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US Model 1861 Musket, Trenton Subcontract

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    Posted 7 years ago

    (310 items)

    I’m interrupting my posts of swords to show off a brand new acquisition. Yesterday I spotted one of those generic antique malls where I never have any luck, but I had some time to burn so I poked around and found this. I researched it last night, checked a few online sales for the going price and returned and bought it when the place opened today. Stuff like this does not pop up often in my part of the country, and I think I got it for less than from an online auction or gun show.

    The U.S. Model 1861 Springfield rifle musket was the primary infantry weapon of Federal Forces at the start of the Civil War. It was a .58 caliber rifled muzzleloader that closely resembled the British Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifle. A couple major differences from the Enfield were instead of the Enfield’s more sophisticated ramp sight with graduations up to 1,000 yards, the Springfield had two flip-up leafs for 100 and 300 yards. It was a sturdier sight and probably all the typical Yankee recruits could use anyway. The other difference was that it was made with all interchangeable parts, something that could not be said about most ’53 Enfields.

    Springfield Armory could not keep up with the demand for muskets at the start of the war, and sub-contracted to a number of private manufacturers. J. T. Hodge and A. M. Burt both received contracts for 50,000 muskets in 1861. Burt teamed up with Hodge without entering a formal partnership, which would have voided their contracts. Together they made their muskets at the Trenton Locomotive & Machine Company in New Jersey. As with many of the Springfield contractors, they fell short of their contacts. Of the 100,000 total, Burt only delivered 11,495 muskets on his contract while Hodge delivered 10,500.

    My Model 1861 is marked with the year 1864 behind the hammer, with the federal eagle and US / TRENTON in front. Barrel is marked 1864 on the top and V / P / eagle head on the flat between the top and side. The left side has an 85 and an M that I’m not sure about. Many of the Trenton muskets are marked “N.J.” in that area, but I believe those were sold to the state of New Jersey for militia use, and I think this musket may have gone to fill the Springfield contract. At least one barrel band is marked with a “U” (others have some pitting) and the buttplate is marked "US". There should be an inspector cartouche on the wood opposite the lock, and I think I can barely make it out (or my imagination is playing tricks on me). Based on the chipped varnish, I believe the stock was refinished at some point, and I think the cartouche became a victim to sanding, or maybe just plain wear.

    The lock works well but a bore light shows the rifling is worn nearly smooth as far as I can see down the bore, with a worrisome ring visible a few inches down. In spite of this I may send a few rounds through it just to see what happens.

    The musket came with a US marked 1855/70 socket bayonet that loosely fits the weapon.

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    1. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      You bring up a question. Were these contract muskets really varnished or creosoted? Never really given it much thought before. Seen varnish in pre CW weapons that was original. Had 2 of the Colt "SPECIAL" .58 rifle which 1 was cerosote, while the other was varnished but appeared maybe not the orig. finish. So, what was the regulation finish? Congratulations on you acquisition! My 1st contract (and shooter) was a PARKER SNOW when I was 9 yrs old. 60 yrs ago today.
    2. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 7 years ago
      Well then happy birthday!
    3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Thans Chris. 69 has always been one of my favourites.
    4. scottvez scottvez, 7 years ago
      Nice find-- the first musket I ever owned was an H&P conversion for the state of NJ!

      It is unusual to find a bargain price in an antique mall these days on ANYTHING Civil War. Whenever I see weapons, they are far beyond "Civil War Show" prices.

    5. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Thanks Chris. There was well over a 1000 at my B'day party (also known as the Heineken Regatta party)! I left early because I could tell by just the way some of my fans were parking, that the roads wouldn't be safe much later! LOL! Not a safe night for pedestrians even.
      Now, I think creosote was the best & most practical finish. Repels water, doesn't chip & expose raw wood, preserves wood & polishes nicely. Most people think of creosote on tele. poles, but it makes a nice antique finish on sanded wood & I often prefer it. I make my own by taking asphalt & desolving it in something like kerosene.
    6. vintagelamp vintagelamp, 7 years ago
      Great find! Love it!
    7. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      I had an orig. Enfield decades ago. We had trouble getting .58 Minies down the bore & then had to wet swab after every 3-4 rds. Find out that the Enfield was .577 cal.. Were the ones imported for the CW .577 or altered to handle .58? Hadn't remembered that problem for 5 decades, but would like to know.
    8. scottvez scottvez, 7 years ago
      The originals were .577 as well.

    9. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Were minies made slightly undersized to eliminate problems in the field? Usually can get off about 10 rds in the .58 before pwdr. fouling started causing problems, but as stated earlier, with the .577 about 3 rds.. Not good in combat.
    10. scottvez scottvez, 7 years ago
      Here is what I normally see at Civil War shows as "Enfield bullets":

    11. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Great! So they had to supply another diff. cal. to confuse supply in the field.
    12. scottvez scottvez, 7 years ago
      As always-- the supply guys needed to make it happen.

      Ignored until the wrong ammo arrives!

    13. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Ck'd my old DGW cat. & found that Lyman .58 moulds were .5776. In other words, larger than the the bore on the Enfield. (no wonder it was giving trouble). Then they offered a bullet swager to reduce to .575 & a mould for the .575. That dia. should have worked fine in the .58 & cured the supply problem.
    14. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      There is a Trenton on auction @ that ends the 27th that appears to be in about in the same condition. Just in case you are interested on what it sells for. That's Rob Roble's site. which I follow.

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