A long but detailed read by Donald Hutslar direct from American Rifleman magazine, November, 1968 regarding OHIO marked arms. OHIO stamps were used as markings over a span of 60 years and were included on a large variety of weapons and accoutrements. (picture follows post) A die-stamped OHIO mark is occasionally seen on US and foreign military firearms and accouterments dating from the first three-quarters of the 19thcentury. An explanation of the mark is fairly simple and obvious: An arm bearing the mark OHIO was originally owned by the State of Ohio and was so marked while in the State Arsenal. What accounts for the relatively large quantity of these arms found today is the condition of the militia system, not only in Ohio, but throughout the US prior to the ACW. Writing in a history of Clark County, Ohio, published in 1881, an unnamed contemporary observer tells the following story of the period around 1830: “The law demanded that every able-bodied citizen of the state should ‘perform’, etc; also, that he, the said citizen, should be armed with a ‘good and sufficient musket, fuse, or rifle,’ and regulations defined ‘good and sufficient’ to include ‘lock, stock, barrel and ramrod.’ The men were each armed with any kind of firelock that would pass muster; old, worn out, and broken guns were called into use to supply the demands of the law, which in its majesty defined what should compose a gun.” “One case is related of a man who appeared with an ancient horse pistol, minus the lock, but with a huge padlock fastened on in its place, and a broomstick driven into the muzzle to make the weapon long enough to be handled to good advantage. This ‘rig’ was objected to…and the soldier was sent before the proper authorities to answer. The court decided that the man had furnished all the law required, viz, lock, stock, barrel, and ramrod, and let him off without fine. This decision was fatal to discipline, as the next muster found half of the men present with only pocket pistols with sticks driven into them.” Very probably the vast majority of Ohio Firearms now seen were stolen or borrowed from militia company arsenals. Consider these rather extraordinary facts: As of March, 1859, and beginning in 1808, the State of Ohio had received from the US Government, in muskets or their equivalent, a total value of $807,593, which was rated at 62,993 muskets. Military companies throughout the US had been bonded for only $17,760 worth of arms, including several cannon, and the Quartermaster General had $37, 322 worth of arms, including several cannon, under his charge. Other unbonded arms scattered throughout the State were known and estimated to be worth $97, 470. Consequently, from 1808 until 1859, Ohio had had stolen, lost or ruined by neglect $655,025 worth of Arms. Arms Issued Under Militia Act In 1808 Congress passed the Militia Act providing for the distribution of arms to the states and territories proportionate to the number of effective militiamen in each defined area. In 1855 Congress revised the law, basing the distribution of arms on the number of Representatives and Senators furnished to Congress by each state and territory. Any type of arm manufactured by the Federal Government could be selected to fill the quotas. Prior to 1856, there were no officers in the Ohio Militia empowered to requisition or even oversee firearms. The Ohio legislature, in 1856, passed a law making county sheriffs responsible for arms and accouterments belonging to the state, except those in the hands of organized volunteer companies. Following the passage of the law, The Quartermaster General of Ohio, Alex E. Glenn, queried various sheriffs on the condition of public arms in their respective counties. Glenn’s summary was published in his Annual Report to the Governor of Ohio for the Year 1856, the summary said: “Responses have been received from many of the counties, and the information received shows that in but very few counties are there any regularly organized and effective volunteer companies. In nearly every county, there are more or less public arms, scattered here and there; some in possession of private individuals, some stored away, and great numbers have been carried off, or destroyed. In a word, all the information received goes to show that there has been a very great want of care of the public arms, and thousands upon thousands of dollars worth have been either destroyed, carried off, or suffered to become worthless….There are instances where arms have been sent from the Arsenal, and never used, and remain in boxes, or are stored in warehouses, no company ever having taken charge of them. There are arms, also, in possession of companies having no right to them.” Some 210 Colt revolvers had been received at the arsenal between 1850 and 1855. When Glenn made his inventory in March 1856, only 20 were accountable. Twenty six were recovered from unauthorized persons in Franklin County by Glenn. The Quartermaster General concluded his Annual Report by stating that all arms should be sold that were not fit for service; and that the entire militia system in Ohio should be reorganized, including the proper care of public arms, or be abandoned completely. The State Legislature finally acted on the matter in March 1859 and the new Quartermaster General, D.L. Wood, attempted to find and reclaim all the public arms, reissuing them under bond to recognized militia companies; he had little success and apparently a great deal of trouble. The Adjutant and Inspector General of Ohio, H.B. Carrington, praised Wood’s efforts highly, and recommended a salary increase. Interestingly, the Quartermaster General received a small annual salary, and he was expected to supplement his income by repairing broken arms in the arsenal on a piecework basis. This represented a transitional period in the functions of the Quartermaster General from armorer to administrator. Wood published a detailed accounting of all stores held by the state arsenal in his report in 1860. From 1808 through 1860, the Federal Government had issued Ohio 27,967 muskets. Wood could only account for 5204 in the entire state. Of the 6995 rifles issued, only 1023 remained. Musketoons: 100 issued, 98 remained (apparently no civilian use could be found for Musketoons). Carbines: 363 issued, 150 remained. Cavalry pistols: 11,632 issued, 722 remained (perhaps this accounts for the scarcity of non-military single-shot pistols in Ohio during the 19thcentury). Colt revolvers: 272 issued, 42 remained. Obviously, with the outbreak of the Civil War, the entire supply problem changed, as did the entire militia system. The records became too vast and complicated to treat simply. Ohio bought and continued to be issued quantities of arms for its federalized state militia units. An invoice of ordnance was taken on November 15, 1866, ostensibly to meet the requirements of a Joint Resolution by the State Legislature requiring the sale of surplus ordnance stores. It was the duty of the Adjutant General to collect the ordnance stored in the hands of the State Militias, now called the Ohio National Guard. Some material had been sold between April 2 – Nov 15 and included 980 Harpers Ferry rifles at $0.75 each; 160 US rifles at $1.00 each; 2430 Austrian rifles at $0.90 each; 3899 US Smooth Bore Muskets at an average price of $0.70 each; 3960 Prussian Muskets at $0.75 each; plus other miscellaneous firearms and ammunition. The invoice of Nov. 15, 1866 reveals the quantity of firearms had been reduced significantly, though the Arsenal still retained a great number of altered US Flintlock muskets and French rifled muskets. Apparently the Arsenal had tried to retain at least one model of every type of firearm issued during the Civil War, especially carbines, because 28 different models and makes of firearms were still inventoried. One year later, the variety of firearms had been reduced to 24, with only the French rifled muskets held in any quantity. There were still 284 undesignated US flintlock rifles. The authority to dispose of public arms by the State Arsenal was revoked by a joint resolution of the Ohio General Assembly on Apr. 25, 1868. Hundreds of firearms were still in the hands of National Guard units, and the Adjutant General in his Annual Report for 1868 wondered how to return the arms to the state arsenal. He also wondered just what to do with the enormous stores still held by the state. Not many firearms remained in the Arsenal, but there were a great many quantities of accouterments, camp equipment, cannon and artillery paraphernalia. The Adjutant General felt there was no need for the large quantity of material in storage, for there was only a small militia force left and it would probably not be enlarged in the forseeable future. The Adj. General wrote to the Chief of Ordnance, US Army, requesting permission to return the all the stores over the official quotas assigned the State. In a letter dates Dec 1, 1868, the Ordnance Officer agreed, but by 1871, the stores had not been returned, and the Ohio House of Representatives unanimously voted to authorize the sale of these stores. The Senate unfortunately postposed the action and the resolution failed to become law. The State Arsenal still had in its possession a large variety of Civil War firearms that it had inventoried soon after the war was over. In fact, the same 284 flintlock muskets remained. The following 2 years found another Adjutant General, William Knapp, valiantly attempting to rid himself of the obsolete firearms and accouterments. Two minor robberies helped reduce the inventory slightly, probably to Knapp’s relief. Until 1881, the muzzle loading inventory fluctuated up and down as National Guard units returned obsolete firearms in return fro breech loading rifles. The muzzle loaders were in turn issued to newly-formed units or to veteran organizations, principally the Grand army of the Republic, or GAR. In 1881, an appointment of a Board of Survey was approved to act on the obsolete firearms. The Board recommended the sale of the condemned material and the Adjutant General was able to call in practically all muzzle loading firearms from local units. In 1881, all Ohio units were fully equipped with Breech loading rifles. It’s obvious from the readings of the annual reports submitted by the various Adjutant Generals that none knew exactly what stores were held by the State of Ohio. It seemed as soon as inventory dropped, arms from defunct and forgotten militia units would be turned in. The confusion of wartime was in part responsible for the lack of records. However, the militia system both before and after the Civil War was poorly managed and units could be formed, authorized by the State, then disband and disappear without a single state official aware of the fact. Naturally, the arms and accouterments shared the same fate. This accounts for the wide disparity of inventories of ordnance stores published in the Annual Reports. At the end of the Civil War, there were thousands of men in Ohio Militia units who were waiting to be sent to the fighting areas. The veterans were discharged as quickly as possible, By Apr. 1866, a few companies were legally retained in service and operated under the old designation of “militia”, but had generally come to be known as the Ohio National Guard, a term first making its appearance during the war. To summarize, it was the duty of the Ohio State Arsenal, under the supervision of the Adjutant General, to purchase firearms and accouterments from the federal government through a yearly monetary allotment. The State Arsenal was then responsible for the distribution of these “public stores” to authorized volunteer militia units throughout Ohio. Beginning in 1808, this system worked with reasonable efficiency during periods of emergency, ie: the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, but was allowed to all but disappear in the intervals of peace. Since several variations of the die-stamped OHIO appear on firearms and accouterments, its logical to assume that the greatest periods of effectiveness and adherence to regulations by the State Arsenal also occurred during periods of emergency. The practice of marking Ohio Militia arms probably ceased during the Civil War, simply through an inability to mark the tens of thousands of them passing into the hands of troops. The material was marked over a span of 60 years and is proven by the range in age of the objects illustrated for this story. Arsenal employees could have marked everything held in storage at one particular time, for example, in 1859, when an attempt was made to bring the inventory up to date. However, it is highly doubtful that such a course of action was taken. The State Arsenal sold privately, not by public auction, great quantities of muzzle-loading firearms after the Civil War. Whether the Arsenal removed its mark, if present, is not known. Since the sales followed the war by several years, probably little marked material remained. Owners of legally acquired OHIO arms probably removed the markings in many instances. A question has been raised whether the mark OHIO represents approval by an inspector, state ownership, or both. It is doubtful that the State of Ohio would appoint an inspector to approve arms already approved by the Federal Government; an inspector’s position does not appear in the annual reports of the Adjutant General. A logical assumption is that the mark OHIO simply implied state ownership. Many OHIO marked firearms appear on the market today, particularly the M1808 Harpers Ferry Musket. The majority of the pre-Civil War equipment was probably “borrowed” indefinitely by citizen-soldiers. Civil War arms were retained by some militia-men. A small quantity of marked equipment can be assumed to have reached private hands through sale. Perhaps the most interesting feature of these arms is that many varieties of foreign arms, which generally sell at low cost, can be purchased; and, if they bear the OHIO mark, the collector can be assured of owning a legitimate martial arm used in the US during the muzzle-loading period.