Cook and Brother of New Orleans – A Confederate Rifle Factory

Cook and Brother was one of the largest and most successful of the private ordnance factories in the South during the Civil War. It was formed by two British brothers who had moved to New Orleans, Frederick and Francis Cook. They opened a rifle factory at the intersection of Common and Canal streets, and began making Enfield pattern rifles. A contract was soon procured for sale of a thousand rifles to the state of Alabama, and in total they produced about 1100 rifles in New Orleans before the city fell to the Union. When that happened, they managed a hectic evacuation, and the armory was reestablished in Athens Georgia by early 1863. Production there took some time to ramp back up due to labor shortages, and they produced only about another thousand rifles in 1863. By this time they had a large contract with the CSA government, and managed an impressive 4500 more guns in 1864, before the entire enterprise collapsed as the CSA became unable to make payments.

What we have today are a very early New Orleans production rifle and an early Athens production cavalry carbine, the latter engraved with its owner’s name and unit (the 3rd Virginia Cavalry).

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Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m in McCallum and I’m here today at the James Giulia auction house taking a look at a Couple of the guns that they are going To be selling in their upcoming a spring Of 2018 firearms auction what we have Here today are a pair of rifles from the Cook and brother manufactory which was Pretty much the Confederacy’s biggest And best operated private manufacturing Arms manufacturing facility it was set Up almost immediately after the war Began they were actually up and running By June of 1861 and it was run by a pair Of British brothers who had emigrated to The US and we’re living in New Orleans At the time Frederick and Frances cook And apparently they pretty much just Looked at the situation and decided heck We can fruit let’s prove that we can Build rifles here as well as they can Build them up north or over in England So they set up a factory at the corner Of common and canal streets in New Orleans and started cranking out rifles They actually got a contract initially From the state of Alabama to produce a Thousand rifles these are all rifles of The Enfield pattern so percussion fired Muzzleloading rifles and this would be The predominant sort of infantry weapon That the Confederacy used through the Entire war they made four different

Varieties of these they made full-length Rifles like 39 inch barrels they made Short rifles with about 33 inch barrels They made artillery carbines with 24 Inch barrels and they made cavalry Carbines like this one with short little 21 inch barrels whole variety the Majority were long rifles like this one That’s mostly what the Confederacy Needed but ultimately they managed to Make about 1,500 1,600 guns in New Orleans before in April of 1862 the city Was under serious threat and then fell To the Union and when that happened they They managed to evacuate the factory Kind of in a panic It’s interesting there’s some testimony From I believe it’s Frederick cook who Was in charge of the evacuation he’s Talking to the testifying to a Confederate committee Says that when they went to evacuate he Managed to rescue all of his parts and Most of his tooling had to leave behind A hundred and thirty tons of raw Materials that he wasn’t able to Transport he had gotten a military Authorization to basically commandeer a Steamship which he did and had it loaded Full of parts and tools and everything And sent it on its way up north and Still had a bunch of stuff left over and Needed another ship and he couldn’t find Any officer in this chaos of this

Panicked and evacuating New Orleans Couldn’t find another officer who would Who could authorize seizure of another Ship so he just forged one himself and Signed a generals name to it used that Filled up another ship sent it up north And then escaped himself interestingly Taking with him well he gave he Dispatched two hundred rifles to an a Major I believe was a major Smith who Was assisting him with the evacuation For Smith’s own troops to use and then He actually kept another two hundred Guns with him for his own basically his Own party to use in their own defense on Their way north the factory would Ultimately be rebuilt in Athens Georgia In the intervening time they managed to Having saved a lot of parts from New Orleans they managed to assemble about Eleven hundred more guns built on parts That had been salvaged so when you look At serial numbers and we’ll talk about Those in a minute there are there the Later batch of New Orleans marked parts Were actually manufactured farther up North I believe in Alabama at any rate They finally managed to get the factory Set back up in 1863 although once they Were established there in Athens Georgia They would they would have problems Especially in 1863 with labor shortages Because weirdly how would you guess like All of the men of good working age were

Being conscripted into the army So they kind of had to fight to get People released from the army or Exempted from conscription to actually Work in the arms factory as a result in 1863 they only managed to produce about A thousand more guns they largely solved That issue in 1864 when they managed to Put out about forty five hundred In 1864 before the whole operation Pretty much shut down because the Confederacy ceased being able to Actually make payments for the guns So the Confederate States of America I Had actually contracted with depending On the source I read either 30,000 or 50,000 muskets about rifles like this From Cooke and brother they only managed It actually produce a grand total of About 8,000 guns Which is kind of the general story for The typical story for all Confederate Arms manufacturers still once someone Proves that they can actually make guns In the south they get massive orders Because the government both the Confederate federal government and also The various state governments were Desperate for guns anywhere they could Find them so companies will get these Giant contracts and then have no labor And no raw materials and you know Trouble even with deliveries trouble With deliveries getting basically

Hijacked by other military units on Their way to their destination and this All led to none of these contracts ever Being completely fulfilled ultimately by The end of 1864 the factory process had Kind of shut down and both of the cook Brothers who were in fact officers in The Confederate Army went off to join The fighting Frederick cook was killed In December of 1864 at a place called Goose pond in South Carolina Francis cook survived the war Tremendously in debt as a result of the Collapse of this arms manufacturing Facility interestingly he was able to Convince the United States government to Honor his title to the property and the Establishment and all the buildings in The land in Athens that had been Purchased and where the armory had been Set up it remained in his possession Only long enough for the local county Sheriff to order it to be sold to Fulfill his personal debts of something Like eighteen thousand dollars at the Time so not a great end to the whole Endeavor but that’s kind of what happens When you lose a war now let me show you Some of the details of these because They actually have one of the more Interesting manufacturer’s marks of all The different Confederate guns we’ll Start here with the long rifle because This is actually one of the very first

Guns that cook and Manufactured in New Orleans so first off You’ll see cook and brother and then No.18 61 and that’s not number that is New Orleans and manufactured date of 1861 and then what I find kind of Interesting is they actually stamped a Confederate Stars and Bars flag onto the Lock plate of the guns and that’s not Something I’ve seen on any other Confederate factory sort of marking Usually you’re lucky to get the name of The company and nothing else these guys Actually embellished a little bit and Kind of cool there is an additional n o 1861 mark on the barrel and on all of The cook rifles you will see a stamp on The barrel that says proved as in proof Mark proof fired to ensure quality now On later guns you’ll find the serial Number on the lock plate this one Doesn’t have it there but it does have Matching serial numbers on a whole bunch Of other parts including both of the Lock screws here this is in fact serial Number 41 you can also see that up on The band netlog there at the muzzle so Literally one of the very first guns Produced at the New Orleans factory as Such this would have been made for the Alabama contract before they actually Had a formal contract with the the CSA Government now the other gun we have Here is a cavalry carbine the short

Little 21 inch barrel and then until Some of the late production they had a Ramrod that was actually attached to the Barrel this isn’t unique to cook this Was done by plenty of other companies as Well but it’s a little bit of extra Manufacturing that would go away when The when things really got tough towards The end the idea here is that you don’t Lose the ramrod so you can slide the rod Out and then pivot it in this joint this Little lever pivot it up use it to rama Charge down the barrel and then fold it Back in and keep it in place and you Don’t risk dropping it if you’re on well Horseback say you were cavalry with a Cavalry carbine And the sights on this cavalry carbine Are just a plain fixed not unlike the Adjustable sights on the rifles figure If you’re shooting this from a horse There is basically zero chance you’re Going to make a precise many hundreds of Yards shop on the lock plate here just Like the previous one you’ll find cooked And brother and this one is dated 1863 Athens Georgia so this was some of the Beginning production I should also point Out serial number here is twenty three Sixty five so this is some of the very First production that they actually got Going once they were set up and Manufacturing new parts in Athens and Then they still have that flag now it’s

A waving flag before it was just a Standard square flag and once I got to Athens I guess it started waving and They’ve got it located behind the hammer At this point and by the way they still Have serial number markings on small Parts like the lock screws and if you Are suspecting that that first rifle Probably wasn’t actually just serial Number forty one but in fact only had Two digits of the serial number marked Well you can see here on these parts the Full serial number is marked on these Screws so that long rifle is in fact Serial number just 41 a lot of cook Barrels including this one show a really Obvious spiral pattern to the outside of The barrel and the reason that’s there Is because cooks started their Manufacturing process for the barrels With square stock iron and then they Twisted it they heated it up and twisted It in order to to change the grain Pattern to get this spiral twist and Then they cut the rifling the opposite Direction and the idea was to try and Strengthen the rifling by having the Actual lands and grooves run Perpendicular to the grain of the metal And in addition to that kind of cool the Way they actually made their barrels was By taking these square blanks or twisted Blanks at that point and they would Actually hold them up vertically

Standing up on end and then drop them Down spin the the blanks and drop them Down onto a stationary drill bit using Apparently just the weight of the blank Itself to push it down onto the drill Bit and it would proceed that way that Allowed the chip To fall out the bottom of the newly Being drilled or so that they didn’t Have to run the drill in and out Successively as they were manufacturing The barrel so some pretty cool just Little cool aspects of the manufacturing Process that went into these guns Historically perhaps the most Interesting part of this cavalry carbine As this bit of engraving on the Buttstock it is engraved SW Ellison Company F third Virginia cavalry and a National Archive searched showed that There was a Samuel Webster Ellison who Joined Company F of the third Virginia Cavalry in August of 1862 and remain in The unit until paroled at Appomattox in April of 1865 his unit was a Particularly relevant one that fought in Basically all the major battles with the Army of Northern Virginia including Places like Gettysburg this carbine Almost certainly was at some of those Really large battles influential battles And then on top of that very serious Provenance there was a bit of I think Just downright funny provenance that the

Collection this came out of it Originally got into this collectors Hands when he was a young young boy Really in 1928 he got it from a friend In trade for an ice-cream cone How things change over time right it Would at that point it would have almost Certainly been just a toy in the way That for example many World War two Souvenir or trophy rifles were and Japanese swords for example were used as You know cops and robbers or medieval Knights sort of play things by kill Children so like I said how things Change over time now it’s a not Priceless but a quite valuable relic of The Civil War as you might expect there Are not a whole lot of authentic Original and reasonably good condition Confederate arms still in existence They’ve been well a lot of them were Lost at the end of the war a lot of them The guns that did come back with Confederate veterans well those guys Were generally in serious need of just Utilitarian firearms A lot of the guns after the Civil War Were really just used in a practical Sense until they completely fell apart So finding ones like this is quite rare If you’re interested in one that is a Good example of a standard cook brothers Rifle or to me even more interesting Carbine with specific attribution to a

Number of really significant battles if You’re interested in either one take a Look at the description text below you Will find links there to the catalog Pages for both of these rifles they are Being sold separately not as a pair and Those pages will give you the julia Company photos and description and price Estimates and everything else you need To place a bid on them and add one or Both to your own collections thanks for Watching

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