SMALL ARMS RAFFLE
To be drawn Saturday, January 16, 2021.
Friends of Fort Fisher's raffle for 2020/2021 features an antique reproduction, black powder 1862 Richmond Rifled-Musket.
At the start of the American Civil War, the Confederacy suffered from a lack of resources with the
capability to produce needed small arm weapons. In late 1860, Virginia started to update the small
arms machinery at the Old State Arsenal fearing a coming war between the States.
Unable to bring in new machinery from overseas, on April 18, 1861, the Virginia Militia attacked
Harpers Ferry and captured the town. The outnumbered Federal garrison burned the two arsenal
buildings, destroying 15,000 guns, and evacuated the town. Left undamaged at the Arsenal was the
necessary machinery and equipment to produce the Springfield Model 1855 rifled-muskets. Quickly, the machinery was transported to the Virginia Manufactory of Arms in Richmond. By June 1861,
Virginia transferred control of the Richmond produced rifled-muskets to the Confederate Government.
Production by the Confederate Government in Richmond began in October 1861 and the design of
the rifled-musket retained the general form of the Model 1855. It is for this reason that the lock features that overhang, or “hump” at the top of the lock plate. It was quickly realized this was a useless
waste of metal and the lock plate milling machine was modified in March 1862. This basic design
change made manual capping easier for the soldier. At the same time, a brass nose cap and a brass
butt plates were added. Over the next few months, the Confederate Government would move the
machinery used to produce rifling in barrels to Fayetteville, North Carolina and the stocks to Macon, Georgia.
Except for the rise, or hump, in the lock plate, the rifled musket looks very similar to the Springfield
Model 1861. During the war, the Richmond Armory produced 31,000 of these military rifles until
the supply of wooden rifle stocks were stopped due to the destruction of the Arsenals at Macon and
Colt had produced a successful revolver for the US Navy using a .36 caliber bore. Using the 1851 “Navy” frame as a starting point, they were able to marry the Colt Navy’s carry ability with the Army’s .44 caliber stopping power needs. This new revolver was designated the Colt “Army" Model 1860. It had several positive features including an improved rack and pinion loading lever, the barrel separating from the frame for cleaning, and having half the weight of the Colt pistols then in US Army service. The strength of the revolver came from the lower frame and the massive fixed cylinder pin. This made the gun slimmer and lighter than its main competitor, the Remington Model 1858. During the Civil War, the US Government purchased over 129,000 Colt Army revolvers making it the most widely used revolver of the Civil War. But on February 4, 1864, a fire destroyed the Colt factory forcing the U.S. government to order large numbers of the Remington revolvers.
The Remington New Model Army is commonly referred to as the Model 1858 due to the patent markings on its cylinder. But wide scale production did not start until 1861 and improvements on the revolver continued following suggestions from the U. S. Ordnance Department. While it was more expensive to produce, it had some advantages over the Colt. Those who could afford it, remarked on its durability due to the "topstrap,"or steel bar running above the cylinder, that made for a solid-frame design. This made the Remington less prone to issues arising from stress on the frame due to firing. The downside in this single piece design was not being able to remove the barrel for cleaning. But the Remington permitted easy cylinder removal, allowing a quick reload with a spare pre-loaded cylinder. It is, however, unlikely that this was common practice, as spare cylinders were not provided. Another innovative feature, which first appeared in the 1863 Model, were "safety slots" milled between chambers on the cylinder. The milled slot positively secured the hammer between chambers for safe carry by placing the hammer's firing pin between percussion caps, eliminating the risk of an accidental discharge.
Together, Colt and Remington revolvers made up almost three quarters of the hand guns used during the Civil War. Soldiers and sailors, on both sides of the conflict at Fort Fisher, used these revolvers during the two battles.
The raffle drawing will be held saturday, january 16 2021, at the conclusion of the 156th Second Battle of Fort Fisher Commemoration program.
Tickets are available for purchase at the Fort Fisher Museum Store
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