Posted 4 years ago
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.