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Meigs, Josiah Vincent

Name Street Town State From To
Meigs, Josiah (Joe) Vincent   Nashville Tennessee 1840 1861
Meigs, Josiah (Joe) Vincent   Staten Island New York 1861 1861
Meigs, Josiah (Joe) Vincent   Washington D.C. 1862 1869
Meigs, Josiah (Joe) Vincent   Lowell, Middlesex county Massachusetts 1873 1907

Patent Date Remarks
36,721 October, 1962 Improvement in Breech-Loading Fire-Arms
view patent
54,934 May 22, 1966 Improvement in Breech-Lodaing Fire-Arms&
view patent
81,100 August 18, 1968 Improvement in Breech-Loading Fire-Arms
view patent
87,352 Narch 2, 1969 Improvement in Metallic Cartridges
view patent
90,951 June 8, 1969 Improvement in Metallic Cartridges
view patent
RE5,433 June 3, 1973 Improvement in Breech-Loading Fire-Arms
view patent
151,496 June 2, 1974 Improvement in Cartridge Carriers and Extractors for Magazine Fire-Arms
view patent
157,621 December 8, 1974 Improvement in Magazines for Fire-Arms
view patent
157,622 December 8, 1974 Improvement in Feed-Bars for Magazine Fire-Arms
view patent
157,623 December 8, 1974 Improvement in Magazines for Fire-Arms
view patent
160,935 March 16, 1975 Improvement in Stocks for Fire-Arms
view patent
172,333 January 18, 1876 Manufacture of Cartridge-Cases
view patent

Contract for

Meigs was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Son of Jonathan Meigs, lawyer and Sally Keyes Love. The family supported the Northerns and therefore moved to Staten Island, New York in 1861. For a short time Meigs worked in the war office in Washington, D.C. before he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutnand. In that position he commanded a artillery of colored soldiers until 1865. Later he worked for the Railway for which he invented the Single Track "L".

By U.S. patent 36,721 Meigs got protected a sliding breechblock locked by a pivoting strut. Few of such guns were made. .50 caliber Meigs cartridge, 25" round barrel, 50 round magazine rifle, sliding guard action repeating carbine. Based on his U.S. patent no. 54,934, improved in August 1868. Production was only three, numberedumbered 1 to 3. The gun is nickled and the reciever is made out of brass. Instead of a fore stock only a twined cord was placed.

One is in private collection in the US and one with number 2 is at the Cody museum, donated by the army who received it from Meigs for trials. These trials lasted four years in which about 38,00 rounds were fired without failure.

Like the Evan guns the rounds are stocked in a metallic tube which replaced the stock. The tube has 5 bores and each of them could be loaded with 10 cartridges. The 50 rounds could be fired within one minute. However, Meigs tube was replaceable and could be preloaded which gave the rifle a potential rate of fire of about 160 rounds per minute. The early Gatling Guns of 1861 reached 200 rounds a minute.

The guard and trigger assembly is capable of sliding back and forth on a rail. This is producing the motions needed to rotate the magazine frame and move the breechblock which extends up out of the frame to eject spent cartridges.

left side

right side

breechblock left side

breechblock right side

trigger block

front sight

magazine tube open

magazine tube closed

.50 cal. Meig's cartridge

Boston Globe, November 15, 1907

"Joe Vincent Meigs Obituary
Meigs Elevated Railway News

Famous as Inventor of Single Track "L."
Early in War Suggested Use of Colored Troops
Induced to Come North by Gen Butler.
Capt Joe Vincent Meigs, inventor of the Meigs single track elevated railroad, died last night at his home 22 Cordis st, Charlestown, of cerebral hemorrhage. Capt Meigs was stricken after he had retired last Thursday and was found in bed unconscious by a member of the household where he had boarded for the past few years. Dr. P. N. Roy, a next door neighbor, was called, and a message was sent to his son Dr. Joe V. Meigs of Lowell, who was visiting in the south, acquainting him of his father's sickness. Dr. Meigs hurried home and was in constant attendance at his father bedside until the end came last night.

Capt Meigs is survived by three sons, Dr Joe V. of Lowell, Dr Return J., who also was in attendance at his father's bedside, and Benjamin V. Meigs.

The funeral will be held Saturday at 2, from Dr Joe V. Meigs' home, 115 10th st, Lowell. The burial will be private.

Joe Vincent Meigs was born in Nasheville, Tenn, in 1840, the son of Return Jonathan Meigs, a distinguished lawyer of whom President Lincoln was especially fond, and who was nominated by him for the bench of the U S supreme court.

The mother of Joe Meigs was Sally Keyes Love, a Tennessee belle, a cultured woman, who lived to perform noble deeds. She was heiress to several slaves, which in the course of events fell to her legal share, but which she refused to take, saying that she did not own them, or any one else, and so she set them free of their own accord. This was long before the war.

For years she went about with her servant among the indigent poor, distributing food and clothing, and when she died, in 1858, the whole town of Nashville turned out to do her memory honor. It is said to have been a touching sight to see her beloved people following her remains. Capt Meigs, in speaking of his mother, said:
'I can never mentioned her without moistened eyes, for she was to me, and to all who knew her, the most beautiful woman in body and soul I ever knew.'

A good part of the early life of Joe Meigs was passed in the south. He was connected with the war department when the first shot was fired upon Sumter, and it was he who suggested to Sec Stanton the advisability of organizing colored troops to occupy the block of houses throughout the Tennessee region, and it fell to his duty to organize and command the first negro battery-A, the first light artillery in the U S service.

It was during his campaign there that he fell into a rifle pit and injured one lung for life.

Capt Meigs was married during the war in '64 to Eugenie Shaffer of Nashville.

Soon after the war Capt and Mrs. Meigs took up a residence in Washington, where he was an employee in practice in the court of claims; then he "fell in" with Gen B. F. Butler, who induced him to come to New England to live. With his family he came to Lowell, and purchased the residence adjoining that of the late general.

For the past few years he had lived in Charlestown.

Capt Meigs' invention, the single-track elevated railroad, created great public interest about 13 years ago when a demonstration section was erected in Cambridge and models were displayed in many of the business places of this city.

Capt Meigs made himself a decidedly familiar figure in about Boston for years in his appearances before committees of the legislature to argue for his system connected him with almost every piece of legislation on this subject.

He was modest and quiet, but energetic, with a great knowledge of rail-roading details and the possibilities of quick transportation over short distances."