Original U.S. Civil War Springfield M-1861 Converted to Miller Patent Breechloading Rifle - dated 1864
Original Item: One Only. This is really a Peach! This rifle started out as a Civil War Model 1861 Springfield Rifle Musket, dated 1864, 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.
The solid barrel bands with band springs were eliminated later in 1863 with the introduction of the Model 1863 Type I, but then returned in 1864 with the Model 1863 Type II, so it is possible that technically this started life as a transitional model 1863 of some sort. Many of the contractors also did not move to the model 1864, so it is just as likely that it was made as a Model 1861.
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 1863 Springfield involves a flip up breach block allowing access to the chamber of the .58 Rimfire 39" barrel. The rifle now measures 56" in overall length.
The conversion breach block is stamped on the top:-
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 example were ever produced making these very rare. Our example is in very good condition, with crisp markings on the lock plate and breech block, though the bright steel finish is worn on the barrel and fittings, showing oxidation. The stock is in good condition, with some scratches, dents, and gouges, as expected from a service rifle. There is a crack near the rear lock screw, but otherwise no major damage or repairs.
The butt plate is marked U.S., and all three barrel bands are U marked. The bore of the barrel is in good condition, and still shows clear three groove rifling. There is however wear, and areas of oxidation, especially near the muzzle. The breech loading mechanism works well, however part of the ejector linkage is missing / damaged, so it is not functional at present, however a motivated hobbyist may be able to set it right. The lock is fully functional, holding at half cock and firing at full. The rear three leaf sight is fully intact and functional.
Fully cleaned and ready to display. Very Rare!
Year of Manufacture: 1864 - converted c.1865
Caliber: .58 "
Cartridge Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 39 Inches
Overall Length: 56 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Trapdoor Breech Single Shot
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