Although the Spencer rifle had been developed as early as 1859, it was not initially used by the Union. On August 18, 1863, Christopher Spencer walked into the White House carrying one of his rifles and a supply of cartridges. He walked past the sentries, and into Abraham Lincoln's office. After some discussion, he returned the following afternoon, when Spencer and Lincoln were joined by Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War and other officials, and the group then proceeded to walk out on the Mall. Near the site of the Washington Monument, they engaged in target shooting.
Subsequent to that meeting, the US ordered some 13,171 rifles and carbines, along with some 58 million rounds of ammunition. General Ulysses S. Grant declared Spencer rifles "the best breech-loading arms available". Total wartime production approached 100,000 rifles. Many veterans took these rifles home with them after the war and their rifles saw widespread use on the western frontier. With so many military surplus rifles available, there was little post-war demand for new rifles; and Spencer was unable to recover investments made in manufacturing machinery. Spencer Repeating Rifle Company declaring bankruptcy in 1868; and assets were acquired by Oliver Winchester for $200,000 in 1869.