Original U.S. Civil War Era Ohio Surcharged M1841 Mississippi Rifle by Eli Whitney converted to .58 Minié - dated 1855

Item Description

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.

This example was made in 1855 in New Haven, Conn. by the famous Eli Whitney, and is in lovely service used condition. The lock plate is marked E. WHITNEY / U.S. under the hammer and N.HAVEN / 1855 on the tail. It has however been updated, as many were, by being bored out and recut with seven groove rifling after 1855 to accept the then standard .58 Caliber Minié Ball. This was the ammunition used by the Springfield Model 1855, and later 1861 and 1863 models, which the U.S. wanted to standardize. Some were also modified to take sword bayonets, such as this example was. It has a lug attached directly to the right side of the barrel, so this was not a Colt converted example, which used a bolt retained lug on a ring.

The barrel would normally have some proof marks, however there is significant powder burn over the entire breech area, which has obliterated any markings there and on the barrel tang. All we can make out are possibly the remnants of the letter "V". The powder burn stops by the rear sight though, so the rest of the barrel has a very pleasing aged patina. The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full.

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 Springfield Multi-tools and clearing worms, however this patch box is empty. The stock on this rifle has a lovely red brown color, and has a very nice finish, with the expected wear from age and use in service. It is surcharged with OHIO on the left side of the stock above the trigger guard, so it most likely saw service during the civil war after being converted to take the .58 bullets. Both sling swivels are still present, as is the original brass tipped ramrod.

An early U.S. issue rifle that may have seen service during the civil war. In really nice Collector's Condition, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1854 - converted c.1856
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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