Jackson, MS Arsenal Altered M1819 Hall's Rifle
Confederate Hall's Rifles just don't get any better than this! Our newest offering is an incredibly rare Jackson, Mississippi, Arsenal altered Model 1819 Hall's Rifle, which is one of less than a dozen (rifles and carbines) known to exist!
The conversion to percussion performed on this gun is quite unique, and due to Dr. Murphy’s extensive research, we know that these conversions were preformed at the Mississippi State Arsenal in Jackson. Being as Mississippi did not have a Federal Arsenal within its borders, the State of Louisiana transferred 1,000 Model 1819 Hall's Rifles to Mississippi in early 1861. These rifles were among the 2,287 flintlock Hall's Rifles reported on-hand in the October 1860 inventory of the Baton Rouge Arsenal which had been seized by Louisiana Militia on January 10.
The consignment of rifles arrived in Jackson in by July of 1861 and were rapidly percussioned. By September nearly all of the Hall's Rifles had been percussion altered and issued to Mississippi units. Although the majority of the Hall's Rifles altered at the Jackson Arsenal retained their original rifle length, an unknown number were also shortened into cavalry carbines. The majority of those carbines appear to have been issued to the 1st Mississippi Cavalry Battalion.
Although the example offered here certainly fits the bill for a carbine alteration it is my belief that the shortening was a later alteration. Known carbine length Jackson altered Hall's feature barrel lengths of 21.75 to 24.75 inches. The barrel length on this example is a scant 18.5 inches. Furthermore, all other examples are fitted with a new made brass front sight. Our example has had the original "L" shaped rifle front sight reinstalled onto the barrel, in the same off-set position of Hall's Rifle's front sights. Although it is possible that this may be a Jackson Arsenal shortened example I advertise and sell it as a later CS Arsenal rework.
The percussion alteration exhibited on this rifle shows all of the classic characteristics of those rifles percussioned at Jackson. This style of alteration was first identified in the seminal text "Conederate Rifles and Muskets" by the late Dr. John Murhpy and Mr. Michael Maddaus. First, the breechblock was removed from the rifle. As with most Congederate alterations the breech block was milled flat on the top and left side, which often removed the original breechblock markings. This example's markings are still very clear and read J.H. HALL/H. FERRY/US/1834. The frizzen toe was left unfilled. Secondly, the percussion cone was installed into the original vent at a 90 degree angle; nearly all other alterations install the cone is set at roughly a 70 degree angle. The original flint cock was cut through the center of the throat hole and a new striker with a "squirrel tail" shaped thumb piece was brazed to the original bottom portion of the hammer. During the alteration process the left side of the breechblock was marked with an Arabic numeral reassembly number, although I have not disassembled this example to see what it is. Originally a corresponding number was likely stamped onto the stock, but due to wear it is no longer visible.
The carbine is in generally good overall condition. This carbine as never been cleaned or messed with in any way. It shows very heavy usage as one would expect from a hard fought Confederate cavalry weapon. The stock has numerous scrapes, bumps, and gouges from rough service. The crisp edges of the stock around the frame have been worn smooth, not as a result from Arsenal reshaping as with Fayetteville altered Hall's, but from saddle wear! None of the original inspection marks on the wood remain. There are however, two sets of initials carved into the stock (which helps support the later arsenal rework theory in my mind). AB has been carved into the belly of the butt of the stock just behind the rear trigger guard extension.
The metal components have a dark patina to them with some pewter tones peeking out in high wear areas like the top of the breech block. The balance of the hardware is chocolate colored with some crusty buildup in various crevices. The gun retains its original sling swivels, but is missing the loading/cleaning rod (which isn't a necessity for a breechloading carbine anyway). The breechblock rises and falls correctly with adequate spring in the breechblock lever. The carbine does have a mechanical issue, which is suspect is due to a worn or broken sear spring; the hammer can only be cocked with the trigger is pushed forward. I have not disassembled the breechblock to examine the issue, but I feel that it is probably a simple fix. I will however, leave that decision to the next owner. The percussion cone is still present, although the top portion has broken off (again, it appears to be old damage). The broken cone does not effect the display of the carbine, but it would be very difficult to place a percussion cap on in its present condition.
Even with the detractors this is still a very nice and incredibly rare example of a Confederate altered Hall's Rifle, and is one missing from many of the most advanced collections. If you collect Confederate arms, especially carbines or percussion alterations, this gun is a must have! Dr. Murphy states in "Confederate Carbines and Musketoons" that only three carbines and two rifles showing the Jackson Arsenal alteration are known. Since that books publication in 2002 a few other examples have surfaced, but there are still well under a dozen known Jackson Arsenal altered Hall's, and this is the only one I know of in this particular configuration!