I visited the Chickamauga National Military Park in March 2010. The visitor’s center has one of the best gun collections that can be found anywhere. The Fuller Gun Collection was donated to the Chickamauga National Military Park in 1954.
Claud Fuller, and his wife Zenada, had collected over 350 firearms. While the firearms are not exclusively from the Civil War, most guns from the Civil War are in the collection. There are two very rare guns: the Harper’s Ferry Blunderbuss, which was manufactured in 1808, and the Texas rifle which was made in 1844 which are the only known guns of this type to exist. Additionally there is a rare Sharps rifle with a coffee mill in the stock. Fuller was the author of “The Rifled Musket,” published in 1958, which is still in print today and can be purchased from Abe Books. Fuller, was born in 1857 and was a native of Elkhart, Indiana. As a civil engineer he specialized in masonry and held over 48 patents for different types of brick. He would go on to make a fortune during the boom of construction in New York City. This fortune would allow him to collect guns over the coming 50 years. Many of the guns appear to have never been fired and all are in excellent condition. Mr. Fuller would retire in the Chattanooga area and died in 1957. (i)
The following pictures are from my recent trip to Chickamauga. I focused on capturing images of the firing mechanisms and not the entire gun. My hope was to show the craftsmanship that went into producing these firearms. The collection was recently renovated and now resides in new cabinets with the guns displayed vertically rather than horizontally. While easy to view, photographing the collection was a challenge. The lighting in the aisles are controlled by motion detectors and can turn off while composing the shots. Additionally the guns are stored behind glass which makes it difficult to obtain proper focus and the glass prevented me from using flash filler. A couple of the pictures are slightly out of focus, but are still usable. I have included a few compositions below and have provided a link to a detailed photo essay on my Flickr site.
Mike’s Photo Essay on Civil War Firearms, on Flickr, can be accessed by clicking HERE.
Sharps New Model 1863 Carbine
Manufactured by Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Co.
Manufactured between 1859-1866