Category: american civil war

A Breechloading to Muzzleloading Conversion? — The Confederate Read & Watson rifle,

In a recent post I wrote about the Hall Rifle, the US Military’s first breechloading firearm.  You can view this post HERE. During my research I came across a very interesting variant of the Hall which was used by the Confederacy during the American Civil War. What makes it particularly unusual was that they were converted from breechloaders to muzzleloaders.  This begs the question, why did the Confederacy convert Hall rifles to muzzleloaders, an obvious step backwards in technology?


The conversions were done by the company called Read & Watson located in Danville, Virginia, with around 900 Model 1833 Hall rifles (the percussion variant) being converted between 1861 and 1863.  The conversion was relatively simple, the entire breech mechanism was removed and replaced with an iron breech plug, with a central hammer and percussion nipple installed.  The breech was then surrounded by a brass receiver.

So why did the Confederacy make these conversions? While I can find no information to answer this question, I can make an educated guess, and I think it has to do with the economics of the South during the Civil War.  By the Civil War the Hall rifle had been out of production for almost two decades. It was a relatively rare and unusual rifle, thus sourcing spare parts was probably difficult. The mostly agricultural South lacked the industry, resources, and know how to manufacture replacement parts, which were relatively complex in nature, thus it would have been easier to simply convert them to muzzleloaders and put them to use rather than maintain them as is.  Of course, this is mere speculation on my part, but I’m confident I’m somewhere in the ball park.

While the Confederacy was trying to be economical, the cost of each conversion was $17.50 a pop, which was about the same price to manufacture a brand new Springfield Model 1861 musket. So obviously this was a big fail.  It’s unknown if any of these rifles were actually issued or saw combat. Most likely they would have been used as a reserve rifle for local militia or forces not expecting to see combat like guards or supply units.

Presentation sword by Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham of New York City, 1864.

from Poulin Antiques

HARD TIMES — Recipes from times of food scarcity

Toast Soup — A Confederate American Civil War Recipe

from emmymadeinjapan

Presentation sword of General Rufus King, commander of Union forces at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run (Manasas), American Civil War, 1862. Produced by Bailey & Co. Jewelers, Philadelphia, PA.

from Gary Hendershott Antiques


US Civil War era non-regulation officer’s sword based on the British Pattern 1845 Infantry Officer’s Sword.



US Model 1860 Cavalry Saber

“About 1860 a light saber was introduced for cavalry. in this new model, which did not immediately supplant the heavy saber, the blade was reduced in width, and the entire weapon was lightened. The exact date of this change is not known, but the light saber is mentioned in the Ordnance Manual of 1862, and most of the sabers of the Civil War and later were made of this pattern. The date 1860 has traditionally been given for this change and is used here, although one or two specimens dated 1859 have been encountered.

The light saber can quickly be distinguished from the model of 1840 by the lighter blade with its rounded back and by the shape of the grips, which have a swell in the center. In all other characteristics, however, the light cavalry saber is like its predecessor.”

–Harold L. Peterson, The American Sword 1775-1945 (1965)


Sword Bayonet Made in Germany for the Brazilian Light Minie Rifle, c.1860s

This bayonet was made in Germany by Schnitzler & Kirschbaum (S&K) to fit a minie rifle that was being made in Liege for Brazil. They were redirected to the U.S. during the American Civil War. This bayonet could have been used in the U.S. or Brazil, and is often misidentified as a Sea Service Enfield. Brass grip, iron crossguard, steel blade.

Rare Confederate Richmond Armory production percussion musket, American Civil War.

from Amoskeag Auction Co.

New Haven Arms US Henry lever action rifle documented to the 97th Indiana Infantry Regiment, American Civil War.

from Rock Island Auctions

Food from times of scarcity — Dandelion Coffee, A Confederate Army Civil War Recipe.

from emmymadeinjapan