Sunday, July 24, 2016

Revolvers & Leather from the Past #2

This is the second "Revolvers & Leather from the Past" post I've done. If you missed the first one click HERE to view it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

1862 Confederate Musketoon

This musketoon is quite interesting. Obviously assembled and altered by using some parts from the captured Harpers Ferry Armory and fitted with a lock from the Richmond Armory. The Richmond lock pretty much dates and explains that it was likely assembled at the Richmond Armory.

It has a 33 inch smooth bore barrel, without bayonet lug, with a blade front sight in a stud and three leaf folding rear sight. The barrel is fitted to an altered U.S. Model 1855 type walnut stock with iron patch box and buttplate. One iron barrel band and a dual band brass forend band with a sling swivel, similar to what is often seen on J.P. Murray Musketoons. The second sling swivel is mounted to the front of the trigger guard.
The lock plate has the Richmond Armory "Type II" characteristics of a hump between the hammer and bolster, "1862" marked vertically behind the hammer and marked "C.S./RICHMOND V.A." at the front. The barrel has "V/P/eagle head' inspection and proof marks near the breech.

The Civil War was disastrous for Harpers Ferry, it changed hands eight times between 1861 and 1865. 
When Virginia seceded in April 1861, the U.S. garrison attempted to burn the arsenal and destroy the machinery but the locals saved the buildings. 
The Confederate Army transferred equipment and inventory to a more secure location in its capital of Richmond. 
Inventory included forgings, dies, parts and surviving rifles, of various models, all were used to construct weapons for the Southern war effort.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Forehand & Wadsworth Army Revlovers

                  Forehand & Wadsworth "Old Model" Army
 Sullivan Forehand and Henry Wadsworth each married one of Ethan Allen's daughters and were part of E. Allen & Co. until they restructured the business as Forehand & Wadsworth upon Allen's death in 1871.
The "Old Model" Army was manufactured in the mid 1870s, it is estimated that less than 1,000 of these revolvers were manufactured and there is no suggestion these revolvers were purchased by the U.S. Government, although collectors classify the revolver as a "Secondary Martial" weapon. The revolver is chambered for the 44 caliber Russian centerfire cartridge.


                 Forehand & Wadsworth New Model Army 
 As with Allen's firearms, their guns were high quality weapons. The New Model Army revolvers were improved versions of the mid-1870s Old Model.
Manufactured circa late 1870s to 1880s with a total of less than 1,000 produced. The new model is similar to the old model except for the barrel length, the side mounted ejector rod, a safety notch in the hammer and the presence of an exposed cylinder pin. 

Being no dummies, Forehand and Wadsworth also pursued the military market, inspired by the lucrative government procurement's during the Civil War. However, postwar contracts never came. 
This resulted in what enthusiasts consider the Holy Grail of F&W collecting: the .44-caliber Old Model Army and New Model Army.

Largely forgotten today, Forehand & Wadsworth was for a time one of the nation’s best-known manufacturers of small, concealable revolvers. In a market flooded with inexpensive pocket guns the guns of Forehand & Wadsworth managed to retain some respectability.
Wadsworth sold his share of the company to Forehand in 1890 in order to retire and the company was rebranded as Forehand Arms.

Forehand's sons ran the business for several years following the death of their father, but sold it in 1902 to Hopkins & Allen, whom had been making Forehand Arms other lines of revolvers under contract.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Spencer M-1860 Rifle

Probably no one weapon of the US Civil War is more representative of the overwhelming force of industry and technology brought to bear by the North against the South than the US M-1860 series of rifles & carbines affectionately called "the horizontal shot tower", known more commonly as the Spencer.

At first, the view by the Department of War Ordnance Department was that soldiers would waste ammunition by firing too rapidly with repeating rifles, and thus denied a government contract for all such weapons.  More accurately, they feared that the armies logistics train would be unable to provide enough ammunition for the soldiers in the field, as they already had grave difficulty bringing up enough ammunition to sustain armies of tens of thousands of men over distances of hundreds of miles. A weapon able to fire several times as fast would require a vastly expanded logistics train and place great strain on the already overburdened railroads and tens of thousands of more mules, wagons, and wagon train guard detachments. The fact that several Springfield rifle-muskets could be purchased for the cost of a single Spencer carbine also influenced thinking.

However, the Spencer rifle along with other makes were eventually adopted by the Union and saw service during the American Civil War. By war’s end some 11,470 of the Spencer military rifles were delivered to the US military between 1863 and 1865, and nearly five times that many carbines saw service as well.  


Pictured is a pristine Model 1860 Spencer Repeater Army issue rifle, produced in the 1863-1864 time frame. The .52 caliber rifle weighs ten pounds and used the 56-56 Spencer rimfire cartridge. Rifle measures 47” overall with a 30” round barrel. This particular rifle was manufactured in 1864.



Developed by Erastus Blakeslee, a Colonel with the 1st Connecticut Volunteer Cavalry, the Blakeslee cartridge boxes carried soldered iron tubes loaded with seven cartridges for the Spencer Repeater, This model carries 10 tubes, which allowed for rapid reloading. Only 10,000 of these cartridge boxes were manufactured.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

-Whitney Navy Revolvers-

The most famous and easily recognized revolver manufactured by Eli Whitney, Jr . was his Navy Model. It was a 6-shot, .36 caliber single action percussion revolver with a standard barrel length of 7 5/8 inches. They went into production shortly after Colt’s patent on his revolver mechanism expired in 1857 and were manufactured through the early 1860's.
Approximately 35,500 revolvers were manufactured, including about 1,500 of the First Model, which were manufactured without a loading lever and approximately 34,000 of the Second Model. Both models went through a few improvements, resulting in four “types” of the First Model; and five “types” of the Second Model.
Whitney’s desire to improve upon the guns plus the habit of making design changes when parts on hand ran, out has resulted in some confusion for collectors.

The US Army acquired 10,587 of the revolvers between 1861 and 1864 and the US Navy purchased an additional 6,226 between 1863 and 1865.
A number of Whitney Navy revolvers were also in the hands of Confederate soldiers, most notable example being one which was owned by Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart, and is now in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society. Collectors confir, that at least two-dozen Whitney Navy revolvers are known to have been repaired for use by the 4th Virginia “Black Horse” Cavalry, and a handful of identified Whitney Navy revolvers with Confederate provenance exist was well.
Some were purchased prior to the outbreak of the War and these guns tend to early production 2nd Model revolvers produced prior to the spring of 1861. However, Confederate forces acquired many more Whitney Navy revolvers after the conflict started. These later production guns were no doubt obtained through a combination of capturing weapons and purchasing the guns from secondary retailers rather than directly from Whitney.

It is not surprising that the revolver found favor on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, as the robust design with a reinforcing top strap, a solid frame with a screwed in barrel and the simple turn of a wing nut to release the loading lever and cylinder arbor were all significant improvements over the open topped frame and wedge-retained barrel of the Colt design. The popularity of the revolvers in the south is further indicated by the fact that the design was copied by Confederate gunmakers Spiller & Burr and T.W. Cofer, both of whom produced Whitney-like revolvers for the south.


2nd Model, 4th Type


The above Whitney revolver is the 5th Type of the 2nd Model which would be the last production Whitney Navies. It has features which include: (1) seven-groove rifling, (2) large brass trigger guard, (3) "Whitneyville" marked shield on cylinder scene, (4) "wedge" type loading lever latch, and (5) six stop cylinder.