Original U.S. Civil War Springfield Model 1861 Short Rifled Musket by Trenton L&M Co. with N.J. Surcharge - Dated 1863

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, 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, making these extremely rare.

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, and is still in the original muzzle loading configuration. It was however at some point arsenal shortened by 8 inches, possibly right after production. During this process the muzzle end was recrowned and also the last 3 inches of the barrel were milled down so that a bayonet would still fit. The front sight was modified, and the rear sight replaced with a custom made two leaf sight. It looks to have been set up for use as an artillery short rifle. This is definitely not the type of alteration that would be done outside of an arsenal.

It is dated 1863 on the lock plate tail, and also has an Eagle stamped into the lock next to U.S. / TRENTON. The lock plate does show some staining and past cleaning, but the markings are still clear. The barrel is clearly marked 1863 on the breech, and also has faint V / P / Eagle's Head proof marks intact. The barrel is also marked with an N.J. surcharge on the side, standard for this contractor. Condition of the barrel suggests that it did not see major use after being shortened.

The metalwork overall is in very good shape, with some light peppering in places, but much of the original bright finish retained, especially on the barrel. The cap nipple is original, and there is light powder burn around the breech area. The cap bolster cleanout screw is easily removed, and both the channel to the barrel and the nipple are clear. The lock functions correctly, holding correctly at half-cock. We checked the bore, and the three groove rifling is still clearly visible and in very good condition. It has a mostly bright finish, showing only light wear and oxidation. Both barrel bands still have their U markings, with U.S. on the butt plate tang. The ramrod is the correct and original tulip type with an enlarged shank, and both sling swivels are present.

The one piece walnut stock has a beautiful red-brown color, with wear from age and service. It still has an intact N.J. marking on the left side by the lock plate. The stock does look to have been arsenal reconditioned, and there is also an arsenal repaired crack through the stock wrist.

This is a great chance to pick up a nice Civil War Contract Rifled musket by a rare maker, shorted at arsenal. Fully cleaned and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1863
Caliber: .58"
Cartridge Type: Minié Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 32 Inches

Overall Length: 48 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Muzzle Loaded

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