Cased ambrotype portrait of C.S.A. Corporal Anthony Sydnor Barksdale (1841-1923), taken 1861 with Mississippi rifle.

Cased ambrotype portrait of C.S.A. Corporal Anthony Sydnor Barksdale (1841-1923), taken 1861 with Mississippi rifle. 

Infantry formation of the 18th and 19th century generally designated a small number of troops to carry rifles. To the armies, a “rifle” was a two-banded weapon (or of similar length) that had a rifled bore and was equipped to support a saber bayonet.

By the turn of the century, flank companies in U.S. Army regiments generally were equipped as riflemen. Though they had weapons capable of sharpshooting, these “flankers” primary role was not that of marksmen, but rather, as skirmishers. The shorter weapon was seen as an aid to mobility, not a tool of deadly accuracy.

After the War with Mexico concluded in 1848, it became apparent to military planners that the rifle afforded more than simply lightening the load of flankers. The world’s armies were rearming with rifled weapons. The United States would be forced to follow suit if it wanted to remain a recognized power.

Private Albert H. Davis of Co. E, 9th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment with Model 1841 Mississippi rifle and sword bayonet.

Private Albert H. Davis of Co. E, 9th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment wiith Model 1841 Mississippi rifle and sword bayonet.

The Army, however, was not ready to give up on its vision of the well-equipped soldier. Plans were made to provide rifled weapons, however, the bulk of troops would received the full-length rifle-musket. Rifles would still be reserved for the flank companies.

When the southern states seceded and declared war, the delineation between who would receive what weapons became increasingly clouded. Rather than just two companies receiving rifles, entire regiments received issues of the shorter, lighter weapons. In most cases just as accurate as a rifle-musket, rifles became one of the soldiers’ favorite weapons. 

The US Model 1841 Rifle

The Model 1841 percussion rifle was also known as the “Mississippi rifle,” “Windsor rifle,” “Harpers Ferry rifle,” “Whitney rifle,” “Remington rifle” and “Yaeger rifle.” As originally produced, the Model 1841 rifle was equipped with a brass blade front sight and a simple V-notch rear sight. They were produced without any provision for a bayonet. 

The federally produced Model 1841 was made by Harpers Ferry Armory (It is believed that only model pieces were made at the Springfield Armory in 1849), 1846-1855.

The federally produced Model 1841 was made by Harpers Ferry Armory (It is believed that only model pieces were made at the Springfield Armory in 1849), 1846-1855. Total production: 25,296. Overall length: 48-1/2”. Weight: 9 lbs. 12 oz. Harpers Ferry barrels are marked with V/P and an eagle head near the breech as well as PM, WW, AW or WW over P, all in small letters. The date is stamped on the breech plug tang. A small “S” forward of the bolster on rifles made after 1851 denote a steel barrel. No stock cartouches, but the left side of the stock stamped with inspector initials “JHK” or “J.L.R.” in block letters.

During the last year of production (1854-55), Harpers Ferry attempted to bring Model 1841 rifles up to current specifications by equipping each with more precise sights provisions to accept a bayonet. 

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, (eagle) / US and vertically behind the hammer, HARPERS / FERRY / (date).

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, (eagle) / US and vertically behind the hammer, HARPERS / FERRY / (date). 

When the Secretary of War ordered that the .58 caliber Minié cartridge be adopted for all U.S. shoulder arms,  The Model 1841 had been designed for use with a .54 caliber ball and loose powder. With his declaration, the Secretary of War made the Model 1841 obsolete. At the same time, however, he gave life to a large conversion aftermarket that would convert the Model 1841 to current specifications, including reboring many to .58 caliber. 

Harpers Ferry  barrels are marked with a VP and eagle head at rear of breech in addition to  PM over P, AW over P, WW over P all in small letters, No cartouches on stock, but JLR or JHK in block letters appear opposite lock.. There is no US on the buttlplate. The patchbox has three small router holes.

Contract Model 1841 Rifles

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Remington contract

Made by E. Remington, Herkimer, New York, ca. 1846-1854. Three contracts totaling 20,000 rifles.

Made by E. Remington, Herkimer, New York, ca. 1846-1854. Three contracts totaling 20,000 rifles.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, “REMINGTON’S / HERKIMER / N.Y.” and “U.S. / (date) behind it.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, “REMINGTON’S / HERKIMER / N.Y.” and “U.S. / (date) behind it.

Remington barrels are marked US over JH or JCB or ADK over P. The barrel flat is marked Steel with two cartouches opposite lock.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence contract

On February 18, 1845, the firm jointly owned by Samuel E. Robbins, Nicanor Kendall and Richard S. Lawrence received a contract for 10,000 Model 1841 rifles.

On February 18, 1845, the firm jointly owned by Samuel E. Robbins, Nicanor Kendall and Richard S. Lawrence received a contract for 10,000 Model 1841 rifles.

On February 18, 1845, the firm jointly owned by Samuel E. Robbins, Nicanor Kendall and Richard S. Lawrence received a contract for 10,000 Model 1841 rifles. The Windsor, Vermont, firm was to deliver the rifles at the rate of 2,000 a year at a price of $11.90 each. The contract was complete 18 months early.

The lock plate is marked forward of the hammer in four lines, “ROBBINS / KENDALL & / LAWRENCE / U.S. Behind the hammer, the lock plate is marked vertically, in two lines, “WINDSOR VT / (date).

The lock plate is marked forward of the hammer in four lines, “ROBBINS / KENDALL & / LAWRENCE / U.S. Behind the hammer, the lock plate is marked vertically, in two lines, “WINDSOR VT / (date).

Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence barrels are marked US over JCB or NWP or JAG over P. There are two cartouches opposite lock.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Robbins & Lawrence contract

Samuel Robbins and Richard Lawrence of Windsor, Vermont, (successors to the manufactory, Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence) received a contract on January 5, 1848, to produce 15,000 Model 1841 rifles at the rate of 3,000 a year.

Samuel Robbins and Richard Lawrence of Windsor, Vermont, (successors to the manufactory, Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence) received a contract on January 5, 1848, to produce 15,000 Model 1841 rifles at the rate of 3,000 a year.

The lock plates of these rifles are marked forward of the hammer in four lines, “ROBBINS / & / LAWRENCE / US”. Behind the hammer, each plate is marked vertically, “WINDSOR VT / (date)”.

The lock plates of these rifles are marked forward of the hammer in four lines, “ROBBINS / & / LAWRENCE / US”. Behind the hammer, each plate is marked vertically, “WINDSOR VT / (date)”.

Robbins & Lawrence  barrels are marked US over JH or JPC, JAG, JCB, LBC,GW, or SK over P. There are two cartouches opposite lock.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Tryon & Son contract

On April 22, 1848, Philadelphian George W. Tryon received a contract to produce 5,000 rifles priced at $12.87½ each.

On April 22, 1848, Philadelphian George W. Tryon received a contract to produce 5,000 rifles priced at $12.87½ each.

The lock plates of Tryon contract rifles are marked in two lines forward of the hammer, “TRYON / US” and in behind the hammer, “PHILADA / PA / (date)”.

The lock plates of Tryon contract rifles are marked in two lines forward of the hammer, “TRYON / US” and in behind the hammer, “PHILADA / PA / (date)”.

Tryon  barrels are marked US over JH or NWP over sunken P. Additional markings include small US on the barrel and buttplate. There are two cartouches opposite lock.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Whitney contract, type I

Made at New Haven, Connecticut, 1843-1854. Total production: 25,900.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Whitney contract, type I made at New Haven, Connecticut, 1843-1854. Total production: 25,900. Each of Whitney’s contract rifles featured a “V” notch open type rear sight and a brass tipped ramrod. They were not equipped to accept a bayonet.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, E. WHITNEY / U.S. The rear of the plate is vertically marked N. HAVEN / (date)

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, E. WHITNEY / U.S. The rear of the plate is vertically marked N. HAVEN / (date). Butt plate tang marked U.S. Whitney. Barrels are marked US over SK, SM, GW, JAG, JH, JCB, JPC or ADK and P or V over P. After 1848, breech also marked STEEL. Breech tang dated the same as the lock.

Whitney barrels are marked US over SK, SM, GW, JAG, JH, JCB, JPC, or ADK over VP. Marked Steel on barrel flat. There are two cartouches opposite lock. 

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Whitney contract, type II

Made at New Haven, Connecticut, 1855. Total production: 600. Lock plate markings the same as on the Type I

Made at New Haven, Connecticut, 1855. Total production: 600. Lock plate markings the same as on the Type I: marked forward of the hammer, E. WHITNEY / U.S. The rear of the plate is vertically marked N. HAVEN / 1855. Butt plate tang marked U.S. Whitney barrels are marked US over SK and SM, GW, JH, JCB, JPC or ADK over VP. After 1848, breech also marked STEEL. Breech tang dated the same as the lock. Breech tang marked 1855.

Whitney replaced the brass-tipped ramrods with a steel-tipped version cupped for use with Minié bullets. Furthermore, each of the 600 was fitted a with a bayonet stud that incorporated a 1” guide brazed to the right side of the barrel. Like the Harpers Ferry altered rifles, Whitney’s featured shortened front double-strap barrel bands.

Whitney replaced the brass-tipped ramrods with a steel-tipped version. Each of the 600 was fitted a with a bayonet stud that incorporated a 1” guide brazed to the right side of the barrel. Type IIs  featured shortened front double-strap barrel bands.

The 600 rifles of Whitney’s 1855 delivery were altered to conform with Harpers Ferry’s second style of alteration. Before this last shipment was made, the stock of each rifle was shortened slightly. Whitney replaced the brass-tipped ramrods with a steel-tipped version cupped for use with Minié bullets. Furthermore, each of the 600 was fitted a with a bayonet stud that incorporated a 1” guide brazed to the right side of the barrel. Like the Harpers Ferry altered rifles, Whitney’s featured shortened front double-strap barrel bands. 

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Whitney South Carolina contract

Made by Whitney Arms Company, New Haven, Connecticut, ca. 1849. Total production: estimated at 274.

Made by Whitney Arms Company, New Haven, Connecticut, ca. 1849. Total production: estimated at 274.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, E. WHITNEY / SC The rear of the plate is vertically marked N. HAVEN / 1849.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, E. WHITNEY / SC The rear of the plate is vertically marked N. HAVEN / 1849.

Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform of Company E, "Lynchburg Rifles," 11th Virginia Infantry Volunteers holding 1841 "Mississippi" rifle.

Unidentified soldier in Confederate uniform of Company E, "Lynchburg Rifles," 11th Virginia Infantry Volunteers holding a Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifle.

The State of South Carolina contracted with William Glaze to purchase 274 Model 1841 rifles in 1849. Glaze contracted with Eli Whitney of New Haven, Connecticut, to supply the rifles.  South Carolina rifles featured a blade-type front sight affixed to the upper strap of the front barrel band and a bayonet lug on the underside of the barrel near the muzzle to accept a socket bayonet.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Whitney Mississippi contract

No illustration available.

On June 6, 1860, Eli Whitney agreed to supply the state of Mississippi with 1,500 Model 1841 rifles with bayonets. By October 15, 1860, he had sent 60 to Mississippi Adjutant General W.L. Sykes for inspection. Sykes reported that the “arms were received and examined and proved to be old guns fixed up.” With the exception of the 60 sample rifles, no others were delivered under the terms of the contract.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Palmetto Armory, South Carolina Contract

Made by Palmetto Armory, Boatwright & Glaze, proprietors, Columbia, South Carolina, 1852-1853. Total production: 1,000.

Made by Palmetto Armory, Boatwright & Glaze, proprietors, Columbia, South Carolina, 1852-1853. Total production: 1,000. Barrel marked P / V with a palmetto tree. Tang marked (date). Butt plate tang marked SC. The patch box does not have a specific location inlet for a spare nipple.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, PALMETTO ARMORY / S*C in a circle around a palmetto tree The rear of the plate is vertically marked Columbia / S.C. (date). Barrel marked P / V with a palmetto tree.

Lock plate marked forward of the hammer, PALMETTO ARMORY / S*C in a circle around a palmetto tree The rear of the plate is vertically marked Columbia / S.C. (date). Barrel marked P / V with a palmetto tree.

Left flat marked either W.G. & Co or WM. GLAZE & CO. near the breech. 

Left flat marked either W.G. & Co or WM. GLAZE & CO. near the breech. 

William Glaze and James Boatwright formed the Palmetto Armory in 1850. William Glaze entered into an agreement with Benjamin Flagg, owner of B. Flagg & Co. and signed a contract with the State of South Carolina on April 15, 1851 to produce a number of arms—including 1,000 rifles—all of which were “to be made with in the confines of the State of South Carolina. The contract stipulated that the first 350 rifles be ready for inspection by January 1852. U.S. General William Sherman’s forces reported that 500 Palmetto rifles were destroyed at the Citadel College in Columbia on February 17, 1865.

(Reilly reports that these were not fitted for a bayonet, but it appears he studied a sample that had a replaced barrel. Madaus and Richard Taylor Hill report that the rifle had a bayonet lug on the top of the barrel to accept a triangular bayonet).

Alterations to the U.S. Model 1841 Rifle

This photographic guide is intended to take the confusion out of deciphering the many variations of the Model 1841 rifle. This would not have been possible without the generous cooperation of Rock Island Auction Company. In 2006, the firm conducted the largest sale of Model 1841 rifles since the Civil War. The efforts Rock Island made to accurately catalog and categorize the rifles was a major contribution to the field of collecting and studying these stunning rifles.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry first (“Snell”) alteration, 1854-1855

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry first (“Snell”) alteration, 1854-1855

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry first (“Snell”) alteration, 1854-1855

The armory fitted the rifles with a new long-range rear sight consisting of a single-standing ladder with a screw adjustable range setting on a 1/2”-long base dovetailed 2-15/16” from the breech (this style of site was found to be unsatisfactory and many were replaced with simple open “V” block sights)

The armory fitted the rifles with a new long-range rear sight consisting of a single-standing ladder with a screw adjustable range setting on a 1/2”-long base dovetailed 2-15/16” from the breech (this style of site was found to be unsatisfactory and many were replaced with simple open “V” block sights).

During 1854-1855, the Harpers Ferry Armory altered 590 Model 1841 rifles from its own inventory and 1,041 Harpers Ferry manufactured rifles stored at the Washington Arsenal. The armory fitted the rifles with a new long-range rear sight consisting of a single-standing ladder with a screw adjustable range setting on a 1/2”-long base dovetailed 2-15/16” from the breech (this style of site was found to be unsatisfactory and many were replaced with simple open “V” block sights). 

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry first (“Snell”) alteration, 1854-1855 with replaced open "V" block rear sight.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry first (“Snell”) alteration, 1854-1855 with replaced open "V" block rear sight. 

Harpers Ferry Armory modified the barrels to accept the 27-1/4”-long Snell-pattern saber bayonet. T

Harpers Ferry Armory modified the barrels to accept the 27-1/4”-long Snell-pattern saber bayonet. The modification required two ½” horizontal slot milled on the right side of the muzzle and a ½” elliptical cut milled perpendicular to (but not intersecting) the horizontal slot. Harpers Ferry produced 1,646 bayonets for these altered rifles in 1855.

The bayonet was manufactured with a folding muzzle ring that passed over the front sight and eliminated the need for a lug to be attached to the rifle. Only about 1,650 of these bayonets were produced. The US arsenal alteration saber bayonets were issued with 1855 pattern scabbards

The bayonet was manufactured with a folding muzzle ring that passed over the front sight and eliminated the need for a lug to be attached to the rifle. Only about 1,650 of these bayonets were produced. The US arsenal alteration saber bayonets were issued with 1855 pattern scabbards

The Snell pattern bayonets had a folding muzzle ring on the pommel. The top of the muzzle ring has a “cocks comb” quillon, a typical feature of US arsenal-produced saber bayonets— a feature missing from contractor-produced saber bayonets.

The Snell pattern bayonets had a folding muzzle ring on the pommel and a  rotating key in the cross-guard to lock the bayonet to the barrel.

In addition, the armory modified the barrels to accept the 27-1/4”-long Snell-pattern saber bayonet. The modification required two ½” horizontal slot milled on the right side of the muzzle and a ½” elliptical cut milled perpendicular to (but not intersecting) the horizontal slot. Harpers Ferry produced 1,646 bayonets for these altered rifles in 1855. The first style Harpers Ferry alteration were left in .54 caliber.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry second alteration, 1854-1855

In addition to the first “Snell” alterations, 449 rifles of Harpers Ferry’s production and 1,200 rifles stored at the Washington Arsenal (all Harpers Ferry-produced) were adapted to accept a second style of saber bayonet that did not incorporate a ring on the handle like the Snell pattern.

In addition to the first “Snell” alterations, 449 rifles of Harpers Ferry’s production and 1,200 rifles stored at the Washington Arsenal (all Harpers Ferry-produced) were adapted to accept a second style of saber bayonet that did not incorporate a ring on the handle like the Snell pattern.

In addition to the first “Snell” alterations, 449 rifles of Harpers Ferry’s production and 1,200 rifles stored at the Washington Arsenal (all Harpers Ferry-produced) were adapted to accept a second style of saber bayonet that did not incorporate a ring on the handle like the Snell pattern. 

The Armory brazed a bayonet lug with a 1” guide key on the right side of each barrel to accept this new bayonet.

The Armory brazed a bayonet lug with a 1” guide key on the right side of each barrel to accept this new bayonet. To accommodate this style of bayonet, the double-strap front barrel band was replaced with a new, shorter double-strap band and the forestock was slightly shortened.

Harpers Ferry US M1855 Saber Bayonet for Type II Mississippi Rifle Alterations

Harpers Ferry US M1855 Saber Bayonet for Type II Mississippi Rifle Alterations. These bayonets were produced for use on the Type II Harper's Ferry alteration of US M1841 Mississippi Rifle and were the first conventional saber bayonet alterations for these guns, after abandoning the "ring bayonet" or "Snell bayonet" alteration of the Type I guns.

Large round steel reinforcement pin in guard, correct for early production M1855 style bayonets. Mortise cut in hilt with 1" slot for guide key.

Large round steel reinforcement pin in guard, correct for early production M1855 style bayonets. Mortise cut in hilt with 1" slot for guide key.

The Armory brazed a bayonet lug with a 1” guide key on the right side of each barrel to accept this new bayonet. A stamped letter/number code on the face of each barrel mated it to a bayonet marked with the same code on the quillion. Between 1855-1857, Harpers Ferry produced 10,286 bayonets of this type. To accommodate this style of bayonet, the double-strap front barrel band was replaced with a new, shorter double-strap band and the forestock was slightly shortened.

These rifles were fitted with long-range sights (a copy of the English P1853 rifle-musket sight) soldered 2-7/8” from the breech. The 2-3/16”-long side wall of each sight was marked with “2”, “3” and “4” 100-yard gradients. The folding adjustable ladder was marked from 500-1,000 yards.

These rifles were fitted with long-range sights (a copy of the English P1853 rifle-musket sight) soldered 2-7/8” from the breech. The 2-3/16”-long side wall of each sight was marked with “2”, “3” and “4” 100-yard gradients. The folding adjustable ladder was marked from 500-1,000 yards.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry third alteration, 1855-1856

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry third alteration, 1855-1856.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Harpers Ferry third alteration, 1855-1856.

During 1855-1856, Harpers Ferry altered 250 rifles to accept the second style saber bayonet.

During 1855-1856, Harpers Ferry altered 250 rifles to accept the second style saber bayonet.

Instead of using the ladder-style rear sight used during the second alteration of 1854-55, a new sight was added these rifles. The new sight had a side wall with gradients denoted with “200”, “3” and “4” and intermediate 50-yard steps.

Instead of using the ladder-style rear sight used during the second alteration of 1854-55, a new sight was added these rifles. The new sight had a side wall with gradients denoted with “200”, “3” and “4” and intermediate 50-yard steps.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, Harpers Ferry fourth alteration, 1857-1859

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, Harpers Ferry fourth alteration, 1857-1859.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, Harpers Ferry fourth alteration, 1857-1859, is marked “W.C.K.” on the barrel forward of the bolster and in the wood opposite the lock plate.

The introduction of the Model 1855 rifle led to changes to existing Model 1841 rifles. The 803 Model 1841 rifles that were converted to .58 caliber during 1856-1857 and the 1,663 rifles altered during 1857-1858 (presumably left in .54 caliber) as well as the 842 .58 caliber rifles altered during 1858-1859 at Harpers Ferry were all modified to take the saber bayonet and sights of the Model 1855 rifle. This alteration added a bayonet lug with no guide to each barrel. 

The Armory added an iron block/blade front sight and a rear site with a 2-7/16” base. The side walls of the rear sight were graduated in 100 yard increments and denoted with “2”, “3” and “5”. All of these arms went through an inspection after the alteration. Those that passed were marked “W.C.K.” on the barrel and in the wood opposite the lock plate.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Harpers Ferry fifth alteration, 1859-1860

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Harpers Ferry fifth alteration, 1859-1860.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Harpers Ferry fifth alteration, 1859-1860.

When a new sight was adopted for the Model 1855 rifle in 1858, it was applied to the Model 1841 rifles still undergoing alteration at Harpers Ferry as well. The new pattern rear sight, which did not become available until 1859, consisted of a 1-3/16” long stepped block and two folding leaves for 300 and 500 yards (marked “3” and “5”). It was dovetailed and screwed to the barrel 2-15/16” from the breech. 

These rifles retained same guideless bayonet lug and front sight as prescribed for the fourth alteration.

These rifles retained same guideless bayonet lug and front sight as prescribed for the fourth alteration.

All of the 2,133 rifles that underwent this fifth alteration were rebored to .58 caliber (three grooves equal to the width of the lands) and received a full steel, trumpet head ramrod without a brass tip. 

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Colt alteration, 1861-1862

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Colt alteration, 1861-1862.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Colt alteration, 1861-1862.

Colt resighted each with the Colt New Model 1855 revolving rifle pattern rear sight

Colt resighted each with the Colt New Model 1855 revolving rifle pattern rear sight.

In the summer of 1861, the Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, purchased 11,368 U.S. Model 1841 rifles from the Federal government for $10 each. His intent was to rebore the rifles to .58 caliber, equip each with a saber bayonet and sell them back to the Ordnance Department for $18.50 per unit. 

Apart from 468 rifles in .54 caliber that Colt sold to Connecticut (with saber bayonets), all were rebored with 7-groove rifling to .58 caliber. Colt re-sighted each with the Colt New Model 1855 revolving rifle pattern rear sight and affixed a slip ring clamp with a guide stud to the muzzle to accept a Collins & Company saber bayonet. Both the clamp, bayonet, and the lower right side of the barrel near the muzzle were stamped with matching serial numbers. 

Colt altered 11,368 to .58 caliber and along with other improvements (better rear sight, different ramrod, etc.) adapted them for use with a saber bayonet. Colt acquired the saber bayonets from Collins & Company.

Colt altered 11,368 to .58 caliber and along with other improvements (better rear sight, different ramrod, etc.) adapted them for use with a saber bayonet. Colt acquired the saber bayonets from Collins & Company.

Bayonets for Colt's rifles were marked only with the date on the blade and an accountability number on the grip that matched the special adapter ring that was added to the muzzle of the altered rifle.

Bayonets for Colt's rifles were marked only with the date on the blade and an accountability number on the grip that matched the special adapter ring that was added to the muzzle of the altered rifle.

In addition to the inspector’s initials, “CC” stamped on the left side of the barrel and either side of the butt stock or comb, each of Colt’s altered rifles bear an oval cartouche encompassing the script initials CGC, WAT, or GTB.

By May 1862, Colt had sold 10,200 of the altered rifles back to the Federal government.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New York (Remington) alteration, 1861

In 1861, New York took delivery of 5,000 Remington U.S. Model 1841 rifles from Watervliet Arsenal. On May 30 of that year, the state contracted E. Remington & Sons to equip each rifle to accept a Collins, Hartford brass hilted saber bayonet without shortening the stock or front barrel band.

In 1861, New York took delivery of 5,000 Remington U.S. Model 1841 rifles from Watervliet Arsenal. On May 30 of that year, the state contracted E. Remington & Sons to equip each rifle to accept a Collins, Hartford brass hilted saber bayonet without shortening the stock or front barrel band.

Remington brazed a slightly longer than ½” stud 4-1/2” from the muzzle on the right side of the barrel to accept a Collins brass-hilted saber bayonet

Remington brazed a slightly longer than ½” stud 4-1/2” from the muzzle on the right side of the barrel to accept a Collins brass-hilted saber bayonet

In 1861, New York contracted for delivery of 5,000 Remington U.S. Model 1841 rifles from Watervliet Arsenal. On May 30 of that year, the state contracted E. Remington & Sons to equip each rifle to accept a Collins, Hartford brass hilted saber bayonet without shortening the stock or front barrel band. Remington brazed a slightly longer than ½” stud 4-1/2” from the muzzle on the right side of the barrel. 

By September 1861, Remington was only able to acquire enough bayonets to deliver 3,286 altered rifles (see Grosz alteration for the balance of the 5,000). The Remington altered rifles remained .54 caliber.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New York (Grosz) alteration, 1861

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New York (Grosz) alteration, 1861

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New York (Grosz) alteration, 1861

New York City gunsmith Frederick H. Grosz turned town the barrel of the each rifle to the inner diameter of the Model 1842 socket bayonets from the muzzle for 2-11/16”. He moved the brass blade front sight behind the turning. Finally, he brazed a square bayonet stud on the underside of the turned town section to act as the bayonet’s retainer.

New York City gunsmith Frederick H. Grosz turned town the barrel of the each rifle to the inner diameter of the Model 1842 socket bayonets from the muzzle for 2-11/16”. He moved the brass blade front sight behind the turning. Finally, he brazed a square bayonet stud on the underside of the turned town section to act as the bayonet’s retainer.

When E. Remington & Sons was unable to complete the modification of 5,000 U.S. Model 1841 rifles to accept a saber bayonet, 1,600 old U.S. Model 1842 musket socket bayonets were procured from the Springfield Armory. 

New York City gunsmith Frederick H. Grosz received the contract to alter the rifles that E. Remington & Sons was unable to equip with saber bayonets. Grosz turned town the barrel of the each rifle to the inner diameter of the Model 1842 socket bayonets from the muzzle for 2-11/16”. He moved the brass blade front sight behind the turning. Finally, he brazed a square bayonet stud on the underside of the turned town section to act as the bayonet’s retainer.

Grosz delivered all of the rifles by December 1861. All of these rifles remained in .54 caliber.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Pennsylvania (Leman) alteration, 1861

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Pennsylvania (Leman) alteration.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .58 caliber, Pennsylvania (Leman) alteration.

In 1861, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania contracted gunsmith Henry E. Leman of Lancaster to convert 2,352 U.S. Model 1841 rifles to .58 caliber and modify them to accept the triangular U.S. Model 1842 socket bayonet. 

Leman bored and rifled each barrel with three wide grooves equal in width to the lands. He then turned down the barrel from the muzzle to 2-11/16” (.853" tapered to .64" at muzzle) and brazed a .23" x .24" rectangular lug to the underside to accept a socket bayonet. This required a new, triangular front sight set back from the muzzle. The rear sight was not changed.

Leman bored and rifled each barrel with three wide grooves equal in width to the lands. He then turned down barrel from the muzzle to 2-11/16” to accept a socket bayonet. He brazed a bayonet stud on the underside of the barrel to lock the bayonet in place. Finally, the front sight which had to be removed to turn down the barrel was replaced with a new, triangular brass blade behind the turning.

Leman brazed a bayonet stud on the underside of the barrel to lock the bayonet in place. In addition, the front sight that had to be removed to turn down the barrel was replaced with a new, triangular brass blade behind the turning.

A three-digit serial number stamped on the left side of the barrel and on the butt plate tang completed the alteration.

A two- or three-digit serial number stamped on the left side of the barrel and on the butt plate tang completed the Leman alteration.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Massachusetts (Drake) alteration, 1862

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Massachusetts (Drake) alteration, 1862

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Massachusetts (Drake) alteration, 1862

On each rifle, Drake replaced the front blade sight with a block base site suitable for mounting a socket bayonet

On each rifle, Drake replaced the front blade sight with a block base site suitable for mounting a socket bayonet

Drake added a three-leaf rear sight.

Drake added a three-leaf rear sight.

In 1862, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts contracted A.J. Drake of Boston to alter 1,839 Windsor rifles (most likely U.S. Model 1841 rifles made by Robbins, Kendall & Lawrence of Windsor, Vermont). 

On each rifle, Drake replaced the front blade sight with a block base site suitable for mounting a socket bayonet and added a three-leaf rear sight. All of the Drake-altered rifles remained in .54 caliber. The barrels were stripped of their browning. 

Drake replaced the front blade sight with a block base site suitable for mounting a socket bayonet

Drake replaced the front blade sight with a block base site suitable for mounting a socket bayonet.

The majority of the Drake altered rifles were issue to either the 46th or 51st Massachusetts Infantry and bear additional markings appropriate for either regiment. 

Less than 75 of the Drake rifles were left in the brown. These “brown Drakes” do not have show any regimental markings.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Maine alteration

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Maine alteration

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Maine alteration

The Maine alteration is characterized by a bayonet lug attached to the left side of the barrel with one large pin and two small pins.

The Maine alteration is characterized by a bayonet lug attached to the left side of the barrel with one large pin and two small pins. The top of the bayonet lug is convex (“crowned”) as opposed to the normal flat top profile of other saber bayonet lugs. No alteration to the sights.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Hampshire alteration

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Hampshire alteration

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Hampshire alteration

The State of New Hampshire altered their 961 rifles by adding a saber bayonet lug to the side of the barrel to accept a sword bayonet supplied by Collins & Company. The lug was attached by dovetail and two screws: one in the lug and one in the long guide.

The State of New Hampshire altered their 961 rifles by adding a saber bayonet lug to the side of the barrel to accept a sword bayonet supplied by Collins & Company. The lug was attached by dovetail and two screws: one in the lug and one in the long guide.

Some of the New Hampshire alteration Model 1841s are surcharged "N.H." in the wood stock opposite the lock plate.

Some of the New Hampshire alteration Model 1841s are surcharged "N.H." in the wood stock opposite the lock plate. 

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Massachusetts had about 560 Model 1841 rifles in their state inventory. Sometime in the later part of 1861, the state received an additional 4,000 1841 rifles made by Robbins and Lawrence. These rifles were in original configuration, 54 caliber, with a fixed rear sight and no provision for a bayonet. Massachusetts shared these rifles with Maine (2,161) and New Hampshire (961).  

The original sights were not altered. Most of New Hampshire's 1841 rifles were issued to the 9th New Hampshire Infantry.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Vermont alteration

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Vermont alteration.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, Vermont alteration.

The bayonet lug accepts a New Hampshire Collins style saber bayonet and differs from the New Hampshire alteration in that it is attached without screws and has clipped corners at the front.

The bayonet lug on the Vermont alteration accepts a New Hampshire Collins-style saber bayonet. It differs from the New Hampshire alteration in that it is attached without screws and has clipped corners at the front.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Jersey alteration, Type I

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Jersey alteration, Type I

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Jersey alteration, Type I

The front 2-3/4” of the barrel was turned to 13/16” inches and a round stud fastened to the bottom of the barrel to accept and hold a bayonet in place. The front sight was mortised into the socket of the imported Belgian or Austrian bayonet rather than on the muzzle of the barrel.

The front 2-3/4” of the barrel was turned to 13/16” inches and a round stud fastened to the bottom of the barrel to accept and hold a bayonet in place. The front sight was mortised into the socket of the imported Belgian or Austrian bayonet rather than on the muzzle of the barrel.

Tryon lockplate. New Jersey Type Is were Tryon-assembled rifles.

New Jersey Type Is were Tryon-assembled rifles.

Barrel is stamped “N.J.” on the left flat side of the breech.

Barrel is stamped “N.J.” on the left flat side of the breech.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Jersey alteration, Type II

Whitney lockplate. Type IIs were Whitney-assembled rifles.

Type IIs were Whitney-assembled rifles.

Like Type Is, the front 2-3/4” of the barrel was turned to 13/16” inches and a round stud fastened to the bottom of the barrel to accept and hold a bayonet in place. The front sight is mortised into the socket of the imported Belgian or Austrian bayonet rather than on the muzzle of the barrel. The barrel on Type IIs are stamped “N.J.” on the left flat side of the breech. Type IIs were Whitney-assembled rifles.

U.S. Model 1841 percussion rifle, .54 caliber, New Jersey alteration, Type III

Type IIIs are composites of Whitney barrels and Tryon locks or vice versa.

Type IIIs are composites of Whitney barrels and Tryon locks or vice versa.

New Jersey Type III rifles are composites of Whitney barrels and Tryon locks or vice versa. Otherwise, details are the same as Type I and IIs.

Linder Alteration of U.S. Model 1841 Contract rifles, .54 caliber Combustible Cartridge, Percussion

Linder Alteration of U.S. Model 1841 Contract rifles, .54 caliber Combustible Cartridge, Percussion

Linder Alteration of U.S. Model 1841 Contract rifles, .54 caliber Combustible Cartridge, Percussion

Allen & Morse of Boston contracted with the State of Massachusetts in late 1861 to convert 100 U.S. Model 1841 Contract Rifles to the breechloading system patented by Edward Lindner in 1859.

Allen & Morse of Boston contracted with the State of Massachusetts in late 1861 to convert 100 U.S. Model 1841 Contract Rifles to the breechloading system patented by Edward Lindner in 1859.

The rifles that Allen & Morse converted to the Lindner system were Drake-altered rifles. Other alterations included a new rear sight and combination bayonet stud / blade front sight to accept the Drake-style socket bayonet..

The rifles that Allen & Morse converted to the Lindner system were Drake-altered rifles. Other alterations included a new rear sight and combination bayonet stud / blade front sight to accept the Drake-style socket bayonet..

The barrel was cut off 4-1/2” from the breech and a new action installed. When the shooter flipped the bolt of a sleeve to the left, the spring-operated breech popped up, allowing the chamber to be loaded from the front with a .54-caliber combustible cartridge. After pressing the breech unit back down and flipping the sleeve back to the right, the rifle was ready for firing.

The barrel was cut off 4-1/2” from the breech and a new action installed. When the shooter flipped the bolt of a sleeve to the left, the spring-operated breech popped up, allowing the chamber to be loaded from the front with a .54-caliber combustible cartridge. After pressing the breech unit back down and flipping the sleeve back to the right, the rifle was ready for firing.

All of these rifles were contract weapons manufactured by Robbins & Lawrence, Windsor, Vermont. Three additional rifles had been altered by Amoskeag Manufacturing Company at an earlier date. All 103 examples were held in storage during the Civil War.

All of these rifles were contract weapons manufactured by Robbins & Lawrence, Windsor, Vermont. Three additional rifles had been altered by Amoskeag Manufacturing Company at an earlier date. All 103 examples were held in storage during the Civil War.

Merrill Alteration of U.S. Model 1841 Rifle .58 caliber, Percussion, Combustible Cartridge

Merrill Alteration of U.S. Model 1841 Rifle .58 caliber, Percussion, Combustible Cartridge

Merrill Alteration of U.S. Model 1841 Rifle .58 caliber, Percussion, Combustible Cartridge

Early in the Civil War a few U.S. Model 1841 Rifles were altered with the addition of the Merrill breech apparatus. The lock plate has an additional screw. The bolster has a clean out screw.

Early in the Civil War a few U.S. Model 1841 Rifles were altered with the addition of the Merrill breech apparatus. The lock plate has an additional screw. The bolster has a clean out screw.

This device incorporated a lever which, when raised, opened a chamber where the cartridge could be inserted. Lowering the lever activated a breech plunger that seated cartridge into the breech. The lever bears the three-line Merrill marking: JAS. H. MERRILL / BALTO PATENTED / JULY 1858.

This device incorporated a lever which, when raised, opened a chamber where the cartridge could be inserted. Lowering the lever activated a breech plunger that seated cartridge into the breech. The lever bears the three-line Merrill marking: JAS. H. MERRILL / BALTO PATENTED / JULY 1858.

Early in the Civil War, approximately 100 U.S. Model 1841 Rifles were altered with the addition of the Merrill breech loading apparatus. The alteration involved boring out the barrel and rifling it for use with .58 Minié bullets, removing the original breech plug and installing the Merrill breech system as well as adding the lever catch to the barrel, adding a screw through the lock plate, and using a bolster with a clean out screw. 

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