Confederate Altered Model 1819 Hall Rifle Attributed to South Carolina
Under the provisions of the Militia Act of 1808, The State of South Carolina had managed to draw 101 Model 1819 flintlock Hall's Rifles prior to the Civil War. At least some of these rifles are known to have been stamped on the left side of their frames with block letters reading S. CAROLINA. Although the exact number of guns marked as such is unknown, most researchers cite John Murphy's figures of 75 to 166 guns. Based on surviving surcharged examples it is thought that the Hall's Rifles that South Carolina drew were all products of Simeon North's 1828 contract for 5,000 of Hall's patent rifles.The seizure of the Charleston Arsenal in 1860 netted the state an additional 566 Hall's rifles. With several other military posts across the state adding a handful of additional rifles. With impending start of the Civil War and desperate need for arms, State authorities scrambled to percussion alter stocks of existing flintlock muskets and rifles to arm the thousands of new troops.Although the exact location of the arsenal or arsenals responsible for performing South Carolina's Hall's Rifle alterations, and the exact numbers altered is unclear, we do have a good idea of what South Carolina Hall's rifles look like based on the alteration methods exhibited on state surcharged examples.The example offered here is very similar to several South Carolina attributed examples shown in "Confederate Rifles and Muskets" and "Confederate Carbines and Musketoons". The percussion alteration of this rifle, like those shown in the a fore mentioned texts, was accomplished by removing the frizzen and frizzen spring, and milling off the frizzen supporters. A new percussion cone was threaded into the existing vent of the unfilled pan. Lastly, a new percussion hammer installed. The primary variations exhibited in Dr. Murphy's text are based on the hammer profile and the presence or absence of fill in the former frizzen toe. Our example has a larger style percussion hammer with a slightly faceted striker, and crude knurling on the thumb piece. The frizzen toe has been left unfilled. The alteration, although not particularly neatly done, was certainly serviceable, and more importantly, time expedient.The rifle its self started life as a product of Simeon North's 1828 contract for Model 1819 Hall's Rifles. Although North's production ran concurrent with the 3rd and 4th production variations of Hall's Rifles produced at Harpers Ferry, there are a couple of differences between the two. The rifles produced by Simeon North were patterned on 1826 production Harpers Ferry produced rifles and as such are identical copies of John Hall's second production rifles. The chief features of which are the presence of barrel band springs and the absence of the "protectors" found on late production rifles.The rifle bares markings on the top of its breech reading U.S./S. NORTH/MIDLTN/CONN/1834. Although partially obscured by old pitting, the breech markings are still very strong. The stock rates in very good condition. The top of the wrist features the endemic "Hall crack" resulting from improper disassembly. The crack in this rifle's wrist appears to be very old and is still firmly in place. The left side of the stock, just to the rear of the frame bares an inspectors stamp reading NWP for Nahum W. Patch, who was engaged inspecting North's Hall's Rifle deliveries from 18?? to 18??. A small sliver of wood is missing from the rear of the lower barrel band. The wood loss is, in my opinion, period of use, as the grain has smoothed down some and the coloration matches the rest of the rifle. The stock exhibits some normal handling bumps and bruises, but is free of any additional chips, or splits, save for a few small slivers of wood missing from the edges of the ramrod channel. The stock has a thin hairline crack that originates on the left side of the stock, just behind the lower barrel band, that runs obliquely rearwards towards the receiver. The crack has some give, but the gun is still solidly held together by the barrel and barrel bands. The crack should probably be stabilized, but I will leave that to the next owner. The balance of the metal is an attractive dark chocolate brown with scattered light pitting over most of the surfaces. The areas under the barrel bands, where protected, still show traces of the original browned finish. It seems as though the rifle was stored for some time with the rear barrel band sitting slightly forward of its correct position, and as such, when the band is in its correct position, a ring of unpatinaed barrel is seen forward of that band.Mechanically the rifle is in perfect condition, with the lock functioning crisply at both half and full cock. The breechblock rises and lowers properly and snaps firmly into position. The bore shows the unique 16 groove rifling to be in good, although dark, condition. The final 1.5 inches of the barrel is counterbored, as is correct with these rifles. The rifle is complete with its cleaning rod, which has a slightly a-typical head and may be a period of use replacement.All-in-all, this is an attractive, completely untouched example of a scarce and rarely encountered Confederate altered Hall's Rifle. Although this particular example does not bare a South Carolina surcharge it is a classic example of a textbook South Carolina attributed alteration. Confederate alterations of Hall's Rifles were seldom done on a large scale, and as such are very scarce today. It is very likely that there are no more than a handful of South Carolina altered Hall's that still survive. This is a super bargain on an exceedingly rare Confederate rifle priced well under half of what you would expect to pay for a Richmond or Palmetto!