Civil War Pinfire "Chimney Adapter"

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by AaronN322, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. AaronN322

    AaronN322 Member

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    Edit: Updated, more indept article: http://www.freemycollection.com/?page=articles/pinfireauxiliaryadapter

    During the US Civil War many different types of cartridges were used. A lot of weapons systems are documented for the Northern army, but less is known about the Confederate.

    One thing that is known is that they had a lot less access to proprietary cartridges for specific guns due to blockades and some American companies not making cartridges for their army.

    The Union army has documents showing receipt of over 12,500 Lefaucheux (pinfire) revolvers (This is about 4% of their purchased guns.) There are no such documents for the C.S.A, though there are documents and pictures showing that they too used the pinfire system.

    Since the Confederate had a lack of proprietary cartridges, but had plenty of caps and balls an adapter was made to use the pinfire revolvers with a cap and ball, without modifying the revolver. This was unique because the adapter was re-useable as many times as needed and could be switched out with regular pinfire cartridges once they were again available.

    The adapter would fit in the cylinder of a 12mm Lefaucheux (pinfire) revolver (I even tried it in mine, it fits!) just like a normal pinfire cartridge. The "pin" of the adapter is tapered at the bottom so that it will fit in the slot opening, and gradually becomes larger at top on the part that sticks out of the top of the cylinder so that a percussion cap could be placed on it.

    The "pin" is hollow so that when the hammer comes down and strikes it it sends the spark down into the case where the powder and ball has been loaded into the case. The powder and ball would be loaded down the barrel or on other side of cylinder opening just like a normal percussion revolver.

    My sample has a cap on it, and some odd projectile shoved in it. It is almost rubbery. Maybe someone was shooting little rubber balls out of it in their basement in times past, who knows?

    I would like information on a maker, and also how it was made. Notice the odd tool marks from the metal being stretched. Any other information could be nice too.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010
  2. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    Interesting adapter!!
    I would imagine that there was quite a bit of "blow-back" as the steel wouldn't expand to seal the chamber like brass does. The closer the fit, the less blow-back, but, also, the sooner the chamber would crud up and make the devise harder to get out and re-insert.
  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    That is a new one on me! I have never seen anything like it and suspect there was very limited production and/or use. I am a bit surprised that it fits an unaltered gun, as the nipple looks too big, even with the lower part narrowed down.

    My first thought was that the cartridge was lathe turned, but a closer look at the pictures seems to indicate the metal was rolled and soldered. I can't tell how the nipple is held in or how the base was put in/on, though. The markings on the base could be from the die used to form the case.

    It is certainly an ingenious device and could be made today to allow those old revolvers to be fired. Making them out of brass could solve the obturation problem deadin mentions.

    I have no idea what the bullet is made from. Could the black be some kind of paint put on by a collector to protect the lead from corrosion?

    Jim
  4. AaronN322

    AaronN322 Member

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    It is soft enough that I can easily dig my fingernail into it and the indentation stays.

    Ha, maybe it is an early example of Less Lethal Ammo? :D
  5. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    the colour is caused by age or more accurately oxidisation of the impurities in the lead the smallish white ones could be tin or one of it's oxides or zinc, and the black could be many things in the Lead, small amounts ( tiny ) of silver will so this and many Lead mines are mines for zinc and silver and tin and in the old days separation was not yet perfected, heck it still aint ;)
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The idea that the Johnny Rebs may have been shooting silver bullets at the Yankees certainly is intriguing. But then the Lone Ranger was from Texas.

    Jim
  7. Bob L.

    Bob L. New Member

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    Aaron thanks for your post. I inherited a La Faucheux and have been trying to verify if it was among those 12500 that were purchased by the North from France early in the war, (just to keep the confederates from doing so). I remember hearing or reading somewhere that 500 of these pistols were captured by the confederates on the high seas and those saw service within their army. I also think Stonewall Jackson carried one, but I may be in error on that point. My pistol is serial numbered in the 2XX's and a gun dealer told me that it could have been in that order of 12500 because most guns were not serialized at the time. However, a special order to a foreign government may have been by French arms makers for control purposes. Any thoughts you may have on how to verify the pedigree of my pistol would be greatly appreciated. [one of the most interesting things i noticed when dismantling the pistol, was that someone penciled the same serial number on the inside of each grip.]

    P.S. your info on the adapter insert is facinating and makes a tremendus amount of sense. Wouldn't have made a lot of sense carrying a weapon into battle that there wasn't plentiful ammo available for.
  8. AaronN322

    AaronN322 Member

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    Bob, Could I see a picture of the pistol to verify it is a Lefaucheux model 1854?

    It should look like this:
    [​IMG]

    The serial range believed to have been imported officially by the United States Government fall between 25,000 and 37,000.

    But other firms also imported guns and many armymen brought along their own side arm so there is still a good chance it could have been used.
  9. AaronN322

    AaronN322 Member

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