Original U.S. Civil War Springfield M-1861 by Parker Snow Converted to Miller Patent Breechloading Short Rifle - dated 1863
Original Item: One Only. This is really a Peach! Probably the best example we have seen of this type of conversion! This rifle started out as a Civil War Model 1861 Springfield Rifle Musket, dated 1863, made by PARKERS ' SNOW & CO. MERIDEN, CONN, as listed on the lock plate. There is also the "Spread Eagle" over U.S. marking, indicating military production. Commonly referred to as the "Springfield" (after its original place of design and production, Springfield, Massachusetts), it was the most widely used U.S. Army weapon during the Civil War, favored for its range, accuracy, and reliability. It has the correct solid spring retained bands and three leaf rear sight of the model 1861. Most contractors did not update to the model 1863 Springfield by the end of the war.
The U.S. Civil war had confirmed the adage of NEED is the Mother of INVENTION. Muzzle Loading Muskets and Rifles were extensively used but new developments continually resulted in a "fresh" breech loading system being adopted on a trial basis. With the advent of breech loading cartridge firearms, the government was looking for cost effective ways to modernize their rifles, and one way was to convert muzzle loading Rifle muskets to a breech loaders. The Union had as many as NINETEEN different systems issued during the war, some of which were extremely complex.
The Miller Breach Loading system for the 1861 Springfield involves a flip up breach block allowing access to the chamber of the .58 Rimfire barrel. Most were made as long rifles, however this example was converted to a 2-band short rifle with a 32" barrel. It measures 49" in overall length, 7 inches shorter than the 3-band version.
The conversion breech block is stamped on the top:-
W.H & G.W.MILLER
PATENT MAY 23.1865
MERIDEN MANFG. CO.
In Military Trials in 1867 performance was spotty with several misfires however there appeared to be considerable gas "leakage" around the primer, resulting in this system not being adopted by the Government. Consequently few examples were ever produced making these very rare. Our example is in very good condition, with fully legible markings on the lock plate and breech block, and a lovely aged patina on the metalwork. The stock is in very good condition, having been arsenal reconditioned at some point. We do not see any cracks or repairs, and the wood has a lovely glow. There are some letters carved into the right side by the lock screws, and interesting personalization.
The butt plate is marked U.S., and both barrel bands are U marked. The bore of the barrel is in good condition, showing clear lands and grooves with a partly bright finish. There is some overall fouling and oxidation, particularly near the muzzle, as to be expected from the days of black powder. The breech loading mechanism works well, with a fully functional ejector, and there are no issues with the lock. The rimfire firing pin is currently very difficult to move due to oxidation. The rear three leaf sight is fully intact and functional, and it has a Springfield style ramrod still present.
A very nice example, fully cleaned and ready to display. Very Rare!
Year of Manufacture: 1863 - converted c.1865
Caliber: .58 "
Cartridge Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 Inches
Overall Length: 49 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Trapdoor Breech Single Shot
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