Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record

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Maker/Manufacturer:HALL, JOHN
Date of Manufacture:1846
Eminent Figure:
Catalog Number:SPAR 6226
Measurements:OL:101.6CM 40" BL: 53.3CM 21"

Object Description:

Manufactured by Simeon North, Middletown, Ct. in 1846 - Standard Hall-North Model 1843 smoothbore carbine. Breechblock mechanism operated by release of a thumb lever located on right side of breech. Iron mountings with walnut stock. Weapon has an overall length of 40" and a barrel length of 21". Thumb lock device referred to as "North's improvement," patent no. 3,686. North manufactured 1,500 M1843 carbines in 1846. Some 11,000 M1843s were manufactured by North from 1844 to 1853.

Receiver: U.S./S. NORTH/MIDDLTN/CONN./1846.
Breech. JH. JH = Joseph Hannis.
Buttplate: 80

Weapon transferred to the Museum from the New York Arsenal on 1 April 1907.

1909 Catalog #3181 - "Carbine. Breech Loading Carbine. Cal. .52. Marks on breech block, U.S.S. North, Middletown, Conn. 1846. Rec'd from N.Y. Arsenal, April 1, 1907."

INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION, 1876, BREECHLOADING MUSKETS AND RIFLES. Halls. smooth-bore carbine; caliber, .52; percussion. Provided with North's improvement, by which the breech is opened by a side lever instead of by an under catch. The latter was apt to catch in the clothing &c., and open the breech accidentally, so that a careless soldier in firing might blow off his thumb."

Notes: "The breech loading idea was particularly attractive to mounted men. As infantry armament became more potent with the arrival of the rifle musket in the 1850s, cavalrymen looked to breech-loading carbine to help fill the firepower gap. Although dragoons usually employed their carbines in dismounted combat, breechloaders were also far easier to reload on horseback. Rapid reloading was an obvious plus to often outnumbered American frontier soldiers. At least as important, a projectile would not roll out of the barrel of a breechloader when slung muzzle down over a dragoon's shoulder on a horse jouncing across the prairie.
With these desirable attributes in mind, the United States dragoons were issued the first Hall carbines, with an improved lever designed by contractor Simeon North to raise the breech for loading with a paper cartridge. Like its parent flintlock rifle, the Hall carbine did leak some gas at the breech, a situation exacerbated after considerable use, especially on the frontier. In addition, if the ball was not securely positioned atop the powder, or slid forward, the charge moved away from the ignition point, resulting in misfires. On occasion, powder spilled loading migrated under the breech block, which, as the breech/barrel point widened with wear, occasionally led to unpleasant and unexpected explosions. Last, like the common infantry musket, the Hall carbine did not have a rifled barrel, but was made as a smoothbore in order to shoot buckshot effectively when needed. The general opinion of the Hall carbine was that it was less durable than a muzzle-loading carbine, and that its advantage of more rapid reloading was to some degree offset by its inaccuracy and limited effective range.
The Hall carbine possessed another characteristic that endeared it to dragoon on the frontier. The breech block included the hammer and trigger mechanism. It could be removed from the gun easily by troops going off duty and carried as a pocket pistol for self-defense. Since soldiers did not always frequent the most respectable establishments, these easily concealed hideout guns came in handy in 'social' situations. Dragoon Sam Chamberlain recalled that when off duty in Mexico in 1847 he habitually carried a Bowie knife and loaded Hall carbine chamber for self-defense. On one occasion he 'sprang behind a large table used as a bar, said a short prayer and stood cool and collected, at bay before those human Tigers, 'guerillars.' Although tackled, Chamberlain redeemed himself in a knife duel, had his loaded chamber restored and went on his way. At least that was his story.
As the Hall was beginning to become obsolete as other designs came on the market, a limited issue of the innovative Jenks breechloaders was field-tested. Invented by South Caroli
"The Hall-North carbines, often listed officially as the 'Improved Model of 1840' (or M1843), had a side-mounted breech lever protected by US Patent 3686 granted to Henry North & Edward Savage in July 1844. About 11,000 carbines were made in 1842-50. Lacking rod bayonets, they had 21-inch .52 calibre smooth bore barrels and measured 40in overall. A sling bar and ring ran from the second barrel band back along the left side of the receiver.
Simeon North was asked to deliver 1000 carbines of the original model in 1843 (with the Huger fishtail lever), together with 500 carbines with the North & Savage lever. Subsequent deliveries of the improved guns, at the rate of 500 every six months, were to be made until 3000 had been delivered into government stores by 1 July 1846." - Walter

"The Model 1843 Hall-North carbine is the most common of the Hall breechloaders, with a total of 11,000 having been produced by Simeon North between February, 1844 and February, 1853.
During the early years of the Civil War a large number of these arms were issued to U.S. volunteers, such as the Ninth Illinois Cavalry regiment, with whom, for the most part, they were looked upon with extreme disfavor.
The Model 1843 Hall carbine brought to an end the production of this first breechloader, originally conceived in 1811. Though never receiving complete acceptance by the military hierarchy, six carbines and two rifles of Hall's design were instrumental in paving the way to future, vastly improved breechloading arms." - Reilly

It was the Model 1843 Hall-North carbine that entered the history books in what became commonly known as "the Hall carbine affair." What actually happened is still a matter of some debate. It seems that the story changes with each historian who tells it. We will give you a sampling of some of the interpretations here.

"The 1843-pattern Hall carbine featured in one of the more intriguing scandals of the war. New York Arsenal sold 5000 Hall 1843-model carbines in 1861, for $3.50 apiece, to Arthur Eastman of Manchester, New Hampshire. Eastman then re-sold the Halls to Simon Stevens of New York, who rifled and rechambered them. The carbines were offered to Major-General Fremont, commanding the Army Department of the West, who so desperately needed firearms that he paid $22.00 for each gun. Rumours surrounding the deal soon reached the US Treasury, and, outraged, Congress authorized an immediate investigation. No collusion between Eastman, Stevens and Fremont was proven, but it was discoverd that Eastman's offer to rifle and refurbish the guns for a dollar apiece had been rebuffed by the government." - Walter

"Among the profiteering arms merchants of the Civil War was John Pierpont Morgan. Morgan was in his middle twenties when the war broke out, but he did not enlist or shoulder a gun during the entire conflict. He had heard of the great lack of guns in the army and he decided to do his share in bringing relief.
A few years previously the army had condemned as obsolete and dangerous some guns then in use, known as Hall's carbines. These guns were ordered sold at auction and they were disposed of at prices ranging between $1 and $2, probably as curios. In 1861 there still remained 5,000 of these condemned guns. Suddenly on May 28, 1861, one Arthur M. Eastman appeared and offered $3 apiece for them. This high price should have made the officials suspicious, but apparently it did not work. Back of Eastman was certain Simon Stevens who was furnishing the case for the transaction, but the real backer of the enterprise was J.P. Morgan.
After the condemned guns had been contracted for, Stevens sent a wire to GenerWhen Fremont's soldiers tried to fire these 'new carbines in perfect condition,' they shot off their own thumbs. Great indignation was roused by this transaction when it became know, and the government refused to pay Morgan's bill. Morgan promptly sued the government and his claim was referred to a special commission which was examining disputed claims and settling them.
This commission, curiously enough, did not reject the Morgan claim entirely and denounce him for his unscrupulous dealings. It allowed half of the claim and proposed to pay $13.31 a carbine, that is, $66,550.00 for the lot. This would have netted Morgan a profit of $49,000. But Morgan was not satisfied. He had a 'contract' from Fremont and he was determined to collect in full.
Accordingly he sued in Stevens' name in the Court of Claims - and the court promptly awarded him the full sum because 'a contract is sacred,' a decision that was the opening wedge for hundreds of other 'deadhorse claims' which Congress had tried to block. Of this affair Marcellus Hartley, who himself had brought over from Europe huge quantities of discarded arms and had sold them to the government at exorbitant prices, declared: 'I think the worst thing this government has been swindled upon has been those confounded Hall's carbines; they have been elevated in price to $22.50, I think." - H.C. Engelbrecht & F.C. Hanighen

"During the Civil War, Pierpont confirmed his father's fears concerning his rashness. Amid a mad rush of Wall Street profiteering, Pierpont financed a deal in 1861 that, if not unscrupulous, showed a decided lack of judgement. One Arthur M. Eastman purchased five thousand obsolete Hall carbines, then stored at a government armory in New York, for $3.50 apiece. Pierpont loaned $20,000 to a Simon Stevens, who bought them for $11.50 each. By 'rifling' these smooth-bore weapons, Stevens increased their range and accuracy. He resold them to Major General John C. Fremont, then commander of the Union forces in Missouri, for $22 each. Within a three-month period, the government had bought back its own, now altered, rifles at six times their original price. And it was well financed by J. Pierpont Morgan.
The extent of Pierpont's culpability in the Hall carbine affair has been endlessly debated. The unargueable point is that he saw the Civil War as an occasion for profit, not service- though he had an alternative role model in his grandfather, the Reverend Pierpont, who served as a chaplain for the Union army when it camped on the Potomac. Like other well-to-do young men, Pierpont paid a stand-in $300 to take his place when he was drafted after Gettysburg - a common, if inequitable, practice that contributed to the draft riots in July 1863. (A future president, Grover Cleveland, also hired a stand-in, although he had a widowed mother to support). In later years, Pierpont would be humorously refer to his proxy as 'the other Pierpont Morgan,' and he subsidized the his proxy as 'the other Pierpont Morgan,' and he subsidized the man. During the war, he also leapt into wild speculation in the infamous 'gold room' at the corner of William Street and Exchange Place. Prices would gyrate with each new victory or defeat for the Union army. Pierpont and an associate tried to rig the market by shipping out a large amount of gold on a steamer and earned $160,000 in the process." - Ron Chernow

"One of the biggest coups of the arms market occurred when A.M. Eastman purchased from the government 5,000 Hall carbines with all appendages and packing boxes for $3.50 each. These arms had been condEveryone in the Hall carbine deal made a profit. Eastman made $9.50 per arm when he passed them on to Simon Stevens, who was being financially backed by J.P. Morgan. Stevens and Morgan had the arm bored up to .58 and rifled, and then sold them to Fremont, who desperately needed them. The bargain was very complex, since Fremont and Eastman had made an agreement before the carbines were actually in Eastman's hands or ready for delivery. Fremont paid $22.00 per gun and had to pay extra for the appendages; he was even charged $4.00 each for the packing crates. The appendages and crates were those furnished by the government, and were included in the original price of $3.50. A number of reputations were damaged by this affair, including both Morgan's and Fremont's." - Carl L. Davis

"J.P. Morgan Sr. made a small fortune in one deal with the Federal government when he purchased 5,000 defective carbines that had been declared dangerous and obsolete, and sold them back to the U.S. Army at a massive profit. In 1861, shortly after the war began, Morgan found about a new Union regiment being formed in St. Louis that required weapons. At about the same time, he learned of the large surplus offering of carbines being surplused at an armory in New York at $3.50 each. He telegraphed the Union commander and offered the carbines as 'new carbines in perfect conditions.' for $22.00 each. The commander agreed to the price, and Morgan went to the bank to borrow the money for the initial purchase using the contract as collateral. He then wired the armory the funds and ordered the weapons sent to St. Louis. He never even saw them. Nor did he invest a single penny of his own. But when the regiment began experiencing troubles with the carbines, such as having them blow up when being fired, and attempted to sue Morgan, the court inexplicably ruled in Morgan's favor and instructed the government to pay Morgan in full sum of $109,912. The government had purchased its own useless property at a great profit to Morgan." - Craig Roberts

Army# 1074 - U.S. CARBINE M1843 HALL-NORTH - Transferred to Chief of Military History on 24 April 1957.

Bilby, Joseph G. A REVOLUTION IN ARMS: A HISTORY OF THE REPEATING RIFLES. Westholme Publishing. Yardley, Pa. 2006.
Davis, Carl L. SMALL ARMS IN THE UNION ARMY, 1861-1865. University Microfilms International. London, England. 1979.
Engelbrecht, H.C. & F.C. Hanighen. MERCHANTS OF DEATH. Dodd, Mead & Company. N.Y., N.Y. 1934.
Reilly, Robert. UNITED STATES MILITARY SMALL ARMS 1816-1865. The Eagle Press. Baton Rouge, La. 1970.
Roberts, Craig. KILL ZONE: A SNIPER LOOKS AT DEALEY PLAZA. Consolidated Press International. Tulsa, Ok. 1997.
Schmidt, Peter A. HALL'S MILITARY BREECHLOADER. Andrew Mowbrary Publishers. Lincoln, R.I. 1996.
Walter, John. RIFLES OF THE WORLD. 2nd Ed. Krause Publications. Iola, Wi. 1998.
Walter, John. THE GUNS THE WON THE WEST: FIREARMS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER, 1848-1898. Stackpole Books. Mecahnicsburg, Pa. 19
Also see, Robert Gordon, "Simeon North, John Hall, and Mechanized Manufacturing," TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE, Vol. 30. No. January, 1989.

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