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[132] the breech-loading rifle, and the repeaters of the day were considered especially undesirable for military purposes. Those in use were complicated in their mechanism, liable to get out of order, and more difficult of repair than the more simple weapon. Besides, with the repeaters, the ammunition was so heavy and the expenditure so rapid, that the supply was soon exhausted, while, owing to the excessive rapidity of fire, the soldier took less care in aiming, with the net result that the value of his ammunition was much less than by the old method of loading.

The question of a repeating rifle was, however, much discussed. Before the war opened there was no weapon of this type considered altogether suitable for military purposes. Inventors immediately began producing models and improving upon them, and the Government armories afforded favorite places for the work of these men. One of the best models was the Spencer, patented in 1860. This was a very ingenious weapon, which was made at the Harper's Ferry Armory. Compared with a revolver, it was quicker in action and held more cartridges, while having the advantage of the better enclosed rifle construction. In this rifle, for the first time, the problem of a closed breech and barrel, as in a single loader, was successfully solved. Theretofore, rapidity of fire had been associated only with the revolver principle. By operating the lever which formed the trigger-guard, the breech-block was given two motions--one rotary, and the other one of depression. The magazine was a tube in the stock, having a spring which fed the cartridges toward the breech mechanism.

All throughout the war this gun and similar types did splendid service, notwithstanding the fact that the prevailing opinion among ordnance experts was in favor of the muzzleloader. It is stated that, at Ball's Bluff, one regiment of Confederates was armed with the repeater and did great execution. Due to the use of the Spencer rifle by a part of General Geary's troops at Gettysburg, a whole division of Ewell's corps was

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