Bettis Rifles

In the War of the Rebellion, better but erroneously known as the Civil War, Confederate forces famously had less access to industrial goods. This is one reason that Confederate model firearms often feature brass where Union ones use steel, creating a highly attractive design out of what was really a necessity.

In addition, though, they could tap local gunsmiths who had long been supplying local hunters and farmers with hand-made rifles. The local newspaper where I grew up has a story about one such individual in the paper this week.
According to Bettis, his ancestor’s production operation likely was the first manufacturing facility in the county, although a far cry from what modern Americans think of when they hear the term.

The process consisted of just Bettis, a forge, handheld tools and perhaps some of his five children helping him.... Bettis rifles always also feature a silver sight, created from a coin cut in half.
I have a hand-made musket from around this period that belonged to my great-great grandfather. It's from the highlands of Appalachia, big-bore and smooth barrel. It's a percussion cap like these, but sadly it did not come to me in as well-preserved a condition.


E Hines said...

"It’s funny because his payroll records in the army, he always just put an 'X,' Bettis said. "But he could sign a gun barrel."

I wonder if that was an effort at disguising his active role as a soldier in the Rebellion, while letting the soldiers know who'd made their rifle.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

What a beautiful, beautiful piece of work.