Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record
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|Title:||RIFLE - DIMICK RIFLE .55|
|Date of Manufacture:|
|Catalog Number:||SPAR 4477|
|Measurements:||OL:132.3CM 52 1/8" BL: 88.9CM 35"|
DIMICK RIFLE .55
Manufactured by Horace E. Dimick, St. Louis, Mo. - Heavy octagonal barrel. Checkered stock.
Barrel: H.E. DIMICK & CO./ST. LOUIS.
Notes: "Dimick, Horace E. - A native of Vermont, moved westward to Covington, Ky., thence to St. Louis, Mo., where he established in 1849. In the early fifties became Dimick & Folsom, then from about 1856 listed at Dimick & Co. He was granted a patent on 'improved mode of rifling ordnance by a system of straight grooves, extending from the base of the bore to about the position of the trunnions, and twisting from thence on to the muzzle,' January 13, 1857 (#16,377). He also patented projectiles for rifled ordnance, July 14, 1863 (#39,216). He produced percussion derringers. He died in St. Louis in August, 1874." Colonel Robert E. Gardner
"...Another group of good men who went down with Fremont were the Birge's Sharpshooters. A regiment recruited along the same lines as the Berdan regiment of the east, these squirrel hunters, if disciplined along military lines, could have done great damage to the irregular Confederate forces. Their arms were obtained under contract for 1,000 pieces with Horace E. Dimick, a displaced Yankee gunsmith who had achieved fame and prosperity in St. Louis. He had in 1848 considered making Colt's patent revolvers under license from the inventor to supply the western market. Now he turned his talents to buying arms. Headed '1000 rifles' with sword bayonets,' Dimick's contract was embodied in letters proposing to furnish rifles and Callender's acceptance of the terms on September 18, 1861.
'I can furnish the regiment of Colonel Birge with 1,000 rifles of the same generel character as samples exhibited at headquarters,' Dimick wrote to Fremont on September 11. He declared a difference in barrel lengths of not more than 3 inches should be allowed, and bullet weights to range from a half ounce to an ounce. He proposed to purchase them from gunsmiths 'in the different cities in the west,' offering his services to undertake this commission. He had 150 such rifles in stock, and calculated a price of $25. on an average would do the job. To close the deal he agreed to supply a bullet mould and ball screw and wiper with each gun, and 10 extra ball screws and 10 spring vises to every 100 rifles. The rifles to be sighted, 'and to be equal in every respect to the sample which Colonel Birge has, and to be subject to his inspection...and only those accepted by him shall be paid for...'Dimick promised in writing.
The specific character of rifles Dimick promised to get is difficult to assess, conforming as they must to a long discarded sample rifle once in Colonel Birge's care. By April 27, 1862, Dimick had delivered 472 sporting rifles at $25 each; the account was paid May 20. But, considering the irregularities in getting funds out to Fremont, and the fact that Dimick had 150 guns actually on hand in September, it is no libel to suppose he had acutally delivered at least the 150 by the end of September. We believe these arms included para-military target rifles of the prong butt style affected by the German-Swiss schuetzen clubs of the middle west in the 1850s. Often they were fitted for bayonet - socket, clasp, or sword - to conform to a special shooting match for military target work. Some of these special rifles, adapted for fighting, and for accurate shooting, were what Dimick obtained. When Birge's Sharpshooters were disbanded and translated into the 67th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, a colorful corps of men vanished from history. Their patron, General Fremont, nearly did, too. Yet his faults in the armaments race were three:
He equipped his men with 5,000 new breech-loading .58 caliber carbines when there were none to be had at any price.
He established a training cadre that in six weeks turned plow jockeys into tiger-mad swordsmen willing to follow a crazy, but valiant little Hungarian saddle tramp into the gates of Hell.
He set up up a corps of trained, expert woodsmen, dressed in forest green and wielding bayoneted target rifles With these errors, the record of Fremont in the West was ended." - William B. Edwards
"Record clearly reveal the government purchased 2,707 'COMMON SPORTSMAN RIFLES' 1861-1862; likely more. Well known St. Louis maker Horace Dimick received a contract from General J.C. Fremont for 1,000 percussion sporting rifles to arm the 14th Missiouri ('Birge's Sharpshooter', later the 66th Ill. Inf.). All acquired some from other makers/dealers. Existing photographs reveal guns as half-stock rifles varying in features (double and single wedge forends; back action and bar locks, with and without patchbox, etc.) Early correspondence mentioned saber type bayonets, but likely only a few so-fitted. Known to have been serial numbered (likely on face of muzzle) and issued with bullet mold (likely numbered to match.) Caliber .48 to .55. (Note: Colorado Territory also purchased 'sporting rifles' to arm their 1st Reg't of Volunteers, Sept. 1861.)" - Flayderman
Edwards, William B. CIVIL WAR GUNS. Castle. Secaucus, N.J. 1982.
Gardner, Colonel Robert E. SMALL ARMS MAKERS. Crown Publishers, Inc. N.Y., N.Y. 1963.
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