U.S. 1862 Patent Peabody .45-70 Military Rifle Issued to Massachusetts Militia - No 2790
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a rare gun. One of around 3000 purchased by the State of Massachusetts in 187-1872 and issue to their State militia and is nicely marked: MASS. 2790 on the stock data plate.
The action is marked:
PROVIDENCE TOOL CO. PROV. R.I.
Offered in very good functional condition.
The name Henry O. Peabody ought to be well known by all fans of military firearmsbut it isn’t. As has been the case with so many inventive geniuses over the ages, Peabody’s name and work have been overshadowed by others who took what he designed, changed it, and attached their own monikers to it. As with writers/artists, the lot of the inventor/designer is not always an easy one.
In 1862 Peabody patented a breech-loading rifle but was unable to perfect it in time to play a major role in the American Civil War (1860-1865). His basic design was based upon a pivoting breechblock, the front of which pivoted down on a transverse pin fixed through both the upper rear of the breechblock and the upper rear of the box-like receiver. As the breechblock was lowered, it exposed the barrel chamber and permitted the insertion of a cartridge. The rifle was fired by means of a musket-style outside hammer whose lockwork was inletted into the buttstock behind the receiver.
In operation, the hammer was set on halfcock, and the loading lever/trigger guard was pulled down to expose the chamber so that a cartridge could be slid down the grooved top of the breechblock into the chamber. As the lever was pulled up, an upward extension of the lever pushed the breechblock into battery and acted as a prop to keep it closed. When pulled down, the prop engaged a hooked portion of the block’s undersurface and lowered it. As the breechblock was lowered, it activated an extractor that pulled the spent cartridge case from the chamber, throwing it clear of the receiver.
All in all, it was a strong, simple, rugged, and foolproof design eminently suited for military service.
When the American Civil War erupted, the company obtained a contract to manufacture rifled muskets for the U.S. Army and eventually delivered 60,000 units. During the war, the company purchased Peabody’s patents, and while samples of a carbine were submitted to the U.S. Army, no decision was made before the war ended. However, the basic soundness of the design led the company to promote it.
In 1865 the company entered the Peabody rifles and carbines in Army trials, and after extensive tests of durability, accuracy, weather resistance, and serviceability, the board declared the Peabody the winner. Unfortunately, with postwar financial constraints, the Army decided to adopt a rifle and carbine developed at Springfield Arsenal that had the advantage of being produced by modifying the vast number of rifled muskets already on hand.
The company continued to promote the Peabody in the U.S., and while it was unable to interest the U.S. Army, the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina all purchased Peabody rifles in .43 Spanish to equip their militias. In 1877 Connecticut returned its rifles to the factory to be refurbished, re-barreled for the standard .45-70-405 cartridge, and fitted with new rear sights.
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