Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Colt "Special" Model 1861 Rifle-Musket, manufactured in 1864.

The rifle design was basically the M-1861 Springfield which was manufactured on British Enfield machinery. 
Colt acquired some of the British machine tools from the bankrupt Robbins & Lawrence Company who had been using the machinery to  manufacture the Enfield M-1853, prior to their failure.

Colt was given a contract to supply 112,500 of these special Rifled Muskets. Production began in 1862  and between that time and 1865 75,000 were delivered under Ordnance Department contracts during the Civil War. 
By the end of the War, 131,000 Special Model Muskets were delivered to the US Government.
All parts are armory bright except for the blue rear sight and casehardened trigger. The Colt Special Model 1861 Rifle-Musket had a distinctive hammer, nickel bolster that lacked a clean-out screw, screw fastened barrel bands and a straight shank tulip head ramrod. 
Many of these features were incorporated by Springfield Armory in the Model 1863 Type I and Type II rifle-muskets. 
The lock plate is dated "1864" behind the hammer and marked "U.S./COLT'S PT F.A. MFG CO/HARTFORD CT" ahead of the hammer. 
The face of the nipple bolster is stamped with the spread eagle/shield motif.
Blade front sight on a square base which doubles as a bayonet lug and three leaf rear sight. 
Mounted with an oil finished black walnut full straight grip stock with two sharp boxed cartouches on the left flat and a small "T" behind the tang. 

Golden Age Pennsylvania longrifle by John Moll.

The barrel is signed "John * Moll", and was likely made by John Moll II of Allentown, Pennsylvania, circa 1815.
As you can see the rifle has the typical Golden Age, 'Roman Nose' tiger striped maple stock. A plain brass forend cap, three faceted brass ramrod pipes and flat-faced, beveled side plate with arrow shaped finial. The trigger guard has a prominent finger spur and square finials.The lock plate is flat with beveled edges and has an integral iron pan with prominent fence it is marked with the makers' name but the marking is illegible. A 44-inch octagon barrel of approximately .45 caliber.

The elaborate, four-piece patchbox is unique. Engraved with a rampant lion wearing a crown flanked by simple scrollwork. The patch box head is similar in shape to that found on other John Moll rifles that date from the early 1800s. The upper and lower patch box side plates are ivory or bone and are secured with four iron pins.

The upper stock wrist is inlaid with a silver thumb-piece engraved with the initials "JJ" and scalloped borders. Undoubtedly the owners initials. 

An engraved, silver, eight-pointed, star is inlaid on the top of the cheek piece. 

Simple, two-line borders are carved along the bottom edge of both sides of the stock and forearm. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Battle of Kettle Creek

On this day in 1779, a Patriot militia force of 340 led by Colonel Andrew Pickens of South Carolina with Colonel John Dooly and Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Clarke of Georgia attacked the camp of 700 Loyalist militia commanded by Colonel James Boyd at Kettle Creek, Georgia.

The Patriots attempted a two-pronged attack. Pickens’ line engaged the Loyalists, while Dooly and Clarke’s men attempted to cross the creek and surround the Loyalist from both sides. Dooly and Clarke troops were soon bogged down in the swampy crossing.

The Loyalists had the upper hand until they saw their commander, Boyd, collapse from a musket wound. The tide turned. Panicked, they disintegrated into a disorderly retreat towards the creek as Pickens’ Patriots fired down upon their camp from above. Shortly thereafter, the two South Carolina commanders, Dooly and Clarke, emerged with their men from the swamp and surrounded the shocked Loyalists, who were attempting to retreat across the creek.

By the end of the action, the Loyalists suffered 70 killed and another 70 captured, compared to 9 killed and 23 wounded for the Patriots. The victory was significant in delaying British control of Georgia the largely Loyalist colony. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Jacob Gumpf Kentucky style long rifle that appears to have seen multiple lives.

Attributed to Jacob Gumpf of Lancaster County, PA, and originally made as a fullstock rifle.

As you can see the fancy brass patchbox has one piercing and is profusely engraved, including four daisies as is frequently used in the Lancaster region. The box alone gives us a glimpse of how elegant the rifle must have been when it left Gumpf’s shop.

At some point in time the .50 caliber barrel was period shortened to 36-1/2'', a underib was added with the ramrod pipes being soldered on. The curly maple fulltock was made into the halfstock configuration consistent with its later time in use, which could have been in the Western frontier (?).

Also the rifle had been converted to percussion but has since been re-converted to flint. A liner was installed but the touchole is rather large and high on the pan. That along with the somewhat crude brass fore cap makes me speculate that the re-conversion was done by an amateur. Someone possibility wanting to make the rifle either a “show and tell” piece or maybe a wall hanger. I recall back in the 70s during the “Hawken Kraze”, a stroll through commercial row at Friendship, one would see a number of original longrifles that were reworked in the Hawken style.

Unfortunately we will never know as this rifle’s history has been lost in time. If only she could talk.

The Confederate Read & Watson rifles.

These unusual arms constitute the only known instance in which breech-loading weapons were changed to muzzle-loaders for military use.

They were altered by N.T. Read and John T. Watson of Danville, Virginia in 1862 and 1863 for the Virginia State Line (Floyd's Command). They were made from standard issue Hall M1819 rifles and carbines that the state had received under the 1808 Militia Act prior to the Civil War. The Journal of Disbursements at the Virginia State Archives records vouchers to Read & Watson for altered Hall rifles on eight occasions in 1862 and 1863.
From the vouchers, it is evident that Read & Watson were paid $14.00 each for the first 242 alterations, and approximately $17.50 each thereafter.

It has been speculated that somewhere around nine hundred arms, both rifles and carbines, were altered from breech-loading mechanisms to muzzle-loaders. This was accomplished by replacing the original Hall breech-block and frame with a brass breechpiece, or receiver, having a centrally-positioned iron breechplug into which a nipple was screwed. The breechplug has a rearward-extending flash shield, and the hammer is centrally hung. Hall parts consisting of barrels, barrel bands, buttplates, and triggers and triggerguard assemblies were used in the alteration. The stocks were of new manufacture, except for the front section of the forestock. This part was fastened to the stock by means of a heavy iron staple beneath the middle barrel band on the left side.  (Murphy & Madaus/Springfield Armory Museum)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Civil War era Remington “Split Breech” carbine, the last pattern of military carbine to be delivered to the US government during the American Civil War.

The little Remington carbine also holds a couple more distinctions in the history of American firearms. It is considered to be the first metallic cartridge long arm to be produced by Remington Arms Company, even though they outsourced the production. 
Secondly, it is considered the direct predecessor of what would become the most widely used single-shot, breechloading, military rifle action of the 19th century; the rolling block. 
The development of the split breech action is attributed to Remington’s Joseph Rider, who was responsible for the myriad of Remington-Rider firearms designs. However, it appears that in reality the Rider design, patented in December of 1863 was quite similar to the design of Leonard Geiger, which had been patented in January of 1863. In order to make sure that no patent infringement suits were ever brought against the company, Remington acquired Geiger’s patent rights in the fall of 1865.
With both the Rider and Geiger patent rights in hand; the company had a lock on the “rolling block” action design.

On March 9th, 1864, Remington submitted a prototype of this carbine, in .44 RF caliber, to the U.S Ordnance Department for review.

Type 1

In his review report to Commander of Ordnance, 1st. Lt. Geo. W. McKee wrote “this carbine might be used with advantage by troops in our service”.
On March 24,1864, the ordnance department placed an order for 1000 .44 RF carbines “for trial in the field”. The contract specified delivery in six months.

Unfortunately, all of Remington’s production capacity was tied up in the manufacture of their .44 “New Model” Army percussion revolvers and US contract rifles and rifle muskets. As a result, Remington approached Samuel Norris, who was involved with the Savage Revolving Arms Company. Norris agreed to manufacture the carbines, but required a minimum order of 10,000 to make it worth tooling up for the production of the guns. Remington took the risk and placed the order. 

It was a gamble that worked out, as the government order was eventually increased to 5,000. At some point during the production process the caliber specification for the small frame carbines was changed from .44RF to .46RF, the same caliber as the majority of the Ballard military carbines and rifles.

Type 1, .46RF

An additional order was placed by the Ordnance Department for 15,000 large frame, split breech carbines (Type 2) in the newly adopted US government .50 metallic cartridge (what would become known to collectors as the 56-50 Spencer). 

Type 2, 56-50

 Deliveries of the .46RF Remington Type 1 Split Breech carbines began at the beginning of 1865, with the majority having been delivered before the end of the Civil War. All of the guns were delivered within weeks of the close of the conflict. However, the carbines do not appear to have been issued for the war. 

The majority of the guns spent the next 5 years in storage in US arsenals, with about 1,400 being issued to various state militias and seeing some post-Civil War use. In 1870, with the coming of the Franco-Prussian War, Remington managed to buy back roughly 3,600 of the 5,000 Type 1 carbines, and sell them to France for use in that conflict. The balance of the carbines were likely sold as surplus to dealers, such as Bannerman’s, over the ensuing years, for significantly less than the $17.00 per carbine that the Ordnance Department initially paid for them.

Type 2

A rather plain but at the same time attractive smoothbore with standard rifle sights.

As you can see the rifle has an engraved patchbox with an attractive bird (possibly Federal Style American Eagle) finial and two pierced side panels.

The lock is marked "Martin" on the outer face and stamped "KW&A" (Ketland, Walker and Adams) on the inside and was manufactured in 1810s. It also has some engraving patterns at the tail. 

The stock is plain aside from a shallow cheekpiece and small silver thumb plate, and the barrel is secured by wedges.

The maker is unknown as his name is pretty much gone but it does show a "S" at the beginning and "er" at the end of the signature.