Armory

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Armory

The Armory holds many interesting weapons used in the Civil War. The Weapons Cases contain an excellent display of rifles, muskets, carbines, and pistols from the period, including a rare conversion of a musket to breech loader.

In the middle of the room stands a display of McClellan saddles and a portable wooden kit for repairing of leather items. Another case holds 2 Spencer carbines and 1 rifle and a Sharps carbine. These are examples of the first repeating weapons bought by the U.S. Army.

Three branches of the military are represented in this room. The Infantry Case displays items used by the soldiers in the infantry, also known as the "backbone" of the army. These were the men fighting on foot at close range, sometimes caught in hand to hand combat. The infantry units suffered comparatively higher casualty rates than other segments of the army

The Cavalry Case contains artifacts used by the cavalry soldiers, also known as "dragoons' or mounted infantry men as they rode into battle on horseback, but dismounted to fight. Cavalry units were used as the "eyes" of the army as they rode reconnaissance missions and brought back vital information to the officers on both sides during the Civil War.

The Artillery Case displays items used by the soldiers assigned to the artillery units of the Civil War. All firearms larger than small arms were known as artillery or cannon. All Civil War cannon fell into one of two categories: smoothbore or rifled cannon. The most often used field ammunition were grape shot and canister, both of which were scattershot projectiles consisting of several iron balls contained within an iron casement. When fired the casement disintegrated, releasing the shot in a spray, having the same effect as a large sawed off shotgun.

Armory Highlights

  • A display of authentic Civil War ammunition shows fired and dropped minie balls, musket balls, cartridges and equipment used to clean weapons.
  • An original drum used by the 8th New York Volunteers and a German silver fife from a soldier of the 60th Illinois Infantry are showcased.
  • An original sponge, used to clean a cannon barrel after firing, and a rammer, used to drive home the powder and cannon ball before firing, are shown.
  • A long naval pike is displayed.
  • Miniatures of several cannon and rifles are on display including a Parrot 10 pound rifle, a Gatling Gun, a James rifle, a Napoleon 12 pound cannon, and a Whitworth 12 pound breech loading rifle along with caissons and limbers.