Original U.S. Civil War Era Model 1822 Percussion Converted Musket by M.T. Wickham - dated 1831

Item Description

Original item: One Only. The U.S. Model 1822 Musket was a .69 caliber smoothbore flintlock, with a 42-inch barrel and an overall length of 58 inches. It replaced the previous model 1816 musket, and often is viewed as a further development of that design. One of the most noticeable differences in the Model 1822 is the attachment of the lower sling swivel. The forward part of the trigger bow was provided with an enlargement which was drilled to receive the sling swivel rivet. Previously, the sling swivel had been affixed to a stud in front of the trigger bow.

The Model 1822 was produced by the Springfield Armory, Harpers Ferry Armory, and numerous other contractors, such as M.T. Wickham. It was eventually replaced by the Springfield Model 1835, which is also considered by many to be a continuation of the Model 1816. These were sometimes referred to as "Whitney Flintlocks" due to the large number made in New Haven, Connecticut by Eli Whitney.

The outbreak of the Civil War in the United States created a large need for percussion muskets, as the number of modern firearms currently on hand was far short of what was needed. To fill this need, updating older design firearms was both faster and more cost effective, so many Model 1816 family muskets still in service were updated to percussion rifles. Also, many muskets converted to percussion in the 1840s-1850s were pressed back into service.

This example was contractor produced, as indicated by the markings on the lock plate under the pan and on the tail, some of which are now faint:



Marine T. Wickham was probably the most notable armorer to work at Harpers Ferry before 1816. Equally adept at forging, filing, stocking, and engraving firearms, Wickham possessed great talent as a gunsmith. More importantly, he exhibited a rare ability to manage men effectively while at the same time retaining their admiration and respect. These qualities did not go unnoticed, for in 1808 the secretary of war selected Wickham to succeed Perkin's long-time associate, Charles Williams, as master armorer at Harpers Ferry. However, after three years, he left to go out on his own, and made many guns under contract to the U.S. Government.

The musket was then converted to percussion, most likely during the pre or early civil war era. We were not able to find any markings around the conversion indicating which company performed it. The mounting points for the frizzen and frizzen spring can still be seen, though they are plugged. The musket was converted by being fitted with a new breech plug and breech end, incorporating a "built-in" Percussion Cap nipple to back end of the barrel. This type of conversion resulted in total removal of the original brass powder pan. We checked the bore, and this musket is still smoothbore, so it was not one of the conversions that added rifling to the barrel.

The left side of the wood stock shows faded Inspector's Cartouches and the entire weapon is in very good matured condition. There are some small dents and chips in the stock, but overall it presents very nicely. There is some cracking on the left side by the rear lock screw running from the barrel tang down towards the trigger guard. There is also some chipping around many of the metal fittings, and a chunk missing by the left side of the butt plate.

The metalwork has a lovely aged polished patina, showing well over a century of careful cleaning. The lock still holds correctly at half cock, firing at full. The barrel is clear but does show significant fouling from use, and the muzzle is a bit deformed due to damage from storage. There is powder burn around the cap nipple cone, so this musket definitely did see service after conversion.

A fine example of an older musket converted to percussion for further service, almost certainly used during the Civil War. Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1831 - converted later
Caliber: .69"
Cartridge Type: Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 42 Inches
Overall Length: 58 Inches
Action type: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle Loading

History of the Model 1822 Musket:

The War of 1812 had revealed many weaknesses in American muskets. The Model 1812 Musket was created in an attempt to improve both the design and manufacture of the musket. The Model 1816 made further improvements, and replaced the Model 1812. The Model 1812 had borrowed heavily from the design of the French Charleville model 1777 musket, and this design was retained for the Model 1816. The Model 1816 had a 42 inch long .69 caliber smoothbore barrel, similar to the Model 1812, but had a longer lock plate, a shorter trigger guard, and a longer bayonet than the Model 1812. The Model 1816 also had a more straight lined stock. The overall length of the weapon was 58 inches.

The Model 1816 musket was originally produced at the Harpers Ferry and Springfield Arsenals between 1816 and 1844. Around 675,000 were made, more than any other flintlock in U.S. history.

The Model 1816 was originally produced as a flintlock musket. Like many flintlock muskets, many of these were later converted to percussion cap, as the percussion cap system was much more reliable and weather resistant.

This model of Springfield musket was used by Texans during the Texas Revolution and by the US Army and militia during the Mexican-American War. During this conflict, the flintlock version of the Model 1816 was preferred by U.S. regular forces, due to percussion cap supply concerns.

It was also used during the early years of the American Civil War until around 1862.

Many improvements to the Model 1816 were made, producing the Model 1822, Model 1835, Model 1840, and Model 1842. U.S. Ordnance Department referred to these as different models, but in other U.S. government documents they are referred to as a continuation of the Model 1816. Modern histories are similarly inconsistent in the nomenclature of these weapons.

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