Breechldrs Marsh Breechloading Conversion

NoahJL

Cadet
Joined
Aug 18, 2021
I've been reading Lincoln and the Tools of War by Robert Bruce and I got to the part where he talks about Lincoln testing out the Marsh Breechloading conversion for the 1861 model Springfield. Apparently 25,000 were ordered but never delivered. Do any actually exist? And if so, where are they? I tried to find the patent and it took me someone else's help to get it but here it is: https://books.google.com/books?id=o...CBEQAw#v=onepage&q="wilmer marsh" gun&f=false
 

mofederal

Major
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Location
Southeast Missouri
I finally found the following information. Robert Gallaher was head of the then Union Fire Arms Company of N.Y. The information regarding the Marsh Breech Loading invention is basically this:

"Not all inventions were grand and spectacular, however. Around 1862, Lincoln endorsed a letter regarding an extension of time for fulfilling a contract by Union Fire Arms Company of New York. The company had signed a contract to provide 20,000 Springfield rifle muskets and 12,500 Marsh’s breech and muzzle loading rifles to Union troops. The quantity and timeframe were certainly an issue, but there is an authorization that the Ordinance Department substitute other gun(s) for the Marsh’s Breech loader because there is a problem with the patent. This issue was causing the delay in creation and should be substituted out to more production along." 1

1. Advancing the Inventor - The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection

The actual Letter:

p16089coll38-293-00.jpg


2. Advancing the Inventor

I would also like to extend a Hello and welcome to the CivilWarTalk from Southeast Missouri.
 

rob63

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Location
PA, but still a Hoosier
FWIW, I read Lincoln and the Tools of War a number of years ago and found that when I delved into researching some of the details in it I came to the following conclusions:

Bruce was pushing an idea and cherry-picked information that supported the premise that Lincoln had been far more instrumental in weapons development than was actually the case. In some of those instances, he favored second-hand accounts written years later over first-hand accounts written at the time.

Bruce tended to demonize people to make Lincoln look like he was overcoming idiotic bureaucratic obstacles. The Ordnance Department was certainly conservative, but oftentimes that was the result of previous experiences that proved to be sound reasoning. They weren't exactly perfect in hindsight, but Bruce's account often lacks relevant context.

Bruce had no understanding of manufacturing or engineering and consequently didn't really understand the subject he was writing about. I say this as a former mechanical engineer, Bruce's lack of understanding leads him to sweeping conclusions that fail to comprehend the difficulties and risks of doing what he thought should have been done.

JMHO, but those are my thoughts on that particular book. I'm pretty sure the book actually won a prize of some kind, so obviously others felt differently. I have to admit I really hate that book, it has had a long-lasting influence due to other authors taking it at face value and repeating some of the more dubious conclusions.
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
I've been reading Lincoln and the Tools of War by Robert Bruce and I got to the part where he talks about Lincoln testing out the Marsh Breechloading conversion for the 1861 model Springfield. Apparently 25,000 were ordered but never delivered. Do any actually exist? And if so, where are they? I tried to find the patent and it took me someone else's help to get it but here it is: https://books.google.com/books?id=oVxYAAAAcAAJ&pg=RA8-PA102&lpg=RA8-PA102&dq="wilmer+marsh"+gun&source=bl&ots=q2ad5cLjGs&sig=ACfU3U3DsIyRzenDR_LJGUkmpXdRIJtAZQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj0xLji67vyAhWBmOAKHTJKBo84ChDoAXoECBEQAw#v=onepage&q="wilmer marsh" gun&f=false
Welcome, enjoy
 

LouG.

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2021
The patent in question is S. Wilmer Marsh's U.S. Patent #33,655, issued on 5 Nov. 1861. It covered a "trapdoor" design, similar to those patented earlier by Benjamin F. Joslyn in 1855 (#13,507) and William Mont. Storm in 1856 (#15,307). Ironically, this basic concept was used by Erskine S. Allin of Springfield Armory in 1865 and '66 to convert thousands of muzzle-loading rifle-muskets to breechloaders, just as Marsh had suggested in his 1861 patent.
 
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