A human lightning rod story from the Civil War (3 PHOTOS)


You can be sure the sentry holding this thing had a severe case of static cling– for the rest of his life. (Photo: Springfield Armory NHS)

One of the more interesting exhibits at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site is a Model 1861 rifle and bayonet left over from a lightning strike.

According to the tag on the rifle, a contract Springfield 1861 with a 1864-marked barrel equipped with a Confederate-made Tredegar socket bayonet:

During a thunderstorm, a sentry’s musket was struck by lightning which left it just as you see it. Despite the intense heat caused by the lightening, a regulation Civil War paper cartridge was found intact in the breech when the weapon was disassembled for cataloging and preservation. The identity of the sentry, who survived, is not known. It is believed that he was a Confederate since, while the rifle is a Springfield contract arm, the bayonet is apparently of Confederate manufacture.

A.human.lightning.rod.story.from.the.Civil.War A.human.lightning.rod.story.from.the.Civil.WarWhen disassembled in 1981 it was found to still be loaded with a charge of century-old black powder and a .58-caliber Williams Type III “cleaner” bullet.

Records relate the sentry walked away unhurt, but that the soles of the shoes were burned away.

[ Springfield Armory National Historic Site ]

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