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Extremely Rare Confederate Mississippi Altered Hall Rifle to Carbine

Extremely Rare Confederate Mississippi Altered Hall Rifle to Carbine

  • Product Code: FLA-2062-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

Sometimes lighting strikes twice, and I am extremely proud to offer this wonderful and extremely scare example of a Confederate percussion converted Hall rifle, altered to a cavalry carbine. What is amazing is that I have had another example of this incredibly scarce gun before, and like that one, this one has a number of carved initials (as well as a partially legible name), which may allow it to be fully identified. It is nearly impossible to understate the actual rarity of this firearm. To my knowledge, only four 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. I had the opportunity to sell the other known example in private hands about 3 years ago. It came out of the bushes in northern Mississippi. This one has surfaced from an old estate collection from Florida. Dr. Murphy clearly documented his two specimens in the seminal work Confederate Carbines & Musketoons that he wrote with the assitance of the late Howard Michael (“Howie”) Madaus. The twins to this “carbine” are pictured on pages 201-203 of that book.

The conversion to percussion performed on this gun is quite unique, and due to the extensive research of Murphy & Madaus, 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 Murphy & Madaus, 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, they note that a small number of these rifles were not only percussion converted, but also altered to carbine length for use by Mississippi State mounted troops. According to their research, these Hall “carbines’ were subsequently issued to the 1st Mississippi Cavalry. The Halls 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 sometimes the markings remain partially legible. Additionally, the percussion cone (nipple) was installed at a 90” angle to the breechblock, directly into the original flintlock touchhole. 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 an Arabic number. In this case, the number appears to be a 5. The number is weak due to flash pitting and wear around the edges of the breechblock. A matching 5 is struck on the right side of the stock, just behind the wrist. This mark is worn as well, but remains partially legible. In Confederate Carbines & Musketoons one of the two examples is pictured marked with the 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. The example that I sold previously was marked with the reassembly number 2 on the breechblock. As part of the alteration the barrel was shortened to “carbine length”. On this example the barrel is 21 “, giving the gun an overall length of 41 3/8”. The two examples in the Murphy collection 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 was retained during the alterations on the top of the breechblock, and a new front site was installed at the end of the barrel. According to Murphy at least two full-length rifles have been documented with the exact same style of alteration to percussion. The real number of rifles known with this alteration is probably around 10 or so, and I have one of those rare guns in inventory at this time as well.

The even more intriguing part of the gun is the fact that it has multiple sets of initials as well as a partial name, which might make it possible to positively identify the members of the1st Mississippi Cavalry who may have carried this carbine. Since it has been documented that these Mississippi State Arsenal altered carbines were issued to the 1st MS Cavalry, the initials provide the ability to compare them to the roster of soldiers that served in that unit. The initials H T H (or possibly J I T H) appear on the obverse buttstock of the carbine. The initials J M P are carved into the flat toe line of the stock, behind the triggerguard, and the name J M P”EAT” is carved into the toe line further back than the initials. The reverse buttstock is carved diagonally with the letters W A N “. The “HTH” initials may be those of H T Horn, who served in Company D of the 1st Mississippi Cavalry. The “JMP” initials might be J M Parks (who served in Company B of the 1st MS cavalry), although “Parks’ does not appear to match the partially legible portion of the last name after the initials. It could also be James M Plank (Company I) but again the last name does not quite line up with the letters that appear legible in the last name. Several other possible identifications exist with the first initial “J”, a last name starting with “P”, but with no middle initial listed in the records. If any of these carvings can be more specifically narrowed down and interpreted, it might be possible to find one or more of the soldiers who carried and handled the gun while serving with the 1st Mississippi Cavalry.

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.

This very rare Mississippi State Arsenal altered Hall carbine to rifle rates about GOOD+ overall condition. The carbine is essentially complete, with the exception of the ramrod / cleaning rod, the upper sling swivel and the skeletonized pistol grip section of the triggerguard. There is one triggerguard mounting screw missing from the front of the triggerguard and one from the rear of the block release mounting plate. A couple of the action screws appear to be old replacements as well. The rear sight is a brass blade that appears to be a period replacement, and the front sight is a similar brass blade on a brass base. Both appear to be from the period of use and have a dark, untouched patina. The metal of the gun has a fairly even medium pewter gray patina, with evenly scattered darker oxidized peppering over all of the surfaces. The metal is evenly pitting throughout, a combination of both use and old storage issues. The pitting, combined with the milling that was part of the Confederate modifications to the block have completely obscured the original Harper’s Ferry markings on the top of the gun. 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 altered and the rear most, skeletonized pistol grip area has been removed. This may have been the result of damage to the stock, as the wrist of the gun is wrapped with a period copper sheeting to reinforce the stock. 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 GOOD condition, and shows significant wear and a significant number of period repairs and modifications. As previously noted the wrist is wrapped with copper that is nailed in place with small finishing nails, in an attempt to repair and reinforce this area. There is also a small brass strap nailed and screwed onto the bottom of the stock as reinforcement between the triggerguard and the breechblock release. The portion of the stock, just forward of the rear barrel band shows significant wear commensurate with having been carried over the pommel of a saddle for a significant amount of time. The stock also has a number of small cracks, as well as a number of gouges, deeps dings and nicks in the wood. All of the wear is typical of a Confederate saddle gun that has seen lots of field use. The extensive wear and the numerous field repairs make the carbine even more attractive and give it a fantastic look.

This is one of those guns that simply needs no additional spin or sell to make it a wonderful Civil War used firearm. This carbine has a whole lot of great things going for it:

1 “ It is one of only four examples of this gun known to exist, and only this one and one other are in private hands.
2 “ It is potentially identifiable to three member of 1st Mississippi Cavalry, and will probably be able to be directly identified to at least one of them.
3 - It is a wonderful field used example of an incredibly rare Confederate Hall alteration with great documentation as to where it was altered to a to whom it was issued.

This gun could clearly be the centerpiece of any serious Confederate Civil War collection, especially one that centered on ID’d weapons, CS Cavalry or Mississippi items. It would also be a fantastic addition to an advanced collection of Confederate made and altered carbines & musketoons. This gun 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. This is one of those rare opportunities to own an example of a Confederate long arm that might not be available again for many years to come.


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Tags: Extremely, Rare, Confederate, Mississippi, Altered, Hall, Rifle, to, Carbine