Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Tallassee Carbine

tal4.jpg

The Tallassee carbine is is among the rarest of all Confederate arms. Outside of museums, there are less than ten known.

They were made in Tallassee, Alabama in 1864 with equipment moved from Richmond, Virginia.

The carbine was designed along the lines of the British Enfield pattern 1853 carbine, 58 caliber barrel, which measures 25″ long and was originally finished in the bright and is rifled with 3 broad shallow lands and grooves.

The following information is from the Springfield Museum; “The Confederate Ordnance Department always wanted to headquarter the Ordnance Department safely in the middle of Alabama. Political pressure at the time, however, forced them to stay in Richmond. But by 1864, the political pressure gave way to the realities of war, and Tallassee was chosen to manufacture a carbine modeled after the British Enfield. This was the Confederate Arm officially designed and adopted by a Board of Cavalry Officers in the field. There were approximately 500 carbines manufactured in 1864, with the gunstocks provided by the Macon Arsenal.
Before Federal troops could arrive, the employees destroyed all the gun parts, much of the machinery, and a quantity of the arms. The employees then fled to avoid capture.”

The following is from the Talisi Historical Preservation Society; "Welcome to the history of our gun. Maybe one of the most sought after guns manufactured by the south during the war, because only a very few are known to exist.
On April 28, 1864, as the vulnerability of the armory at Richmond, Virginia had become increasingly alarming, Lt. Col. James A. Burton, superintendent of armories was sent to Tallassee, Alabama, to investigate the possibility of relocating the Richmond Carbine Factory. He arrived on May 28 to find two stone mills operated by Tallassee Falls Manufacturing Company. The old mill which still exist today was the perfect place for the new armory. It was completely isolated from the newer mill and powered by the water coming over the falls of the Great Tallapossa River. The machinery was quickly relocated from Richmond to Tallassee and the manufacture of the rifles was soon begun. Tallassee was a small mill town on the banks of the river and became evident that materials there were in short supply and would have to be shipped in. Times grew harder as the war raged on and the north advanced even further towards the southland. Materials for the construction of these guns became even harder to acquire, but it is known from official records that approximately 500 guns were made. The Union troops were ravaging the South destroying everything in their path. As they moved through Selma, destroying the Arsenal, detachments were sent to destroy the Armory at Tallassee. At least twice they tried to locate it, but either through false information and maybe blind luck the Armory remained unharmed. Knowing of the threat of Union invasion the Armory had been abandoned, taking all the machinery and carbines with them. Now the story truly gets vague. Were the guns buried in the ground, thrown in the river, or melted down? To this day there are many unanswered questions as to the fate of the Tallassee carbines. Only a few have shown up in collections across the country (less than 10 are known to exist). We are still researching this and any information anyone might have would be greatly appreciated....We have purchased this Armory and are trying to restore and preserve it."
- Talisi Historical Preservation Society, PO Box 780022, Tallassee, Al.



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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Maynard Priming System















My previous post about the Springfield M-1855 with the Maynard priming system created a lot of interest and comments about the system. A good many readers never knew it existed. This is not surprising as the tape priming system only enjoyed a short life span.
Dr. Edward Maynard, a dentist, patented the system in 1845 but it wasn’t until the late 1840’s that saw the use of the system and not until the early 1850’s that it was seen on production firearms.

Daniel Nippes of Mill Creek, PA received a contract on February 9, 1848 to alter 1,000 M-1840 flintlock muskets to this priming system. A second contract for an additional 1,000 muskets was subsequently let to Nippes on November 20, 1848. All of Nippes musket deliveries were received by the Ordnance Department between February 3, 1849 and August 27, 1849. 

Nippes also converted a number M-1836 pistols to the Maynard system.

The Sharps M-1851 was also equipped with the Maynard system.

Massachusetts Arms offered several revolvers with the tape system in the 1850’s.

In the 1850’s the US Ordnance Department was so impressed by the system that the US Government paid Maynard $75,000 for the use of his priming system on the US M-1855 series of arms. Somewhere around this time, Remington received a government a contract to convert 20,000 flintlock M1816 smoothbored muskets to percussion using the new US government standard Maynard percussion lock after it's adoption in 1855.


The complete line of Dr. Maynard's rifles were of course equipped with his system until the second models of the early 1860's. 


Between May of 1856 and July of 1857, 6,796 Sharps M-1855 Carbines were produced with the Maynard system. Of those guns, 6,000 were sold to the British on a military contract, 600 were sold to the US Army, 101 were sold to the US Navy and 95 were sold commercially.

Somewhere around the late 1850's a few of the Jenks Naval carbines were also equipped.


Now you can bet money that I have missed some but you can see that the Maynard Priming had a rather short life span even though it was found on a wide assortment of arms.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Springfield M-1855 Rifled Musket





The M-1855 was officially adopted in 1855 by the US Ordnance Department, but production did not get under way at the Springfield Armory until 1857, and at Harper’s Ferry until 1858

The adoption of the Model 1855 was significant for a number of reasons;

It was the first reduced caliber infantry long arm to be adopted for universal issue, being only .58 caliber, while all previous issue muskets were .69 caliber.

It was also the first rifled arm intended for widespread issue to all arms of the military. Prior to the M-1855, smooth bore muskets were the standard infantry arm, and rifled arms were reserved for specialty troops and were not issued in significant numbers.

It was also the first US military arm specifically designed for use with the Burton Ball (the American modified version of the expanding base French MiniƩ ball).

Finally, the M-1855 incorporated the automatic tape priming mechanism of Dr. Edward Maynard. This mechanical priming system used a varnished paper roll of priming pellets, much like a modern roll of caps used in a child’s cap gun. The system advanced the roll every time the hammer was cocked, placing a fresh primer pellet over the cone (nipple). A sharp cutting edge on the bottom face of the hammer cut off the spent piece of priming tape when the hammer fell.

The Springfield Armory produced a total of 47,115 M-1855 rifle muskets from 1857 to 1861 and Harper’s Ferry Armory produced another 23,139 between 1858 and 1861.

Although most collectors do not know this, the US Ordnance Department did let some contracts for the production of the M-1855 rifle muskets. These contracts went to A.M. Burt, J.D. Mowry, J.F. Hodge, J. Mulholland and A. Jenks & Son. However, the complicated tape priming mechanism slowed tooling and pre-production work, and none of these contractors ever delivered a single M-1855 rifle musket.

They did, however, deliver the simplified M-1861 rifle musket, which eliminated the tape primer system after the Civil War broke out in 1861. The only contractor known to have completed any M-1855 rifle muskets with a functional Maynard tape primer was Eli Whitney Jr., but these were never part of any official Ordnance Department contract and it is believed the 350 arms of this pattern that he built were all sold to the state of Connecticut.

When the Confederates captured the Harpers Ferry Armory in 1861 they moved all of the guns, parts, and tools to Richmond and then used the same to produce the Richmond and Fayetteville rifles. Consequently Harpers Ferry M-1855s can safely be considered secondary Confederate weapons as a large number of completed rifles were captured at the armory.






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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Confederate Richmond Type l Musket




Manufactured with machinery captured from the U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in 1861, the Richmond Armory Rifle Muskets conformed to the same general configuration as the U.S. Model 1855 Rifle Muskets. Type I muskets were manufactured under the State of Virginia before the armory was turned over to the Confederate government.

This particular rifle was pictured and described in Paul Davies' study "C.S. Armory Richmond" (page 1) and was formerly of the Fredrick Goldbecker Collection.

This musket is a Type I, the earliest manufactured units with a full humpback lock plate marked "RICHMOND VA" ahead of the hammer and "1861" marked vertically at the rear. The top of the barrel is also dated "1861."

Originals had a Bright finish with casehardened lock, without the Maynard tape primer mechanism. It is fitted with a front sight that acts as a lug for a socket type bayonet and a three leaf rear sight. 
The full length stock is fitted with a brass forend cap. The musket has an iron straight shank ramrod with tulip head.

Interestingly, the left stock flat is stamped with a recut "SA" (Salmon Adams, Master Armorer at Richmond Armory) cartouche and a "JAS" cartouche (John A. Schaeffer, Foreman, Harpers Ferry Arsenal Stock Finishing Shop). That pretty well documents that the stock was one of the many captured at Harpers Ferry.

When the armory was transferred to Confederate States control in June 1861. Production began in October 1861 retaining the general form of the Model 1855, but without the Maynard tape primer mechanism and patch box. The lock plate milling machine was modified in March 1862 to make manual capping easier by lowering the characteristic tape primer hump. Forged iron butt plates were replaced by brass butt plates concurrently with the lock modification. Most Confederate rifles also differed from the Union rifles they were based on with a different rear sight and brass nose cap.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lindner Breech Loading System





M-1841 Conversion
The Lindner breech loading system was invented by Edward Linder of New York, who received US Patent #23,378 on March 29, 1859 for his design. The patent covered his breech loading design, which used a rotating bolt to lock and unlock the breech, allowing the breech plug to tilt up for loading. The system was unique and somewhat cumbersome, but it was the forerunner concept of a rotating bolt with interrupted lugs, which would be the basis of design for almost every bolt-action rifle developed. 

The breech was unlocked rotating the handle to the left 180 degrees. This unlocked the lugs and allowed the spring loaded breechblock to pivot upwards, exposing the chamber for the insertion of the paper cartridge compatible with the standard .58 caliber paper cartridge used in the standard muzzle loading rifle-muskets.

Lindner had no manufacturing experience so he turned to the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company of Manchester, NH to build his guns and conversion systems.

Lindner acquired his first U.S. Ordnance Department order for 400 of the carbines on November 6, 1861. The guns were specifically ordered for issue to the 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment.
A second order was placed on November 4, 1862 and on January 9, 1863 the second Linder order were delivered, totaling 501. These were subsequently issued to the 8th West Virginia Mounted Infantry.

By the middle of 1863, Sharps carbines were becoming plentiful in the field, and Spencer rifles and carbines were becoming more readily available so the U.S. Ordnance Department made no further purchases.



Lindner Carbine


Lindner at this point in time began promoting his breech system for upgrading muzzleloading rifles.

The state of Massachusetts contracted with the firm of Allen & Morse of Boston, MA to use the Lindner system to convert 100 Robbins & Lawrence M-1841 “Mississippi Rifles” for their state militia. 







The alteration consisted of removing a rear section of barrel forward of breech and replacing it with a rotating sleeve of Lindner’s patent which would now attach to the newly machined breech with the original bolster & nipple from original configuration that now pivots to accept a combustible cartridge. The original tang is replaced by a larger unit and a heavy floor plate is added, forward of trigger guard, at base of stock to support the rear of the barrel.









While Linder’s system was only marginally successful in America, the Springfield Armory National Historic Site indicates that approximately two and a half thousand Austrian carbines were converted to the Lindner system bt Amoskeag Manufacturing around 1860 and the system was adopted by the Royal Bavarian Army in the 1860/61. Pictured below.






Overall, even though the design was somewhat innovative, it was actually already obsolete in an era when self contained metallic cartridges were becoming the obvious choice over percussion ignition ammunition for cavalry carbines.




Sunday, October 9, 2016

J. H. Dance & Brothers Revolver








The brothers James Henry, George Perry, David Etheldred and Isaac Claudius Dance joined their cousin Harrison Perry Dance to form the J.H. Dance & Bros company, located in the city of Columbia, Texas, which was situated on the banks of the Brazos river near Houston and Galveston.



First known as a steam machines factory, the company ceased all activities when the war broke out, and concentrated all efforts on the manufacture of revolvers for the Confederate army. The decision seems to have been taken late 1861 or early 1862 and must have been quite an undertaking for those people who had no experience at all in gun making.



The men who worked for this company were granted exemption from military service by the state because the need for firearms was so great.



In December 1863, the workshop was moved farther inland to Anderson, Texas, due to the fear that the Union gunboats could shell it the factory.



It is interesting to note that the Dance brothers never received any financial assistance from either the Confederate government nor the Texas Military Board to start the production.



The J.H. Dance & Bros was the fourth most important revolver manufacturer of the Confederacy and the only one to have produced both .44 and .36 calibre revolvers. 



Based on the serial numbers found on the few guns that have survived, collectors estimate that a total of 350 .44 caliber revolvers were produced, and about 135 of the .36 caliber.







                                
updated 10-7-2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Remington Zouave Percussion Rifle


Zouave.jpg

The “Zouave” name leaves me envisioning the famous Zouave soldiers of the Civil War. Ohhh, Gotta’ have one of those rifles, right? Well backup the boat boys. Few, if any, Remington 1863 "Zouave" rifles actually saw combat service during the Civil War years. I have yet see documentation either way. Remington’s delivery appears to have been too little too late.
To quote the New York Historical Society display of the Remington M-1863, This Civil War firearm has become known as the "Zouave rifle", although the origin of the name remains obscure. Go figure?


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Funny how these rifles are referred to as Civil War relics or Civil War reproductions by the people peddling them. Anyway, here is some info on the Remington M-1863 Zouave.





In 1863, Remington Arms Company began to produce a new contract rifle. Over 12,000 of these, called the "Zouave," were made. The rifle has a heavy, 33 inch, round barrel with a lug for a sword bayonet on the right side, a dovetail mounted wide base front sight and a folding leaf rear sight graduated for 500, 300 and 100 yards. The rifle is fitted with a steel, straight shank, tulip head ramrod. The barrel band springs and sights are blue. The lock and hammer are color casehardened. The forearm cap, barrel bands, trigger guard, patch box and buttplate are brass. The straight grain black walnut stock has an oil finish.
The lock plate is dated "1863" behind the hammer and roll stamped with a federal eagle and shield over "U.S." followed by "REMINGTON'S/ILLION N.Y." in front of the hammer.


Still be fun to have one of these.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

- Lindner Carbine -









“Lindner Carbine one of the rarer and less often encountered breechloading Civil War carbines. The Linder carbine was invented by Edward Linder of New York, who received US Patent #23,378 on March 29, 1859 for his design. The patent covered his breech loading design, which used a rotating bolt to lock and unlock the breech, allowing the breech plug to tilt up for loading. The system was unique and somewhat cumbersome, but it was the forerunner concept of a rotating bolt with interrupted lugs, which would be the basis of design for almost every bolt-action rifle developed. 

Linder apparently had no experience in the arms trade, and as such relied upon Samuel B. Smith of New York to act as a sales agent on his behalf. Smith was an active promoter of Linder’s design, and on November 6, 1861 he acquired his first U.S. Ordnance Department order for 400 of the carbines. 

The guns were specifically ordered for issue to the 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment. 

Like so many American patent arms designers in the mid-19th century, Linder had no ability to actually produce the item that he had invented, so he turned to the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company of Manchester, NH to build his guns. 
A second order was placed on November 4, 1862. This order was placed directly with the Amoskeag, by passing Smith. On January 9, 1863 the first carbines from the second Linder order were delivered, totaling 501. This brought the total number of Linder carbines purchased by the US government to 892. The 501 delivered in 1863 were subsequently issued in the fall of that year to the 8th West Virginia Mounted Infantry. 

The carbine was a .58 percussion ignition breechloader that was iron mounted, with a 20” round barrel and an overall length of just over 38”. Like most cavalry carbines of the time, the guns had a sling bar and ring mounted opposite the lock to allow the attachment of a carbine sling. 

The breech was unlocked for opening by twisting a large thumbscrew on the breechblock. The breechblock was then rotated 90 degrees. This unlocked the lugs and allowed the breechblock to pivot upwards, exposing the chamber for the insertion of the paper cartridge that contained the bullet and powder charge”. 






Updated 8/1/2016