Sunday, September 24, 2017

Revolvers & Leather from the Past #4

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Confederate Bilharz, Hall & Co. Breech Loading Carbine

This rare Confederate carbine was manufactured by Bilharz, Hall and Company, Pittsylvania Courthouse, Virginia. (known today as Chatham)
The first deliveries made to the Confederate Ordnance Department by Bilharz, Hall & Company were in the late summer or early fall of 1862, and on September 16 of that year they were paid $4,500 for “100 Breech-loading carbines”.
Research indicates that no other breech loading carbines were manufactured, as shortly after Bilharz received a new contract to manufacture Confederate copies of the US M-1855 Rifled Carbine. 

Coined as a  "Rising Breech Carbine" by collectors, it is an iron frame single shot breech loading percussion carbine in .54 cal. with a 21" round barrel. 
The breech consists of a breech block, frame, lock plate and side plate with a hinged lever which doubles as a trigger guard. The breech block rises vertically when the trigger guard/lever is lowered at which time a paper cartridge is inserted into the block from the front.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Springfield M1842 Musket has the distinction of being the first regulation percussion firearm manufactured in a national armory.

The Model 1842 musket was technically a continuation of the Model 1816 line of muskets but is generally referred to as its own model number rather than just a variant of the Model 1816.

A great emphasis was placed on manufacturing processes for the Model 1842.
The 275,000 muskets that were manufactured by Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry from 1844 to 1855 were the first firearm manufactured at the U.S. Armories at Springfield and Harpers Ferry with completely interchangeable components. They were also the last .69 caliber, smoothbore musket issued by the U.S. Army. Some Model 1842 muskets were also made by private contractors. However, these were few in number. One of those contractors was A.H. Waters and B. Flagg & Co, of Millbury, Massachusetts. These were distinguished by having brass furniture instead of iron. Waters & Flagg went out of business due to a failure of contracts in New England.

Flagg then entered into a partnership with William Glaze of South Carolina at which time they relocated the machinery to the Palmetto Armory in Columbia, South Carolina. Most of the output of the Palmetto Armory went to the state militia of South Carolina. There were only 6,020 muskets produced on that contract and none manufactured after 1853.

Waters & Flagg M-1842

The Model 1842 musket was the primary infantry weapon of both the Union and Confederate Armies during the first two years of the Civil War. It was still carried in significant quantities by both armies as late as 1863 and was not fully replaced by the .58 caliber rifle-musket at the end of the war. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Wesson 2nd Model breechloader would see service by both the North and South.

Frank Wesson and N.S. Harrington were granted patent 25,926, 'Improvement in Breech-Loading Fire-Arms' in 1859. The rifle is a “tip up” design with two triggers, the front trigger opened the rifle, the rear trigger fired it. Fired case extraction is manual by pulling the knob on the right side of the breech to the rear.

In 1862 Frank Wesson was granted a second patent 36,925, 'Improvement in Breech-Loading Fire-Arms' this patent which added the use of a slotted link to stop the barrel from pivoting too far, which made the gun much easier and quicker to load.

The carbine with a 24 inch barrel weighed only 6 pounds, low weight being desirable in a weapon to be carried by cavalry. They were manufactured between 1859 and 1888 in Worcester, Massachusetts and were one of the first rifles to use rimfire metallic cartridges.

As many as 8000 of these carbines are said to have been used by the military during the war. They were purchased by many state governments during the American Civil War, including Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. Many were purchased by individuals through a company called Kittredge & Co, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who have their name stamped on the barrel of these weapons. Purchases made directly from the factory were marked "Frank Wesson Worcester Mass.

The Wesson carbine was used primarily by the Union armies, as the Confederacy did not manufacture rim fire cartridges. However, in November 1862, the Confederacy did arrange for the smuggling of 10 Wesson rifles, and 5,000 cartridges to Texas, via Cuba. These rifles were smuggled by Harris Hoyt, who was later brought to trial in January 1865.

Some of the notable battles where Wesson carbines were in use are Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of Westport and Battle of Ezra Church. 

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