Original U.S. Civil War Colt .58 Minié Conversion M1841 Mississippi Rifle by Robbins & Lawrence with Bayonet Lug - dated 1851
Original item: Only One Available. A great Civil War Long Gun, the U.S. .54 Caliber Percussion Rifle was in 1841 way ahead of its time and showed stout service in the American/Mexican War. They were well-regarded, and still in arsenal as the tensions rose, culminating in the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865. They were in a smaller caliber than desired, but with the thick barrel walls used in construction, this proved to not be an issue, as they could be re-bored to accept the now standard .58 Minié ball used by the Springfield model 1855 and 1861 muskets.
This conversion was undertaken by Colt, who purchased approximately 11,368 Model 1841 rifles from the Ordnance Department in 1861 under an agreement to sell them back after they were converted. The rifles were re-bored to .58 caliber with 7 groove rifling, and were all fitted with Colt Model 1855 revolving rifle 100/300/500 yard three leaf rear sights. The government requirement also stipulated that the rifles be able to fit a bayonet, and Colt's solution was to attach a ring bayonet lug on the barrel for a saber style bayonet. By June 1862, Colt had sold back 10,411 of the rifles, with some others being sent to State Militias. For more information please see American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume III by George Moller, pages 156-159.
This example was originally made by under contract by Samuel Robbins and Richard Lawrence, located in Windsor, Vermont along the Connecticut river. This area was known as “Precision Valley” for the amount and quality of the machine tools produced there, and they had originally set up making guns in 1844. By the 1850s they were well-regarded enough to receive government contracts for the M1841 "Mississippi" rifle alongside legendary names Eli Whitney and Remington.
This example is in lovely condition, a real great example of this type, and still retains the Colt 1855 Rear sight as well as the front bayonet lug ring, which is often removed. The lock plate is marked ROBBINS / & / LAWRENCE / U.S. under the hammer, with WINDSOR VT / 1851 across the lock plate tail. It is also marked with number 58 on the underside of the bayonet lug ring, and with the same number on the barrel itself just behind the ring. It shows no signs of further alteration after it was converted to .58, and really looks great!
These were often dated on the barrel, however there is no date we can see currently, so it was probably worn away. There is however a JCB / P proof mark on the barrel breech, which we have not been able to identify. There are also two visible stock cartouches on the left side of the stock above the trigger guard, however we cannot make out what they are.
The weapon is fully brass mounted including a brass patch box to the Butt which was used for storage of patches and sometimes bullets, as well as spare cap nipples. This way if the nipple broke or was clogged, it could easily be replaced. It was also used to store tools such as the clearing worm and Springfield multi-tool, however the box compartment is empty on this example unfortunately.
The stock on this rifle has a lovely red brown color, and has a very nice finish, with the expected wear from age. There are no cracks or other major damage that we can see. Both sling swivels are still present, as is the original brass tipped ramrod, which has intact threading on the other end. The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full. The hammer is in good condition, though part of the "cup" on the end has broken off. We checked the bore, and the rifling is still clear, showing moderate wear from service. Previous examples we have had were so used that they were almost smoothbore, so this is definitely a great example!
An early U.S. issue rifle, converted by Colt to .58 for further service during the civil war. In really nice Collector's Condition and ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1854 - converted c.1861-1862
Caliber: .58 inches
Ammunition Type: .577 Lead Ball & Powder with Percussion Cap
Barrel Length: 33 inches
Overall Length: 49 inches
Action: Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded
History of the M1841 "Mississippi Rifle"
The M1841 Mississippi rifle is a muzzle-loading percussion rifle used in the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War. When Eli Whitney Blake took over management of the Harpers Ferry Armory in 1842, he set about tooling up under his new contract from the U.S. government for making the model 1841 percussion rifle. Machinery and fixtures for making the 1822 contract flintlock musket had to be retooled or replaced in order to produce the lock and barrel of the new model. Whitney, Jr. had the good sense to hire Thomas Warner as foreman, who, as master armorer at Springfield Armory, had just been making the same kind of major changes there. Thomas Warner had spearheaded the drive to equip the Springfield Armory with a set of new, more precise machines and a system of gauging that made it possible for the first time to achieve, in the late 1840s, the long-desired goal of interchangeability of parts in military small arms. Under his tutelage, Eli Whitney, Jr. equipped the Whitney Armory to do likewise.
The nickname "Mississippi" originated in the Mexican–American War when future Confederate president Jefferson Davis was appointed Colonel of the Mississippi Rifles, a volunteer regiment from the state of Mississippi. Colonel Davis sought to arm his regiment with the Model 1841 rifles. At this time, smoothbore muskets were still the primary infantry weapon and any unit with rifles was considered special and designated as such. Davis clashed with his commanding officer, General Winfield Scott, who said that the weapons were insufficiently tested and refused the request. Davis took his case to the President James Knox Polk who agreed with Davis that his men be armed with them. The incident was the start of a lifelong feud between Davis and Scott.
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