American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume 3
Flintlock Alterations and Muzzleloading Percussion Shoulder Arms, 1840-1865
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of New Mexico Press
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This volume describes muzzleloading percussion shoulder arms procured by the United States and its political subdivisions for issue to the federal and state armed forces. During the twenty-five years covered by this volume, the federal and state laws requiring the individual militiaman to supply his own arms had been largely superseded by issues to the militia of state-owned arms. The states received the majority of these from the federal government pursuant to the U.S. Militia Act of 1808. However, during the first two years of the Civil War, many...
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Because they were needed in order to arm cavalry and dragoons, breechloading percussion arms were first introduced into American military service in 1833. The adoption of regulation models of muzzleloading percussion infantry arms began in 1841. These arms were supplanted by the government’s adoption of cartridge arms only 24 years later, in 1865. These few years mark an exciting period for the student of American military shoulder arms. The American small arms industry matured during the fairly short period...
The Percussion System
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Firearms mechanical ignition systems invented and used from the 16th century depended on a spark generated by the scraping of a rock, such as flint or pyrites, against steel, to ignite a priming charge that, in turn, ignited the main charge. The flintlock had been the primary ignition system of military shoulder arms throughout the 18th century. Although this system was vastly superior to its predecessors, it had several weaknesses apparent in its use in military arms. These weaknesses included the limited availability of high-quality flint rock, or...
Part I • Alterations
Introduction to Alterations
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It was widely recognized that without the tens of thousands of muskets and musket components received from France, and the other military aid received from Spain, Holland, and Prussia, the American military forces would have found it far more difficult, if not impossible, to succeed in the War of Independence from Great Britain. From shortly before the War of 1812, there was a concerted effort to build up the supplies of small arms in the possession of the U.S. armed forces. This effort resulted in the production of several hundred thousand flintlock...
Federal Alterations to Percussion
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At the time of the adoption of the Model 1842 percussion musket in the early spring of 1842, there were slightly fewer than 1 million flintlock muskets in federal repositories, in the hands of the armed forces, and in the possession of the individual states. A December 1841 inventory of arms belonging to the United States indicated there were 658,000 flintlock muskets of all dates on hand. An additional 4,520 muskets were located at other military posts, and an additional 9,780 were in the hands of troops. Another 1841 inventory showed...
State Alterations of Flintlock Muskets
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Due in large part to the U.S. Militia Act of 1808, hundreds of thousands of flintlock muskets and rifles were issued by the federal government to individual states between the law’s passage and the end of the flintlock period. An ordnance report of the small arms in the possession of the 30 states and territories, dated December 3, 1841, stated they had 282,829 muskets and 41,481 rifles. This did not include seven states and territories who had not reported their arms to the Ordnance Department. Because of this report’s 1841 date, it is probable that all...
Union Defense Committee–Altered Hall Model 1819 Rifle
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Except for a single Model 1819 Hall breechloading rifle altered at the Mount Vernon federal arsenal in 1856 from flintlock to percussion, no Hall rifles are known to have been percussion-altered by federal authority. However, 3,190 Model 1841 Hall rifles were originally fabricated as percussion arms at Harpers Ferry Armory between 1841 and 1844. Following the introduction of the 1855 year-model series of arms, in 1857 Secretary of War Jefferson Davis declared all Model 1819 Hall breechloading...
Lindner-Altered Model 1819 Rifle
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Edward Lindner was born in one of the Germanic states, perhaps Austria, in 1815. He had emigrated to New York by 1850. During the ensuing nine years, he obtained four patents on his improvements in firearms. These related primarily to a breechloading system he had invented. Beginning in 1856, he submitted muskets equipped with his breechloading system for Navy trials and for three Ordnance Department trials. Between each of the Ordnance Department trials, Lindner would apply some improvement to his system, the last of which...
Morse Cartridge Realteration of Model 1816 Muskets
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Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was opposed to the use of breechloading arms by the infantry, and a large part of an August 5, 1854, appropriation for trials of breechloading arms was unspent when he left office in 1857. John B. Floyd took office as secretary of war on March 3, 1857; he was in favor of breechloading arms, especially if breechloading alterations could make the thousands of obsolete arsenal cone-in-barrel–altered flintlock arms serviceable again. Therefore, pursuant to Special Orders No. 118, trials were scheduled at West Point...
Civilian, Confederate, and Other Alterations of Flintlock Arms
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During the flintlock period, large quantities of American military shoulder arms were declared to be obsolete or unserviceable and were sold by the federal government and many states. From the end of the Revolutionary War, obsolete and unserviceable U.S. military flintlock muskets, rifles, and carbines had been eliminated from federal inventories. These arms were classified as unserviceable, then offered for sale on the open market. In 1787, 7,280 muskets, more than 1,000 carbines, 3,927 locks, and 4,811 barrels were among the military...
Part II • Armory-Pattern Muzzleloading Shoulder Arms
Introduction to Armory-Pattern Muzzleloading Shoulder Arms
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Armory-pattern muzzleloading shoulder arms are defined as those that have been adopted by the secretary of war or chief of ordnance as regulation arms for the armed forces of the United States. Because they are the regulation models of arms, it is only these arms for which the descriptive term “Model” should be used. Many of these arms were produced at national armories, and many others were procured by the federal government and by the states from private manufacturers. These were usually procured through contracts, but because...
Model 1841 Rifle
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...One year later, on March 7, 1840, the Ordnance Department contracted with Henry Deringer to fabricate 6,000 flintlock rifles. He was furnished with two patterns: one was a contract Model 1817 flintlock rifle made by Nathan Starr; the other was an early Harpers Ferry prototype of what would become the Model 1841 percussion rifle. This suggests that some of the features of the Model 1841 rifle had been incorporated into prototypes at Harpers Ferry by early 1840. Deringer’s first delivery of Model 1817 rifles that had rifling and some other...
Model 1841 Cadet Musket
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It was not until the following November that the lock dimensions were established, and authorization sent in the form of a letter from Colonel Bomford to Major Ripley at Springfield Armory dated November 23: “The Cadet Musket is to be made according to the instructions heretofore given adopting for it the same lock as for the [Model 1841] Rifle.” This cadet musket is a smaller and lighter version of the Model 1842 musket, but its year-model designation predates the Model 1842 musket because (1) authorization for the fabrication of the Model 1841 cadet...
Model 1842 Percussion Musket
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...In addition to being the first regulation armory-pattern percussion musket, the Model 1842 musket was the first arm fabricated at both national armories that had fully interchangeable components. Springfield Armory began the manufacture of muskets with interchangeable components with the introduction of the Model 1840 flintlock musket in 1839. Harpers Ferry Armory’s musket manufactory began interchangeable manufacture when it introduced the Model 1842 musket in 1844. The chief of ordnance’s annual report for 1855...
Model 1847 Musketoons
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Although the Ordnance Department considered the adoption of at least an artillery musketoon as early as 1842, Springfield Armory did not begin the construction of model arms for examination by an ordnance board until late 1846. The Ordnance Board met in February and March 1847 to consider three musketoons that had been received from Springfield Armory in early February. These musketoons were the cavalry musketoon, for the heavy cavalry, or “dragoons”; the artillery musketoon, for the foot artillery; and the sappers musketoon, for the...
Model 1847 Artillery Musketoon
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On May 16, 1842, Chief of Ordnance Colonel George Talcott sent a circular letter to the commanders of the five companies in the First Artillery, seven companies in the Second Artillery, and nine companies in the Fourth Artillery. He requested detailed information on the muskets then in hands of each company “which may enable this Department to correct errors that may exist in the manufacture of muskets.” Unfortunately, the company commanders’ responses have not been located, but it is believed that most if not all of the...
Model 1847 Cavalry Musketoon
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...Hall breechloading carbines had been issued to the light cavalry and heavy cavalry (dragoon) units serving in the Mexican War. A third regiment of dragoons was raised on May 11, 1847; all three dragoon regiments continued to be armed with Hall carbines. The Third Regiment was disbanded by a July 31, 1848, act of Congress. The First and Second regiments carried Hall carbines until April 1849, when the exchange for the Model 1847 musketoon was authorized. The cavalry musketoon was the first armory-pattern shoulder arm to have a...
Model 1847 Sappers Musketoon
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The sappers musketoon was the first of the three musketoons adopted in 1847 to be produced in quantity. The first order for 200 of the musketoon’s special, Roman-pattern bayonet was given to the N. P. Ames Company on December 21, 1846. The blades of these sword bayonets had fullers, or grooves, in the sides. A second order, for 300 bayonets, given to the Ames company on February 19, 1847, stated “The grooves in the blades to be left out.” All of the musketoons produced at Springfield Armory during the first half...
Model 1847 “Navy” Musketoon
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A few musketoons exist that do not conform to the previously described regulation models or known modifications. One of these was first noted by Claud E. Fuller in the 1930s. He identified it, lacking further information, as a “Navy musketoon” for two reasons: first, the examples he observed did not have sling swivels; and second, the barrels or barrel bands of these musketoons are stamped with a small anchor at the breech. No documentation has been found in the National Archives or the archives of several states that authorizes the “Navy”...
Model 1851 Cadet Musket
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At the time of this cadet musket’s introduction, all Model 1830 flintlock and Model 1841 percussion cadet muskets had been previously issued by the Ordnance Department. The several states could be issued only regulation flintlock or percussion-altered muskets pursuant to the U.S. Militia Act of 1808. These regulation muskets were too large and heavy for many of the young cadets in the military academies in the several states. The production of 2,000 cadet muskets at Springfield Armory was authorized...
1855 Model Series Historical Notes
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From the 16th century, the military’s linear tactics stressed rapidly repetitive volley fire. Therefore, smooth-bored arms had historically been preferred over rifled arms for military service because they could be reloaded faster. The bores of smooth-bored muskets were substantially larger in diameter than the balls used, enabling rapid reloading, even when fouled by previous shooting. Bores were prone to become so foul from repeated firing in combat that it was impossible to ram home a succeeding charge if the ball’s diameter was close to the bore’s...
Model 1855 Rifle Musket
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The Model 1855 rifle musket was the United States’ first service pattern, general issue infantry shoulder arm in musket configuration that had a rifled bore. All that were made for issue to the U.S. Army were made at the two national armories. On December 12, 1855, Colonel Craig wrote to Lieutenant J. G. Benton at Springfield Armory, saying that the components of the new rifle musket that were the same as the new rifle were to have “perfect uniformity.” The letter concluded, “Every possible exertion compatible with perfect accuracy of workmanship...
Model 1855 Rifle
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The Model 1855 rifle was the last of the series of special military rifles procured for use by riflemen of the U.S. Army. This series had begun with the American long rifles procured during the Revolutionary War and during the 1790s, and had continued through the 1803 Harpers Ferry rifle, the 1807 contract Army rifle, and the 1814 and 1817 contract rifles, to the Model 1841 rifle. The introduction of rifled muskets with similar sights eliminated the need for these arms. On April 11, 1854, more than a year before the adoption of the Model...
Model 1855 Springfield Carbine
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On March 3, 1855, Congress authorized the raising of two new infantry regiments and two new cavalry regiments to protect the nation’s western frontier, and its borders. Some squadrons of the cavalry regiments were to be armed with breechloading carbines, others with a new Model 1855 carbine. The Model 1855 Springfield carbine was the first of the Model 1855 series of shoulder arms to be produced and issued. On March 24, 1855, Chief of Ordnance Colonel H. K. Craig wrote to Major...
Model 1855 Springfield Pistol Carbine
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The pistol carbine is a pistol with a detachable buttstock. Without the buttstock, it may be used and fired as a handgun. With the buttstock attached, it is used as a short shoulder arm. It was intended that it be used as a pistol when a trooper was mounted, or as a carbine when he was on foot. Two different pistol carbines were procured by the Ordnance Department during the 1850s: the Model 1855 pistol carbine and the Colt Third Model dragoon pistol carbine. The Colt will be discussed in a later volume, describing breechloading percussion arms. The...
Model 1858 Cadet Rifle Musket
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On August 1, 1857, General Lewis Perrine, quartermaster of the New Jersey militia, wrote to the chief of ordnance, requesting cadet muskets be issued to the state. Chief of Ordnance Colonel Craig wrote him four days later that no cadet muskets were on hand, “and it is not intended to continue the manufacture of the former pattern, it being in contemplation to adopt a new model.” On January 6, 1858, Colonel Craig wrote to the U.S. inspector general, “The subject [of cadet muskets] is to be submitted to the Ordnance Board now in session here.”...
Model 1861 Rifle Musket
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...The report recommended the lock changes necessary for this change, the adoption of a circular buttstock implement compartment proposed by Erskine Allin of Springfield Armory, and some additional changes to the hammer, mainspring, and ramrod head. It reaffirmed the rear sight’s location on the barrel. On February 20, 1861, Chief of Ordnance Colonel Craig wrote that these recommendations had been approved by the secretary of war. All .58 caliber Model 1855 rifle muskets for the U.S. armed forces had been...
Special Model 1861 Contract Rifle Musket
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Immediately following the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Samuel Colt began to seek a government contract to produce rifle muskets. On May 13, 1861, Samuel Colt wrote to Chief of Ordnance Colonel James W. Ripley, “We are making extensive preparations to increase our works with the object of manufacturing the U.S. latest model rifle muskets such as is now made at the Springfield Armory,” and requested three finished rifle muskets to serve as patterns. Two days later, on May 15, Colonel Ripley telegrammed Springfield Armory Superintendent...
Model 1863 Rifle Musket
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Because of the urgency to increase, not delay, the production of rifle muskets, several of the features suggested by Chief of Ordnance Colonel Ripley, Springfield Armory Superintendent Dwight, Springfield Armory Master Armorer Allin, and Colt’s Elisha K. Root in June 1861 were not incorporated into the Model 1861 rifled musket when it went into production. Primary among these features was the barrel’s shortened nipple bolster without cleanout screw. The nipple’s location was closer to the bore and a straight...
Model 1864 Rifle Musket
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Because this arm was the second “model” of rifle musket adopted during calendar 1863, some arms students have referred to it as the “Model 1863 (Type II)” rifle musket or the “Second Model of 1863” rifle musket. However, an April 16, 1864, letter from the chief of ordnance to the superintendent of Springfield Armory states, “[The] recently adopted musket, for distinctions sake, should be denominated the model of 1864.” In subsequent documents, such as Springfield Armory’s annual reports and in other records, it was referred to as “Model 1864.” For...
Springfield Armory Short (“Cadet”) Rifle Musket
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Arms collectors have occasionally encountered armory and contract Civil War rifled muskets with barrels shorter than the standard 40". We have searched in vain for records of procurement of short rifle muskets during the Civil War. Most of these have two barrel bands, and their stocks show where a middle band spring was located, but its recess is filled with wood. These arms had been sold as surplus or condemned following the Civil War and were shortened by the commercial companies who had purchased them at government auction. ...
Part III • Non-Armory-Pattern Muzzleloading Arms
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Shortly before the War of 1812, a system of arms procurement was established by the federal government through which the muskets produced at the two national armories were reserved for issue to federal armed forces, and the muskets procured by government contract with the annual allocations of funds from Congress under the 1808 Militia Act were for the federal procurement of arms for the individual states. Once this system was established, the muskets for the states were procured by contract with eight private gun-makers, referred to as “private armories.” Arms...
Blunt “Long Enfield” Rifle Musket
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New York City gun-maker Orison (sometimes written as Orion) Blunt had retired from a partnership with W. S. Syms about five years before the Civil War began. Blunt corresponded with Chief of Ordnance General James W. Ripley on August 13, 1861, regarding payment for a large assortment of various firearms and ammunition sold to the Ordnance Department by the Union Defense Committee of New York. In later correspondence, General Ripley would identify Blunt as an agent of this committee. ...
Deringer Rifle Musket
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Prior to the late 1840s, Henry Deringer Jr. had been a major supplier of arms to the federal government. He had supplied more than 8,000 Northwest guns and Indian guns during the 1830s and 1840s. He also supplied 15,000 Model 1814 and Model 1817 common rifles. His last deliveries of these were in 1846. Although he did not receive a government contract for Model 1841 rifles or for the later rifle muskets, his manufactory continued to thrive. The June 1, 1860, census of industry by the county of Philadelphia stated that his firm had 10 employees with...
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Similar to the rifle muskets produced by Henry Deringer of Philadelphia, Deringer made small quantities of percussion versions of the Model 1817 rifle, which may have been sold to states’ militias. In the belief that these rifles may have been procured by the state of Pennsylvania, a thorough search of that state’s archives was made, but yielded no information regarding their purchase. It is possible they were purchased by one or more of the many private militia companies that were formed after the...
J. Henry & Son Rifles and Cadet Musket
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From 1808 until shortly after the War of 1812, the Henry gun-making firm produced flintlock muskets for the federal government. During part of this period, the firm also produced rifles and pistols under government contract for the Indians and for commercial sales.1 The Henry manufactory, known as Bolton Gun Works, also produced flintlock muskets for the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and other members of the militia . Following the War of 1812, the company produced sporting arms and components for the...
Justice Rifle Musket
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There is only a small amount of information in the standard firearms reference works regarding the pre–Civil War activities of Phillip S. Justice of Philadelphia. The records contained in the Henry family papers indicate that the firm of Justice & Steinmann became customers of the Henry firm in 1842, and perhaps earlier.2 It appears that the partnership of Justice and John Steinman continued until Steinman’s death in 1845. The firm’s name remained unchanged until 1861, and sold sporting arms and appendages made by the Henry firm and probably...
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...This letter offering improved short and long Enfield pattern rifles strongly suggests Justice either owned, or had control over, at least some of the of the arms manufacturing machinery sold to satisfy the Robbins & Lawrence bankruptcy. Much of this machinery was in the possession of Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut, as late as February 1860. In that month, the machinery was offered for sale by an agent of the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company. The machinery had been used by Robbins &...
John H. Krider Background
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John H. Krider Sr. began making arms in 1826. In 1837, he established his sporting goods business named Sportsman’s Depot on the northeast corner of Second Street and Walnut Street in Philadelphia. By the mid-1850s, the business included the sale and repair of arms and flasks, and the sale of a wide variety of sporting items such as fishing tackle, knives, dog muzzles, black gunpowder, targets, and items needed for the taxidermy of birds. The new arms sold included imported arms as well as those of Sharps, Deringer, Colt, and those of...
Krider Rifle Musket
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It is possible the Krider firm’s sales records examined by the author may have been incomplete. It is likely that additional military shoulder arms were sold during the Civil War. Records from 1855 to the end of the Civil War give no indication that large quantities of shoulder arms were sold to individuals, militia units, or other merchants. The shoulder arms sold were identified in these records only as “minie muskets,” “muskets,” “cadet muskets,” and “rifles” or “Zouave rifles.” Krider’s records state that he sold 75 shoulder arms described as...
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As previously stated, the Krider records give no indication that large quantities of shoulder arms were sold to individuals, militia units, or other merchants from 1855 to the end of the Civil War. Arms identified as “rifles” were the most commonly sold shoulder arm. In 1861, Krider sold 42 rifles; one of these was identified as a “Zouave rifle.” In 1862, Krider sold 1 “Zouave rifle” and 37 other “rifles.” Fifty-nine of the rifles sold in 1861 and 1862 were sold to a person named “M. Weaver.” Nothing further is known of this person, but it is...
Henry E. Leman Background
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Henry E. Leman was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1812. He was apprenticed to gun-maker Melchior Fordney in 1828, and was employed in George W. Tryon’s arms manufactory in Philadelphia from 1831 to 1834. By 1837, he had returned to Lancaster County and was listed as a “gunsmith” on the tax list. His manufactory was along the banks of the Conestoga River, and he appropriately named the arms manufactory Conestoga Rifle Works. His first contract to make arms for the American Fur Company was that same...
Leman Rifle Musket
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A very few Leman rifle muskets exist. Because documentation has not been found supporting their sale, it is generally speculated that Leman fabricated fewer than 100 rifle muskets for commercial sale to one or more private militia companies, or possibly to Phillip S. Justice (see section 320). There are numerous variations in the specifications and configurations in the few known examples of Leman rifle muskets. All examples appear to be equipped with Model 1816 musket barrel bands and butt plates that have been...
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The background information on Henry E. Leman, contained in section 329, relates how he made thousands of plains rifles and Indian trade arms from 1834 to 1861. Following the reestablishment of his manufactory after its destruction by fire in early June 1860, he wrote to Chief of Ordnance General James W. Ripley on October 4, 1861, offering to contract for the supply of rifles to the Army. General Ripley responded on October 7 that sufficient contracts for arms to be delivered in the future had already been made, and suggested that Leman...
Lindsay Two-Shot Rifle Musket
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Following his employment at Springfield Armory, John P. Lindsay was associated with John Walch of New York City. It has been reported, but not verified, that he was Walch’s partner in the production of Walch’s unusual revolvers. These revolvers were produced under Walch’s patent number 22,905 of February 8, 1859. Their unusual feature was the revolvers’ six-chamber cylinder. Each chamber contained two superimposed loads. The earliest Walch revolvers had two hammers and two spur triggers. The right hammer fired the front charge...
Moore “Long Enfield” Rifle Musket
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John P. Moore established his gunsmithing business in New York City in 1822. The company, in various forms, existed until 1879. In 1855, his sons George G. and Henry T. Moore joined the business and the firm’s name became John P. Moore & Sons. Subsequently, the firm was reorganized and its name changed again to John P. Moore’s Sons on January 31, 1860. The firm was located at 204 Broadway from 1838 until 1863, and at 208 Broadway thereafter. While it is clear that John Moore was a gunsmith or gun-maker, it appears that his sons...
Moore “Short Enfield” Rifle
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Background information on John P. Moore, his company, and the delivery of long Enfields to the federal government is in section 340. The Ordnance Department’s “Statement of Accounts with Contractors” that is often quoted in this book does not identify any short rifles or carbines included in the deliveries of arms by John P. Moore’s Sons of New York City. Other sources, such as the 1866 compilation of ordnance store purchased during the Civil War, provide this information, however. ...
Remington Model 1862 U.S. Contract Rifle
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The census of “Manufacturers of the United States” for 1860 listed E. Remington & Sons as one of the larger firearms manufacturers. This census reported that the company was capitalized at $15,000.00, with annual sales of $60,000.00, and that it had 75 employees. Following the death of Eliphalet Remington Jr. on July 15, 1861, his son Samuel Remington traveled from New York to Washington, DC, in an attempt to obtain a contract to produce a modified version of the Harpers Ferry–altered...
Robbins & Lawrence “Long Enfield” Rifle Musket
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In 1851, the Windsor, Vermont, firm of Samuel Robbins and Richard S. Lawrence displayed six Model 1841 rifles of their manufacture at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. The components of these rifles were fully interchangeable, which impressed the British military authorities, who were still producing shoulder arms by the century-old “armory system of manufacture” methods described in American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume I. The British Parliament created a “Committee on the Machinery of the United...
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Unlike military arms, the two styles of rifles described here for sharpshooters were not made to a pattern, although most rifles of each of the two general styles presented are generally similar to the others of their style. The most pronounced examples of rifles built for target competition during the percussion period were the heavy telescopic sighted rifles that came into use in the 1840s. Because of their accuracy at long ranges, they served military sharpshooters well. They were inadequate for close combat during the Civil...
Smith New York Union Continentals Rifle
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The “Union Continentals” a militia home guard company in Buffalo, New York, came into existence at a April 27, 1861, meeting. Past president of the United States, Millard Fillmore, was elected commander with the rank of major. Fillmore had served as 13th president of the United States, between 1850 and 1853 and, like many members of the Union Continentals, at age 61 he was too old for active service when the Civil War broke out in 1861. During May, the company was organized and officers and noncommissioned officers were appointed. By June 1, ...
Suhl Variant Model 1861 Rifle Musket
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Foreign arms imported for use by Union armed forces during the Civil War are to be the subject of a later volume of this book. A small group of rifle muskets made in Suhl, Prussia, are included in this section because, unlike other imported military arms, they were not intended to be the military shoulder arm of a European country: they were specifically made for sale in the United States and conformed closely to the regulation U.S. Model 1861 rifle musket. The Ordnance Department purchased these rifle muskets on the “open...
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There were more than 200 Germanic states in Europe at the beginning of the 19th century.12 These states had various forms of monarchial sovereign governments whose rulers interacted with each other by a variety of familial relationships and treaties. Napoleon conquered these Germanic states during the first dozen years of that century. After his ultimate defeat in 1815, there was a resolution into 38 states that centered on Prussia in the north, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the south. They did not unify into the single country of...
Whitney “Good and Serviceable” Military Shoulder Arms
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Eli Whitney Jr. was four years old when his father died in 1825. The manufactory, sometimes known as the Whitney Armory, was operated by the younger Whitney’s, nephews, Philo and Eli Whitney Blake, until 1830. For the next 11 years, the armory was administered by attorneys, Edwards & Goodrich, as trustees for Eli Whitney Jr. During this period, the Whitney Armory produced thousands of Model 1816 muskets for the federal government. Upon reaching the age of 21 in 1842, Whitney took over the management of...
Whitney Variant Model 1842 Rifle Musket (“New Hampshire”)
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While no documentary evidence has been found specifying that the state of New Hampshire acquired muskets from Eli Whitney Jr., there is ample archival and empirical evidence indicating that the state acquired more than 1,000 Whitney Variant Model 1842 muskets in late 1857 or early 1858. The New Hampshire adjutant general’s report of June 1, 1858, states that a total of 656 percussion muskets had been received from the federal government under the provisions of the U.S. Militia Act of 1808. Four small...
Whitney Militia Rifles
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The term “militia rifle” is used to describe these arms because the sales of the majority of these arms were to states for use by their militias, and to individual militia units. Whitney’s known sales of these rifles extended from the period he was manufacturing Model 1841 rifles under federal contract until early 1862. It is believed these rifles were made by the Whitney Armory from the late 1840s until 1861. Known sales to states and militia units occurred between early 1860 and early 1862. ...
Whitney “Enfield” Shoulder Arms
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Just as Eli Whitney Jr. used the known good reputation of the regulation Model 1841 rifles he had produced under federal contract to aid in the sales of his militia rifles, he also used the good reputation of the British Pattern 1853 rifle musket to aid in the acceptance of his Enfield series of shoulder arms. This rifle musket was widely acknowledged in America as being the best European infantry shoulder arm. Section 350 of this work describes the regulation Pattern 1853 (Type II)...
Whitney Variant Model 1855/1861 Rifle Musket (High Hump Lock)
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Todd cites a “Report of the Maryland Adjutant General to the General Assembly, Special Session” as the source for this information. There is no mention of these arms in the Whitney papers in our possession. At that time, Whitney was producing his Enfield arms. Although the report describes them as Model 1855 rifle muskets, it is believed that Whitney produced only 350 Model 1855 rifle muskets for the state of Connecticut in 1861. It is likely the arms acquired by Maryland were the Whitney Variant Model 1855/1861 rifle muskets. ...
Whitney Connecticut Contract Rifle Muskets
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After almost six years without a major arms contract, the Whitney Armory was in an ideal position to begin production of .58 caliber “good and serviceable” rifle muskets for the state of Connecticut. On June 27, 1861, Whitney contracted with Connecticut Quartermaster General J. M. Hathaway to produce 6,000 rifle muskets at $18.00 each. On July 21, 1862, as he was completing deliveries under this contract, Whitney received a second contract from Connecticut for an additional 8,000 rifle muskets, at the same price. Deliveries...
Whitney Variant Model 1861 Rifle Musket, “Manton” Lock
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The earliest reference to Manton rifle muskets in the Whitney records in our possession is a January 6, 1863, letter from C. Hubbard, Whitney’s plant manager in Connecticut, to Whitney, in Washington, DC: “Mr. Sackett [agent of the R. S. Stenton Co. of New York City] was here this morning to see you further about the ‘Manton’ guns. Captain Paul [Whitney’s foreman] told him we could deliver 55 within five days, 1,500 more in ten days.” On February 2, Whitney wrote to Stenton: “I can not promise more than 1,000 of the ‘Manton’ muskets and...
Whitney Variant Arms with Direct Vent
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Some authors have referred to these arms as “Whitney Flat Lock Muskets.” However, not all of them had flat lockplates without beveled edges. Some had lockplates with beveled edges. The term “direct vent” was used by Whitney in correspondence with arms merchants R. S. Stenten and Fitch & Waldo to describe arms he was offering for sale with barrels that had a nipple located in its barrel bolster closer to the bore than previously, and an ignition vent that extended directly from the base of the nipple to the bore. This gave more-positive...
U.S. Model 1861 Navy Rifle, Whitney Contract (“Plymouth”)
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John Adolphous Bernard Dahlgren was appointed a midshipman in 1826 and promoted to lieutenant in March 1837. He was assigned to Washington Navy Yard as ordnance officer in 1847, where he conducted experiments with small arms and cannon. He worked to establish an Ordnance Department at that Navy Yard, which included laboratories, foundries, and a test range. The USS Plymouth was refitted at the Boston Navy Yard in early 1855 and would serve as a naval ordnance testing ship on which to conduct sea trials of various military stores. ...
Sporting Arms Purchased During the Civil War
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Note: This section is included only as an item of interest, as it is impossible to determine and describe the specifications of the sporting arms procured by the federal government, much less those brought into service by individuals, during the Civil War. During the course of that war, the federal government procured a few hundred privately owned sporting rifles and shotguns. These “acquisitions” were often made to indemnify U.S. military officers, who purchased the arms, giving drafts on the federal government, to satisfy a particular...
Appendix I: Dates of Wars and Military Actions That Involved U.S. Armed Forces, 1840–1865
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Appendix II: “Calendar” and “Fiscal” Years
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Appendix III: Caliber Designations of American Military Shoulder Arms and Ammunition
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Appendix IV: Historical and Background Notes of the Pre–Civil War Percussion Period: Dorr Rebellion and Mexican War
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Appendix V: Arms Allocated to States Pursuant to the U.S. Militia Act of 1808
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Appendix VI: Military Small Arms Sales to Civilian Western Emigrants
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Appendix VII: Background Correspondence and Information Pertaining to Harpers Ferry Long-Range Alterations of Model 1841 rifles
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Appendix VIII: Background Notes Regarding Arms Procurement in the Pre–Civil War Period
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Appendix IX: Background Notes About American Muzzleloading Percussion Shoulder Arms of the Civil War
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Appendix X: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Muzzleloading Percussion Shoulder Arms Procurement
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Appendix XI: Background Notes Regarding State Militia Arms
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Appendix XII: Privately Manufactured Prototype Percussion Rifle Muskets
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Appendix XIII: The Federal Government’s Post–Civil War Cleaning, Repair, and Disposal of Percussion Muzzleloading Shoulder Arms
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Appendix XIV: Amoskeag and Whitney Post–Civil War Shotguns
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Appendix XV: Whitney Post–Civil War Sale of Springfield Percussion Rifle Muskets
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Page Count: 512
Illustrations: 299 halftones
Publication Year: 2011