Hello and welcome to my Hastings. Here we are gonna talk about Henry and his lever action rifle. After posting about the previous topics, I decided that I needed to write something about rifles as well as the scopes from earlier. I did not know which to choose from at first because as we all know, there are plenty of brands out there like Browning, Smith & Wesson, Remington and plenty more. The Henry rifle originated in 1860 and produced by the New Haven Arms Company all the way through until 1866 here in the U.S. Now to learn more about the Henry lever action rifles, just scroll on down and read on. Most of you might already know, but for the ones who doesn’t just might learn something new and surprising as well. So let us begin.
The original Henry, history revealed
As I’ve mentioned before, the Henry repeating rifle was designed in 1860 and produced through 1866 by the New Haven Arms Company. The designer was non other than Benjamin Tyler Henry of course, after 3 long years of designing. It was a 16-shot, breech-loading lever action rifle with a .44 caliber rim fire and a tubular magazine. The rim fire cartridges were first made of copper with a 216 grain bullet and more than 25 grains of black powder. In 1862, 900 were made, which were probably about 150 a month. By 1864, production peaked at around 290 a month, which brought a total of 8,000 by 1866. Around 14,000 rifles have been manufactured by 1866.
The Civil War Unions, how the Henry first made its mark
The Union in the Civil War purchased small quantities of this rifle for its standard issue carbine and firepower. It was a point of pride for a civil war soldier to own a Henry rifle. The government purchased 1,731 rifles during the civil war and the Commonwealth of Kentucky purchased around 1,781. However, the Union on the field purchased upwards up to 7,000 by the soldiers who could afford it. They mostly purchased them with their reenlistment bounties for 1864 and were associated with Sherman’s Western troops. Since tactics were not developed to take advantage of the full firepower and potential of the Henry rifle, they were mainly used by scouts, skirmishers, flank guards, and raiding parties instead of regular infantry formations. While never actually issued on a large scale, the Henry Has definitely demonstrated its advantages several times in the Civil war and the wars between the United States and Plains Indians.
Confederate conspirators, when the Henry met the other side
The few Confederate troops who actually got their hands on the Henry rifle by capture had little to no way to resupply the ammo it used. So the widespread use of the rifle became impractical for the southern soldiers. Even though the odds were against them, some confederate units in Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia, as well as the bodyguards of Confederate President Jefferson Davis has been known to use the rifle. Henry’s rifle was most likely used in the January Uprising by Count Jan Kanty Dzialynski in the Battle of Ignacew. It is reported that he was shooting from a 16 shot rifle during the battle according to memoirs from the epoch. Paul Garnier d’Aubin was also one who were using the rifle in the January Uprising.
Henry or Winchester? The transition
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there was a surprise at the end. I’m sure most of you gun nuts already knew about the Henry rifle eventually becoming the Winchester rifle in 1866. But for the one’s who did not know, surprise. Now, let us continue on and get some knowledge.
The Henry rifle Eventually evolved into the Winchester Model lever-action rifle in 1866. After the introduction of the new Winchester, the New Haven Arms Company was renamed the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The Winchester Model 1866 was originally chambered for the rim fire .44 Henry. It was famous for its construction and repeating rifle mechanism that allowed it to fire multiple shots before having to reload. With a loading on the side of the frame and a round, sealed magazine that was partially protected by a fore stock. Nelson King designed this to remedy the flaws of the original Henry. The Winchester was purchased by France during the Franco-Prussian war. They ended up purchasing 6,000 rifles and 4.5 million .44 Henry cartridges. The rifle compelled Russians to make their own rifle, the Mosin-Nagant, after the war. Due to demand, the Model 1866 continued to be manufactured until 1899. Later models were chambered for the .44-40 Winchester cartridge.
And so be it
Before writing this article on the Henry rifle I didn’t have as much knowledge on the subject as I thought I did and most of what I did find out was quite surprising and interesting. Some of this information surprised me and I hope those of you who read it will be as surprised by the extensive information that’s out there on this particular rifle and how it came to be what it is today. I hope everyone enjoyed this article and the information it brings to the table. If there’s anything that I missed or failed to put in here please feel free to add comments down and I will try my hardest to put it in.