.58 Schubarth Cartridge; and the Improved Breech-loading Rifle Article from The Scientific American, August 31, 1861
We have examined this cartridge previously in our exploration of the relationship of pinfire cartridges and The United States. You can read about it here:
The August, 31 1861 issue of The Scientific American reviewed this new cartridge and gun made by Casper D. Schubarth in detail. I found an original copy and transcribed it here to preserve for the future.
Improved Breech-Loading Rifle.
Among all the breech loading guns that we examined we have seen none that impressed us favorably than Schubarth’s, which is represented the annexed engraving. It has no sliding or joint but the parts are simply pressed together, that it would seem as if they should last for indefinite period. The great desideratum of packing of the joint is also effectually accomplished. The arrangements, too, are very simple, and the are strong and securely held together.
It will be understood from an examination of engravings, of which Fig. 1 represents the gun the breech closed; Fig. 2 with the breech open, Fig. 3 is a vertical section through the middle.
The projection, b, is firmly secured to the barrel, a, by a stout hook and screws, and is attached to the breech by the pivot, c. The chambered breech piece, d, is connected with the projection, b, by the pivot, c, and rests when in place against a solid iron block attached to the breech.
The cartridge with the bullet attached is represented in Fig. 4. The cartridge case, f, is formed of thin brass, and is attached to the Minié bullet, g, by pressing the rear of the latter into the mouth of the cartridge case; when the joint is made water-tight by dipping the cartridge in melted tallow. A cork wad is interposed between the powder and bullet to clean out the gun at the discharge. As the cartridge is entirely closed it is necessary to introduce percussion powder to the inside in order to fire the powder. This is effected by placing a common percussion cap on one end of a small wire, i, which is then fixed the cartridge at its greatest diameter. A small blister is formed on the cartridge at the end of the wire, and a corresponding cavity is made at the breech of the gun to guide the cartridge at its introduction so as to bring the end of the wire directly under the cock.
When the breech of the gun is open as represented in Fig. 2, the cartridge is pushed into the chamber in the barrel as shown in dotted lines, and the breech is then closed by simply turning up the barrel upon the pivot, c; the barrel and breech-piece, d, coming together without any rubbing friction. The guard, h, is then turned up to its place, as shown in Fig. 1, carrying the slide, j, forward over the shoulder in the projection, b, and holding the parts very securely in place.
The gun is discharged by the cock striking upon the pin, k, which is directly over the cap in the cartridge, and which is held in place by a light spring. The gases expand the brass cartridge case, causing it to fit perfectly into the chamber of the barrel and breech-piece, and packing the joint between the two absolutely air tight. Mr, Schubarth says that a white cambric handkerchief placed around this joint is not soiled in the least by any number of discharges.
After the gun is fired, the guard is turned down, bringing the slide, j, away from the shoulder in the projection, b, and allowing the barrel to turn upon the pivot, c, so as to open the breech. The pin, k, presses upon the cartridge case and holds it so that it is drawn from the barrel as the breech is opened. The case is then taken out and is replaced by a new cartridge, ready for a second shot.
As the barrel is turned down, the breech-piece is raised a little, carrying up the cock, and half cocking the gun. For army use a ridge may be formed entirely around the cartridge and filled with fulminating powder, in place of the wire, i, and cap, so that the cartridge may be inserted in any position. But for sporting, it is more economical to adopt the arrangement represented, as the same case may be refilled and used many times.
It will be seen that the powder is fired in the middle of the charge thus causing a rapid combustion. Mr. Schubarth says that this causes so great force to be generated, that 60 grains of powder has driven a bullet through 15 one-inch boards at a distance one hundred yards.
One patent for this admirable invention was granted July 23, 1861, and applications for others and for the cartridge have been made through the Scientific American Patent Agency. Further information in relation to it may be obtained by addressing the inventor, Casper D. Schubarth, at 6 North Main street, Providence, R. I. He would like to make an arrangement with some enterprising man to furnish capital for the manufacture of the guns. He is himself a practical gun-maker.