- Springfield Model 1866
The Springfield Model 1866 was the second iteration of the Allin-designed trapdoor breech-loading mechanism. Originally developed as a means of converting
rifled muskets to breechloaders, the Allin modification ultimately became the basis for the definitive Model 1873, the first breech-loading rifle adopted by the United StatesWar Department for manufacture and widespread issue to U.S. troops.
The Model 1866 corrected problems encountered with the prototypical Model 1865. It employed a robust version of the "trapdoor" breechblock design originated by Erskine S. Allin, Master Armorer of the
Springfield Model 1863rifled muskets were converted by Springfield Armory for use by U.S. troops, the barrels being relined and rifled to .50 caliber and the trapdoor breech system affixed. The rifle was chambered for a .50-70 450 cartridge (.50 caliber convert|450|gr|sing=on bullet; convert|70|gr of black powder). The extractor mechanism of the Model 1866 was weak, and could lead to jamming of the cartridge in the chamber after firing, disabling the weapon.
The Model 1866 was issued to U.S. troops in 1867, and was a factor in the
Wagon Box Fightand the Hayfield Fight, along the Bozeman Trailin 1867. The rapid rate of fire which could be achieved disrupted the tactics of attacking Sioux and Cheyenne forces, who had faced muzzle-loading rifles during the Fetterman massacre only a few months before. The new rifles contributed decisively to the survival and success of severely outnumbered U.S. troops in these engagements.
* The Bozeman Trail: Historical Accounts of the Blazing of the Overland Routes, Volume II, by By Grace Raymond Hebard, et al. digitized at http://books.google.com/books?id=Jc8BAAAAMAAJ - participant reports for Wagon Box Fight and Hayfield Fight.
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