In a Nov. 27, 1861 letter we learn that Lt. Col. Rutherford B. Hayes sends a neat gift home to one of his sons. It may have had a surprise inside and it's not a crackerjack toy either:
Dearest: I sent you a rifle for Birch. If was loaded, as I learn. The lieutenant promised to take the load out. If he has forgotten it, have our neighbor of all work, corner of Longworth and Wood, take out the load before Birch plays with or handles it.
In a follow up letter dated Nov. 30, 1861, we learn more about the rifle:
The bearer will bring (probably) besides this letter, the accoutrements which go with Birt's Mississippi rifle, and a couple of gold pieces, one for a present for you and one for Grandma Webb.
What a dad little Birch has! In case you don't recognize Col. Hayes, he was our president after Grant stepped out of office. I don't think little Birch survived childhood as three of Hayes's kids died early. I wonder where that rifle is?
Post edited to add some on-line research
. Click on this link. It may be the gun that is the subject of the above excerpts: Here
. There are two M1841 rifles in the collection but one was captured in 1863 - far too late to be the one that is the subject of the above letters. I emailed the museum and will post their response.
Update: Here's their response
According to all the old records, the Mississippi rifle (1914.8401) was
captured at Princeton, Virginia on May 1, 1862 by the 23rd O.V.I. So unless
our records are wrong, the years do not match up. I don't believe we have
the rifle you are referring to.
Thanks for inquiry. It's nice to know the public is actually using our
online resources - especially the objects catalog. When I started the
project of getting all the objects with photographs online, I wondered if I
was wasting my time. It was a 3 year endeavor and I must say I have been
happy with the results.
So, we don't know where Birch's rifle is. Maybe he traded it for something neat like an officer's sabre. Kids do those things.
I've gotten up to May 25, 1862 of his book (OK, so I read a couple of books by Russians on the Chechen Wars) and Hayes mentions "tomorrow a couple of men leave here for Camp Chase with a prisoner. I shall send a Mississippi rifle with them. This is the most formidable weapon used against us in this region by the Rebels (West Virginia); they will leave it either with you or at Platt's in Columbus."