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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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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?

Portrait of Anna Dawes

A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.