Confederate Altered Model 1819 Hall Rifle
The military rifles of John Hancock Hall are some of the most intriguing of of all American arms produced in the 19th century. Historically the arms produced under John H. Hall's patent are some of the most important in American history, as they perfected the usage of mechanically produced interchangeable parts and introduced the United States Army to breechloading arms.
Production of the Model 1819 Hall Rifle commenced in 1824 at Hall's Rifle Works, an auxiliary workshop of the Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) Arsenal. From that time until 1840 a total of 25,380 Model 1819 Hall Rifles would be produced, of which 5,700 were produced under contract by Simeon North. Hall's Rifles proved to be very popular with state militias, and by 1860 almost 9,000 had been issued to the various states.
Although an innovative design, Hall's Rifles continued to face the same design problems throughout their production. Soldiers often found that the gas leak between the breechblock and barrel to be an issue. Although the leakage was minimal considering the flat faces of both parts, prolonged usage tended to increase the leak due to the erosion and displacement of the breechblock. Later production rifles and carbines were produced with larger ports under the rifles' frames to help alleviate this problem, but in the end the issue was systemic.
By 1858 Hall's rifles and carbines had been deemed obsolete by the Ordnance Department and were to be collected and sold as surplus. Indeed, by that time the rifles were thought lowly enough that no effort was made to alter them to percussion other than one example altered as a feasibility study at the Mt. Vernon, Alabama Arsenal. The start of the Civil War, and the subsequent need for arms, breathed new life into to Hall's Rifles as a great number of them were percussion altered for Civil War usage.
As previously mentioned, just shy of 9,000 Model 1819 Hall Rifles had been issued to the various state militias pursuant to the Militia Act of 1808. Of these, at least 3,369 belonged to southern states that would join the Confederacy. As those states seceded the Federal Arsenals and military posts within their borders were seized. In all, the new Confederate States claimed approximately 7,448 flintlock Hall's Rifles. Many of these rifles were forwarded to Arsenals for percussion alteration, while others would be issued in their original flintlock configuration and subject to later recall for alteration.
Thanks to the research of Mr. Michael Madaus and Dr. John Murphy the products of several Confederate and Southern State Arsenals, such as the Jackson and Holly Spr