.69 caliber Morse cartridge


#1

Springfield Armory’s first breechloading arms were 56 .69 caliber muskets converted to breechloaders in 1860-1861, but the outbreak of the Civil War halted any further work on the project. An additional 600 conversions were in process at Harpers Ferry, but few if any were completed before the Armory was destroyed.

I am seeking more information on the .69 caliber Morse cartridges, including photos and dimensions.

Note that these are not the same as Morse’s other cartridge for his breechloading carbines made at Greenville, SC, during the war, or the later .45-70 cartridges made at Frankford Arsenal based on his patent.

I understand that the .69 caliber cartridges are sort of a case with a rim, and a bent wire soldered to the inside of the case to act as an anvil for a percussion cap type primer. The remainder of the base of the cartridge is filled with a rubber (or rubber type material) with a hole in the center and is pressed on to hold the cap/primer in place and seal the breech.

Where were the .69 caliber cartridges made, when, and how many, and what happened to them?
Any of these for sale anywhere? Even reproductions?

Thanks in advance for any information.


#2

John, take a look at Hoyem’s Vol. 2 p. 17. The late Paul Klatt had two different variations (plain and tinned brass), but I don’t know who is the present owner of these. Regards, Fede.


#3

John; I always thought the converted Springfield .69 muskets used a .69 Rimfire cartridge, of which there are very few remaining. In fact, there was (maybe still is) a “.69 Rimfire Club,” which had about 10 members, each of whom had a specimen in his collection. Vic Engel may be able to shed more light on this at SLICS, as could George Kass. The connection between the conversion and a Morse-type cartridge should be a very interesting story.


#4

JonhS, Fede, & Mel:

IN ADDITION TO THE MORSE AND RIMFIRE CONVERSIONS THERE WERE ALSO CARTRIDGES SUBMITTED BY EDWARD MAYNARD. CARTRIDGES FOR ALL OF THESE COVERSIONS ARE IN THE EXTREMELY RARE CATEGORY. I’VE EXAMINED, BUT NEVER OWNED, 3 DIFFERENT .69 MORSES. FROM ALL APPEARENCES, EXCEPT FOR THE LARGER CALIBER, THEY LOOK LIKE THE .58 MORSE CARTRIDGES FABRICATED BY FRANKFORD ARSENAL. THE .69 CALIBER RIMFIRES WERE OF COURSE MANUFACTURED BY C.T.M. Co. THE MAYNARDS WERE DESIGNED BY MAYNARD BUT HE MAY NOT HAVE DONE THE ACTUAL FABRICATION. THE MAYNARD WAS TESTED IN AT LEAST 4 DIFFERENT TYPES OR LOADINGS INCLUDING; BALL FOR RIFLE AND MUSKET, BUCK & BALL, SINGLE AND DOUBLE BASE CASES, CAPSULE SHAPED CASE AND OF COURSE A CASE WITH AN EXTRACTOR ARM. AT ONE TIME, PAUL KLATT OWNED SPECIMENS OF ALL THE MAYNARD VARIETIES I LISTED.


#5

The .69 caliber Morse conversions made by Springfield were definitely center fire.

The breech mechanism has a bolt face that moves back and forth as the top cover is lifted or closed. When latched closed, there is a central striker or firing pin that is driven forward by the lock to strike the center of the cartridge. It is a bit odd with the striker having a flat face about 1/8" to 3/16" diameter, similar to the hammer surface for striking a percussion cap on a nipple, not the small diameter, relatively pointed “firing pin” used on modern primers.

Morse was pretty clever with a number of different inventions, but this is strictly about the .69 caliber ammunition, although the other related topics are certainly of interest as well.


#6

John, here is a picture of two .69 Morse variations (tinned and plains brass) compared to a .55.


#7

Fede- Thank you! I am always amazed by your ability to find information on such a wide variety of obscure topics. And, of course John Moss’s similar outstanding skills. Both of you are greatly appreciated by users on this forum.