US M1861 Rifled Musket, by William Muir & Co.


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The US Model 1861 rifled musket was the standard long arm used during the Civil War and
approximately one million were made by Springfield Armory and other makers under
contract to either the US or state governments. It was an improvement on the M1855,
which used the Maynard Tape Primer (a good idea that failed in actual use), but retained
the same style hammer. It featured a single-shot 40″ round rifled barrel of .58 caliber,
retained on the walnut full stock by three barrel bands secured with springs. Rounded lock
plate stamped with an eagle over “U.S.” and the maker’s name and address forward of the
hammer, and the date horizontally behind the hammer. There is a cleanout screw on the
nipple bolster. This example stamped with “WM MUIR & CO./WINDSOR LOCKS, CT.”, a
firm which made about 30,000 of these under contract during 1863 and 1864. This musket
dated “1864″. There are view and proof marks on the left side of the barrel at the breech,
and “U.S.” on the tang of the butt plate. Mounts are of iron, and include sling swivels on the
forward end of the trigger guard and the middle barrel band. Steel ramrod with tulip-shaped
tip. Front sight doubles as a bayonet lug, and there is a folding two-position rear sight.
Metal parts were originally finished bright, but this uncleaned example has acquired a very
dark brown patina. The walnut stock has a dull dark brown patina and numerous shallow
dings and scratches from age and use, with faint inspector’s cartouche on the left side,
opposite the lock. This is a seasoned veteran of the Civil War, apparently untouched since
its period of use, but fully sound; the mechanism operable, and the rifling well worn. Overall
length 56″.