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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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1866 Allen Conversion

1866 Allen Conversion
NPS Photo

1866 Allen Conversion

Caliber: .50-70
Barrel Length: 32"

With the invention of the metallic cartridge, the military began to move away from muzzle loading weapons. However, there was a large supply of rifled muskets from the Civil War. This lead to Springfield muskets being converted to shoot a .50-70 metallic cartridge in 1865. It still used black powder as the propellant in the cartridge. The weapon could only hold one cartridge at a time. A piece of steel called a trap door in the breech of the gun was opened which ejected the spent cartridge case, then a new round was placed in the breech and the door shut. Then the hammer had to be cocked and the trigger pulled to fire the musket. Commonly called a trapdoor because of the loading system. Rifles based on this design continued to be used by the army until the introduction of the Krag Jorgensen rifle, which used the more powerful smokeless powder in 1894. These were the last rifles to be carried by soldiers who left Fort Smith in 1871. However, the pictures from the posse that killed Ned Christie show a deputy holding a trapdoor.

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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.