He perfected the Minie ball
Born—Shenondale Springs, Va., Aug. 17, 1823
James Burton devoted almost all of his active life to the supervision of armories. In this he was an expert. Educated at the Westchester Academy in Pennsylvania, he gave up formal schooling at the age of 16 and entered a Baltimore machine shop to learn the trade. His studies there lasted 4 years, and then he moved to Harpers Ferry where he obtained a job in the rifle works. His rise was rapid. The next year, 1845, he was appointed foreman, then Assistant Master Armorer, and finally Master Armorer, all within 10 years.
It was while he was Assistant Master Armorer in 1849 that Burton perfected the Minie ball. As originally designed by Capt. C. E. Minie, the bullet had an iron cup in a cavity in its base which was driven forward by the force of the explosion to expand the projectile so that it would take the rifling. Burton found that if the base cavity were properly designed, no plug was needed. This made the Minie ball both easier and cheaper to manufacture, and as modified by Burton it was adopted by the United States.
Burton's career at Harpers Ferry lasted only 10 years. In 1855 he accepted appointment as Chief Engineer of the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield. England, returning to America in 1860 because of ill health. During the Civil War he became a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Ordnance Dept. where he supervised armory production and was sent to Europe on a mission for the Confederate State Dept. In 1871 he accepted a position in England for a firm making machinery for a new small arms plant for the Russian government. He planned to go to Russia to assume technical direction of the factory when completed, but poor health forced him to return to Virginia in 1873. He became a farmer near Winchester, and spent his remaining years in that occupation. —Harold L. Peterson
Fig. 2. Housing assembly parts list
C. Trigger pin
D. Trigger spring
E. Trigger spring pin
F. Trigger pull adjusting screw
G. Trigger pull adjusting spring
H. Overtravel adjusting screw
M. Sear pivot pin N. Housing retaining pin (21) O. Sear spring P. Sear spring pin Q. Rocker R. Rocker pin S. Adjustment locking screw (2) T. Engagement adjusting screw assembly
Note: All trigger housing parts are sold for factory installation only. The disassembly of this component is not recommended and should be undertaken only by a qualified gunsmith.
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