Middletown was the major supplier of pistols, swords and cutlasses to the United States government during the War of 1812, with numerous manufacturers in the area.
In 1810, Oliver Bidwell built the first pistol factory in the United States on the Pameacha River in Middletown, winning a contract with the United States War Department for handmade pistols.
Also in 1810, Colonel Simeon North built a pistol factory in Middletown on the West River, now the Coginchaug River, also winning a contract from the United States Secretary of War, which led to enlarging his factory to 8,500 square feet; he built about 10,000 pistols a year.
Even more successful was Colonel Nathan Starr Jr., whose factory (built of stone quarried from the river) was about the same size as North's, and located across the river half a mile northeast. Starr initially manufactured swords, about 5,000 a year; including presentation swords for the state of Tennessee and War of 1812 heroes, colonel Richard M. Johnson, General Edmond P. Gaines, and General Andrew Jackson. Though he made other weapons and farming tools, Nathan Starr will always be remembered as the man who made "the cutlass that fought the War of 1812."
In a time when it was rare for contracts to be delivered on time, Nathan Starr made his deadlines by a significant margin. Starr had approximately 100 working days in the four months allotted to do the work, but he was finished in 76 working days. Upon delivery, Isaac Hull inspected the weapons and immediately distributed them to the waiting ships. In addition to this contract, Starr made many of the same cutlasses for privateers and may have received further Navy contracts for the same weapon.
The straight 30½-inch blade of the Starr cutlass, made of crudely forged steel, could be quickly manufactured, unlike the carefully crafted blades wielded by officers. A fuller (a groove on the side meant to strengthen and lighten the sword) runs most of the length of the blade and there are marks stamped into the ricasso ("N. Starr", an American eagle, and "US"). The handle is made of wood and the guard of sheet iron.
There are a greater number of the 1826 swords still existing as it was made during peacetime and would not have seen significant use. The factory later manufactured muskets and rifles until 1845, after which the United States government started government armories in Massachusetts and West Virginia partially modeled after Starr's.
In 1812, John R. Johnson and J. D. Johnson built a factory, also on the Pameacha River, which was to sell rifles to the government until 1825. After this period, firearm manufacturing declined in Middletown, but briefly revived during the Civil War.
Information from the USS Constitution Museum, Bernard Prue a Middletown historian and Wikipedia.