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With the seizure of the Union-held town of Harper's Ferry in western Virginia in 1861, the Confederacy gained access to much needed machinery to produce small arms weapons. The equipment was dismantled and sent to armories or arsenals in the South, including the Richmond Armory.
The first Richmond Rifles produced were Confederate-made copies of the Harpers Ferry-produced Model 1855 musket made with the captured machinery. It had a 0.577 bore caliber. The 1861 model was the most common Confederate field weapon at the start of the war. Type II rifled-muskets were produced in 1862. The Model 1863, using a .58 caliber minie bullet, brought more improvements, similar to the Springfield Model 1863. The main differences between the Union and Confederate versions of the similar rifles were the different rear sight, brass buttplate, and brass forend cap on the Confederate model.
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