Hall Breech Loading Mod. 1819
Confederate Conversion to Percussion
Of special interest to the Maine historian, the innovative breech loading design of this arm was developed and patented by Portland, Maine
born John H. Hall.  A classic Yankee tinkerer, the innovative Portland native worked in his father’s tannery before setting up his own
woodworking and boat building shop in 1810.  Inquisitive of all things mechanical, Hall’s local militia service intensified his interest in
firearms with particular focus on increasing the ease and rapidity of loading.  John Hall’s effort toward the development and successful patent
of a pivoting chamber, breech loading system, caught the interest of the U. S. Army ultimately leading to its adoption of the Hall’s Patent rifle
in 1818.  By 1842 production of the Hall had switched from flintlock to the percussion cap ignition system then by1844 Federal arsenal
production of the Hall culminated.  Early flintlock arms had been relegated to Federal and State arsenal storage.  By the outbreak of the Civil
War the vast majority of these obsolete weapons had been moved to storage in southern arsenals where, in the heat of hostilities, they were
converted to percussion and pressed into service against Union troops.  While rarely surviving examples of these Confederate conversions
offer testimony to the challenges of material and equipment shortages of a largely non-industrial South, will and resourcefulness offered a
remarkable level of accomplishment.
With undisturbed evidence of age and hard period use, this example
of Portland, Maine native John Hall’s patent breech loader was no
exception to the Southern make-do challenge as it was converted from
flintlock to percussion.  Lacking a proper hammer for the conversion
the outmoded flintlock hammer was retained and the desired result
was accomplished simply by removal the flint and tightening down an
iron striker in the existing clamp.  The conversion was completed by
removal of frizzen components and enlarging the flash pan vent to
accommodate a percussion cap nipple.  The resourcefulness of the
armorer is once more evident when we note that rather than a standard
musket nipple a smaller percussion revolver nipple is utilized.  
Weather this was done because standard musket nipples were not
available or because the smaller revolver caps were more plentiful
must be left to speculation. (We are aware of at least one other such
conversion of the Hall utilizing the revolver nipple.)
Page 74