Fantastic autograph endorsements, signed "J. D." and "Jeffer. Davis, Sec. of War," on the integral leaf of a letter sent to him by Chief of Ordnance Henry K. Craig, 7.5 x 10, August 21, 1854. The LS, signed "H. K. Craig," in part: "I answer to the inquiry as to the length of time it would probably take to have all the muskets, that are worth altering, adapted to the Maynard primer, at the two armories, I have to report; that it will take eleven and a quarter years, supposing the ordinary manufacture of arms is carried on at the same time; and five and a third years, supposing the alteration to be the exclusive work of the two armories."
On the center and left docketing panels on the integral leaf, Davis responds, in part: “The inquiry applied to the altered muskets, those which were originally flintlock muskets, will be altered so as to conform to the model submitted by the Ordnance board, for the application of the primer to the musket. To abridge the time required for the proposed alteration contracts will be made for the manufacture and delivery of as many locks as will be required during the next three years…Jeffer. Davis, Sec. of War.”
Craig’s reply in the leftmost column, dated August 23, 1854, in part: “Referring to the foregoing endorsement so far as regards contracts for the manufacture and delivery of locks, I have respectfully to request information…I shall advertise for proposals for the manufacture and delivery of the locks; also from what appropriation the payments for the work shall be made.” Below, Davis pens a second endorsement, also dated August 23, in full: “The suggestions of the Chief of Ordnance are desired before a decision is made on the above question of details. J. D.” In fine condition, with repaired splitting along the hinge.
Designed by Edward Maynard, the Maynard tape primer allowed for more rapid reloading of muskets, thereby increasing a soldier's rate of fire. The Ordnance Board was initially hesitant about the design, but Secretary of War Jefferson Davis pushed for its adoption and it was installed on the the Springfield Model 1855 rifle-musket. Although the Maynard tape primer worked well under controlled conditions, it proved to be unreliable in the field.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.