Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lindsay “Two Shooter” Musket








The Lindsay “Two Shooter” was arguably the most interesting musket issued during the Civil War. 
Developed in 1863 by J.P. Lindsay, this rifle used a "superposed charge" system to give the firepower of a double barreled rifle in the format of a single barreled infantry musket. 
Only 1000 were produced and only a small number issued. 

The musket is designed to be loaded twice. One charge directly on top of the other. It fires by means of two hammers. One hammer fires the forward charge, the second hammer fires the bottom charge. The bottom bullet was covered with grease and wax to prevent the first charge from setting off the second when the trigger was pulled the first time. Sometimes this didn’t work as planned and consequently the US govt decided that 1000 examples of this gun was enough. They were unpopular, due to the real and present danger of the first charge misfiring (bad primer, fouled powder, etc) and the second charge being obstructed and destroying the rifle.







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The Henry Rifle

Designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry in 1860, the Henry rifle was was a sixteen shot .44 caliber rimfire introduced in the early 1860s and produced through 1866 by the New Haven Arms Company.

Firearms historians estimate 14,000 units had been manufactured by the time production ended in 1866 and approximately 1700 were purchased by the government during the Civil War. The states of Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana purchased for some regiments.

However more Henrys were purchased by individual soldiers than by the government and 6 to 7 thousand saw use by Union soldiers from those private purchases. Many infantry soldiers purchased Henrys with their reenlistment bounties of 1864, most of these units were associated with Sherman's Western Troops.

While never issued on a large scale, the Henry rifle demonstrated its advantages of rapid fire at close range several times in the Civil War and were frequently used by scouts, skirmishers, flank guards, and raiding parties rather than in regular infantry formations.

The Battle of Franklin was a Union success where two Henry-armed Union regiments held off repeated attacks from large Confederate forces.
The few Confederate troops who came into possession of captured Henry rifles had little way to resupply the special ammunition used by the weapon, making its widespread use by Confederate forces impractical. The rifle is known to have been used at least in part by Confederate units in Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia, as well as the personal bodyguards of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

7th Illinois Volunteer Infantry with Henry Rifles

Later during the wars between the United States and the Plains Indians the Henry fire power would prove to be the destruction of the 7th Cavalry in the hands Sioux and Cheyenne at Little Bighorn. 



The Henry was not without problems and the fragility of Henry compared to Spencer repeating rifles hampered their official acceptance.

It was not a particularly safe weapon. A Henry rifle, when not in use, would either have the hammer cocked or resting on the rim of the cartridge. In the first case, the rifle had no safety and was in firing position. In the second, an impact on the back of the exposed hammer could cause a chambered round to fire.


It is very likely that the pictured rifle was a promotional gift from the manufacturer. The Connecticut-based New Haven Arms Company hoped to make the Henry the standard-issue rifle of the Union Army and sought favorable endorsements in hopes of securing government contracts. As a matter of fact, a similar engraved rifle was presented to President Abraham Lincoln.


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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Confederate Cook & Brother Rifles





Late 1860 or early 1861, the brothers Ferdinand and Francis Cook established the Nashua Iron Company for the production of arms. This company was established on Canal Street in New Orleans proper. According to the Cooks, the firm was established to prove “that rifles could be made here as well as in Yankee land or in Europe.”

Not very long after establishing this new manufactory, the name was changed to Cook & Brother and would remain so through the rest of the war. Initially the firm concentrated on the manufacture of “short rifles” based upon the English Pattern 1856 rifle. Early orders included rifles for the “Sunflower Guards” (Company I, 21st Mississippi Volunteer Infantry) and for the state of Alabama, which ordered 1,000 Cook rifles. While the company clearly focused on producing “Enfield pattern” rifles and bayonets, it also manufactured a small number of carbines and musketoons (also based on “Enfield” patterns) before the Federal capture of New Orleans forced the Cook brothers to relocate. It is believed that firm produced about 1,000 rifles and 200 cavalry carbines in New Orleans, prior to their forced evacuation in April of 1862.

The Cooks took as much machinery, finished parts and raw materials as they could and escaped by river to Vicksburg, MS and then traveled by wagon to Selma, AL. Here they completed another 1,000 rifles still using the New Orleans lock markings.

In early 1863, they again moved, this time to Athens, GA and established their new factory there. With the many finished parts on hand they were able to assemble completed arms prior to the factory really being up and running. The new manufactory was up and running by mid 1863, but in addition to making rifles there was new emphasis on producing carbines and musketoons. Here they continued to manufacture arms until August of 1864, at which time the Confederate Government could no longer afford to pay them. Athens production is estimated at 5000 rifles and a like number of carbines.


As stated above the Cook & Brother Rifle was based upon the British made Enfield Pattern 1856 “Short Rifle”. The Cook rifle followed the general profile of the British made guns, and were similar in size, barrel length and caliber. Both had 33” barrels and nominal overall lengths around 48”. (carbines 21" barrels)

The British rifle was .577 caliber (25 bore) and the Cook rifle was nominally .58 caliber. 
Like the British made rifles, the Cook was rifled with three lands and grooves.  
Also, like the British rifle, the Cook variant used a jag-head ramrod, threaded at the end for implements to be used in cleaning and extracting unfired bullets. 
While the British rifle was iron mounted, the Cook rifle utilized cheaper and easier to manufacture brass furniture for the buttplate, trigger guard and nose cap. The Cook rifle even used brass for the barrel bands and sling swivels, unlike the British guns whose barrel bands were iron. 
Another primary difference between the rifles was that the Cook utilized a fixed rear sight on most of their guns rather than the adjustable leaf sight found on the British made guns.


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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Triplett and Scott Carbine












This carbine was patented by Louis Triplett of Columbia, Kentucky, in December of 1864. He received US patent 45,361 for a “magazine rifle” on December 6, 1864. 
While Triplett appears to have had no manufacturing experience or capability, he must have had friends or contacts in Louisville that put him in touch with W.T. Scott. 
Little is known of Scott, but at the very least he had some level of political influence, as Governor Bramlette of Kentucky ordered the state adjutant general to contract with Scott for the production of 5,000 long arms of 56-50 Spencer caliber for issue to the Kentucky State Home Guard.

Scott then contacted with the Meriden Manufacturing Company of Meriden, CT to produce the Triplett design. On January 2, 1865 he contracted for 3,000 Triplett & Scott rifles with 30” barrels and 2,000 Triplett & Scott carbines with 22” barrels.

The guns were delivered too late for use during the war, and the majority remained in Kentucky state inventory until 1870 at which time they were sold as surplus in one way or another. Many were sold for Pennies.

It was operated by depressing the latch in frame behind hammer that allows barrel to twist away in circular motion and come inline with the 7 shot tube magazine in butt. Then a cartridge would drop into the chamber and the barrel would then be rotated back to firing position. Firearm took the same rimfire metallic round as the Spencer carbine. It was comparable in quality to similar repeating rifles of its time, but was soon overshadowed by stronger models, such as the Sharps and Spencer. 






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Sunday, January 8, 2017

“The Rarest Confederate Revolver Ever Made”



todd2.jpg

Yep, another one, this one was made by George Todd in Austin, Texas.
From what I have found, firm documentation on this revolver does not exist. Dates of manufacture vary from 1851 to 1863 depending upon who you read. This George Todd .36 revolver, serial numbered 272 has been referenced throughout the literature of famous Confederate weapons for over 50 years. So, with this in mind I will pass on some of the information I have found. Use your own imagination.

“George Todd came to Texas from Alabama in 1851 and set up his small operation on Second Street in Austin, patterning his revolvers on the .36 caliber Colt Navy model with octagon and round barrels.
Todd stayed in Texas only a short time after the outbreak of the Civil War before moving back to Alabama. He made only a small number of these revolvers while in his Texas shop”.


todd4.jpg

“George H. Todd learned the gunsmith trade in Montgomery Alabama in 1851. In 1858 he went to Texas and followed his business, making rifles, revolvers and gun caps for the State.
He also saw a little active service at Eagles Pass on the Rio Grande.
In 1868 he returned to Montgomery and set up a gun shop; he also owned considerable real estate near the city”.


todd5.jpg

“From William Albaugh's classic text Confederate Handguns to Norm Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms, this gun has a storied and spectacular reputation as an extremely rare Texas Confederate weapon.
This serial number 272 may be the highest number known (Albaugh III) placing this gun at the time of the Civil War in Texas, historically significant, making this the most rare Confederate revolver known”.



This much I know for sure...... 
The revolver has six stops on an iron frame features a 7 1/2" octagon to round barrel. It is stamped "George Todd . Austin" on the upper barrel flat. The trigger guard, backstrap and front strap are made of brass.  

tod1.jpg


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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Butterfield Breech Loading Musket Conversion



In 1840 the U.S. Ordnance Office made the decision to go to a percussion system of ignition for U.S. muskets and in 1842 the Springfield Armory began production of the first U.S. musket with a percussion lock.
Sometime around 1848, with the threat of war looming, the Federal Government took inventory of the Federal armories and found it had 180,000 first class (serviceable) flintlock muskets.
On hand in private armories of contractors was another 120,000 first class flintlocks. It therefore became obvious that the Government was confronted with having approximately 300,000 serviceable flintlock muskets. (the actual numbers were about twice that for guns that didn’t fall into the first class category)

Large numbers of class one and class two arms were converted to percussion arms during the 1850's and the hostilities of the 1860's. There were many contractors for these conversions. It appears that a lot of this work was done in National Armories both at Harper's Ferry and Springfield, probably with Springfield leading in the volume produced. The exact figures of the numbers of muskets converted by the contractors or either the National Armories are unknown.

In 1859 Jesse Butterfield, of Philadelphia, received a government contract to convert 5000 muskets to percussion. These were to use Butterfield’s patented priming system. Collectors feel that Butterfield did not fulfill his contract and of those he did convert only a few hundred had his priming system. It is possible that Butterfield's mechanical priming system proved unserviceable for Infantry use and some of the latter portion of his contract was filled out by simply installing a new breech and a standard percussion cap cone.

The pictured musket started life as an 1795/1808 contract flintlock musket manufactured by Frederick Goetz and Charles Westphall of Philadelphia. It was then converted by Jesse Butterfield using his disk/pellet priming percussion system as indicated by the distinctive Butterfield device on the lock and the patent marking on the front of the lock.
What is most unusual about this example is that is has also been converted into a break action breech loader.

A "trial Butterfield 1859 U.S. musket conversion" of a similar design is pictured on the bottom left of page 20 of the included copy of "Guns" from December 1965.


The article also mentions the experimental breech loading design. At first glance the musket appears to be standard Butterfield conversion. However, a small "trigger" ahead of the trigger guard allows the barrel to pivot upwards like a modern break action. The barrel is fitted to a hinge a the rear barrel band. The breech of the barrel has a brass plug with a conical design. This plug can be slid backwards out of the barrel and pivoted upwards so that it can be loaded. Upon closing the action the insert is pressed against the breech ideally preventing gas from escaping. The weapon could be primed either using the Butterfield disk primer or a standard percussion cap. While the system is fairly simply and ingenious, the hinge design is inherently weak. This critical flaw is likely what prevented a larger production run.


The following three pictures are of another one of these unique Muskets.




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Butterfield’s priming system had a small cardboard tube which contained a stack of small paper discs. Each disc had a fulminate pellet in its centre, the tube was introduced from beneath in a cavity located ahead of the trigger guard. On the removable lid of the cavity was a small spring that pushed the discs upwards.


The conversion without the breech loading feature.
When the hammer is cocked, a small bar pushes a disc forward under the hammer head above the nipple. The system allowed for about 30 rounds without re-priming. In the event priming discs would not be available, the weapon can also be primed with percussion caps.



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