By the 1860s the city was moving away from its colonial occupations of coastal trade and agriculture and was firmly into the Industrial Revolution. Middletown’s factories tended towards the semi-skilled labor of the machine shop and the foundry. An 1850 review of the city’s manufactories lists locks, watches, machinery castings, firearms, powder, textiles, pumps, silverplate, boots, and sandpaper as all being produced in Middletown. By 1860, over 1,200 people out of a total population of 8,620 (or 14%) were working in the factories.
While the Starr family had made swords in years past, the arms manufacturers of Middletown in the 1860s were producing guns. The Savage Revolving Fire Arms Company was formed in 1859 and profited by the increased demand brought about by the war. Presumably the gun-making C. R. Alsop company followed the same trajectory. The D.C. Sage Company, formed in late 1861 or early 1862, would rise to become one of the largest private sector producers of combustible cartridges in the United States. In 1863 the company produced 920,000 cartridges of various types for the United States Army Ordnance Department.
With the end of the war, many of Middletown’s ordnance and firearm manufacturers closed, as the production of such goods moved into larger factories that took advantage of the economies of scale and mass production.