scarcity of supplies was a big problem on the Texas frontier, especially
during the Civil War when Union gunboats blockaded the
gulf coast keeping goods from coming in through normal channels.
A shortage of gun caps was a major predicament until Engelbert Krauskopf
and his partner Adolf Lungkwitz perfected a process for making gun
caps at Krauskopf's workshop in Fredericksburg.
Engelbert Krauskopf was born on August 21, 1820 in Bendorf on the
Rhine River near Koblenz. An uncle who was a cabinet maker took
him in, taught him the trade and promised that in time he would
inherit the business. It was an extraordinary opportunity for a
But Krauskopf wasn't happy in the cabinet shop. He spent every spare
minute with another uncle tending the locks and guns at the royal
As he got older, Krauskopf grew disenchanted with the social, religious
and economic restrictions of his homeland. Like so many talented
Germans in the mid-19th century, Engelbert Krauskopf came to Texas.
One the ship he met Rosa Herbst. Engelbert and Rosa married in Leon
Springs; then moved to Gillespie
| Engelbert Krauskopf
Photo courtesy Fredericksburg Standard
Krauskopf was a hunter for Meusebach.
He ran a saw mill. He made cabinets and furniture. He made and repaired
A gun was the most important tool on the Texas frontier. Settlers
needed guns to kill game and for protection against outlaws and
hostile Comanches. A settler's place on the frontier was unsustainable
As soon as Fredericksburg
grew large enough to support a gunsmith, Krauskopf devoted himself
entirely to making and repairing guns.
He made hundreds of guns. He ordered barrels from a factory in the
east, but made the gun stocks, metal triggers, hammers and sights
When Col. Robert E. Lee came to Fort
Martin Scott, he sometimes stopped at Krauskopf's gun shop on
Main Street just east of what is now Hondo's Restaurant. Lee was
impressed with the guns Krauskopf made and ordered one for himself.
the time most guns were of the cap and ball variety. They needed
a copper cap to ignite the gunpowder in the barrel.
But gun caps were hard to come by in the 1860s. The blockade stopped
most caps from coming in. As far as anyone knew there wasn't a single
gun cap factory in Texas.
Engelbert Krauskopf solved the problem with the help of his friend
Adolf Lungkwitz. They invented a machine that made gun caps.
The two men had complimentary talents. Krauskopf had the vison and
the technical skill. Lungkwitz, a coppersmith, had experience working
First they made a device for rolling copper into thin sheets. Then
they fed the flattened sheets of copper into their new machine.
At each turn of the crank the machine stamped out a copper gun cap.
After the caps had been formed, Krauskopf's daughters, Amelia and
Minna, loaded the caps with black powder. Krauskopf made the powder
from saltpeter mixed with mercury. He gathered saltpeter from bat
caves. He bought mercury in Galveston.
Another process made the loaded caps waterproof and pressed a Texas
star on each one. The star identified the caps as made by Engelbert
Krauskopf of Fredericksburg.
The Krausfopf gun cap factory may have been the only one of its
kind in Texas at the time. Customers came from all over to buy caps.
Later Krauskopf was the area agent for Winchester Rifles. He made
improvements on the rifles including a dust proof loader and an
automatic cartridge and hull extractor. Winchester patented the
improvements but Krauskopf got no credit.
Not only was Krauskopf a gunsmith and an inventor, he was an amateur
naturalist. Once while hunting in West Texas he noticed a plant
with red flowers. He brought some of the plants back to Fredericksburg.
When no one could identify the plant, he sent one to Washington.
Botanists declared it a new discovery and named it Hesperaloe var.
Engelmanni (Krauskof) Trel. "Red Flowered Yucca."
With his discoveries and inventions, Engelbert Krauskopf made his
mark in Texas. His gun cap factory was a godsend to the people of
the Hill Country.
"Fredericksburg Gun Cap Factory Often Saved the Day in the 60s,"
San Antonio Express, February 18, 1934.
"Krauskopf Building Now Serves as Restaurant," Fredericksburg
Standard, June 4, 1975.
"History of the Krauskopf Family Leaders
Since 1846," Fredericksburg Standard, March 18, 1937.