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Old January 7, 2009, 05:04 PM   #1
B. Lahey
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My Family's Civil War Relic

I got ahold of a digital camera last night (not mine, so don't complain about the photos, it doesn't have a macro setting for closeup shots) so I took a few photos of my most treasured firearm. I just have to show it off.

The Story:

What I heard from my grandfather is that this rifle came from his grandfather, who got it from a relative (an uncle, I believe it was) who had brought it home from the war. My grandfather's grandfather hunted with it until something in the mechanism broke (the hammer is under spring tension, but will not lock back), and after that it has hung on many generations of walls and been played with by many generations of childern (my grandfather, my uncle, and myself included). All that has been done to it since it was last used for hunting has been to wipe it down with a little oil from time to time and run an oiled patch down the bore now and then. That seems to have worked well, I think I'll keep up that preservation technique.

The Rifle:

Appears to be an 1861 pattern rifle-musket.
Sideplate says:
US (with eagle and shield in between the letters)
Amoskeag Mfg Co
(unreadable) NH
behind the hammer is stamped 1863
It is missing the rear sight and has a very old repair of a crack in the stock. It seems to have been fixed by drilling a hole and filling it with a peg and some sort of tar or resin (4th photo). However they did it, it has held up well.

From the research I have done, this seems like it could be a fairly rare 1861 as only 10,000 were ordered from this maker. I have not been able to find any detailed info about Amoskeag, though, so if any of y'all know anything, please share.

I would never sell this rifle. Ever. But I guess I am curious as to its value for insurance if nothing else. If any of y'all know what these are usually valued at, that would be nice to know.

Do not suggest that I would ever sell this rifle in your posts, it will be taken as a severe personal insult.

If anyone knows anything about this rifle or gunmaker, please share. I am anxious to learn all I can.

Last edited by B. Lahey; January 7, 2009 at 07:19 PM. Reason: typo
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Old January 7, 2009, 05:16 PM   #2
Join Date: March 1, 2008
Posts: 84
I just thought this was an interesting thread. Anyway I searched for the manufacturing co. and found this. Not sure if you already have this info or not.'pike'

Last edited by usnavdoc; January 7, 2009 at 05:23 PM.
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Old January 7, 2009, 06:29 PM   #3
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,160
It is not a Model 1861, but rather a variation, called the Special Model 1861. They differ considerably from the standard Model 1861 in the contour of the hammer, the lockplate and the absence of a cleanout screw. Amoskeag never made the Model 1861. The original finish was bright, so the one pictured here has been blued, at considerable loss of value. The 1863 is the year of manufacture.

Other than the blue job and the stock break, the gun appears to be in fair shape, with the correct ramrod. In that condition, I would estimate a value of $1000 or so. In good condition with a whole stock, value could go close to $3000.

The Special Model of 1861 has been the subject of considerable speculation among collectors. The original contract with Amoskeag Manufacturing Co., of Manchester, NH, clearly specified an exact copy of the Model 1861. But Colt was making the Special Model, and somehow both Amoskeag and Lamson, Goodnow, and Yale (LG&Y) ended up making the Colt-type gun rather than the 1861.

Jim K
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Old January 7, 2009, 07:15 PM   #4
B. Lahey
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Neat. Thanks for the info.

It's weird that it looks blued in the photos, though. I think that may be the light reflecting off the carpet and the oil, I had just wiped a little oil on it before the photos.

Looking at it with the bare eyeball it has more of a slightly glossy brownish finish. The last photo gives the best rendering of the color but none of them capture it totally correctly. The second and third photos are way off.

Ah, technology. The bane of correct musket photos.
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Old January 7, 2009, 08:12 PM   #5
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Sling swivel

Interesting old piece, I'm glad you are preserving your families heritage.

I don't think I've seen another long gun with the sling swivel on the triggerguard, very unique, at least in my limited experience.

Thanks for sharing!
Freedom is not free
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Old January 7, 2009, 08:48 PM   #6
B. Lahey
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Ok, I went to the photobucket tools and desaturated the second and third photos to get a more accurate representation of the finish. They still don't look perfect, and for all I know the rifle was refinished at some point back in its hunting days, but I don't think it was blued. Could be wrong, though.

Mr. Keenan was certainly correct that it looked blued before I had a go at correcting for the saturation of reflected light. What say you now, sir? You may have to restart your internet browser to see the updated photos.

I'm not worried about the value, but I would like to know as much as possible about this rifle.

Refinished? Not? Blued? Browned? I'm not sure I know what a very old reblue looks like...
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Old January 7, 2009, 09:15 PM   #7
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Beautiful rifle, great history:

Thank you for not being one of those who are more concerned with money then family history. I highly respect that.

You can always get money, you cant replace history.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
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Old January 8, 2009, 03:32 PM   #8
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,160
Hi, Ricklin,

U.S. muskets and full length service rifles had the rear sling swivel on the trigger guard for decades, from the earliest days through the trapdoor Springfield. It was not until the 1892 Krag that the swivel was moved to the bottom of the buttstock where we are now used to seeing it.

Hi, Mr. Lahey,

Changing the photos on photobucket won't change what the server on the site already has, but no problem. The original finish was what was called "national armory bright", in other words, bare metal. That finish, given time, handling, oil and just sitting, will turn into what is called in the antique trade, patina. While basically rust (as is bluing), smooth brown patina is a pleasing finish and most collectors will advise leaving it alone since it is not active rust. As we saw, it can look blue or black in photos. The presence of a nice patina instead of a modern blue job would add several hundred dollars to the value of the gun.

Jim K
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Old January 8, 2009, 03:48 PM   #9
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Yea any kind of messing with it besides rubbing off any LOOSE rust or powdery rust would affect value. A smooth brown gun is acceptable but back years ago people liked to try to sand them down to shiny original look which kills value for collectors now. Just protect what you got as it is. Well you could obtain replica rear sights and fix the lockwork. At least fixing the lockwork would not be visible on the outside and you could cock it. Probably needs a new sear, a nice replica or possibly original can be maybe had from Dixie Gun Works or someone like that. But then if you can cock it, someone might drop the hammer on the bare nipple and damage or flatten it out. They used to put a lead ball with a notch cut in to protect the nipple or you could just put something on the nipple to protect it from the hammer drop force but that is if you fix it. Original rear sights might be around for sale but they would be hit or miss onesies, no one probably has very many anywhere in one place anymore. And expensive.
Your gun is like your nose, it is just wrong for someone else to pick it for you!
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Old January 8, 2009, 04:55 PM   #10
B. Lahey
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Wow, so this rifle left the factory in the white? Wacky.

Don't worry, I'm not going to sand it. I like the brownish patina it has picked up over the last 150 years or so. I'll just wipe a little oil on it from time to time as my ancestors did.

I'm not too worried about replacing the rear sight, for all I know my grandfather's grandfather took it off on purpose so he could use it as a shotgun or with buck-n-ball. The twist is so slow I bet it would have thrown an ok pattern.

I may look into having the lockwork fixed eventually, but there's no rush.

Thanks for the info everyone.
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Old January 8, 2009, 05:18 PM   #11
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I have a Springfield 1842 musket, with a very similar family story. My mother's great grandfather was a Civil War vet, and when a small child, mom's family visited him on occasion, and my mom remembered seeing this 90yo man carrying large sacks of livestock feed on his shoulder. I remember hauling around sacks of cracked corn in my youth, and they weighed 80#!
The musket hung in the rafters of a shed behind our house for many years. At some point, the nipple had been removed with a hacksaw or file, but other than that, it was in nice exterior condition. A local man drilled-out the old nipple and installed a modern replacement, and I got a replica ramrod from Dixie. I have no proof that great-great-grandpa carried that particular musket, and no way to find out. Still, it sits above my mantle today, and hopefully will for generations to come.
Numrich/Gun Parts or Dixie would probably have parts, either original or newly made, to repair your rifle. The mechanisms are very simple, and it would be pretty easy to determine what was amiss.
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Old January 8, 2009, 05:48 PM   #12
Mike Irwin
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I don't think it's necessarily been blued.

I've seen many of this type of rifled musket that has, over time, developed a nice, rich brown/black patina that is the result of the decay of the natural oils that were often used on it and the stock.

Ok, I see that that has been dealt with. I shold have read the entire thread.

Yes, the guns were left in the white.

There are accounts of eyewitnesses during the civil war who could see bodies of troops approaching from miles away (certainly farther than the men could actually be seen with the naked eye) because the sun was gleeming off the gun barrels.
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