Eli Whitney is most known for inventing the Cotton Gin. A lesser known fact is he also had a gun factory. In 1794 the U.S. Government needed to resupply its Army with new muskets. Instead of using foreign manufacturers, Congress authorized the purchase of arms and the establishment of two Armories. One of these armories was in Springfield beginning in 1794 and the other was in Harpers Ferry
starting in 1798. The guns were hand crafted and had a long assembly time. With its strain in relations with France who was at war with England, France claimed we were not living up to our treaty agreements. The U.S. Congress contacted some twenty-seven different contractors, many with no previous experience
manufacturing arms. The Eli Whitney factory was contracted to produce ten thousand muskets. In order to do, Eli Whitney utilized the concept of interchangeable parts. Due to poor delivery and workmanship, no more shipments would be received until November 30, 1801 of the firearms which were made by the other manufacturers. Eli Whitney was still able to continue with his contract due to the interchangeable feature.
The History of the New Haven Grays, by Jerome B. Lucke
Then there would be the cap and plume, cartridge-box and belt and
other things. The muskets (I do not recollect buying, or selling one) must have been furnished by the State. They were all alike,---had brass pans (something new then) and were better than common. I think they came from Whitney’s factory. There was no allowance for armories and no pay in those days; ---fines, however, are not a new invention.
In the fall of 1822 the company was under the command of Capt.
Whiting, and on the second of September was called out for the purpose of target-firing, which took place at Barnesville, near the bridge crossing to Fair Haven. The arms had been made at Whitney’s Armory---smooth-bore muskets.
The first target shoot was won by Frederick T. Stanley. The prize
was a silver medal. Mr. Stanley, by the way, is one of the first citizens of the thriving, growing city of New Britain and had the honor of being its first mayor.