Arming the Union through Innovation, Genius, and Agency
Men, Machine, & the Carbine
The New Company
The Burnside Carbine
The Bristol Rifle Works’ ownership switched to its creditors in May 1860 and reorganized into Burnside Rifle Company.1 By the outbreak of the Civil War, Burnside was no longer associated with the company and never received large profits from his invention.
The Burnside Rifle Company would go on to produce 30,946 Spencer Carbines for the government between April 15, 1865 and October 31, 1865. Those carbines were delivered too late for use in the Civil War, but were utilized in the Indian Campaigns.2 Their production of Spencers demonstrated that the company was trying to adapt to the latest trend in their industry: repeating arms. In order to compete, they would have received permission to use the Spencer patent at a fee. The company tried to meet demand by making an already established product rather than by making a better, patented machine. Both companies would have benefited from the arrangement.
ARTIFACT: NATIONAL FIREARMS MUSEUM | PHOTO: ALLISON AND BRITTANY VENTURELLA
The Burnside Rifle Co, name stamped onto the lockplate of an 1862 Burnside Carbine.
1 Arcadi Gluckman and L. D. Saterlee, American Gun Makers, 2nd ed. Revised (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: The Telegraph Press, 1953), 25, 30.
2 Gluckman and Satterlee, American Gun Makers , 30.