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Springfield percussion musket
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Confederate forces destroyed Harper's Ferry Armory in Virginia at the beginning of the Civil War (1861-1865.) The Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, thus became the only United States government small arms manufacturing facility. Springfield rifle-muskets like this U.S. Model 1861, became the principal weapon of the Union infantryman. The spiraling grooves, or 'rifling' on the inside of the barrel forced a new style bullet, called a Minie ball, to spin as it was shot. This resulted in far greater long-range accuracy than the old smoothbore muskets of the American Revolution and War of 1812. A percussion cap that ignited on impact by the gun hammer replaced the old flintlock system. A vigorous industrial base and large labor force allowed the Union to make ammunition and weapons in far greater quantities than the Confederates could produce.
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