Bannerman Arsenal


Some of you, especially the ones outside the USA, may wonder at references to Bannerman Island or Bannerman Arsenal. I saw a case of ammo sold locally and the owner said with awe: “It came from Bannerman Island”. Well, here it is, from a local Hudson River boat tour advertisement. I myself never went to the island but drove by many times. If you visit West Point Academy, it’s pretty close.


Sksvlad - that is the best picture I have seen of Bannerman’s castle. I didn’t realize it had the name in such huge letters on the side of the building. Thanks for sharing!


Yes, what a lovely place. Imagine all the goodies which have been stored there once…

Here some more images: … a=N&tab=wi


For those not familiar with Bannerman’s, they would purchase any and all surplus from arsenals around the world. Uniforms, horse equipment, ammo, cannons, heavy ordnance, weapons, medals, etc.
Looking through my reprint of their 1927 catalog I see sections on saddles/harness, lances/spears, swords, muzzle and breach loading cannons, Gatling guns with carriages, Wheel/Flint & Percussion pistols, carbines and rifles, etc (they even list stone axes and crossbows).
To cover the “ammo related” requirement, they are listing 50cal Burnside cartridges at $16.50/1000 (full case) or $1.75/100. They state that they have 7 million 45-70-500 cartridges on hand, at $3.00/100. UMC made Solid Head 50-70 cartridges are priced at $2.50/100
Paper, Gallager’s and 54cal Sharps Linen cartridges are listed at $0.10ea


At Detroit airport flying to my home town there in mid Hudson valley, sadly for a funeral. That area of new York is a well kept secret for the beauty and history around west point. The rolling hills of the catskills hold a lot of ammo history. I will visit a friend tonight right where the Hollifield Dotter was made in Middletown NY (very close to Bannermans Island


For a great first hand account of dealing with the ordnance on Bannerman’s Island, check out this very large .pdf file):
Of course, it was done by Val Forgett, founder of Navy Arms, and father of Val III, current propieter of Gibbs Rifle Company and ammo supplier “Old Western Scrounger.”

Here is the story about deactivating the ammo as told (with photos) in the January 1959 “Guns” magazine, another large .pdf file, but well worth reading. Don’t read the ads for ammo or guns, you will want to cry!

And how it is today:


Wm. B. Edwards’ book “Civil War Guns” from the 1960s has a chapter on Bannerman’s Island. I have several original Bannerman catalogs - they did not seem to change very much with each printing.

Several interesting stories in it. My book is packed away, but as I remember, a couple were:

  1. Cement used in the building the castle was obtained through a government seizure of a shipment of containers of cement, in which were secreted ammunition as some sort of ammunition smuggling operation. Bannerman bought the cement containers along with the ammunition packed inside.
  2. Numerous Gatlings missing the brass receiver casting were found at the castle - apparently an alcoholic employee stole the receivers to sell as scrap for whiskey money.


Vlad, do you know how current that pic is?


No, but it is in the last month’s local coupon booklet. Boat company website is
Click on “photos” on the left, there are more castle photos.


Here are a bunch of pictures.


jonnyc, Don’t know how current the picture is, but that looks like the same boat that passes here at West Point on a daily basis. Cheers, Bruce.