Original U.S. Civil War Springfield M1861 Shortened Rifled Musket by Trenton L&M Co. - Dated 1864
Original Item: Only One Available. The Springfield Model 1861 was a Minié-type rifled musket shoulder-arm used by the United States Army and Marine Corps during the American Civil War. Commonly referred to as the "Springfield" (after its original place of 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 barrel was 40 inches long, firing a .58 caliber Minié ball, and the total weight was approximately 9 pounds. The Springfield had an effective range of 200 to 300 yards, and used percussion caps to fire (rather than the flintlocks of the 18th century, the last U.S. flintlock musket was the Model 1840). Trained troops were able to fire at a rate of three aimed shots per minute while maintaining accuracy up to 500 yards, though firing distances in the war were often much shorter. The most notable difference between the Model 1861 and the earlier Model 1855 was the elimination of the Maynard tape primer for the Model 1861 (the Maynard primer, a self-feeding primer system, was unreliable in damp weather, and the priming mechanism was expensive and time-consuming to produce). Further, unlike the Model 1855, the Model 1861 was never produced in a two-banded "short rifle" configuration.
The Springfield was aimed using flip-up leaf sights. The sight had two leaves, one for 300 yards and the other for 500 yards, and with both leaves down, the sight was set for a range of 100 yards. By contrast, the British Pattern 1853 Enfield, favored by the Confederates, utilized a ladder-sight system with 100 yard increments, using steps from 100 to 400 yards and a flip up ladder for ranges beyond 500 yards. While the Enfield's sights did allow finer range settings, the Springfield's simple leaves were more rugged and were less expensive to produce. The Enfield's sights extended to 900 yards (and further, on later models), compared to the 500 yard maximum range of the Springfield's sights. Realistically, though, hitting anything beyond 600 yards with either weapon was mostly a matter of luck. While the sight designs were very different, the two weapons were otherwise very similar, and had very similar effective ranges.
The Springfield Rifle cost $20 each at the Springfield Armory, where they were officially made. Overwhelmed by the demand, the armory opened its weapons patterns up to twenty private contractors, including James T. Hodge & Addison M. Burt of the Trenton Locomotive and Machine Company, Trenton, New Jersey. The Trenton contract was received on December 26 1861 for 50,000 rifles. The full delivery number of arms from 1862-1864 was 21,995.
The most notable producer of contract Model 1861 Springfield however was Colt, who made several minor design changes in their version, the "Colt Special" rifled musket. These changes included redesigned barrel bands, a new hammer, and a redesigned bolster. Several of these changes were eventually adopted by the Ordnance Department and incorporated into the Model 1863 rifled musket.
The Model 1861 was relatively scarce in the early years of the Civil War (many troops were still using Model 1842 smoothbored muskets and Model 1816/1822 muskets converted to percussion cap primers, both in .69 caliber). It is unlikely that any of these were available for use in the First Battle of Bull Run. However, over time, more and more regiments began receiving Model 1861 rifled muskets, though this upgrade appeared somewhat quicker in the Eastern Theater of Operations. Over 1,000,000 Model 1861 rifles were produced, with the Springfield Armory increasing its production during the war by contracting out to twenty other firms in the Union. The number of Model 1861 muskets produced by the Springfield Armory was 265,129 between January 1, 1861 and December 31, 1863. According to United States Muskets, Rifles and Carbines by Arcadi Gluckman Colonel Infantry, United States Army, published 1949.
After the war ended, many model 1861 and 1863 rifled muskets were modified to a breech loading actions with new metallic cartridges. With these modifications, the basic 1861 evolved into the Springfield Model 1873 which served the US until being replaced in the 1890s by modern breech loading rifles chambered for new smokeless powder rounds that were far superior to the Model 1873.
This example however was not converted, however it was shortened by 8 inches after the war. Many soldiers took their Springfield Rifle Muskets home, however the long military length was a bit cumbersome for hunting, so many would be cut-down. The original sights were also replaced with standard fixed hunting sights. Also the original nose cap was not replaced.
This example is dated 1864 on the lock plate tail, and also has an Eagle stamped into the lock with U.S. / TRENTON to the right. The markings on the lock are clear and overall the lock plate is in very good condition, especially considering the age. The one piece walnut stock has a beautiful dark brown color, with the expected wear of age. A section near the cap lock bolster has worn away due to powder burn and use.
The metalwork overall shows peppering from past pitting, and has been left as is to preserve the "attic find" patina. The cleanout for the cap bolster is still present, though oxidized, and there is a significant amount of powder burn around the breech area. This has removed all of the breech markings. The bore still shows the three groove rifling, but there is also significant wear and oxidation. The lock functions correctly, holding at half-cock, and firing at full. Both barrel bands still have their U markings, though the butt plate markings are rusted away. It has a British-style cleaning/ram rod installed.
This is a great chance to pick up a nice Civil War Contract Rifled musket by a rare maker, shortened for post war use. Ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1864
Cartridge Type: Minie Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 32 Inches
Overall Length: 48 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Muzzle Loaded
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