Original U.S. Civil War Confederate Linked .58 Minié Conversion M1841 Mississippi Rifle by Harpers Ferry with Saber Bayonet - dated 1845
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 not only gave the rifles greater accuracy and stopping power, but also allowed the U.S. Military to standardize muzzle loading rifle ammunition. Some of these conversions were undertaken by Colt, while others were done at the National and State armories.
This rifle was definitely converted to .58, and then saw significant service after that, as the bore has been worn out to almost .62, with no rifling present anymore. The rear sight is a simple notch sight, which looks to possibly have been replaced. There is also a bayonet ring with a lug on the side, numbered 763 on the bottom. This is the same method that Colt used when doing these conversions, however comparison with other Colt converted examples shows that the ring is not the right style, so it was probably fabricated at arsenal in the Colt style. It comes complete with a lovely brass hilted saber bayonet, which fits but is actually for a Whitneyville “Plymouth” Navy Percussion Rifle.
While some examples were made by Government contractors, this lovely example was made in 1845 at the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, located in Harpers Ferry, in what was then Virginia. After the outbreak of the U.S. Civil war, The North West corner of Virginia separated itself into West Virginia. This example is in lovely condition, a real great example of this type. The lock plate is marked (EAGLE) / U.S. in the center and HARPERS / FERRY / 1845 across the lock plate tail. There is powder burn around the barrel breech, which has unfortunately removed all of the proof markings that would have been there.
The brass butt plate on the rifle is marked C / 12. / VA., which would indicate that it was possibly issued to Company "C" of the 12th Virginia Infantry regiment at some point. Definitely some fantastic research potential here! As this rifle was produced at Harpers Ferry, it is possible that it is one of many arms that were acquired when Confederate forces captured the arsenal. It may be that the bayonet was there with it, and worked well enough. so it was married to it at that point.
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, which this compartment has. 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 compartment on this example is unfortunately empty, though the inlet for the nipple cone is definitely still there.
The stock on this rifle has a lovely red brown color, and has a very nice finish, with the expected wear from long service and age. Both sling swivels are still present, and it still has the original brass tipped ramrod, though for some reason the threaded end was removed, and a makeshift clearing "hook" attached. The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full. We checked the bore, and as mentioned before it is completely worn, showing no rifling anymore. Most examples that we have seen have been this way, as they saw long service, especially those that were Confederate captured.
The included "Plymouth Rifle" bayonet is in very good condition, and still has the maker mark on the ricasso:
COLLINS & CO
The heavy 22 1/2 inch long heavy blade is mostly clean, and has not been sharpened, still retaining the factory "blunt" edge. The brass hilt looks great, and is marked with serial number 5327 on the back next to the channel.
An early U.S. issue rifle, converted to .58 for further service during the Civil War and then apparently captured by Confederate forces along with a bayonet. In really nice Collector's Condition and full of research potential! Ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1850 - 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
Blade Length: 22 1/2"
Blade Style: Single Edge Yataghan w/ Fuller
Overall length: 27
Crossguard: 3 1/2”
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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