Wonderful Condition US Model 1843 Hall-North Carbine
- Product Code: FLA-GB79
- Availability: In Stock
This is a VERY FINE example of a US Model 1843 Hall-North percussion breechloading carbine. The Model 1843 Hall Carbine was one of the more colorful long arms of the American Civil War era, because roughly half of the production was involved in the infamous “Fremont Affair”, sometimes referred to as the “Hall Carbine Affair”. This scandal was partially responsible for the removal of General John C. Fremont, the “Pathfinder”, from command of United States forces in the Department of the West, during the early part of the American Civil War. At the time of his appointment to the command, The Department of the West consisted of the area from the Appalachian Mountains west to the Mississippi River.
The US Model 1843 Hall-North breech loading percussion carbine was produced by Simeon North of Middleton, CT from 1844 through 1853, with a total of 10,500 being manufactured. The carbine utilized the same rising block, breech-loading system, that had been incorporated in earlier Hall breech loading-weapons. However, the Model 1843 used a new side-mounted lever to open and close the breech, instead of the various bottom mounted releases used on all previous Hall models. The guns had 21” long .52-caliber smooth bore barrels secured with two flat, spring retained barrel bands and were finished with the usual lacquer brown finish on the barrel and most of the furniture. The breech block and hammer were case hardened as on the preceding Hall models. Like other Hall patent firearms, the casehardened breech blocks did not have the brilliant, mottled colors often associated with this metal hardening process, but rather were more muted and often had a deep bluish black color with little mottling or bright color. Many small parts, like the screws, breech block wedges and operating lever were fire blued as a result of the heat tempering and drawing processes during production. The standard breech block marking was five lines and read U.S. / S. NORTH / MIDLTN / CONN / (date of production). The left angled flat of the chamber was sub-inspected with a set of initials and inspection cartouches were applied by the arsenal sub-inspector to the left rear of the stock flat, while a final inspection cartouche was sometimes applied to the right side of the rear flat as well. Sights consisted of a simple fixed notch rear sight and an offset front blade, which was necessary due to the presence of the hammer on the top of the breech block, in the line of the sight plane. A threaded, buttonhead “ramrod” was included in the channel under the stock, to serve as both a cleaning and clearing rod and for emergency use as a ramrod should the block become seized and unopenable.
The Model 1843 was the primary long arm of the 1st & 2nd US Dragoons through the period of the Mexican American War, and many of these guns saw extensive use during the American Civil War as well. The most famous, and in some ways notorious, of these carbines were those involved in the “Hall Carbine Affair” that involved General Fremont as well as a number of somewhat unscrupulous East Coast arms dealers and financiers. The story is somewhat convoluted, but the essential details are as follows.
With the opening of the American Civil War, the US Government quickly came to the realization that this was going to be a longer war than originally anticipated, and more small arms were going to be needed than originally thought. Seeing the opportunity to make a quick dollar, numerous arms dealers and speculators jumped into this market and procured arms from whatever sources were available to resell them to the US Government, and in some cases to the various state governments as well. In June of 1861, Arthur Eastman of Manchester, NH offered for sale 5,000 “altered” Hall Model 1843 Carbines. He proposed to have their .52 caliber smooth bores rifled with 6 grooves, and to have their chambers enlarged to accept .58 ammunition. The barrels of the guns were not enlarged to .58 caliber, as the description of these carbines in Flayderman’s leads one to believe, only the chamber of the breechblock was enlarged, from a nominal .564 to a nominal .590. The theory was that the larger chamber feeding into a substantially smaller barrel would help reduce the gas leak problem that had hampered the Hall design since the very beginning of production. Eastman had successfully arranged to purchase the 5,000 carbines from the US Ordnance Department in May and June of 1861, paying $3.50 each for them and taking them from stores held at the Governor’s Island Arsenal in New York, and from Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia. Eastman arranged to sell the carbines to a Simon Stevens who agreed to pay Eastman $12.50 each for them in their newly altered, rifled state. Simon proceeded to contact Major General John C Freemont in Saint Louis, MO on 5 August 1861 and offered the carbines for sale to him. His initial letter read:
56 Broadway, New York, August 5, 1861
I have five thousand Hall’s rifled cast-steel carbines, breechloading, new, at twenty-two dollars, government standard, fifty-eight. Can I hear from you?
Freemont responded the very next day via telegram, saying in part:
“I will take the whole five thousand carbines. See agents, Adams Express, and send by express not fast freight. I will pay all extra charges. Send also ammunition. Devote yourself solely to that business to-day.”
The most scandalous part of the deal was that Eastman did not even obtain the carbines from the Ordnance Department until August 7th, and since Stevens did not have the money necessary to pay Eastman, Stevens arranged financing through JP Morgan. The alteration of the carbines did not take place until later in the month, with most of the work being performed by the WW Marston Company and the Taunton Locomotive Manufacturing Company. The first of the altered carbines arrived in St. Louis by the end of August with the balance arriving by mid-September. The guns were being issued to the troops in the field by the end of September 1861.
By September of 1861, Colonel JW Ripley of the Ordnance Department had seen the initial documents relating to the purchase of the carbines at $22.00 each, and immediately realized that these were the same guns he had authorized selling out of inventory at $3.50 each! The story hit the newspapers, and in a very short time a Congressional inquiry was convened. By 2 November 1861 Freemont had been relieved of his command. Although his removal has often been believed to have been the result of this purchasing debacle, in the greater scheme of things his inept leadership and the fact that he ran the Department of the West as his own private fiefdom had much more to do with it his loss of command than the arms scandal. However, this very public embarrassment was certainly one of the final straws that resulted in his removal from command by President Lincoln.
The rifled Model 1843 carbines were issued to several Western Theater and Trans-Mississippi cavalry units, including the 4th Arkansas, 2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th Illinois, the 1st Indiana, 4th & 5th Iowa, 2nd & 5th Kansas, 2nd Battalion Militia, 6thMilitia, 10th Militia, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th & 10th Missouri, 8th & 9th New York, 3rd & 4th US and 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry. Many of these altered carbines remained in service through the majority of the war, and as such they tend to be encountered in rather rough and heavily used condition. The smoothbore carbines saw use for a more limited amount of time, but like their rifled brethren, a service life of some two decades means that surviving examples tend to be well used and crisp, high condition examples are quite scarce in collections today.
The Hall-North Model 1843 Carbine offered here is in VERY FINE condition overall and is an incredibly crisp example with a nice pre-Mexican War period breech block date. The barrel, bands and furniture of the gun are quite smooth and retain about 75%+ of their original lacquered brown finish with some moderate thinning and loss from carry and use. Some of the finish loss is from scuffing and light surface impact marks that are also likely from a combination of handling, use and storage. The browned metal is almost entirely smooth with only some lightly scattered patches of minor surface oxidation and some freckled areas of minor roughness. The breech block has a lightly pinpricked and mottled brownish-gray patina with only some minute traces of the dull casehardened colors. The block shows some scattered surface oxidation as well as some darker discoloration. The breech block wedges, and operating lever all retain about 50%+ of their blued finish, with thinning and fading and some of the heat blue toning towards straw with some other areas of purplish toning as well. The screws all retain at least some traces of their heat blued finish from their drawing process, with most having developed a lovely plum patina. The screws are extremely crisp with minimal slot wear. The sling bar remains in the white with some scattered surface oxidation and age discoloration.
The breech of the carbine is clearly marked in five lines:
The breech, forward of the breechblock is crisply marked with the inspectors’ initials GWH on the left angle flat, the mark of civilian ordnance sub-inspector George W Hamlin. The left stock flat at the rear of the breech mechanism is stamped with a very weak and essentially illegible script cartouche in an oval that appears to be the JH of civilian sub-inspector Joseph Hannis. The right flat behind the receiver is stamped with the oval cartouche of Ordnance Officer Captain William Anderson Thornton and his script WAT is much more legible than the mark on the opposite side of the gun but is still somewhat weak.
The breech system is mechanically excellent and opens and closes as it should, locking into place securely. The action of the carbine also functions correctly, with the hammer crisply locking into both the half cock and full cock positions and responding to the trigger as it should. The original sling bar and ring remain in place on the left side of the frame. The original block rear sight is in place on top of the receiver, forward of the breechblock and the original front sight is in place at the end of the barrel as well. The carbine is unaltered with the original .52 caliber smooth bore barrel that measures about .5215 caliber, with the breechblock with its original chamber size, measuring .563”. The larger chamber was a necessary part of the design of the period as soft lead round ball would be forced into the forcing cone of the barrel and squeezed to the smaller bore size, much like a percussion revolver, increasing the firing pressure and creating a gas seal so that the force of the charge would not blow past the projectile in the bore. Of course, much like a revolver, that meant that gas would leak from joint between the chamber and the barrel. This why the Halls were equipped with a gas escape vent in the bottom of the gun, as well as with slots in the stock to allow the hot gases to escape without causing excessive erosion to the stock. The bore of carbine remains in VERY FINE condition as well. The bore is mostly bright and shows only some lightly scattered oxidation and some minor pinpricking along its length and is in really wonderful condition. The original button head cleaning rod is in place in the ramrod channel and is full-length complete with fine threads at the end. The stock of the carbine rates about VERY FINE as well and is certainly one of the best examples of a Model 1843 Hall-North carbine stock that I have seen. The wood is extremely crisp and sharp throughout, with sharp edges and lines. The stock is free of any breaks, cracks, or repairs, and even the ubiquitous “Hall crack” is absent from the stock, behind the breech. The stock shows no indication of having been sanded, with the only softness to the edges being at the rear of the receiver where this appears to be the result of regular carry and use. While the stock does show some wear and the expected bumps, dings, and minor scrapes from use in the field, it is really in very nice condition. The only significant wear worth noting are a couple of tiny chips of wood missing along the cleaning rod channel, with the largest being about .75” in length. These are relatively minor and would not really be worth mentioning if it were not for the fact that the balance of the stock itself is in such fine condition.
Overall, this is a wonderful, very high condition example of a US Model 1843 Hall-North Carbine. These guns are rarely encountered with any finish on them at all and this one retains most of the original brown lacquer. The stock of the carbine is one the best I have ever encountered and is really very nice as well. While the gun does show some real use in the field, it was certainly never abused and remains in an outstanding state of preservation. This example displays wonderfully, is 100% complete and correct, and would be very difficult to upgrade. If you have been looking for a chance to add one of these desirable Hall carbines to your collection, a gun which served during both the Mexican American War and the Civil War, it would be very difficult to find a better one without spending significantly more money. This is a really great, no excuses example of an original unaltered Model 1843 Hall Carbine in really great condition.