In both cases the improvements are the breech loading and the firing repetition by a lever. The Henry contains fifteen .44 cartridges in its tubular magazine plus one in its chamber compared to the seven shots of its competitor. A well trained soldier fires every two seconds which is sixty times speedier than with the one shot guns of the army.
The Civil War broke out in the following year. The federal army is initially reluctant to the Henry because it is too expensive and also because the rifle is dangerous when the shooting does not immediately follow the arming. The first Henry rifles are sold to private customers. In case of capture the enemy cannot use them due to a shortage of copper in the Southern states that prevents to manufacture the cartridges.
In November 1863 the Ordnance Department purchases 800 rifles from the New Haven Arms Company to equip a cavalry regiment. They are delivered in March 1864. Other orders will follow for the infantry. They were required to be used on the battlefield and the surviving units are often damaged.
One of the rifles planned for the cavalry bears the mark of the military inspection but no evidence of cavalry ownership has been found. It was transferred to the infantry shortly before the end of the war and its condition remained exceptional. It is estimated $ 180K for sale on April 13 by RIAC at Rock Island IL, lot 7.
In 1866 Oliver Winchester upgraded the Henry rifle and acquired totally the New Haven Arms Company which became the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Unhappy with his salary Henry did not follow.
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SOLD for $ 195K including premium