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Bishop, J. Leander (John Leander), 1820-1868 / A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860 : exhibiting the origin and growth of the principal mechanic arts and manufactures, from the earliest colonial period to the adoption of the Constitution : and comprising annals of the industry of the United States in machinery, manufactures and useful arts, with a notice of the important inventions, tariffs, and the results of each decennial census
Volume 3 (1868)

Manufactures of Hartford,   pp. 406-423


Page 413

SHARPS' RTFLE MANUFACTURING COMPANY.
Sharps' Rifle Manufacturing Company.
On September 12th, 1848, Mr. Christian Sharps, a native of New
Jersey, then residing in Cincinnati, received a patent for an improved
Breech Loading Gun, claiming as his invention, "the combination of the
sliding breech with the barrel, the breech supporter and the stock, in
such a manner as that when the sliding breech is forced down, the breech
bore will be so exposed as to enable it to receive a cartridge on a line
with the bore, and when the sliding breech is forced np, it will shear off
the rear end of the cartridge, so as to expose the powder to the fire com-
munication, and will finally and securely close the breech bore."  He
also claimed as his invention the combination of the cap-nipple with the
sliding breech. This is the first account of what we believe was the
first perfectly successful Breech Loading Rifle. The importance of the
invention is attested by the fact, that for more than a hundred years the
ablest writers on gunnery have asserted that the breech, and not the
muzzle, is the proper place in which to deposit the charge ; and ever
since the origin of Firearms, the attention of ingenious men has been
directed to accomplishing the object. Robins, whose work was pub-
lished in the first half of the last century, and which is acknowledged as
a standard, refers to the Breech Loading Rifles of his day, and says,
Somewhat of this kind, though not in the manner now practised, would
be of all others the most perfect method for the construction of these
sort of barrels." Experience has confirmed the correctness of the
opinion of this ancient experimentalist, and established the fact that
success in warfare depends more on the character and efficiency of the
weapons used than upon the number or courage of the combatants.
In one of the Mexican revolutions in 1858, Colonel Suasue, at the
head of 1,000 men, armed with Sharps' Carbines, attacked Governor
Manero, who was in command of the Government forces, and achieved a
most signal victory at San Louis, Mexico, killing upwards of 600 men,
taking the city and making prisoners of Governor Manero and three of
his colonels, with a slight loss. In the same year, on our western fron-
tier, Colonel Wright's command, armed principally with Breech Loading
Carbines, utterly routed, without the loss of a man, a large band of
Indians who had previously defeated Colonel Steptoe's forces, who were
to the mouth of the harbor-and afterward operated with it in the offing at Boston. His
sub-marine cable differed only from the Atlantic cable recently lost, in this respect, that
in the latter gutta percha was used as an insulator, and in the former, gutta percha being
then unknown, a combination of cotton yarn with asphaltum and beeswax was used around
the wires, enveloped in a metallic pipe as insulator.
413


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