Monday, July 15, 2013
On the Springfield Armory
On the Springfield Armory: From 1777 to 1968, the Springfield Armory stored ammunition (gunpowder) and produced weapons (guns and bayonets) for the U.S. Army. Founded at the request of General George Washington, the first weapon designed and manufactured at the Armory was a flintlock musket in the 1790s. But why Springfield, Massachusetts? The town was far enough inland (along the Connecticut River) to avoid a coastal attack and it had easy access to commodities such as water and timber. Its location permitted military officers and skilled craftsman to work in a secure and semi-isolated environment. Yet as the demand for weapons grew, Armory operators quickly realized that they could not rely on the hands of gunsmiths alone. In the 1820s, the Armory adopted the newly invented Blanchard lathe, which was a machine developed for cutting irregular shapes (mostly from wood). And by the Civil War, the Armory was producing around 1,000 guns per day. Other technological improvements to gun design that occurred at the Armory during the 19th century included percussion locks (1840s), breech loading (1860s), and bolt-action magazines (1890s). The main advantage behind these improvements resided in the ability to fire more rounds per minute. Also, guns from the Armory were present in World War I and II, as the M1903 Springfield rifle and John Garand's M1 semi-automatic rifle were standard issue for American soldiers.