Marked " Greene's Patent Nov. 17, 1857." Length about 52^ inches; length of barrel 36 inches; calibre of bore before ovaling .53, depth of cutting each side .008, making the calibre .546; pitch 1 turn in about 50 inches. Weight without bayonet 10 pounds. The charge, in a paper packet, was 2\ inches long, and contained 68 grains of powder and a Minie bullet weighing an ounce and a quarter.
The wood was filled and coated writh linseed oil. The hammer was case-hardened in colors; the ramrod was bright steel; all other metal parts were blued.
The inventor was Lieu't Colonel J. Durrell Greene, U. S. Army. The rifles were made in the Waters shops at Millbury, Mass. The machinery for making the oval bore rifling was purchased of Charles Lancaster, London, England, who for many years had been making oval bore rifles.
The hammer is underneath the barrel and provided with a ring for pulling with the index finger. The barrel loads at the breech, bolt action. With the thumb of the right hand a release-button is first pressed. Then the bolt handle is swung upward and the bolt drawn back and a bullet dropped into the opening; then the bolt is thrust forward and the motion continued by sliding the bolt handle further forward than normal, operating an auxiliary con centric rod which shoves the bullet to the front part of the chamber. The bolt then is again drawn back to clear the chamber and a cartridge-packet having the bullet at the rear is inserted and seated by the next forward movement of the bolt. Turning the bolt handle down to the right locks the bolt by means of two lugs wredging into the standing breech. The rifle is then ready to fire, having two bullets in the chamber, the rear one serving as a gas-check.
When the chamber became foul it was impossible to force the rear bullet forward and the rifle had to be loaded at the muzzle. The bore itself, however, wras swept as clean by the passage of each bullet as the inventor of the action claimed it would be, and the bristle brush, contained in the trap in the butt, when wound with a rag moistened with oil, kept the bore in fine order.
Noteworthy features of this ancient bolt action: — the bolt lugs are at the front of the bolt. The bolt cannot drop out wrhen the rifle is held upright and jarred. The opening of the receiver is at the top, where it causes the least trouble from flip, and otherwise than this opening the receiver supports the breech of the barrel symmetrically.
No. 6, Colt Revolving Rifle. Militia.
While the patent for the mechanism was taken out in 1855 there was no issue of these rifles from the factory until 1857, the intervening time being given to experiments to perfect the locking, unlocking and turning of the cylinder.
The specimen illustrated is a five-shooter of .56 calibre. Of such arms a good many were purchased for the use of the militia of various states, and many militia companies entered the Civil War armed with them and never having fired them. Besides the 5-shot .56 calibre rifle the Colt Company made a number of sizes in the attempt to adapt them to the various branches of the service. When used in the Civil War the soldiers in all branches of the service disliked them exceedingly on account of the flash and loud report so close to the face and the fearful recoil when several chambers went off at once.
No. 7, Lindner Rifle. Regulation.
The patent, issued in 1859, was for a breech loading device for converting muzzle loaders. The specimen shown, is a Model 1841 converted by the Lindner method in 1862 by the Amos-keag Mfg. Co., of Manchester, N. H. That this rifle was not at the same time rebored from .54 to .58 is evidence of the pressing need then for arms in the field.
Sharps Rifle Model 1859. Militia.
Marked 41 New Model 1859. C. Sharps patent 1848, 1852." The 1859 model was the first issued
with a magazine disc-primer lock. (See Sharps Carbine 1859). Length 3 feet 11 inches. Length of barrel 2 feet 5§ inches. Calibre .52. Six grooves. A knife blade was screwed to the front face of the breech block to cut off the end of the linen cartridge if it failed to go entirely into the chamber. Sharps rifles leaked fire between the breech block and barrel; otherwise they were excellent capping breechloaders. Their rapidity of fire and their accuracy enabled a soldier marksman to hit his enemy first, and the renown of Civil War companies of infantry armed with Sharps rifles soon gave rise to the laudatory term, " Sharpshooters.1'
* No. 8 Sharps & Hankins Rifle. Regulation.
Christian Sharps' patent of 1859. Made at the Sharps & Hankins factory in Philadelphia, Pa. The Sharps factory in Connecticut produced the falling breech rifle and pistol; the Philadelphia ' factory produced the Sharps & Hankins metallic cartridge rifle, carbine and pistol, in which, by the action of the swinging trigger guard, the barrel slid forward along the metal fore-end projection of the frame. The early specimens used rim fire cartridges and the later ones center fire. Knife bayonet, Dahlgren pattern.
No. 9} Spencer Repeating Rifle. Regulation.
Christopher M. Spencer's patent of 1860. Made by the Spcnccr Repeating Arms Company, Boston, Mass. Calibre .56, rim fire. Extensively used in the Civil War and at that time more widely known and more popular than the Ilenry, which was the principal other repeater of the time. The Spencer Company was purchased and absorbed by the Winchester Company in 1870.
The Spencer rifle was considered by general officers of both line and staff to be the best rifle in use during the Civil War, and during the war about every variety then known of both breech and muzzle loading rifles of flint, cap and cartridge types were given the exhaustive test of hard use. The Spencer was a seven shot rifle loaded through a trap in the butt plate. The loading was a bit slow, with one cartridge at a time, until the appearancc of Blakes-lee's patent cartridge box containing 10 tin tubes each holding seven cartridges, each tube loadable as a unit. This method was in use during the last two years of the war, although the box was not patented until 1865.
The Spencer rifle originally was without a cut-off device for the magazine. This defect was removed by the ingenious device of Edward M. Stabler, of Maryland, a Quaker who, curiously, was a keen follower of out-of-door sports with rod and gun. While seeking recovery from an attack of tuberculosis by living out-of-doors in the forests of his native state he made over the Spencer rifle that he was using to suit his own individual needs and ideas; and of the changes that he made the cut-off device proved to have general value and was adopted by the Spencer Company for their subsequent improved arms.
No. 10, Lindsay Two Shot Muzzle Loading Rifle Musket. 1860. Experimental.
Marks, " Lindsay Patent October 9, I860." Length 56 inches. Length of barrel 41 inches. Calibre .58. Pitch left to right 1 turn in 6 feet. Same boring and grooving as the regular Springfield barrels of the time. Weight without bayonet 9 pounds. Charge, 60 grains of powder and a 500 grain bullet of special design. The cone and the rear sight are blue; all other metal parts polished bright.
This innocent looking weapon has the interesting feature of firing two charges, loaded one on top of the other, from its single barrel. The inventor was J. P. Lindsay, an employee at the Springfield Armory. Five hundred of these rifles were made at the Springfield Armory and issued to troops for trial. Lindsay's belief was that the bullet of the rear charge would act as a base and a gas check for the front charge. The superposed load device was ages old, but the lock mechanism can be credited to Mr. Lindsay, and it was ingenious, simple and good. There are two side-by-side centrally hung hammers, operated by a single trigger. The trigger wrorks perfectly, whether either hammer is cocked or both are at cock at once; in this latter case the right hammer always falls first. The fire from the cone hit by the right hammer runs along a canal to the forward charge of powder. The fire from the left cone communicates directly with the charge at the rear.
According to tradition Mr. Lindsay's brother, a soldier, was killed by Indians, who pursued their usual tactics of drawing the fire of a small outpost and then charging in overwhelming numbers, before the soldiers could reload their single shot arms, and massacring the entire company. The Lindsay two-shooter with the appearance of a single-shooter was intended to offer the sort of surprise that would discourage repetition of such tactics.
In spite of the simplicity of this arm it failed to work well. The long canal became blocked with fouling, so that the forward charge was often useless; and occasionally the forward charge, when it did go, leaked past the bullet at its base and fired the rear charge too.
No. i, Plymouth Rifle, 1861. Regulation.
Issued to the navy. Calibre .69. Peculiarities: — the large calibre, the Dahlgren knife bayonet, the finger grip on the guard bow, the very large ramrod head. Made by Eli Whitney, Whitneyville, Conn.
No. 2, Merrill Rifle. Regulation.
This arm embodies J. H. Merrill's patents of 1858 and 1863 for a device for converting muzzle loaders to breech loaders.
At the Merrill shop in Baltimore, Md., various United States military rifles were converted; the one shown was formerly a Model 1841; in all about fourteen thousand muzzle loaders were made into Merrill breech loaders.
No. 3, Springfield Model 1861 Rifle Musket. Regulation.
The changes from the Model 1855 consist of the omission of the Maynard priming magazine; a swell on the ramrod near its head to cause it to grip its seat and stay in place; a different rear sight.
Refer to No. 4 on Plate 21. Model 1861 Rifle Musket, Colt Pattern. Regulation.
This contractor arm is so nearly an exact forerunner of the Springfield Model 1863 that no difference wrould be seen in a small picture, hence the picture of the latter serves for both.
No picture. Cadet Size Springfield Model 1861 Rifle Musket. Regulation.
This arm is not illustrated because of its conformity, in all but size, with the picture of the Model 1861 Rifle Musket. Only one model of cadet rifle is shown — the Model 1855 — the others will be merely itemized in their proper sequence.
No. 4, Snipper Rifle, Civil War. Regulation.
This is a typical specimen of the heavy snipper rifles furnished by the United States during the Civil War to expert shots for eliminating the officers of an opposing army. The armies of both belligerents contained many expert marksmen whose special skill it was desirable to use. In the North, while special rifles were being made, agents of the government meantime made a house-to-house canvass, in districts of promise, for the privately owned match rifles which were suited to long range work.
(For this latter, more elaborate arm, see the Little George Lainhart rifle, in Chapter II.) The accuracy of the best of such arms was of a grade that has never been surpassed at moderate distance; and at long range the best testimonial of their deadly precision was the constant printing, by the newspapers of the period, of lists of casualties due* to those rifles.
The specimen illustrated bears no mark of its maker, but both rifle and telescope were made by W. G. Langdon, a Boston watch and clock maker and expert rifleman, who in 1862 contracted to make for the government a score of such rifles at $150.00 apiece, telescope included. After the war this rifle came again into the maker's possession and remained with him until his death in 1896. Mr. Langdon claimed the invention of the means of making this seamless drawn steel tube for the telescope.
The courtesy is acknowledged of Francis R. Bangs, Esq., for the picture of this specimen in his arms collection.
No. 5, Civil War Belgian Rifle Musket. Foreign purchase.
This arm is illustrated merely as an example of one of the many varieties of ancient and unwieldy muzzle loaders that were purchased abroad by agents of both the North and the South, more to prevent the other combatant from getting ready-made arms than for any merit in the arm itself.
All the principal manufacturing countries of Europe as well as Great Britain sold the belligerents as many as possible. The North got, and used, nearly all it bought; the South was unable to transport more than a small part of its purchases.
No. 6y Civil War Enfield Rifle, Long Pattern. Foreign purchase.
This weapon occupies a rather important place among our military arms because of the enormous number used in our Civil War. The United States bought over four hundred and twenty-eight thousand for Civil War use. The Confederacy bought Enfields, also, but was unable to use them as extensively as did the armies of the North.
Some of these rifles were made at the Enfield works and were marked with " Tower, V R 99 and a crown; some were made by contractors for Great Britain and others by contractors for the United States.
The weight was 8 pounds, 14^ ounces; length about 54 inches; length of barrel about 3 feet 3 inches; diameter of bore .577; number of grooves 3; pitch of grooves 1 turn in 6 feet 6 inches; diameter of Pritchett bullet .568; weight of bullet 530 grains; charge of powder 2\ drams (about 70 grains).
From these arms our Ordnance board adopted the form of the ramrod head. On the other hand the British War Office had, apparently, adopted for them the kind of rifling of our 1855 model rifles, that is, three broad grooves of progressive depth, from .005 at the muzzle to .015 at the breech, so that the
Enfields, of .577 calibre, used without trouble our .58 calibre ammunition.
With its own service charge the Enfield, fired at 500 yards, had a mean deviation of only 2\ feet; with our service charge nearly the same amount of accuracy was maintained. Undoubtedly Enficlds were the best of our purchased arms, and did us excellent service.
No. 7, Civil War Enfield Rifle, Short Pattern. Foreign purchase.
• Great Britain first issued this pattern in 1858. Although originally intended for navy use it was soon issued to rifle regiments and to sergeants of infantry. Our government bought them to issue to Artillery, Engineers, and the navy, and to noncommissioned officers of infantry.
The wreight averaged about 8£ pounds; most of them were equipped with the sword pattern bayonet. The barrel length was about 2 feet 5 inches; the bore was .577, the number of grooves was 5, and the pitch was progressive, giving 1 turn in 4 feet at the muzzle. Accuracy was slightly better than that of the long pattern.
No. 8y Civil War Enfield Rifle, Long Pattern, Officers' Model. Foreign Purchase.
No. i, Peabody Rifle. Experimental.
Henry O. Peabody's patent of 1862. The conversion of a Springfield muzzle loader to a breech loader by the Peabody system.
No. 2, Remington 1863 Rifle. Regulation.
Marks: " Remington's, Ilion, N. Y., 1863," and an eagle. Length without bayonet 4 feet 1 inch. Length of barrel 2 feet 9 inches. Calibre .58. Seven narrow, shallow, segmental grooves having a pitch of 1 turn in 5 feet. Weight without bayonet 9 pounds 6 ounces. The charge was the service one of 60 grains of powder with a 500-grain hollow base bullet, but after the war, when the rifle got into civilian hands, a powder charge of 75 grains was preferred. The bayonet was modeled after the 1855 sabre bayonet, but was straighter, 2 inches shorter and a half pound lighter.
This admirably made and extra good military rifle was of more pleasing appearance than common. The wood, black walnut as usual, was filled, linseed oil coated, allowred to dry, and then rubbed to a polish. The lock plate and the hammer were case-hardened in quiet, mottled colors. The barrel was finished blue-black, whether by heat and oil or by chemicals is now unknown; the trigger, band springs, and all screws were polished and heat-blued. The blade of the bayonet and the sling swivels and the ramrod were of polished steel. The rest of the furniture was of brass polished to brilliancy. Standardization of sizes and shapes, giving interchangea-bility of parts, was carried to a perfection not since surpassed; and the workmanship within was as good as that on the outside.
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