Chatham in Pittsylvania County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Bilhartz, Hall & Co.
Gunmaker for the Confederacy
The Bilhartz, Hall & Co. was established in 1862 by Candidus Bilhartz, George Hall and Coleman D. Bennett. Bilhartz, a native of Baden, Germany, and resident of Pittsylvania County since 1858, was a pre-war harness maker, mechanist, and distiller. He served as the factory's mechanical genius while George Hall managed the firm, and C.D. Bennett financed the operation as a silent partner. At the height of production in late 1863, Bilhartz, Hall & Co. employed 38 workers.
The firm produced two carbine types for the Confederacy. The first mode, known as the "rising breech" carbine, was an innovative design. Only 100 of these breech-loading carbines were produced from 1862 to 1863. Bilhartz, Hall & Co. also manufactured 400 .58 caliber muzzle-loading carbines
Bilhartz, Hall & Co. carbine production was not a success, and the company ceased operations in 1864. The firm, nevertheless, left a legacy of ingenuity in its production of raising breech carbine. Somehow small factories like Pittsylvania's Bilhartz, Hall & Co. were able to initiate the manufacture of weaponry for the Confederacy in a vain effort to match the North's amazing industrial output.
The firm first began the production of a unique rifle known as the "rising breech" carbine. The weapon's distinctive feature is its curved bow, which acts as the loading lever and trigger guard. The breechblock rises vertically when the lever is lowered allowing the .54 caliber paper cartridge to be inserted. When the lever is closed, a trunion action causes the breechblock to return to its position of alignment with the bore of the barrel. Two types of rising breech carbines were produced, and the primary difference between the models was the latching mechanism for the lever. Each carbine was 40 inches in length and marked P and CS. The barrel
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 36° 49.64′ N, 79° 23.882′ W. Marker is in Chatham, Virginia, in Pittsylvania County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Center Street, on the right when traveling north on Main Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Chatham VA 24531, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Pittsylvania County Confederate Monument (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Pittsylvania Court House (about 400 feet away); Hargrave Military Academy (approx. 0.3 miles away); Rawley White Martin Residence (approx. 0.6 miles away); Peytonsburg (approx. one mile away); Markham (approx. one mile away); Claude A. Swanson (approx. 1.9 miles away); Whitmell P. Tunstall (approx. 2.8 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Chatham.
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 355 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.