• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle

1803 Harpers Ferry
NPS Photo
 

1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle

Caliber: .54

Barrel length: 33"

A flintlock rifle fires by striking a piece of flint against piece of steel. This weapon was the first rifle built the US Armory at Harpers Ferry. Before this weapon, the army focused primarily on muskets (smoothbore). Designed with rifling for accurate long distance shooting, this weapon could shoot 300 yards. However, due to the rifling and tight fitting of the bullet, it was difficult and slow to load. These were issued to the United States Regiment of Riflemen beginning in 1808. The soldiers would have carried this weapon at Fort Smith in 1817. By 1821, the US military abolished the Rifle Regiment and created a new rifle to be issued to special Infantry companies.

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Did You Know?

foundation remains of first fort overlooking Arkansas River

The U.S. Army selected a spot overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers for the site of a fort. Soldiers from the Rifle Regiment arrived in 1817 and named the site Fort Smith after their commanding officer, Thomas A. Smith.