The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.
St. Louis gunsmith Horace E. Dimick received a contract from Union general John C. Frémont, commander of the Department of the West, in September 1861, for 1,000 percussion sporting rifles. This .50 caliber rifle was part of that contract. Dimick acquired weapons from wherever he could, including other makers and dealers. As a result, there was almost no standardization to the guns, caliber included. All known examples appear to be half stocks, as this one is, and have a serial number on the face of the muzzle. (This one is stamped “187.”) With each rifle, Dimick also supplied a bullet mold, bearskin-covered bullet pouch with hair still on it, waist belt, shoulder strap, cap box, rifle charger, and powder horn.The rifles were intended for the 14th Missouri Infantry, also known as Birge’s Western Sharpshooters, which later became the 66th Illinois Infantry. The regiment was mustered in at Benton Barracks near St. Louis on November 23, 1861, and consisted of eight companies of men from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The sharpshooters saw their first action at Mt. Zion, Missouri, the following month. They also served at Ft. Donelson and Shiloh, Tennessee, as well as at Corinth, Mississippi.