Archeologists pore over Springfield Armory Historic Site

If you have ever picked up a modern Springfield Armory pistol, you will notice the classic and historic Springfield cannon wheel and artillery piece ordnance crest located on the slide of every one you pick up. While today’s SA is only based on the name of the original institution, which is now a monument to American ingenuity and a storage place for the national relic firearms history, the original Springfield Armory is undergoing an archeological excavation to help preserve this history.

The year after the Declaration of Independence, General Washington and his chief of artillery Henry Knox scouted out a militarily defensible position that was still centrally located to his army. The purpose of this site would be a secure storage and manufacturing facility in which workers could make limbers for the Continental Army’s artillery as well as package paper/power/bullets into cartridges for the Army’s muskets. By 1794 (remember this date), the Springfield Armory was, besides a storage place for arms and producer of ammunition, making the first all-US made firearms for the Army.

Over the next seventy years a long line of muskets, the M1795, M1816, M1822, and M1861, more than three million overall, were produced at the Springfield Armory. The muzzleloaders carried by the US Army in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, were in most cases made at SA. After the musket era, Springfield made the Model 1873 Trapdoor rifles then the Springfield Model 1892-99 Krag-Jrgensen rifle, which the US carried during the Indian Wars and Spanish-American Wars respectively.

In 1900, the Armory began work on a prototype bolt-action rifle based on a Mauser design. This new rifle became the famous Springfield M1903 rifle, which was carried during World War I by the Doughboys who went ‘over there.’ In the 1930s, the Armory was home to one Mr. John Garand who was working on a revolutionary new semi-automatic battlerifle. This gun, adopted in 1937 as the M1 Rifle, was the rifle that won the Second World War as well as helped push the Chinese back in Korea and an amazing 3-million, the bulk of the M1s ever made, came from Building 104 right there at the Armory, built in 1939 on the eve of WWII specifically for its construction.

Some 3-million M1 rifles and nearly as many M14s were made in the 70,000-sq ft Building 104 from 1939-65

Some 3-million M1 rifles and nearly as many M14s were made in the 70,000-sq ft Building 104 from 1939-65

In 1956 the Armory’s next rifle, the M14 replaced the old warhorse that was the Garand. Soon this select-fire rifle was equipping US soldiers and Marines in a place called Vietnam. However, it was soon replaced by the M16, which is not made in any government arsenal but under contract.

This led to the Armory’s closure in 1968 and its preservation as a protected National Historic Place and National Historic Site, managed and operated by the National Park Service. As such, it contains possibly the largest collection of firearms anywhere in the country. Their huge collection is all photographed and searchable online if you can’t make it by there.

With all that history, when they decided to tear down Building 104 this year to make room for improvements, a few interesting things turned up…

(You don't want to know where that key has been.)

(You don’t want to know where that key has been.)


Read the rest in my column at X  D Forum

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.