|Lorenzo David Sibert|
An immediate search of on-hand reference materials (books) in my personal library yielded no results. Fortunately, the internet was a bit kinder in that regard.
Lorenzo David Sibert was born about 1804 in Virginia to Charles Francis and Mary Ann (Riddle) Sibert. His father ran the Van Buren iron furnace in Shenandoah County and it was there he learned the trade. He must have been pretty sharp because he had several patents in that field. When the coal-fired Van Buren furnace closed Lorenzo was forced to move and settled in Mount Solon, in Augusta County. A civil war was nearly at hand and that likely motivated his development of the "Pacificator" rifle. The rifle was actually built by William Shaffer (who is more than likely Gary's ancestor) from North River Gap near Mount Solon and Lorenzo was in partnership with J. Marshall McCue. Interestingly, the patent drawings are signed by J. D. Imboden and John Johnson (witnesses) and W. D. Baldwin (Lorenzo's attorney). All of these people are important in Staunton and Augusta County at that time.
|Patent drawing of the "Pacificator"|
However, his cartridges were more like the breech sections of ancient breech loading cannons, becoming, as they cycled, an extension of the barrel. "... the cartridge shall be exploded in an open chamber and form a continuation of the barrel of the gun, in contradistinction to those devices in which the cartridge is either inserted into the barrel itself or into a tight breech-chamber, or into both combined..." This means that each cartridge would have to have been able to independently contain the pressure of the gas created by the exploding gun powder. This would have made a pretty heavy cartridge in standard .58 caliber. For reference look at the cartridges Gatling created for the early versions of his gun. Perhaps this is why the caliber of the gun is reportedly .24! That was a very small bore for the time.
These guns, of which one (the original?) still exists in the holdings of the Virginia Historical Society, was mentioned in at least one article in the New York Times. Receiving national attention, it was considered an important invention given the political atmosphere.
Lorenzo David Sibert died in Staunton, Virginia of "paralysis of brain" on 25 September 1881 and was buried in a supposedly unmarked grave in Thornrose Cemetery.
|William Bell Shaffer|
Of course there is a back story, it seems that the Shaffer family tells the story that Sibert stole the credit for the rifle from William Bell Shaffer and then John D. Imboden and John Marshall McCue (both witnesses on the patent drawings) stole it from Sibert. On 23 Jan 1861 legislation passed the Virginia legislature incorporating the Virginia Arms Manufacturing Company in Richmond. More to follow!