Original U.S. Civil War Springfield Model 1861 Rifled Musket by Springfield Armory - Dated 1862

Item Description

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. The most notable producer of contract Model 1861 Springfield was certainly 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, and is still in the original configuration. It is dated 1862 on the lock plate tail, and also has an Eagle stamped into the lock next to U.S. / SPRINGFIELD, indicating production at Springfield Armory, in Springfield Massachusetts. The markings on the lock are mostly clear and overall the lock plate is in good condition, with a polished appearance. The cleanout on the cap bolster identifies this as a Model 1861, and not the later model 1863. The screw looks to be an arsenal replacement due to the lack of powder burn, and still is able to be removed. The proofs on the nocks form are completely worn away doe to powder corrosion and cleaning.

The metalwork overall shows light peppering from past pitting, but it has been fully cleaned and restored go put it in its best light. It now shows a lovely bright steel finish, with a few areas of staining. The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full. The barrel was fitted at some point with a rear ladder sight, which is currently missing the slider on the sight leaf. All three barrel bands still have their U markings, while the butt plate has corroded, so the "U.S." marking is no longer present. The ramrod looks to be a working life replacement with the correct tulip head, but without the enlarged shank.

We checked the bore, and we can no longer see any of the original rifling. It also measures about .63" now, so it may have been bored out to turn it into an 18 bore long barreled shotgun. The one piece walnut stock has a beautiful light brown color, and is in good condition, still bearing an arsenal cartouche on the left side. There are the expected dents and dings from service, but this is really a nice example of a Springfield stock.

This is a great chance to pick up a nice service used Civil War Rifled musket, fully cleaned and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1862
Caliber: .63"
Cartridge Type: Minié Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 40 Inches
Overall Length: 56 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Muzzle Loaded

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