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Rare US Model 1843 Hall-North Breach-Loading Cavalry Carbine c. 1845

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Rare U.S. Model 1843 Hall/North Breech-Loading Cavalry Carbine, c. 1845

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This is a very rare US Model 1843 Hall-North Breech-Loading Percussion Cavalry Carbine manufactured in 1845.

This Carbine, also known as the Side Lever Hall, was manufactured by Simeon North in Middletown, Connecticut. The development of the Hall Breech-Loading began in the early 1800s when American industrialization was getting its footing and many gun designers began to seek alternatives to the slow-loading flintlock weapons of the period. Enter John Hancock Hall, who was born in 1781 in Portland, Maine and served as a Soldier and worked in his father's tannery as a young man. Hall eventually set up his own workshop in 1810 where he worked as a carpenter and boat builder. He also began to experiment with firearms. As a Soldier, Hall was very experienced with the regimented, tedious, and slow, method of reloading the standard flintlock weapons of the period. Like any tedious and slow process, Hall began to conjure up ways to both simplify and increase the speed of loading of weapons.

Hall submitted his patent for a new breech-loading, flintlock rifle in 1811. This patented design was the one that would form the basis of all future Hall breech-loading designs. The submission of Hall's patent offers an interesting side note. Some historians credit not only Hall, but Dr. William Thornton, as the "co-inventor" of Hall's design. Thornton was an interesting character who was a physician, painter, renowned architect and inventor. Thornton actually submitted the winning design for the United States Capitol and was the first Architect of the Capitol. He was also the first Superintendent of the United States Patent Office, which is how his name became associated with the Hall breech-loading design. The Superintendent of the Patent Office carried with it significant power and Thornton, on occasion, was known to abuse this power and claim credit for inventions that were not his to claim. He did this in 1811 when John H. Hall submitted his patent for the Hall breech-loading rifle system. Upon receiving Hall's patent submission, Thornton claimed he had also invented it and, as proof, showed Hall a Ferguson breech-loading rifle. The Ferguson Rifle, known at the time as the Ordnance Rifle, was actually an adaptation of an early 1720 design. British Army Major Patrick Ferguson redesigned the earlier action around 1770 and received an English patent in December 1776. The Ferguson or Ordnance Rifle was, however, a completely different design from the Hall as the Ferguson used a threaded breech that is opened and closed by unscrewing the breech using the trigger guard as the handle. While the two designs were completely different (and even Thornton's credit for the Ferguson design was not true), Thornton refused to issue Hall with a patent unless his name was also on the patent. John Hall, realizing he really did not have any other choice, agreed and that is how William Thornton's name came to be associated with the Hall family of weapons. The patent was issued for Hall's single-shot, breech-loading rifle on May 21, 1811.

Hall's design was revolutionary not only because it significantly decreased loading times, but also because he designed it to use interchangeable parts. The operation of the Hall design was not, technically, a breech-loading weapon. Rather, the design incorporated a rotating chamber that was separate from the barrel. The chamber, designed to only hold a single round, flips up with the chamber opened to the front or muzzle end of the weapon. A round was loaded "back" into the chamber and the chamber was then rotated back down to align the chamber and the barrel. The Hall design permitted a well-trained soldier to fire from 8-10 rounds per minute compared with the 3 rounds per minute expected of a trained soldier using the Model 1816 Flintlock Rifle that was standard issue at the time.

Although Hall (and Thornton) patented the Hall design in 1811, it was not adopted by the U.S. Army until 1819. It was then that Hall went to the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia to begin manufacturing his Model 1819, .52 caliber Flintlock Rifle. While at Harpers Ferry, Hall was able to refine his design to ensure the interchangeability of parts that was noted previously. Hall's efforts were a success and he noted as much in a letter to then Secretary of War John C. Calhoun in 1822, when he wrote, "I have succeeded in an object which has hitherto completely baffled all the endeavors of those who have heretofore attempted it – I have succeeded in establishing methods for fabricating arms exactly alike, and with economy, by the hands of common workmen, and in such manner as to ensure a perfect observance of any established model..." This was, obviously, a signature achievement that would be expanded upon by arms manufacturers from that point forward.

The US Model 1819 Hall Flintlock Rifle was well received by US Soldiers in the field. It was produced at the National Armory at Harpers Ferry, intermittently, from 1819 until 1840 with only approximately 19,780 manufactured. To supplement production, the US Government also issued a contract for production of the US Model 1819 Hall Flintlock Rifle to Simeon North in 1836. North produced the Hall 1819 Flintlock Rifle from 1830 until 1836 with only approximately 5,700 weapons manufactured.

Because of the success of the Hall Rifle, the US issued a contract to arms manufacturer Simeon North for the production of a carbine version in 1833. This carbine became the US Model 1833 Hall-North US Breech-Loading Percussion Carbine and is significant in that it was the first percussion firearm ever to be adopted by any government (U.S. or otherwise). It was manufactured by North from 1834 to 1839 in limited numbers with only approximately 7,163 manufactured. This was followed by the US Model 1836 Hall U.S. Breech-Loading Percussion Carbine, which was slightly shorter than the Model 1833 Carbine and was .64 caliber. It was manufactured at Harpers Ferry and only approximately 2,020 were manufactured. The Carbine design was slightly modified in the early 1840s with the introduction of the US Model 1840 Hall-North Breech-Loading Percussion Carbine. It was manufactured by North from 1840 to 1843 with only approximately 6,501 manufactured and the principal design change was in the lever that operated the mechanism to raise the breech. The next variation of the Hall design occurred in 1841 with the US Model 1841 Hall Breech-Loading Percussion Rifle. This rifle, also .52 caliber, was nearly identical to the 1819 Flintlock design except for the change to percussion ignition and the change to the breech release mechanism. The Model 1841 Hall Rifle was manufactured at Harpers Ferry from 1841 to 1842 with only about 4,213 rifles manufactured.

The next variation was the US Model 1842 Hall Breech-Loading Percussion Carbine. It was .52 caliber, smoothbore, and was virtually identical to the US Model 1840 Carbine, 2nd Type, with "fishtail" lever, except that it had brass mountings instead of iron. It was manufactured at Harpers Ferry with only approximately 1,001 produced and is notable in that it was the last carbine ever manufactured at Harpers Ferry Arsenal. The final Hall variation, of which this Carbine is one, was the US Model 1843 Hall-North Breech-Loading Percussion Carbine. It was manufactured by North at its Middletown, Connecticut factory from 1844 until 1853 with only approximately 10,500 produced.

The Model 1843 is a .52 caliber smoothbore carbine that incorporated a thumb-operated breech lever. This carbine is 40" in length and is fairly heavy for a carbine, weighing in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces. The mountings were all iron and the barrel was secured by two barrel bands. The US Model 1843 Hall Carbine was issued to the 1st and 2nd U.S. Dragoon Regiments during the Mexican War. The US Model 1843 also saw extensive service during the Civil War with these carbines having been recorded as issued to numerous cavalry units from Illinois, Missouri and Kansas as well as the 4th Arkansas Cavalry, 5th Iowa Cavalry, 8th New York Cavalry, 9th New York Cavalry, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry and the 1st Indiana Cavalry.

The US Model 1843 Hall-North Percussion Carbine was the subject of one of the Civil War's earliest scandals that leads to this particular 1843 Carbine being considerably more rare than original production numbers would indicate. The scandal was known as the "Hall Carbine Affair," and it began at the very beginning of the war. In the spring of 1861, shortly after the fall of Fort Sumter in South Carolina, a young businessman named Arthur M. Eastman became aware that the U.S. Army had approximately 5,000 US Model 1843 Hall-North Carbines on hand in an arsenal located in New York that, while serviceable, were considered somewhat obsolete because of their smooth-bore barrels. Eastman approached Brigadier General James W. Ripley, who was the new Chief of the Army Ordnance Bureau, with a proposal to modernize the Hall Carbines for use during the war. General Ripley refused Eastman's offer so Eastman then offered to purchase the 5,000 Model 1843 Hall Carbines for $3.00 each. General Ripley submitted the offer to Secretary of War Simon Cameron for approval and recommended a purchase price of $3.50 each. Secretary Cameron approved the sale to Eastman on June 1, 1861.

Eastman then began looking for a buyer for the carbines and found Simon Stevens, who agreed on August 1, 1861 to purchase the carbines from Eastman for $12.50 each after Eastman had the carbines converted to rifled barrels firing .58 caliber cartridges. Stevens knew that Major General John C. Fremont (of Mexican War and exploration fame), who was the Union Army's Commander of the Army's Department of the West, was actively seeking serviceable firearms for his force since the priority for weapons at that time was to the Army of the Potomac, especially after its defeat at the Battle of First Bull Run or First Manassas. General Fremont, desperate for weapons for his Army, agreed to purchase the Hall Carbines for $22.00 each. Since neither Eastman nor Stevens had the cash on hand to pay for the purchase price of $3.50 each, Stevens secured the funds in advance from his sale of the carbines to General Fremont at $22.00 each.

This led to a corruption investigation involving General Fremont and, although he was not found to have corrupt in his dealings regarding the purchase, it was one of the reasons that he was shortly afterwards removed from command. The scandal was an unwanted distraction at the beginning of the war for the new Lincoln Administration and the sale back to the government of its own weapons was only made worse once it was discovered that neither Eastman nor Stevens never had actual possession of the carbines and their purchase (and profits) all came from the government's own funds. Needless to say, nearly half of all manufactured US Model 1843 Hall-North Percussion Carbines were altered by W. W. Marston of New York as part of the original contract to "upgrade" the carbines for General Fremont's use and, accordingly, the number of original, unaltered US Model 1843 Carbines is only approximately 5,000.

This particular US Model 1843 Hall-North Percussion Cavalry Carbine was manufactured in 1845 and is in very good and all original condition. Again, it is in its original, manufactured condition and was not one of the 5,000 or so Hall-North Carbines altered during the Civil War. The original, black walnut stock is in excellent condition with what appears to be its original finish. The edges, as exhibited on the right and left flats below the receiver, and the bottom of the butt portion of the stock, are all still sharp and the stock has not been sanded. The stock has minor dings and scratches with one minor crack noted on the left side adjacent to the receiver. The right side stock flat has the very faint oval cartouche but the initials are not discernible. The left side also has a still-visible oval cartouche but the initials are not discernible. Both original steel barrel bands are present and both have a pewter and plum patina. The Front Band is retained by its original band spring as is the Rear Band.

The original buttonhead Ramrod is present and is generally a pewter color on the protected portion but a plum patina on the exposed end with the threaded end still present. The Ramrod Retaining Spring on the Front Barrel Band is present and properly secures the Ramrod in the stock channel. The buttonhead portion of the Ramrod is secured when the Ramrod is stored by a recess in the original extension on the bottom of the barrel, which is approximately 1/2" from the muzzle. The original Butt Plate is present and it now exhibits a largely clean, pewter patina. Both Buttplate Screws are in excellent condition.

The Barrel retains some of its original brown finish but has generally adopted a pewter finish and faded plum patina. The barrel is remarkably clean along its exposed length but the bore is very dark. The muzzle end of the barrel still measures .521" in diameter. The original Front Sight is present and is a single piece of milled steel, with integrated, milled front sight post, and is still solidly brazed to the barrel. The right, rear barrel flat, just to the rear of the Rear Sight, has the correct inspector's initials "J.H.," which stands for Hall inspector Joseph Hannis. The original Rear Sight is present and is still tightly brazed to the dovetail recess on the Barrel with the index lines on the Sight and Barrel matching perfectly. The Receiver also still retains slight traces of its original brown finish and, like the barrel, retains a pewter patina but is remarkably clean. The original Hammer retains considerable original brown finish with the balance turning to a pewter color. The Hammer Spring is still strong and the Hammer works and half- and full-cock and the trigger release is still smooth. The original Nipple is present and is in very good condition with an unobstructed channel to the Breech Chamber.

The Breech operating Lever is in fine condition and it retains the majority of its original oil quenched finish and it works correctly to raise the Breech and it also secures easily when the Breech is in battery. The Lever Spring is present and still secures the Lever in position. Both the Lever Screw and Lever Spring Screw are in excellent condition with case hardened finish still remaining on the surface. The left side of the Receiver no longer has the Cavalry Sling Bar and Ring with the sling bar hinge point professionally closed on the left side of the rear barrel band, indicating a possible armory alteration. The Top of the Breech Block is correctly marked "U.S./S NORTH/ MID.L.TN/CONN./1845." The original Trigger Guard is present and generally has a pewter and plum finish. The original Trigger is also present and it retains considerable original oil quenched finish.

As noted, the US Model 1843 Hall-North Percussion Carbine was issued to the 1st US Dragoon and 2nd US Dragoon Regiments during the Mexican War, as well as the newly formed 3rd Dragoon Regiment, which was formed on May 11, 1847, and were used throughout the war by those mounted troops. Many of General Stephen W. Kearny's mounted soldiers in his Army of the West were also armed with the Hall Carbine, to include some troopers from the Missouri Mounted Cavalry Regiment. Interestingly, many of the US Model 1843 Hall-North Carbines carried by soldiers in Kearny's command made their way to California where then Major John C. Fremont, whose purchase of modified 1843 Carbines in 1861 would create a scandal, was briefly serving as Military Governor of California. During 1845, when this Carbine was manufactured and presumably issued, the 1st US Dragoons had its regimental headquarters at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During 1847, Companies A and E were with General Zachary Taylor in Mexico, Companies C, G, and I were with General Kearny in California, and Company B was reorganized at Jefferson Barracks and then sent to Santa Fe in June 1847 where, enroute on June 26th, the Company was engaged by Comanches at Grand Prairie, Arkansas with the loss of 5 men killed and 6 wounded. Companies D, F and K saw service under General Winfield Scott in Mexico and Company F served as the escort for General Scott from Veracruz to Mexico City. These three companies of the 1st Dragoons engaged in escort duty from Mexico City to Vera Cruz from November 1, 1847 until December 20, 1847, and were then returned to the states in 1848 and assigned to the northwest frontier. Companies B, G and I served with General Sterling Price from February to March 1848 during his campaign into the Mexican State of Chihuahua and fought at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales. After the Mexican War the Regiment minus Companies C and E served in the western frontier and engaged in numerous battles with Utah and Apache Indians. During the same period, Companies C and E took part in the Rogue River War in Oregon Territory, to include the famous Battle of Hungry Hill fight, which lasted a day and a half and resulted in the two companies withdrawing after losing 26 men.

The 2nd US Dragoon Regiment took part in the Mexican War from the beginning as part of General Zachary Taylor's force. They fought at Palo Alto and, later, at Resaca de la Palma. During 1847, when this Carbine was presumably already an issued weapon, the Squadron under Captain C. A. May, 2nd Dragoons, consisting of Companies B, D, E, H, and K, fought at Buena Vista on February 23, 1847. May's Squadron conducted a mounted cavalry charge and routed the Mexican gun crews and captured Mexican General La Vega. It was just prior to the charge that May uttered what would become the Regiment's motto, "Remember your regiment and follow your officers." The rest of the 2nd Dragoons were en route with General Scott to their embarkation point prior to the amphibious landing at Vera Cruz on March 9, 1847. The 2nd Dragoons fought as part of General Scott's force at the Battles of Cero Gordo, Molino del Rey and Chapultepec enroute to Mexico City. Following the Mexican War, the 2nd Dragoons were stationed in the southwest engaging in fights with hostile Apache and Navajo tribes as well as Mexican bandits.

In addition to their service during the Mexican War, many US Model 1843 Hall-North Percussion Carbines were issued to, and used throughout the Civil War by mounted troops. In August 1861, two companies of the 1st Maryland (U.S.) Cavalry arrived at Fort McHenry in Baltimore without any arms. Colt revolvers and Model 1840 Sabers were sent to the two companies from Washington, but the units were issued Model 1843 Hall Carbines from the armory at Fort McHenry. The 8th New York Cavalry, which was actually a dismounted unit, also fought during the war with Model 1843 Hall Carbines until they were replaced later with Sharps Carbines. Many other units in the Western Theater were issued with Model 1843 Hall Carbines. These included the 6th Missouri Cavalry, the 5th Iowa Cavalry, the 3rd Illinois Cavalry, the 9th Illinois Cavalry, and many other regiments. By late 1863, the Hall Carbines were getting worn out and were gradually being replaced with more modern carbines. By the summer of 1864, the number of cavalry regiments armed with Model 1843 Hall Carbines was down to six with 700 Carbines listed in service. By 1865, only the 15th Kansas Cavalry, the 6th Missouri State Militia and the 1st Dakota Cavalry were issued with Hall Carbines.

This is a historically significant and very rare US Model 1843 Hall-North Percussion Carbine that quite possibly saw active service in both the Mexican War and the early part of the Civil War. This Carbine is in remarkable condition given its age and service and is still solid enough that it could probably still fire today.

This carbine is an antique so it can be shipped to anyone. This carbine will also come with a historic writeup and a CD containing all of the photos in the listing. I accept Visa and MasterCard and charge NO FEES. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like additional photos posted.


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