Saturday, August 18, 2012

Walked Right In Carrying A Rifle

Christopher Miner Spencer walked into the White House August 18th 1863 carrying one of his Spencer rifles, to see President Abraham Lincoln.

Christopher Miner Spencer was born June 20th 1833 in Manchester, Connecticut.  He was apprenticed to work at 14 for the Cheney Brother’s as a machinist.  He developed his Spencer Repeating Rifle in 1860, but was unable to get it into Union army use.  On August 18th 1863 Spencer walked into the White House, past the sentries carrying one of his rifles with cartridges and into President Abraham Lincoln’s office.  The two them discussed the gun, and the next afternoon Lincoln, Spencer, Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton and other officials met out on the Mall where they participated in target shooting using the gun.

After that meeting the Union ordered around 13,000 Spencer rifles, along with 58 million rounds of ammo.  Union General Ulysses S Grant said the Spencer rifle was "the best breech-loading arms available".  Many of the Civil War veterans returned home with their Spencer.

Demand for the rifle fell after the war ended, and Spencer was unable to make enough money cover his investments.  The Spencer Repeating Rifle Company went bankrupt in 1868.  The company’s assets were bought by Oliver Winchester.  Spencer went on to develop other quality gun, such as the Spencer Pump Action Shotgun, as well as inventing things like the Steam Powered Buggy and the first automatic screw machine.  Spencer died January 14th 1922 in Windsor, Connecticut.

If you would like more information, check out Christopher Spencer’s Horizontal Shot Tower

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