Monday, June 27, 2016

E. A. Prescott Navy Revolver

Edwin A. Prescott of Worcester, Massachusetts and Norwich, Connecticut, an ex-employee of Ethan Allen, was the patentee and maker of a Navy model .38 caliber rimfire cartridge revolver. His design was granted patent #30,245 on October 2, 1860. The Prescott was distributed by Merwin & Bray. 
It is thought that these revolvers, produced in Prescott's Worcester, Massachusetts armory, were manufactured in hope of a government contract. However, no records exist indicating that any were ever bought or issued by the federal government. Some are known to have been carried and used by Union officers and enlisted men during the Civil War, the above picture seems to confirm that. 
However, the picture appears to show a brass frame which opens another "can of worms".  J
They were good looking, strong and well made revolvers.The number of these revolvers produced is not known but the consensus seems to be that it was just a few hundred. Of that amount about 25% had iron frames and 75% brass frames. 

Due to it's being an infringement upon the Rollin White patent, which was assigned to Smith & Wesson, production was stopped in 1863.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Confederate Fayetteville Armory M-1855 Rifle-Musket

The Confederate Model 1855 type rifles were manufactured at the Fayetteville Arsenal in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This is the standard late production "Type IV" rifle. These rifles feature a low profile lock plate, brass buttplate, trigger guard, barrel bands and forearm cap. The lock plate is dated "1864" behind the hammer and marked with an eagle over "C.S.A." followed by "FAYETTEVILLE" ahead of the hammer. The buttplate tang is stamped "CSA" ahead on the top screw.The Fayetteville Arsenal was built in 1838 because during the War of 1812, the US government realized that the existing distribution of weapons and ammunition factories was not adequate for the defense of the country.
When North Carolina seceded from the Union, Governor Ellis ordered General Walker Draughon, then in command of the North Carolina Militia, to take possession of the Arsenal at Fayetteville.

Arms-making machinery, from Harpers Ferry, was 
relocated to new workshops at the Fayetteville Arsenal in October 1861 and the arsenal became a major supplier of small arms to the Confederate troops. The principal armament was known as the Fayetteville Rifle. At its peak, the arsenal produced 500 rifles per month. Over one hundred workmen from the Harpers Ferry Arsenal had relocated with their families to Fayetteville. In the middle years of the war, young ladies of the area were employed in the making of cartridges and as clerks.

On March 11. 1865, the Arsenal fell to the Carolinas Campaign of Union General William T. Sherman. Resistance was given but the battered and weary Confederate forces were overwhelmed by the tremendous numbers and firepower of the invaders. Continuing his scorched earth policy, Sherman ordered the Arsenal razed to the ground. His soldiers used railroad rails as battering rams to knock the building down then set the remains on fire. As the fire raged, some remaining artillery shells exploded and completed the devastation.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Augusta Machine Revolvers

Revolvers attributed to the Augusta Machine Works have long been a source of discussion among collectors. A letter written in 1918 by Samuel C. Wilson, secretary, Department of Public Health, Augusta does indeed state a Confederate Government factory producing pistols existed late in the war; however, no pistols marked as being produced in Augusta have been found.

Collectors of Confederate revolvers have long admired the workmanship of these .36 caliber, iron frame, octagon barrel revolvers, manufactured with both six and twelve stop cylinder, and share the collective frustration of not knowing the true origin. Albaugh/Benet/Simmons arrived at the 'Augusta' origin in 1963, based on a number of points yet, as of today, there is still no definitive proof of the origin other than it is probably American. However, the hypothesis established by these authors has prevailed, and hence the "Augusta Machine Works" designation.

These revolvers were very well made and (like most Confederate revolvers) are almost identical in appearance to the Colt Model 1851 Navy revolvers.
They are not marked with a makers name or serial numbers. They bear all sorts of assembly marks. Some are marked with cryptic letters and others with numerals. These numbers and letters found on both types are not all visible until the revolver is disassembled and are usually of a single character.

Pictured below are different revolvers purportedly to be Augusta Machine Works revolvers. You be the judge. Oh yea, the one the Confederate gentleman is holding? Don't have a clue.

Monday, June 13, 2016

- Freeman Army Revolvers -

"Austin T. Freeman of Binghamton, N.Y., patented this single-action percussion revolver, December 9, 1862 (#37,091). Freeman had been employed at the Starr Armory and some design features suggest how strongly Freeman was influenced by the Starr revolver.Caliber 44 with a 7 1/2" barrel it fired a self-consuming cartridge or could employ powder and ball. 
A unique feature of the Freeman is the way the removal of the cylinder is accomplished. It and the two-part cylinder pin are removed by pushing forward the slide on the right side of the frame and in front of the cylinder.
Only about 2,000 of these revolvers were made in period 1863-64. Those produced initially at Hoard's Armory are marked, “Freemans Patent Dec 9, 1862 Hoards Armory, Watertown, N.Y.” 
Most of the known revolvers produced at Hoard's have no serial number. There are no records of any Freeman revolvers ever being produced under government contract. It is likely that many of the 2,000 turned out during 1863 and 1864 were bought by state contracts and private purchase.
Later the manufacturing rights were secured and manufacture continued by Rogers & Spencer of Utica, N.Y." 

This blog is filled with interesting weapons from the 19th Century so be sure to brouse the "Blog Archive".

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Ballard Carbine

The Civil War era Ballard Carbine was invented by Charles H Ballard of Worchester, Massachusetts. His invention was issued US Patent #33631 in November of 1861. 
As Ballard was an inventor and not a manufacturer, he sought a way to market and sell his invention with an eye towards collecting patent royalties, instead of investing in a manufacturing facility to produce his guns. This lead to a partnership with New York sales agents Merwin & Bray, who represented Ballard’s invention, received contracts for his guns, and then subcontracted the production of the guns to other established arms makers. 
With the Civil War well under way in the winter of 1861-1862, Merwin & Bray found a ready market for the well designed, single shot rimfire carbines and rifles covered under Ballard’s patent. One of the negotiated manufacturing contracts was with Ball & Williams of Worchester, Massachusetts.

In its primary Civil War configuration, the Ballard was a single shot, breech loading, .44 RF (.44-33-250) carbine with a 22” half-octagon, half-round barrel. The gun used a simple dropping block action that was actuated by a combination trigger guard/under lever. The fired cartridges were ejected with a manually operated extractor. A short stud, under the forend was drawn backwards when the action was open, extracting the cartridge. The extractor was tensioned by a coil spring, which returned the extractor to its resting position when the stud was released. 
While most cavalry carbines of the era were produced with a sling bar and ring, the Ballard was manufactured with a pair of sling swivels, one on the single barrel band and one in the toe of the butt stock.
Some 6,600 .44 rimfire carbines were purchased for military service by the states of Kentucky and New York, with some also seeing service with Iowa cavalry regiments. An additional 1,500 military carbines were delivered to the US Ordnance Department.
The Dwight, Chapin & Company also produced an additional 1,000 Ballard carbines in .56-56 Spencer (.52 RF) plus a limited number of carbines with a unique Dual Ignition system that allowed them to be used as percussion arms if the rimfire ammunition was not available. These “dual ignition” carbines are very rare.

The US Ordnance Department started to sell off obsolete carbines within months of the end of the war. The first of the Federally purchased Ballard carbines were offered at public auction with a reserve price of $3.00 each, and did not sell. However, more than 400 Ballards were sold from the St. Louis Arsenal for between .75¢ and $3.00 each. Likely most of these saw usage during the post Civil War westward expansion. 
In October of 1871, Kentucky sent many of their state owned Ballard carbines to the New York Agency, where they were categorized as “100 New, 996 Cleaned & Repaired and 645 Unserviceable.” 
In 1901, there were still some 495 Ballard .44 carbines in inventory at the New York Agency, and in June of that year they were sold to Marcus Hartley & Co. for .86¢ each. Hartley owned a large chain of sporting goods stores as well as the Remington Arms Company.