Defend and Protect: Arming America’s Soliders

On Saturday and Sunday, May 29th and 30th from 11am to 4pm, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will present a special program, To Defend and Protect: Arming the American Soldier. This program will highlight Harper Ferry’s gun-making industry and the field use of those weapons. Park rangers and volunteers dressed in civilian and military costumes will staff five permanent and temporary exhibit areas. A special tour and historic weapons firing demonstration will be held each day.

The clang of the gunsmith’s hammer and the clamor of machines echoed through Harpers Ferry during the first half of the 19th century. From the years of the early republic until the American Civil War, the United States Armory at Harpers Ferry produced weapons to arm the American soldier. Harpers Ferry transformed from a small rural village to a thriving industrial town. The United States Armory that dominated the town for sixty years manufactured approximately 500,000 muskets, rifles, pistols and ordnance for American military use. The improved mechanization processes and weapon development that occurred at the Harpers Ferry Armory improved firepower, thus affecting the science of war.