WILLIAM GLAZE PALMETTO ARMORY COMMERCIAL RIFLE OF SAMUEL HART, 1st SERGEANT CO. B, 1st SOUTH CAROLINA RESERVES, “THE CHARLESTON GUARD.”

$3,950.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 766-1182

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This is a very scarce example of a privately purchased rifle (or technically a rifled musket) made by William Glaze and his Palmetto Armory for private sale to the South Carolina militia just before the Civil War. This has clear William Glaze characteristics and falls between the pattern of guns that Glaze sold, supplied on contract, or altered for the state of South Carolina, and has the private property plaque of member of the Charleston militia on the left butt flat. Measuring about 1 by 2-inches, the oval German silver plaque is engraved in period script: “Samuel Hart / 1861.” Hart was a member of Charleston’s Jewish community and a bookseller who joined a volunteer company of men exempt from normally-required militia service calling themselves, the “Home Guard.” This company joined with other volunteer exempt companies and became Company B of the 1st South Carolina Reserves, doing duty at the Charleston armory and being called up briefly for active service in mid-1862.

The barrel is altered to percussion use by the same method Glaze and his northern subcontractors, Benjamin Flagg and Asa H. Waters, used in his conversion of some 6,000 flintlock muskets for South Carolina in 1852-53. A bolster was brazed over the touch hole of the barrel and a hole then drilled through its side to connect with the touch hole. The opening was then closed on the outside with a brazed plug and the bolster drilled and threaded from the top for a nipple. A new hammer was fitted and the lock plate altered to remove its external flintlock parts and cut to fit the new bolster. The rifle also uses parts from different sources, typical both of Glaze and Waters, who had no problem using commercial, surplus or even condemned parts if their arms would sell or pass inspection. In this case the barrel is proof-marked “US / JCS / P,” which is the mark of John C. Stebbins, who worked at Springfield, but also inspected some U.S. contract flintlock arms at the Waters factory and elsewhere. In contrast to Glaze’s work for the state, however, the stock is an 1840 style musket stock and the lockplate is an altered 1847-dated Harpers Ferry percussion lock.

This conceivably might have made its way into Glaze’s South Carolina contract to convert their old arms or in his deliveries of newly made arms, but does not follow the configuration of his contract rifles, which were 1841 patterns, and the barrel is rather too short for the muskets, at 38 7/8 inches, which also tended to use their original stocks and lockplates. It does, however, fit the barrel-length of many other rifles in the hands of South Carolina militia, such as those purchased from Henry and Tryon in the 1830s and early 1840s, with roughly 38-inch barrels. And, it is rifled with seven lands and grooves, the same rifling Glaze had to use in his 1841-pattern rifle contract. Glaze was busy rifling guns again in early 1861, and Murphy illustrates a Glaze musket rifled by Happoldt in Charleston at the same time, but both show three lands and grooves. It seems pretty clear this was made by Glaze for sale to the militia using a surplus conversion barrel that was shortened slightly to bring it into line with other South Carolina rifles and rifled with the same machinery he used for his state contract 1841-patterns, which he was producing in the same period (1852) as his percussion conversions. As with many of his longarms and South Carolina rifles, the barrel was also fitted with a top stud for a socket bayonet.

Only two men named Samuel Hart saw South Carolina military service. One was a 35 year old butcher from New York, who served in Child’s artillery company and the 15th SCHA, and had a preference for going AWOL and desertion. In those units he is most likely to have been armed with a state-owned weapon, but his social-standing in any case makes him an unlikely candidate for nice, privately purchased, rifle. The other Samuel Hart, however, fits the bill perfectly. He was a well-off, prominent bookseller. Born in 1805, he set up business selling, and also publishing, books about 1840. In 1861 he was too old for active service and was exempt from compulsory militia duty, but joined a volunteer company of similarly minded men who were exempt, and by May was First Sergeant of a company calling themselves, the “Home Guard.”

This company, in turn, joined with other volunteer companies and became Company B of the, “Regiment of Charleston Reserves” by October17, 1861, when they are recorded in the Charleston Courier. They served as guards at the Charleston arsenal and performed other such duty, but were briefly called up with the regiment for active service at Charleston in June 1862, as the, “First Regiment South Carolina Militia, Charleston Reserves.” Hart enlisted June 5, for “as long as required,” and was discharged with the unit on August 21.  His bookshop offered an array of titles, including novels, travel literature, and bibles, but also advertised a selection of military manuals and treatises throughout the war.

Hart (1805-1896) was member of Charleston’s Jewish community, which was tightly knit by intermarriage as well as faith. It is possible he obtained the rifle from the Charleston hardware establishment of S.N. Hart, who advertised firearms for sale in the Charleston courier. S. N. Hart was also a “Samuel,” as was his son and the son of our militia sergeant, who often used “Senior,” to help keep things straight. These four seem to have been related, but only Samuel Hart the bookseller had military service.

The rifle is in very good condition. The wood has good edges along the barrel channel and lock, showing just one slight ding on the upper, forward edge of the lock platform, and one or two tiny handling marks. The wood shows an old cleaning and the barrel, bands, and hammer show re-bluing, but the lockplate shows the mottled gray, pewter and faint blue of case colors. The lockplate and barrel markings are crisp. All bands, springs, swivel and the rod are in place. The rifling is excellent and the bore will clean to near mint. As a privately purchased rifle, owned by a prominent citizen who proudly showed his patriotism by joining a militia company though exempt, this was well taken care of, and likely valued as a memento of his dedication to the cause.  [sr]

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