Rare Civil War Model 1841 “Mississippi” Rifle
19th Century American Rifle Model 1841 manufactured in the U.S. at the Harpers Ferry Armory | Measures: 33″ barrel, 48 1/2″ overall | This was the very first standard U.S. rifle to use a percussion lock firing system | This beautifully preserved rifle is chambered for its original .54 caliber ball ammunition
Rare 19th Century American Rifle Model 1841 manufactured in the U.S. at the Harpers Ferry Armory | Measures: 33″ barrel, 48 1/2″ overall | This was the very first standard U.S. rifle to use a percussion lock firing system | This beautifully preserved rifle is chambered for its original .54 caliber ball ammunition | The rifle bears two brass barrel bands with integral ramrod tubes, as well as a brass trigger guard and butt plate and a brass-lidded compartment for patches and other accoutrements, including a spare percussion nipple present in this example.
The lock plate bears the markings “Robbins &c Lawrence U.S.” and “Windsor VT. 1849”. The top of the butt plate is stamped “U S”. Two indistinct inspector”s cartouches appear on the left-hand side of the stock behind the side plate. A paper tag present with the rifle indicates that it was refitted by A.J. Drake for the 46th Massachusetts infantry. It is fitted with the standard front and rear sites of the Springfield model 1861. d
Condition: Very good condition for its age and use. The barrel and lock plate bear some oxidation and minor pitting, with no active rust. The brass fittings shows an attractive patina. The wood shows some minor dings. Overall the rifle shows very well and would make a wonderful addition to any civil war collection.
About the M1841 Mississippi rifle (From Wikipedia):
The M1841 Mississippi rifle is a muzzle-loading percussion rifle used in the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War.
When Eli Whitney Blake took over management of the Harpers Ferry Armory in 1842, he set about tooling up under his new contract from the U.S. government for making the model 1841 percussion rifle. Machinery and fixtures for making the 1822 contract flintlock musket had to be retooled or replaced in order to produce the lock and barrel of the new model. Whitney, Jr. had the good sense to hire Thomas Warner as foreman, who, as master armorer at Springfield Armory, had just been making the same kind of major changes there. Thomas Warner had spearheaded the drive to equip the Springfield Armory with a set of new, more precise machines and a system of gauging that made it possible for the first time to achieve, in the late 1840s, the long-desired goal of interchangeability of parts in military small arms. Under his tutelage, Eli Whitney, Jr. equipped the Whitney Armory to do likewise.
The nickname “Mississippi” originated in the Mexican–American War when future Confederate president Jefferson Davis was appointed Colonel of the Mississippi Rifles, a volunteer regiment from the state of Mississippi. Colonel Davis sought to arm his regiment with the Model 1841 rifles. At this time, smoothbore muskets were still the primary infantry weapon and any unit with rifles was considered special and designated as such. Davis clashed with his commanding officer, General Winfield Scott, who said that the weapons were insufficiently tested and refused the request. Davis took his case to the President James Knox Polk who agreed with Davis that his men be armed with them. The incident was the start of a lifelong feud between Davis and Scott.
The Model 1841 was replaced by minie ball firing Model 1855 US Rifle, which became the standard issue weapon for regular army infantry, and ultimately the Model 1861 & Model 1863 Springfield.
By the time of the Civil War, the Mississippi rifle was generally considered old-fashioned but effective. In the rush to arm troops in 1861 many new soldiers considered themselves fortunate to have any rifled arm while many of their comrades carried smoothbore muskets. It was carried by some Union troops up until at least 1863 (the 45th New York Infantry was still armed with theirs until after Gettysburg), but Confederate cavalry and sharpshooter units used them until the end of the war, as evidenced by surviving Confederate ordnance requisitions.
The Mississippi rifle was sometimes referred to as a “yagger” rifle, due to its smaller size and its similarity to the German Jäger rifles.
Design and features
The Mississippi rifle was the first standard U.S. rifle to use a percussion lock system. Percussion lock systems were much more reliable and weatherproof than the flintlock systems that they replaced, and were such an improvement that many earlier flintlock rifles and muskets were later converted to percussion lock systems.
The Mississippi rifle was originally produced in .54 caliber, using 1:66 rifling and no provision for fixing a bayonet.
In 1855, the Mississippi rifle was changed to .58 caliber, so that it could use the .58 caliber Minie Ball that had recently become standard. Many older Mississippi rifles were re-bored to .58 caliber. The rifle was also modified to accept a sword type bayonet.
The first Mississippi rifles had a v-notch sight. This was later replaced with leaf sights with 100, 300, and 500 yard ranges. A ladder sight with ranges from 100 to 1100 yards in 100 yard increments was fitted on some later rifles.
M1841 Mississippi rifle Specifications:
Type: Rifled musket
Place of origin: United States, Harper’s Ferry
Service history: Used by USA, 1st Mississippi Regiment, Confederate States of America
Wars: Seminole Wars, Mexican–American War, American Civil War
Production history: Designed 1840
Manufacturer: Harpers Ferry Armory, E. Whitney
Unit cost: 16 dollars
Weight 9 pounds 4 ounces (4.2 kg)
Length 48.5 inches (1,230 mm)
Barrel length 33 inches (840 mm)
Cartridge .54 ball, .58 Minie ball
Cartridge weight 0.5 ounces (14 g)
Caliber 0.54, 0.58
Action percussion lock
Rate of fire 2-3 per minute
Muzzle velocity 1,000 to 1,200 feet per second
Effective firing range 0-1100 yards
Maximum firing range 2000
Feed system muzzle
Sights blade (front), V-notch, leaf, ladder sight (rear)
Artist / Maker
Harpers Ferry Armory
Collectibles, Ephemera, Historical, Memorabilia, Military, Weapons
American Civil War, Guns, Historical, Military, War, Weapon