Original U.S. Civil War French M-1822T Percussion Musket
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a complete and honest example of the French M-1822T flintlock musket, converted to percussion. These obsolete muskets were imported to the US Ordnance Department by the thousands first few months of the American Civil Civil War. The French M-1822 was the last flintlock infantry musket to see widespread use in the French army and remained in production for about 2 decades, finally being officially replaced by the very short lived M-1840 percussion musket.
As originally produced, the M-1822 was a flintlock with a conventional (forward action) lock, a .69 smooth bore, and a 42 ½ barrel for the line infantry and a 40 ½ barrel for the Voltiguers (light infantry). All were iron mounted with three barrel bands, with upper one being double strapped. The M-1822 was the pinnacle of development for the flintlock infantry musket in French service, and so impressed the US Ordnance Department the US M-1835/40 flintlock musket was based upon the M-1822. As with most military powers, the French started to experiment with the percussion ignition system for military arms during the 1830s. In 1837 the first French percussion military arms were issued for field trials, and in 1840, the percussion system was officially accepted by the French with the adoption of the M-1840 back action lock percussion musket. As with most of the military powers in the world, the French quickly found themselves with thousands of now obsolete flintlock military muskets and no easy or inexpensive way to replace them with new percussion models.
After the muskets were altered to percussion, their barrel tangs were marked with a T for transformed, after the model designation Mle 1822. After the French adopted the rifled arms for general issue to the French military, many of the M-1822T muskets were altered again to .708 caliber and rifled with four lands and grooves. These arms that had been altered a second time were usually marked bis after the Mle 1822T designation on the breech plug tang, meaning again (as in transformed again). The general rifling of the M-1822T muskets began in France in 1860, but soon proved to be less than satisfactory, as had been the case with similar US attempts to rifle percussion altered flintlock muskets. The thin barrels walls, rendered thinner by the increase in caliber from .69 to .708, and the subsequent rifling often left the guns too weak to be safely used with Minié style ammunition. The French tried to fix the problem by using newly made barrels for these altered muskets, but the results were still far from stellar. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, the French saw a perfect opportunity to dispose of the thousands of obsolete and now potentially hazardous arms to the American belligerents. During the first 18 months of the war, the US government obtained some 147,000 French & Belgian Muskets, caliber .69-.71 from a variety of sources. Due to poor record keeping, and the fact that the average ordnance officer could not differentiate between the various French patterns (let along distinguish whether the guns were made in France of Belgium), it is impossible to know how many of these 147,000 muskets were French M-1822T muskets. It is believed, however, that more than half of those guns were French M-1822 muskets or Belgian made copies thereof. Amazingly, the US Ordnance Department classified the percussion altered and rifled French muskets as 2nd class arms, when similarly rifled US M-1816/22 muskets were generally considered unsafe for issue! Even the smooth bore, percussion altered French muskets were considered 3rd Class arms. The guns were treated as being nominally .69 caliber and issued the same .69 ammunition that was used for US smoothbore and rifled muskets of that caliber.
While many of the muskets were well worn and in less than great condition, the only major complaint about them listed by the Ordnance Department was that their recoil was objectionable due to their caliber. One small group of Belgian made M-1822T muskets can be positively identified as being delivered by international arms dealer Herman Boker. His Sample #17 consisted of 640 Belgian made percussion altered rifled muskets with locks that were described as front action, indicating that they were not the later M-1840, M-1842, M-1853 patterns. Even though the inspecting officers described the guns as worn out, they were still accepted, and Boker was paid $7.98 each, as the gun might be of some use. While hardly attractive or 1st class like the English P-1853 Enfield rifle musket, these French & Belgian percussion altered muskets did lots of service with early war US regiments until better arms became available. Even though the Confederacy concentrated on buying higher quality arms like English Enfields and Austrian Lorenz rifle muskets, they too obtains at least some of the large bore French and Belgian altered muskets and some were still in service at the end of the war, particularly in the Western and Trans-Mississippi Theaters of operation.
Overall this is a solid complete example of the French M-1822T Rifled Musket that displays nicely. It is a solid example with signs of use and age of the early large caliber, percussion altered rifled arms that the US purchased in huge quantities in order to arm the volunteers of 1861 and 1862. The tang of the musket has been cleaned of markings. This is the Voltiguers, or Light Infantry model with the 40 ½ barrel. The gun was originally manufactured at the famous TULLE arsenal and is marked on the lock in script: Mre Rle / de TULLE (manufactured at the Royal Armory at Tulle).
This would be a good example of an early US Civil War import musket to add to your collection, for a very reasonable price.
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