• View of Springfield Armory overlooking the city of Springfield, 1855

    Springfield Armory

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

The Federal Armories

some of Springfield Armory's principle weapons produced from 1795 to 1904
CASE 55: The weapons in this exhibit are arranged and identified in this listing from top to bottom. "CLICK" on the exhibit description in gold to see more about that particular weapon.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
 

In April 1794, the Congress of the United States appropriated $81,865 “for the erecting and repairing of Arsenals and Magazines,” an act that created the Federal Armories at Springfield, Massachusetts, and Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Although both establishments were to produce weapons for the United States Army, it is apparent by comparing the products of the two factories that there were important differences in their weapons.

Springfield Armory had a number of advantages. It lay in the midst of the Connecticut River Valley, an American center of arms manufacturing and inventiveness, and its early superintendents, especially Col. Roswell Lee, had frequent contact with many nearby inventors like Eli Whitney. As a consequence, very early on Springfield Armory came to use machinery to ease production and standardize parts of the weapons it produced. On the other hand Harpers Ferry was somewhat isolated, and was slow to change from the hand craft methods with which it had begun arms production.

The results can be seen in the products. Harpers Ferry’s weapons, such as the M1803 and the M1819 breechloaders, were both early production rifles and show ingenuity of design. They have also been called “prettier” because of the greater use of brass and higher level of hand craftsmanship in their manufacture. Springfield’s arms, however, exhibit the characteristics of machine made products: standardization in shape and uniformity of parts.

"CLICK" below on the gold highlighted text for:

Map showing the relative locations of Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry Armory

Background essay on Harpers Ferry Armory

The Products of Springfield

U.S. Flintlock M1795, .69 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 933

Bayonet M1795, Cat.#: SPAR 943

US Percussion Musket M1842, .69 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 926

Bayonet M1842, Cat.#: SPAR 942

U.S. Percussion Rifle-Musket M1855, .58 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 931

Bayonet M1855, Cat.#: SPAR 941

U.S. Percussion Rifle-Musket M1861, .58 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 928

Bayonet M1855, Cat.#: SPAR 940

U.S. Springfield Rifle M1873, .45 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 930

Bayonet M1873, Cat.#: SPAR 944

US Krag Jorgensen Magazine Rifle M1892, .30 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 935

Bayonet, Krag M1892, Cat.#: SPAR 939

US Springfield Magazine Rifle M1903, .30 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 932

Bayonet M1905, Cat.#: SPAR 938

U.S. Semi-Automatic Rifle M1, .30 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 929

Bayonet M1, Cat.#: SPAR 937

U.S. Rifle M14, 7.62 millimeter, Cat.#: SPAR 927

Bayonet M6, Cat.#: SPAR 936

 
displaying Springfield Armory weapons from 1903 to 1968 and then the first Harpers Ferry Armory flintlock weapons
CASE 54: The weapons in this exhibit are arranged from left to right and identified in this listing from top to bottom. "CLICK" on the exhibit description in gold to see more about that particular weapon.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
 
Harpers Ferry Armory weapons from 1816 to the Civil War
CASE 53: The weapons in this exhibit are arranged and identified in this listing from top to bottom. "CLICK" on the exhibit description in gold to see more about that particular weapon.
Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS
 

The Products of Harpers Ferry [link to Harpers Ferry NHP]

U.S. Flintlock Musket M1795 type II, .69 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 951

U.S. Flintlock Rifle M1803, .54 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 947

U.S. Flintlock Musket M1816 type III, .69 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 946

U.S. Breech-loading Flintlock Rifle M1819 (Hall’s Patent), .52 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 952

 

U.S. Percussion Rifle M1841, .54 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 948

U.S. Percussion Musket M1842, .69 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 953

U.S. Breech-loading Percussion Carbine M1842, .52 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 950

U.S. Rifle M1855, .58 caliber, Cat.#: SPAR 945

Did You Know?

Organ of Muskets

After visting Springfield Armory during his honeymoon, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a poem in 1845 entitled "The Arsenal at Springfield," which used the racks of muskets stored there as an anti-war metaphor. More...