Patrick Raycraft / Hartford Courant
May 21, 2014
1860, Oct. 16 Benjamin Tyler Henry, a gunmaker at the New Haven Arms Co., receives a patent for a .44 caliber repeating rifle, the first practical lever-action firearm. The Henry Rifle was the gold standard in the Civil War and the centerpiece of the company that was reorganized in 1866 by the owner of New Haven Arms, Oliver Winchester.
1860 Christopher Spencer of Manchester, a journeyman machinist who had worked for Cheney Bros. and Colt, invents a breech-loading rifle. He wins a personal audience with President Lincoln, who orders the gun for the Union Army. Spencer makes the rifles in Boston but later returns to Hartford as partner in the Billings & Spencer forge.
CAPTION: An 1860 Henry Rifle manufactured by The New Haven Arms Company, from the collection of the Connecticut State Library.