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Palmetto Armory

Name Street Town State From To
Palmetto Armory   Columbia South Carolina    

Patent Date Remarks

Contract for


On November 12, 1849, South Carolina's governor paid Glaze and Radcliff $14.50 for 100 rifles, and a month later paid for 174 more rifles and a hundred muskets, bringing the total spent to $4,000.

These are identified in a contemporary report as percussion arms, and the receipt of the last 760 flintlock muskets from the Federal government is also noted as is the presence of 3,500 muskets on hand which were never used, "but so injured by rust" as to require laborious cleaning. This marked the first appearance of William Glaze as an arms supplier to the state of South Carolina, but he would remain prominent until the end of the Civil War. His partner at this time was Thomas W. Radcliffe of Columbia, who was active in the arms trade in the antebellum period, including importing Tranter revolvers from England.

Apparently Glaze and Radcliffe contracted with the governor again in 1850 for 640 "stand of small arms" worth $9,280.00. The governor's contingency fund, which was to pay for these, was depleted unexpectedly by $9,000 spent on the funeral of John C. Calhoun, the state hero, and the arms debt was unpaid in 1853. In recommending payment, the General Assembly committee investigating the claim reported that the arms under this contract were not made by the Messr's Glaze and Radcliffe, but purchased under the direction of the Governor, and your committee are informed by the present Major of Ordnance, have been received and are of very good quality. Positive identification of these arms is provided by an accounting of the total due to William Glaze & Co. in 1853, including his Palmetto Armory project. Here we find 640 percussion muskets (B. Flagg & Co.) $14.50 after all his Palmetto Arms are accounted for. This also answers the question raised by antiquarians for several years as to the origin of the relatively small number of model 1842 .69 cali¬ber muskets marked "B. Flagg & Co./Millbury/Mass./1849" with an eagle and "U.S." on the lockplate. It had been known that no Federal contract for them was made, nor had any state purchase been confirmed. The earlier Glaze and Radcliffe mus¬kets were probably a different type, as inventories at the Citadel in Charleston account for 379 (not 374) muskets, "Brown, percussion marked Ratcliff & Glaze (condemned)" in 1853, but in 1854 they are shown as "New Brown percussion" instead of as condemned.

No more is known of Radcliffe and Glaze as partners, except for an advertisement in the Richmond Daily Examiner on June 8, 1861 seeking $1 million capital for the "C.S. Armory and Foundary Co. to fabricate all types rifles, muskets, pistols, swords, bayonets, rockets and all munitions of war in Macon, Georgia, Thomas E. McIweill, Acting Supt. , Glaze & Radcliffe, agents.

Benjamin Flagg's career in arms production was started at least 20 years earlier in the armory of Asa Waters of Millbury, Massachusetts, where he eventually became superintendent upon the death of Waters in 1841. As one of the reliable con¬tractors, Waters had been repeatedly awarded contracts for arms to be distributed under the Act of 1808, including model 1816 muskets and model 1836 pistols. The last of his 36,650 mus¬kets were delivered in 1837, when pistol deliveries began, and the last of three pistol contracts was fulfilled in 1844 with the full 23,000 delivered. This left Waters without a United States contract, for the first time in thirty-five years, and Reilly speculates that Waters retooled for the then current model 1842 musket and pistol, in hopes of getting a large government contract. This was an expensive gamble,as the strict standards for interchangeable parts in the 1842 musket would require an investment of at least $30,000 to tool up for its production. No United States contracts were awarded to the Waters firm for any of the new arms. A very few model 1842 muskets dated 1849 exist with Waters markings, which must have preceded those marked with Flagg's name, and presumably Flagg took control of the musket (and possibly the pistol) machinery at that time. The orders from Radcliffe and Glaze must have been most welcome as Flagg and the Waters firm had both failed to get many orders. They tried hard enough, evidently making sample arms, which deviated slightly from United States patterns for prospective customers. The use of brass for bands and fittings was a prominent difference.

William Glaze reportedly operated a jewelry store in Columbia, SC in 1833, and expanded it to include firearms and hardware, which would logically place him in contact with Mr. Radcliffe. It seems that Glaze and Flagg decided to go into arms making, probably in hopes of more business from South Carolina. In 1806 James Boatwright and Middleton Glaze had a factory making cotton gins in Columbia,this Glaze was probably William's father. As competitors in Eli Whitney's cotton gin business, perhaps the Glazes, goaded by both business and sectional jealousy, aspired to set themselves up as his rivals in the firearms business as well. Whatever the reason, a member of the Boatwright family joined William Glaze in 1850 to establish the Palmetto Iron Works (ornamental iron, etc.) "Boatwright almost immediately disposed of his interest in the firm to Glaze," the name was changed to William Glaze & Co., and Benjamin Flagg and his machinery were incorporated. They became known as the Palmetto Armory, and operated a 3 story brick factory of 54,000 square feet (with six large chimneys) at Laurel and Lincoln Street in Columbia.

During its one-year existence, the South Carolina Ordnance Board and the Major of Ordnance kept busy. They ordered 48 pieces of heavy ordnance from Joseph R. Anderson (of Richmond's Tredegar Iron Works) which were nearly completed. In addition, they had decided in February of 1851 to buy 6,000 muskets, 1,000 rifles, 1,000 pairs of pistols, 1,000 cavalry sabers, and 1,000 artillery swords, all. complete, with the understanding that these arms should, if practicable, be manufactured in the State of South Carolina. The board is already November, 1851 in possession of the fact that the contract for furnishing them was taken by Messrs. Glaze and Flagg, with an express stipulation that they and all their component parts were to be manufactured in this state; and also, as far as practicable by native mechanics, and of materials produced in this state. The contractors have, accordingly, erected an armory in the town of Columbia, which it is confidently ex¬pected, will be in operation by November 15?, 1850.

The contract between South Carolina, Glaze and Flagg, was dated April 15, 1851 with a delivery deadline subsequently extended to December 1, 1853. The arms were to be after the pattern adopted and now in use in the Army of the United States; but that the State reserves to herself the right to alter all or any of said patterns" and the contract¬ors were to "furnish appropriate patterns and gauges for verifying the principal dimensions and form of the different parts of the arms. Prices were similar to those on comparable Federal contracts. The arms did have some changes made from the patterns. The muskets differed from the United States model 1842 in that they had brass instead of iron barrel bonds, a ramrod with a cupped head instead of flat, and a bayonet stud on top of the barrel instead of on the bottom. The latter change allowing use of the Model 1816 bayonets on" hand rather than the models 1840/1842 which used a bottom mounted stud. . Some musket barrels were browned instead of being polished bright. The otherwise regulation Model 1842 pistols omitted the rear sight. Except for markings, the rifles were the standard model 1841. Barrel marks were V/P/palmetto tree, and the lockplates were marked with "PALMETTO ARMORY S.C." surrounding a Palmetto Tree in front of the hammer, and "COLUMBIA/S.C. 1852" behind the hammer. Buttplates and barrel tangs were marked "S.C." and some barrels bore a date of 1853. However, there were delays in delivery due to a fire in the shop of the supplier of the lockplate machinery, and difficulty getting the brass bands cast. This was overcome by purchasing 500 or 600 lock plates and brass barrel bands outside of the state.

Manufactured pistols for the Confederate

Less than 1,000 pistols were made for the South Carolina Militia.

.54 caliber percussion, single shot pistol

right side

other, left side
other, right side