Union Rifles

Although the rifle-musket was the primary shoulder weapon of the Union soldier, substantial numbers of rifles, both muzzle- and breech-loading, were issued to troops in the field. Of primary significance in firearms development were the magazine-fed Spencer (7) and Henry (8). There was a frenzy of invention in the North, spurred on by the war and lucrative government contracts, but only a few of the newly invented and patented guns ever saw as much service as the single-shot Springfield.

The Spencer .56 caliber rifle was tested and adopted by the Union Army soon after the war started but little was done until the enterprising designer demonstrated the weapon to President Lincoln, who was so impressed that within twelve months a whole division had been re-equipped with the weapon. The secret of the weapon lay in the removable, tubular, seven-round magazine, which was housed in the butt.

A different approach was adopted in the Henry rifle, which was probably the most advanced weapon used in the war, and was the predecessor of the celebrated Winchester lever-action weapons. The Henry (8) had a brass frame and was fitted with a sixteen-round, tubular magazine under the barrel, which was operated by a lever. The weapon was bought in some numbers, particularly for volunteer and state troops, special enthusiasm for the

Henry WeaponsSpringfield 1855 Musket Patent

1 Rifleman's waist belt and saber bayonet, Model 1855

2 US Army Springfield Model 1841 rifle

3 Waist belt for a US enlisted man

4 Cartridge box for a rifle-musket

5 Sharps "New Model" 1859 rifle

6 Colt Model 1855 rifle

7 Spencer rifle: introduced in 1863

8 Henry rifle

9 Greene rifle

Old Colt Musket

weapon being shown by the State of Kansas.

The Sharps New Model 1859 rifle in .52 caliber (5) had great stopping power and was also very accurate. It thus became a favorite weapon of Colonel Hiram Berdan and his celebrated unit, which became known as the "Sharpshooters" from their choice of weapon.

1 Rifleman's waist belt and saber bayonet, Model 1855

2 US Army Springfield Model 1841 rifle

3 Waist belt for a US enlisted man

4 Cartridge box for a rifle-musket

5 Sharps "New Model" 1859 rifle

6 Colt Model 1855 rifle

7 Spencer rifle: introduced in 1863

8 Henry rifle

9 Greene rifle

Colt 1855 Carbine

U.S. Model 1861 muzzle-loading rifle-musket

Springfield 1855 Musket Patent

' "'"•»»««"■'■**» '»• ««»«».J c,„mm*MM. 1.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0

Post a comment