a friend that it had been recorded in Chuck's file that the War Office had reversed their previous decision to refuse his permanent promotion to Major on the grounds of his youth, and had extended it to Lieutenant Colonel under direct orders from General Grant.)
There'd been considerable blustering, though nothing else, over Stephen's treatment of the General and following that the survivors of the battle from his company had mounted a guard to keep everyone else out of Chuck's room.
When Chuck had improved to the point where they were confident that he would live (thanks to Ellie), the family had to face another problem. They had nothing, as they'd sold everything and spent all of that money trying to find Chuck. While Chuck had over five thousand dollars in the bank from his Pony Express and Army pay, they couldn't get to that money under the conditions that prevailed at the end of the war.
That was why, when it was announced that the worthies of Boston had decided to gift their greatest hero, Colonel Charles Barton, the decorated Hero of Cripple Creek, with a house, they'd reluctantly agreed that they had to accept it. What other choice did they have? There was nothing left for them to go back to in New Orleans, and they couldn't get their hands on the stake to set themselves up anywhere else.
They'd gone to Boston, Chuck had accepted the gift of the house (even though he'd been hardly able to stand through the ceremony), and they'd settled in to try and make a new life for themselves there.
This house wasn't the last of the gifts that the grateful city bestowed on their hero, though. An endowment was also made that was more than enough to pay the fees for him to get his engineering degree at Harvard, and he'd gratefully accepted this, though he chose to study at the new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston Tech to the locals) rather than Harvard, as it offered the promise of a better 'real' engineering qualification.
It took Chuck quite some time to recover from the injuries he'd sustained, and he'd enrolled as Charles Bartowski, rather than Charles Barton (after he'd learned his father's true story, he felt that he'd slapped him in the face quite enough), so he'd actually started in sixty six as Boston Tech was getting to the point of having proper facilities.
They were also given assistance to get Ellie admitted into a good medical program in Boston, with all of her accreditations from New Orleans being accepted to boot, so that she could continue from the point she'd left off in New Orleans. The endowment that Chuck had received was actually generous enough to cover Ellie's fees as well, if barely.
While Chuck and Ellie were studying in their respective fields, Stephen was trying to re-start his engineering business, working out of their house, but it was difficult to crack into that market in Boston, especially as a southerner. Boston had a number of large engineering concerns already, and they were quite effective at blocking others from intruding into their customer base, even if the new concerns were working in areas that they didn't have any particular interest in.
That was why they had been forced to start accepting commissions for custom gunsmithing. While at a dinner with the family of a friend of Chuck's from college, his friend's father had been bemoaning the fact that he couldn't get a decent gun made. Without thinking, Chuck started to say that he could do that for him, but caught himself just in time (thinking of his credibility as an eighteen year old boy) and said "I… I'm sure that my father could do that for you Mr Weston." Mr Weston had looked dubious, so Chuck made a further offer "How about this Mr Weston, you give me the specifications of what you want and he builds it, if you like it, you pay us (he made a quick calculation in his head and named a figure), if not, we keep it and it won't cost you a thing?"
Mr Weston couldn't pass up an offer like that, and they agreed, with Chuck going off with the specifications of what he wanted to make him the gun. Mr Weston was very happy with that gun, and he commissioned more pieces from them straight away. Soon they had orders from his friends as well, and it didn't take long before they were getting requests from New York, Washington, even from down in the south, the Bartowski pieces were all the rage.
The problem was that this was a two edged blade, on one hand the gunsmithing was bringing in rather more money than his father could with his engineering commissions, and the family was looking financially secure for the first time since they'd came north. The obverse of that, however, was that his father had to play at being the Bartowski Gunsmith (as Chuck's point about his credibility, being just eighteen, was quite apt), but the sight of a weapon only served to remind Stephen of the leg and friends he'd lost to things like this, not to mention almost losing Charles himself, so that sat between them.
Also, so long as he'd followed Ellie's rules, Chuck's health had kept improving, however he wasn't well enough to work himself as hard as he'd had to to keep up with all the demand for the Bartowski pieces, and overworking himself this way had made his health deteriorate again.
It had taken Ellie threatening to ruin the business by exposing him as the Bartowski gunsmith to force him to agree to reduce the number of commissions he accepted. It was his father, though, making the Herculean effort to swallow his pride and tell him that he'd gotten the family out of financial difficulty, but that wasn't worth it if they lost him now, which made him follow through on the commitment he'd made to his sister.
And that was where they were now, four years later, he'd graduated from Boston Tech (or rather MIT), and his sheepskin was up on the wall in their office with his father's and Ellie's, two engineers and a doctor. Papa had been so proud the day he'd taken down the 'Bartowski Engineering' sign, to replace it with the 'Bartowski and Son Engineering' one.
He'd kept to his promise and kept the gunsmithing workload down (even though that still brought in more money than the engineering commissions that he and his father could get), and as his health had improved over the years, he'd spent more and more time working with his father when he wasn't studying. He'd even had a social life, well he had until he'd had his fingers well and truly burnt by that girl he'd met through Ellie's beau, THAT was a pool he had no intention of dipping into again any time soon!
A/N: This is a steampunk world coming out of the American Civil War, and as such the background is more violent than contemporary Chuck.
* This world is slightly different from our's, many things happened earlier than they have in our world, and slightly differently. Engineers and tinkerers are working on mechanical concepts and some are 20-30 years or more ahead of when they came up in our world.
The Confederacy also has their share of people who understand technology and are putting on a better show on this front in the War Between the States.
Colt and S&W's strangle hold on revolver developments was broken by the government in '56 and that led to a wider adoption of cartridges in revolvers and rifles before the War Between the States.
Some makers like Sharps and Remington sold cap and ball and cartridge versions of their firearms side by side, letting the customers choose what they wanted, while others like Colt tried to force the customer to take what they were offering, trying to maintain the control they had when they were the only game in town. (Picture Colt as the Microsoft of 1860)
The more open market also emboldened some makers to offer versions of things that the original makers had abandoned to meet the demand of what people were asking for, such as the fictitious Remington Cavalry revolver taking over from the legendary Colt Walker revolver.