English 010 3:00pm
February 26, 2018
The Henry Repeater
When you think of the Civil war, you might think about muskets. Firearms in the 1870s played a big role in the drives westwards by being used as a hunting to as well as protection. But most people don’t recall the original lever action rifle that spear headed the development of reliable ,and affordable named simply the Henry. During the civil war most men were armed with primitive muzzle loading Springfield rifles that required the wielder to reload after every shot , this process was long and difficult to perform in the heat of battle. The New Haven Arms Company set out to make a rifle that set out to bring a more reliable weapon that gave the average soldier an advantage in the north , that could deliver more rounds with out the need to reload every time.
The model 1860 henry was a lever action rifle that held 16 rounds of ammunition in a magazine tube underneath the barrel of the gun. The frame of the rifle being made of brass instead of steel made for a very unique looking rifle that stood out on the battle field. The two creators of the rifle Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson’s wanted to originally creates a pistol known as the Volcanic but quickly being dropped to lack of sales. In order to save their design they worked hard on, they soon retooled and lengthen the firearm and began seeing it as a rifle. This was also slow but with the outbreak of the American civil was in 1860. Marketing there new rifle to the military was a challenge in its own right as most Army Generals were reluctant to invest in such new weapons. General James Ripley regarded first model as less than ideal for combat, because the Henry used an open follower slot on the lower side of the magazine tube. Witch would cause the rifle to become fulling mud and dirt and jamming the rifle in most cases. This engineering design flaw could be medicated when the proper care and cleaning but mist generals believed that this would not be the case. This design fault would not be fixed until then next model 1866 would be relished but by then the war would be over earlier that same year. The army would not be interested in the rifle but that did not stop solders from purchasing their own Henry rifles and ammo. Doing so was an expensive but gave one soldier the equivalent fighting power of 16 men.
The Henry’s innovations did not stop at the gun its self , with the rifle came an evolution is bullets. With the rifle came the .44 henry bullet, this copper rimfires round held a small lead bullet backed by 25-30 grains of black powder was a capable and reliable round do to it being one of the first rounds to be produced by machines only. Producing the bullet from machines rather than hand making them made the round especially reliable as during that time period the chances of you bullet not discharging properly was relatively high. Another feature that gave this round an advantage over other rounds of the time period was that the round was completely water proof. This may not sound like much now a days but considering that if it ever rained on the battle field and the men’s powder ever got wet, it would hamper the muskets round ability to fire witch could have vital effects. Though this feature as durable and reliable as it was, would not be sufficient to be fully excepted by the us army during the civil war. Testing by the US army found that the round did not meet the minimum standards set by the muskets of the time period mainly in comparison to the 1806 Springfield muzzle loading rounds contained up to 70 grains of black powder and was of a 50-64 caliber bullet.
Evan though the military never officially adopted the rifle , it still found its way on the battle field of the civil war with about 1600 rifle in the over all conflict.
Purchasing the rifle how ever was a bit of a tall order , most men could not afford to purchase one. A brand new Henry rifle could set you back about 29 to 30 dollars if you were lucky, another task would be to receive your rifle in any kind of urgency as it still took about a week to produce 10 rifles. Another hurdle that hindered the Henry rifle men was the cost of ammunition , granted men could purchase a kit of would allow them to use military powder , that was already available to the average musket men , and re pack there rounds that came with the rifle , but this in it self was also a risk, because if done in correctly , could cause the round to rupture premature and detonate the rifle and any remaining rounds left in the magazine. The only other alternative to the man owning the Henry was to buy replacement rounds , witch was also quite expensive as well at almost 1-2 dollars for a pack of 20 rounds. The next big problem came after you order more round from the New Haven Arms Company was making certain that you received your shipment , before your platoon or regiment relocated.
In conclusion the Henry rifle would be over looked in the pages of history mainly because the overwhelming majority of the other firearms that made up the standard long arms both the North and the Southern army’s and as a result of the rarity of them on the battlefield , it did not play a major part in the wars outcome. The war would be own by a combination of other factors that did not involve the standard infantry men, such as the arrival of the Gatling gun and the blockade of the southern states and not by over welling firepower. As a result of the wars end , production of the rifle its self-ended to , as well as the Haven New Arms Company its self was bought out and renamed Winchester Arms Company. Winchester would use the Henry as a Foundation for bigger and better rifles Such as the 1866 Yellow boy or the 1873 Winchester. The rifle would still be used for many years in the hands of Indians, settlers and railroad workers.
Adler, Dennis. Guns of the Civil War. Zenith Press, 2011. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=576527&site=ehost-live.
This was Citation was used for the overall comparisons and technical data of each rifle mention in the essay. The Springfield rifle was found in this book as well as the Generals assessment
Silva, Lee A. “Colt Revolvers and Winchester Repeaters Are the West’s Most Legendary Firearms.” Wild West, vol. 25, no. 2, Aug. 2012, pp. 68-69. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=76321001&site=ehost-live.
Here I found information of the practical uses and problems of the munitions used in the rifle though it was very brief mentioned. I also read up why the army dint did not adopt the rifle
“Guns and Cultural Change.” American Indian Culture: From Counting Coup to Wampum, edited by Bruce E. Johansen, Greenwood, 1st edition, 2015. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/greenwoodtvc/guns_and_cultural_change/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 01 Mar 2018.
Information about the rifles use after the war and how it feel into Indian hands . as well as its participation in the railroad security.