1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoon & Bayonet - Rare
- Product Code: FLA-2997-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
In early 1847 the US Board of Ordnance met to evaluate three new patterns of “musketoons” that had been produced at the Springfield Arsenal during 1846. The designs had been on the drawing board since at least 1844, but the model guns were not prepared until late in 1846, probably because of other more important manufacturing going on at the Springfield Arsenal. These three pattern guns would be adopted and approved by the Ordnance Department as the US M-1847 Sappers & Miners (Engineers) Musketoon, the US M-1847 Artillery Musketoon and the US M-1847 Cavalry Carbine. All three patterns were quite similar, with minor differences in their furniture and features that adapted them to the needs of the service branch they were to be issued to. Both the Sappers & Miners Musketoon and the Artillery Musketoon had iron furniture, were equipped with sling swivels for carry by men on foot, and were capable of mounting a bayonet. The Cavalry Carbine was designed to be slung from a sling and ring system for a mounted man, and this by the definitions of the time made it a “carbine” and not a “musketoon”. The cavalry carbine alone had brass furniture and had no provision for a bayonet. In all major features the guns were nearly identical, being single shot percussion muzzleloaders with an overall length of 41 1/16”. The guns had a nominally 26” long, round, smoothbore barrel of .69 caliber, secured to the stock with a pair of barrel bands, with the upper band being double strapped. The locks were all identical, being smaller versions of the US M-1842 percussion lock then in use on the US M-1842 infantry musket. The primary differences lay in the furniture, carrying systems, rammer systems and type of bayonet mounting systems (if any) that were used on the guns. Additionally, the barrel of the cavalry musketoon was actually 1/16” longer than the two musketoons, being 26 1/16” in length instead of 26”. While the family of US M-1847 “musketoons” originally contained only three models, within a decade no less than 10 different variants existed, due to modifications, design improvements, and refitting of some guns for other service. The family of arms went into production in 1847, with the first guns being completed and accepted into stores during that calendar year being a pair of M-1847 Cavalry Carbines and 200 US M-1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoons. The family of arms remained in production for nearly a decade at Springfield, with the final guns produced being 33 Sappers & Miners Musketoons, delivered in 1856. During the production run a total of 10,033 M-1847 carbines and musketoons were manufactured, with 1,030 being Sappers & Miners Musketoons, 3,210 being Artillery Musketoons and 5,802 being Cavalry Carbines. During the final years of their service, many of the M-1847 Cavalry Carbines and some M-1847 Sappers Musketoons were altered to artillery musketoons (or “cadet musketoons”), and were issued to the various states under the Militia Act of 1808 for use by military school cadets.
The US M-1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoon was the first of the M-1847 family of arms to see production in any significant quantity and has the distinction of being the last of the 1847 pattern arms to remain in production at Springfield. The musketoons were produced during two specific periods, during 1847-1848 and during 1855-1856. The first batch of carbines were 450, manufactured during the end of 1847 and early 1848 (200 and 250 in each year, respectively). Manufacture of the Sappers musketoon did not resume again until 1855, when 547 were produced, and the production run ended in 1856 after the final 33 were manufactured. In all, only 1,030 of the Sappers & Miners musketoons were produced, making it the least common model of the 1847 family of arms. In most respects the Sappers & Miners musketoon was quite similar to the Artillery musketoon. It was iron mounted and equipped with a pair of sling swivels, one on the lower barrel band and one in the toe of the stock. The musketoon has a trumpet shaped, iron ramrod, essentially a scaled down version of the ramrod that was used with the M-1842 Musket, which was threaded at the end to accept cleaning tools and implements. The most identifying feature of the Sappers Musketoon was it’s massive 2-section bayonet lug that allowed a large saber bayonet to be mounted on gun. The bayonet was unique among US saber bayonets, and was styled like a Roman gladius, and bearing a strong resembling the US M-1833 Foot Artillery Sword, which was also based upon the Roman foot soldier’s sword. The mounting lugs consisted of a typical saber bayonet style stud on the rear strap of the upper barrel band, and a second stepped guide lug on the right side of the barrel near the muzzle. In order to keep the barrel band with the stud from rotating, the upper rear of the barrel band strap was mortised to engage a small stud on the top of the barrel. This extra reinforcement helped to prevent any motion of the band when it was under the stress of the large bayonet. Like the Foot Artillery swords that the bayonets resembled, the N.P. Ames Company of Cabbotville, MA, produced them. The first 200 bayonets were ordered from Ames in December of 1846 and had fullers in the blades, similar to those on the artillery swords. The second order for bayonets was placed in February of 1847, and specified that the fullers were not to be included in the blades. An additional 500 Sappers & Miners bayonets were ordered from Ames in February of 1855, with the last order for 33 bayonets being placed in November of that year. The bayonet had an overall length of about 26 ¾” with a 22” double-edged gladius style blade and a 5 ¾” brass hilt with a fish scale pattern cast into the grip. The cross guard had two forward swept quillons and mounted a large brass muzzle ring on the reverse, complete with a rotating iron locking ring to secure the bayonet to the forward lug at the muzzle of the musketoon. A brass-mounted scabbard of black bridle leather accompanied the bayonet, with the upper mount having a circular stud to engage a bayonet frog on the engineers’ belt. An alphanumeric mating mark was struck on the upper rear of the pommel cap, which matched the bayonet to the musketoon it had been had fit to. The musketoons were marked with the same style alphanumeric mark on the upper portion of the front barrel band’s rear strap. It is clear that the bayonet was intended to be used as much as tool as a weapon, as it would make a fine falchion, machete or even impromptu excavating tool. The M-1847 Sappers & Miners musketoon remained in general service until it was replaced by the US M-1855 Rifle, which was available in sufficient quantities for issue to the Corps of Engineers during the latter portion of 1858. During late 1856 and early 1857, a number of the M-1847 Sappers musketoons in storage at Springfield were altered to the “Artillery” configuration, but removing the saber bayonet lugs and adding a socket bayonet lug under the muzzle. In many cases the sling swivels were removed as well. These guns were subsequently issued to states as “cadet musketoons”. Between October of 1856 and the end of 1857, some 228 Sappers musketoons were so altered, roughly a quarter of the total production. With only 802 un-altered examples remaining in military service when the guns were officially deemed obsolete, it is easy to understand why original configuration US M-1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoons are difficult to find on the collector market more than 150 years later.
This example of the scarce US M-1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoon is in VERY GOOD+condition and is complete with the equally scarce US M-1847 Sappers & Miners Bayonet & Scabbard. The musketoon is clearly marked on its lock with a “Spread Winged Eagle” over the letters U S and in three vertical lines to the rear of the hammer SPRING / FIELD / 1847. This makes this musketoon one of the original 200 manufactured at Springfield when the guns were first produced. The tang of the breech plug is marked with a date as well, although the first half of the date is slightly weak, and pitting obscures the second half of the date. All I can see is 18”. The left upper barrel breech is clearly marked with the usual V / P / (EAGLE HEAD) view, proof and acceptance marks of Springfield Arsenal. The stock flat opposite the lock is marked with a very crisp, script WAT cartouche of Captain William Anderson Thornton, who would later be promoted to General and run the US Arsenal at Governor’s Island in NY. The tang of the iron buttplate is correctly marked U.S.. Forward of the butt plate tang, in the wood of the stock is the rack number 9. The upper rear strap of the front barrel band is marked with the alphanumeric mating mark N 1to match the musketoon to the bayonet that was fit to it. The metal of the musketoon has been lightly cleaned and has a mostly dull pewter patina, with scattered patches of darker discoloration from age and oxidation. Some of this is scattered like salt and pepper, while some areas of are more heavily discolored. The barrel itself is mostly smooth with light pitting around the breech and bolster area and some more moderate pitting at the tang and top of the breech. Forward of the breech area, the barrel mostly shows lightly scattered pinpricking, until the upper barrel band, where the pitting and discolored oxidation becomes more prominent. The bore of the musketoon is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD. It shows patches of bright and dark metal, with scattered light to moderate pitting along its length and a few patches of more serious surface roughness as well. A good scrubbing with a bronze brush will probably significantly improve the condition of the bore, as some of the dark spots and roughness may simply be old dirt and debris. The muzzle of the musketoon shows some minor damage and lots of dings and mars from service and probably from mounting the bayonet. It appears as if about 1/16” of the muzzle has been worn away or damaged, giving it a slightly ratty appearance. Dressing the muzzle with a file will improve its overall appearance tremendously. The upper barrel band shows moderate pitting scattered over its entire surface, and has a generally smoky gray patina, somewhat darker than the pewter color of the barrel. The band also shows the multiple dings and impact marks associated with the mounting and removal of the large saber bayonet. The two-notch guide lug on the right side of the barrel, near the muzzle shows impact and wear marks as well, but remains in good solid condition, brazed correctly to the barrel. The upper barrel band fits appropriately and mates perfectly with the reinforcement stud on the top of the barrel, exactly as it should. The original brass sight is place on the front strap of the upper barrel band. The rear barrel band matches the patina of the barrel quite well and retains its original sling swivel on the stud below the stock. The triggerguard has a smooth, streaky brown patina over the dull pewter base metal color. The lower sling swivel, mounted to the plate in the toe of the stock has a similar patina, and the original swivel remains in place on the stud in that location as well. The buttplate shows a darker brownish-gray patina and is lightly to moderately pitted overall. It appears that it may have been damp at one time, or simply poorly stored. The lock of the musketoon functions crisply and correctly on both the half cock and full cock positions, and is mechanically excellent. The original trumpet shaped ramrod is present in the rammer channel under the barrel and it is full length, with good threads at the opposite end. The stock of the musketoon is in slightly nicer condition than the metal and rates about NEAR FINE. It retains strong lines and crisp edges and does not appear to have ever been sanded. The stock is free of any breaks, cracks or repairs and is full length and solid. There is a tiny surface chip of wood missing at the toe of the stock between the sling swivel mount and the buttplate, but this is truly minor. There is also some minor chipping and wood loss around the breech plug tang, likely the result of the barrel being improperly removed from the stock at some point in time. Some minor slivers are missing from the rammer channel as well, which is typical of muzzle loading arms. The balance of the stock remains very crisp and sharp with only some scattered bumps, dings, and minor mars from service, handling, use and storage. The musketoon is accompanied by an original 1847 Ames Sappers & Miners saber bayonet. The bayonet is from the second contract of 300, as it does not have fullers in the blade. The bayonet is full length and is contained in its original scabbard. The wasp-waisted blade has been lightly cleaned and has a bright overall appearance that is just starting to dull. The blade is free of any significant pitting or oxidation, although some lightly scattered pinpricking and minor surface discoloration is present closer to the hilt. The obverse ricasso is marked in three lines: N.P. Ames / CABOTVILLE / 1847. The word CABOTVILLE is double struck, suggesting the die bounced when it was marked. The “N” and “S” in “N.P. AMES” are light due to the cleaning. The reverse ricasso is marked US / NWP, the latter being the initials of arsenal sub-inspector Nahum W. Patch. The original white buff leather throat washer is in place where the hilt and the blade meet. The cast brass hilt has a lovely, mellow golden patina and is very attractive. The mating mark L 8 is clearly stamped on the top rear of the pommel, where it is visible when the bayonet is fixed on the musketoon. The original locking ring is in place at the brass muzzle ring and it functions smoothly. The bayonet fits the musketoon fairly well, but does not lock completely into place and does not seat completely enough to get the locking ring to close. This is not uncommon, as each bayonet was filed to fit each individual gun. The bayonet could probably be made to fit the musketoon perfectly with some minor fitting and filing, but I will leave that to the new owner to decide. The bayonet retains its original scabbard, which is in about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE overall condition. The scabbard is solid and complete and retains the majority of its original leather finish. The leather does show some cracking and crazing and wear appropriate to its age. There are some significant old creases in the scabbard body just above the brass drag, and the scabbard is weak in this area. The original throat and drag remain securely attached and the original stitching on the rear seam of the scabbard remains tight and secure. The scabbard mounts have an attractive, untouched ochre patina.
Overall this very nice and complete, all original example of a very scarce US musketoon. The US M-1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoon was produced in very small qualities and after the alteration of 228 to the Artillery/Cadet variant, only 802 remained in their original configuration. These guns are quite scarce today and when they are encountered they are often very worn and show hard use. This is a very attractive example that is complete with the original early production bayonet and scabbard, and the entire outfit is priced very affordably. The bayonets and scabbards for these guns regularly sell in the $2,500 to $3,500 range, so the bayonet is half the value of this nice, complete set. These unique musketoons that were issued to the US Corps of Engineers are not easy to find for sale and are rarely available as a complete set in decent condition for less than about $7,500. You will be glad to add the scarce musketoon with its rare bayonet and scabbard to your collection of US carbines, and at a much more reasonable price than they are typically available for.