Awesome Double ID'd Mississippi Alteration Hall Carbine
- Product Code: FLA-1483-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
I am very proud to offer this wonderful and extremely scare Confederate percussion converted Hall rifle, altered to a cavalry carbine, complete with two identifications. It is nearly impossible to understate the actual rarity of this firearm. To my knowledge, only three are known to exist, and two of them are in the collection of the late Dr. John Murphy which is on display at the Greensboro Historical Society in North Carolina. Dr. Murphy clearly documented his two specimens in the seminal Confederate Carbines & Musketoons which he wrote with the help of Howard Michael Madaus. The twins to this “carbine” are pictured on pages 201-203 of this book.
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, MS. The Hall rifles that were converted and altered at the arsenal in Jackson were shipped from the US Arsenal in Baton Rouge, LA in early 1861, after Louisiana had succeeded from the Union. Baton Rouge had 2,287 Hall flintlock rifles in their stores in October of 1860, and 1,000 of those arms were sent to Mississippi. According to Dr. Murphy, most of these rifles were altered to percussion between July and August of 1861, and issued to Mississippi infantry regiments by September of that year. However, Dr. Murphy notes that a small number of these rifles not only percussion converted, but altered to carbine length for use by Mississippi State mounted troops. These Hall “carbines’ were subsequently issued to the 1st Mississippi Cavalry. The Hall’s converted in Jackson have some very specific characteristics that make them immediately identifiable. In nearly all cases of Confederate Hall rifle alterations to percussion, the breechblock was milled completely flat after the removal of the flintlock battery. This usually removed the original breechblock markings. Prior to the milling of the block, the recess in the top of the breechblock that allowed for the movement of the toe of the frizzen was typically filled. On the Mississippi State Arsenal alterations this recess was left unfilled during the conversion process, and the markings remain partially legible. Additionally, the percussion cone (nipple) was installed at a 90” angle to the breechblock. On nearly all other CS conversions, the cone is set at an angle to the breechblock. The profile of the percussion hammer is also unique to these conversions. The original hammer was cut through the center of the throat hole and new striker with a very distinctive (Murphy calls is a “squirrel tail”) thumb piece was brazed onto the original bottom portion of the hammer. During the alteration the left side of the breechblock was marked with the Arabic number 2. Another mating number is likely concealed under the stock or has been obliterated on the stock. In Murphy’s book one of the two examples is pictured marked with conversion reassembly number 13 on the block in the same manner, and there is no mention or picture of a mark on the other example. As part of the alteration the barrel was shortened to “carbine length”. On this example the barrel is 24 “, giving the gun an overall length of 44 “. The two other examples known each have different barrel lengths, one is 21 ““ long and the other is 22 ““ long. The barrels were cut off flush with the muzzle, and the original .52 caliber bore with 16 lands & grooves were retained during the alteration process. The original middle barrel band has been retained, and a portion of the original rifle forend removed, with the part retained rounded and contoured into a new forend tip. The original rear site is retained on the top of the breechblock, and a new front site was installed at the end of the barrel. Both of Murphy's examples were altered from post-1830 production Harper's Ferry Hall rifles, and this example was altered from a Harper's Ferry Hall dated 1834. According to Murphy at least two full-length rifles have been documented with the exact same style of alteration to percussion.
The even more intriguing part of the gun is the fact that it has two sets of initials that can both be positively identified to members of the1st Mississippi Cavalry. Since it has been documented that these Mississippi State Arsenal altered carbines were issued to the 1st MS Cavalry, the initials provided the ability to compare them to the roster of soldiers that served in that unit. The initials JV on the left wrist of the stock turned out to be John Vankirk (also noted as Vancurk on some rolls) and the initials, HLB carved into the wood immediately below the receiver on the right side of the stock turned out to be Hugh L Brown. In both cases no other member of the entire regiment has the same initials, so the identifications are as close to iron clad as a Confederate ID on a weapon can be. Both men served with the unit during the first part of the war. The 1860 census revealed that John Vankirk was estimated to be 27 years old and was a “common laborer” who resided in Kentucky, but was probably born in Indiana. A search of multiple on line databases confirms that Vankirk was listed in his Confederate enlistment papers as being from Kentucky. According to the 1860 Census Brown was 39 in 1860, resided in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi and was born in Tennessee.
John Vankirk enlisted on November 1, 1861 in Grenada, MS for 1 year. He was paid $125 for the use of his horse and another $8 for his “horse equipments”. He was enrolled in Company C, the “Panola Cavalry” commanded by Captain Middleton. Further investigation indicates that Vankirk was stricken with measles and was sent to the hospital on February 28, 1862 and died there on April 17, 1862. It appears that his Mississippi State Arsenal converted Hall carbine was subsequently issued to Private Hugh Brown, approximately one week after he was sent to the hospital. Hugh L Brown enlisted as a private for one year’s service on March 5, 1862 in Grenada, MS and was enrolled in Company D of the 1st Mississippi cavalry, known as the “Tillatoba Grays”, which were recruited from Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties in Mississippi. He was discharged as a non-conscript by order of the Col “ July 16, 1862. Brown remained on the muster rolls for the regiment from April 31, 1862 through October 31, 1862. Another note in the archive file notes that for May & June 1863, Brown was Absentee whose name has been stricken from rolls. Clearly, since Brown was 40 when he enlisted, the Confederacy decided that they did not require his services anymore. No doubt this would have not been the case later in the war!
The 1st Mississippi Cavalry under the command of Colonel Andrew Lindsay, and later R.A. Pinson were heavily involved in most of the major western theater battle action from the beginning to the end of the war. Their first major action was at the Battle of Belmont on November 7, 1861 “ which became Ulysses Grant’s first victory. They were subsequently at Madrid Bend and Island No 10, where they managed to escape prior to the surrender of that garrison to Grant. The 1st Mississippi Cavalry was further engaged on April 6, 1862 at the battle of Shiloh where they captured Ross’s Michigan Battery, including 4 guns and 27 men. The regiment was further engaged in Western Middle Tennessee at the Battle of Britton’s Lane on September 1, 1862, and then served during the campaign and siege of Corinth, MS. The regiment spent most of early 1863 in Middle Tennessee, skirmishing in and around Spring Hill and Thompsons Station. During 1864 the regiment was brigaded with the 2nd, 28th & Ballentine’s Mississippi Regiment to form General Armstrong’s brigade of cavalry and fought through the entire Atlanta campaign. At the battle in Dallas, GA on May 28, 1864 they repeated their Shiloh success by again capturing 4 artillery pieces. Following the failed Atlanta Campaign, the brigade, under the overall command of Nathan Bedford Forrest returned to Middle Tennessee and were engaged at Spring Hill, TN on November 29, 1864 and the next day at the Battle of Franklin they crossed the Harpeth River and “attacked the enemy strongly posted on a hill”. For those familiar with the Franklin area, this most certainly was Fort Granger. After the Battle of Franklin, they moved to Brentwood and Nashville, until the infantry came up. At which point Forrest took them to siege Murfreesboro, TN. After the Battle of Nashville, they served under Forrest as part of the rear guard that protected Hood’s retreating army, and fought in a number of small actions between December 23 and 26, 1864. The 1st remained with Forrest until the end, serving valiantly at the Battle of Selma, AL and finally surrendering with Forrest on May 22, 1865 in Gainesville, AL.
Now that the historic significance and rarity of this Confederate Hall Carbine has been established, I guess we should discuss it’s condition. The gun rates about VERY GOOD overall, in attic, untouched condition. The carbine is complete and retains all of its original parts (or CS alteration parts), except for the ramrod / cleaning rod, which was not a necessary item for the breechloader anyway. The gun still retains original sling swivels, the original rear site and the Confederate alteration front site, which was dovetailed into the barrel. The metal of the gun has a wonderful, untouched brown patina, with even peppering throughout and scattered areas of light to moderate pitting as well “ mostly around the breech area. The pitting, combined with the milling of the Confederate modifications to the block have somewhat obscured the original Harper’s Ferry markings on the top of the gun. The sides of the breechblock still retain strong traces of their original case hardened finish, which can be seen when the block is elevated. The action of the carbine works exactly as it should. The breechblock release functions correctly and the block locks in place tightly. The hammer still operates on both half and full cock, and responds to the trigger as it should. The triggerguard is slightly bent, likely from hours of the carbine being carried across the pommel of a Confederate saddle. The butt plate is significantly pitted “ likely from poor storage long ago. The bore of the carbine retains the deep and sharp Hall patent rifling. The bore is dark and dirty with even pitting throughout. The stock of the carbine is in NEAR VERY GOOD condition, with no breaks or repairs. Interestingly, the gun does not have the typical “Hall crack” that is found behind the receiver of most US converted Hall rifles. The stock shows the normal bumps, dings and mars that would be expected of a 150-year-old cavalry combat arm. However, other than some significant wear and mars near the buttplate on both sides of the buttstock, the gun was clearly well cared for.
This is one of those guns that simply needs no additional spin or sell to make it “sexy”. Look at all of its attributes that make is a “must buy”:
1 “ Of the three examples of this gun known to exist it is the only one in private hands.
2 “ It is identified to two members of the 1st Mississippi Cavalry.
3 - It is a wonderful example of a rare Confederate Hall alteration.
This gun would clearly be the centerpiece of any Confederate Civil War collection, especially one that centered on ID’d weapons, CS Cavalry or Mississippi items. It would be equally at home in any collection that centered on the many battles and skirmishes that it might have been involved in from Shiloh to Franklin. The gun comes with a binder of documentation and information about the guns themselves as well as the regiment and the men the gun is identified to. This is clearly a one of a kind Confederate ID'd weapon that should be priced at double this amount, and is worth every penny.SOLD