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The Spencer carbine was one of the most popular firearms of the Civil War though it was not issued until the latter part of 1863. Its distinguishing feature is that it had a magazine that could hold seven metallic rimfire cartridges, which were fed to the breech by a compressed spring in the magazine. The magazine was loaded through the butt of the rifle. When the trigger guard was lowered, the breech block dropped down, and the spent cartridge case was ejected. As the trigger guard returned to its normal position, the breech block moved up and in the process, caught a new cartridge and inserted it in the breech. To expedite the loading process, the Blakeslee quick-loading cartridge box was designed, which held several loaded magazines that could be quickly inserted in the butt. In all, more than 95,000 Spencer carbines were purchased during the war by the federal government.
Location:Constitution Ave. between 12th and 14th Sts. NW Washington,District of Columbia 20560