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Engraved Norwich Contract Model 1861 Rifle Musket Presented to Pierre St M Andrews

Engraved Norwich Contract Model 1861 Rifle Musket Presented to Pierre St M Andrews

  • Product Code: FLA-3743
  • Availability: In Stock
  • $6,950.00


The backstories behind the behind the various contractors who undertook to produce the US Model 1861 Rifle Musket during the American Civil War often reveal the corruption and incompetence that is so often thought of today when watchdog groups investigate modern military contracts for $435 claw hammers and $640 toilet seats. The study of the relationships also reveal that many of the major players in the various companies that were established to produce the Model 1861 were interrelated in their business dealings and very often were involved with more than one company. 

 

On December 26, 1861, the Eagle Manufacturing Company of Norwich, CT received a contract to produce 25,000 US Model 1861 rifle muskets at the standard US government contract rate of $20 per stand of arms, which was the typical price during the first half of the war. Deliveries were to commence the following July, starting with 500 arms per month and increasing to 1,000 arms per month by October, 1,500 by December and 2,000 per month as of January 1863. The contract was signed by the treasurer of the Eagle Manufacturing Company, Albert H. Almy. Almy was also one of the surety signers for the rifle musket contracts awarded to Casper D. Schubarth (C.D. Schubarth of Rhode Island), and James D. Mowry. Mowry was also a principle in the Eagle Manufacturing Company and his machine shop in Norwich was the one of the primary components of the manufacturing plan for the Eagle contract. Almy would later become the president of the Norwich Arms Company. As with most of the intrepid contractors who were entering the arms manufacturing field for the first time, the principles of the Eagle Manufacturing Company had no idea how much money would have to be spent on machinery and tooling to make the guns, nor the difficulties they would encounter trying to staff their manufactory with skilled labor. By the spring of 1862, the company had yet to produce any arms, but was heavily invested in the facility and machinery needed to make the arms. Despite requests to increase the contract to 50,000 arms, the minimal number according to Almy to make the investment in machinery worthwhile, the 1861 contract was amended in June of 1862 to only 20,000 arms. By all rights, with there being little hope of the company complying with the delivery schedule, the contract should have been canceled. However, Almy’s brother J.H. Almy was the Assistant Quartermaster General and was able to exert enough political pressure to keep the Eagle Manufacturing Company contract alive. However, in the end political pull could not trump failure to perform, and it was September of 1863 before the first Eagle Manufacturing Company rifle muskets were delivered. In total, the firm was credited with deliveries of some 7,500 arms during the last quarter of 1863, with no more than about 5,500 of them bearing their name on the lock. 

 

By the time that Eagle Manufacturing was finally delivering arms to the Ordnance Department, the president Albert Almy was transferring his ownership interests to the newly established Norwich Arms Company. The reorganization had actually started in May of 1863, and the Norwich Arms Company had been producing component parts for use by J.D. Mowry as well as W.W. Welch prior to receiving any contracts of its own. The new firm also delivered 14,500 arms under the defunct contract of the Eagle Manufacturing Company, which when combined with the 5,500 that Eagle delivered with their name (Eagleville) on the locks, totals the 20,000 arms due under the original contract. It is interesting to note that according to the testimony given to the Ordnance Commission by of one of Mowry’s partners, the original plan had been to manufacture the guns entirely in house. It appears that the daunting cost of outfitting a complete arms-making factory with machinery to produce barrels, locks and stocks (not to mention the cost of the highly skilled workman to operate the machines) caused the partners to adopt a business model that would primarily rely on contractors to provide all of the necessary parts, with the Mowry company only assembling the arms. Interestingly, the partner noted that they could purchase completed arms for between $17.50 and $18.50 each, delivered and while he left it unsaid, this would still allow the partners to realize a profit of between $1.50 and $2.50 per gun if they subsequently delivered these guns to the US Government. Clearly, in the end, Mowry had really intended to either buy or assemble guns, but not actually produce them. 

 

After completing the now defunct Eagle Manufacturing Company’s contract and having produced guns for Mowry and Welch, the Norwich Arms Company received its first direct contract to manufacture 10,000 stands of arms on April 1, 1864 at a rate of $18.00 each. A second contract was forthcoming in October, when 15,000 more arms at $19.00 each were ordered. Like many contractors during the war, it appears that Norwich relied upon subcontractors and jobbers for some parts, and much like the guns assembled by Mowry, would accept parts from whatever source they were available in order to complete a contract. Norwich Arms deliveries to the Ordnance Department started on October 8 of 1863, and it is assumed that these and all subsequent deliveries prior to the April 1864 contract were on behalf of the Eagle Manufacturing Company, but were arms marked Norwich on the lock. These guns can be differentiated from the ones delivered by Mowry and Welch, that usually had India ink cartouches on their stock flat to identify them as “products” of those maker’s contracts, despite the Norwich lock mark. As with most of the “pop up” arms makers that started when the Civil War broke out, the Norwich Arms Company collapsed with the end of the war and its assets were sold at a tax sale in 1866. In all, the firm was credited with delivering a total of 39,500 arms during the war, 25,000 under their own contracts during 1864 and 1865 and 14,500 on behalf of the Eagle Manufacturing Company during 1863 and 1864.

 

The Norwich Arms produced US Model 1861 Rifle Musket offered for sale here is a unique presentation example with a fully engraved lock that bears the inscription:

 

Presented

To

P. St. M. Andrews

By Norwich Arms Co.

 

Pierre St. Medardus Andrews (1819-1894) was a long standing business associate of Albert Almy. The 1856 Massachusetts Register listed both men as company officers of the Norwich & Worcester Railroad, with Almy sitting on the board and Andrews serving as the railroad company’s agent.  The railroad was an integral part of the transportation link between New York City and Boston. It was very modern for its time and included one of the first railroad tunnels in the United States along its path. Little is known about Andrews’ early life,  but sometime between 1845 and 1854 he moved to Norwich, CT where he went to work for the Norwich & Worcester Railroad. There he held a number of positions during his career including Agent, Division Superintendent, General Superintendent and Managing Agent. When the railroad expanded to become the Norwich & New York Transportation Company, Andrews was made the Secretary of the new venture. The Norwich & New York Transportation Company offered steamship service from New York to the company’s railhead in Connecticut. As Andrews became more successful and diversified in his positions both in business and private life, he became one of the leading citizens of Norwich. He served as President of the Norwich Loyal League, a branch of the Union League, from 1862-1863. The Union League was a northern patriotic citizen’s war support effort. Andrews further contributed to the local soldier’s relief fund in support of the war effort. Interestingly when Andrews’ name was drawn in the district draft lottery in 1864, he managed to evade service, although it is not clear if he did so by a politically granted exemption, by hiring a substitute of by paying a commutation fee. From 1863-1866 he served as the Norwich Fire Chief and was the leader of that fire company as it marched through the streets of Richmond, VA after the fall of the Confederate capitol in 1865. Like most prominent businessmen of the period, Andrews was a Freemason and was a member of Somerset Lodge No 34 Free & Accepted Masons, serving as Master of the lodge from 1860-1862. Like many Masons he chose to enhance his membership in the fraternity by pursing more light via membership in the York Rite. Andrews attained the rank of Sir Knight and served as the Eminent Commander of the Columbian Commandery from 1864-1866.

 

It is not exactly clear what motived Almy and the Norwich Arms Company to present this musket to Andrews, but there are number of possibilities. As a leading citizen in Norwich and a business associate of Almy’s, Andrews likely had some level of financial involvement with the company and may have been an investor. He may have also been instrumental in helping to acquire the contact. The relationship may have been fraternal as well, as one of the engraved images on the gun is a stylized “All Seeing Eye” a well-known Masonic symbol still found on United States currency. This is found on the top of the hammer nose, in an inconspicuous location where only the user of the gun would likely notice it, particularly when he was cocking the hammer. Finally, Andrews’ railroad connections would have been imperative in the transportation of raw materials and contractor produced parts to the Norwich Arms Company and for delivering finished muskets to the Ordnance Department. The exact relationship between Almy and Andrews may never be fully realized, but other examples of engraved presentation contract arms from the Civil War are known and in nearly every case they were given because of a significant contribution the recipient made to the contractor in terms of political, economic or other business support.

 

The Pierre St. M Andrews Presentation Norwich Contract US Model 1861 Rifle Musket offered here remains in near FINE condition. The engraved lock features New York style flowing Arabesque foliate scrolls around its periphery with punch dot background shading, all surrounding the four line presentation that is engraved in the central portion of the lock plate. The beveled edge of the plate is additionally engraved with New York style geometric boarder patterns. The hammer is engraved en-suite with the central image on the hammer’s neck being the Shield of Columbia, possibly a reference to Andrews Union League involvement. The hammer spur features extended, finally engraved checkering transitions to a tightly engraved scale pattern similar to that found on sea serpent motif hammers but terminates in the “All Seeing Eye” on the top of the hammer nose. The hammer screw and the holes through which the lock screws pass in the lock plate are engraved with radiating petals in a floral motif as well. The breech of the musket is stamped with the date 1863 on the top and the standard V / P / {EAGLE HEAD} proofs are present on the left angled flat. Interestingly the “Eagle Head” is of the style most often associated with Eagleville musket deliveries, with a narrow, truncated Eagle’s neck. Other than the usual U marks for “up” on the barrel bands and the typical US on the buttplate tang there are no other external markings in the metal. The 1863 dated barrel with an Eagleville-style Eagle and Norwich name on the lock suggest that this was an early Norwich production gun during the transition into delivering guns under Norwich’s own contract that were marked with that company’s name. This also suggests that the gun was likely produced as a special “thank you” to Andrews from Almy.

 

The gun appears to be 100% complete and correct in all ways. The lock of the musket is mechanically excellent and functions perfectly on all positions. The gun retains both of its sling swivels, as well as its original 1861 pattern long-range rear sight and the original combination musket front sight/bayonet lug. An original swelled shank, tulip head ramrod is in the channel under the barrel. It is full-length and retains good threads on the end. The rod shows scattered moderate pitting suggesting it may be a replacement or was simply subject to poor storage. 

 

The metal of the gun has been lightly cleaned in the past leaving a medium bright steel patina. The barrel shows some scattered patches of freckled surface oxidation and discoloration along its length, along with some scattered peppering and a few very tiny areas of minor pinpricking. The rear sight retains most of its original blued finish, with some freckles of the original thin bright blue surface present as well, but mostly shows the base layer of deeper, darker blue. The triggerguard and buttplate shows some cleaned pinprick pitting which has left the metal with a mostly bright appearance with a layer of salt and pepper discoloration and some very minor visible pitting on top. The bore of the rifle musket is in VERY FINE condition. It is almost entirely mirror bright, with excellent crisp rifling which shows some minor frosting in the grooves and some very lightly scattered oxidation. The stock of the musket rates FINE as well. The stock is full length and free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock retains crisp lines and edges throughout and does not appear to have been sanded. The wood to metal fit of the musket is quite good throughout, as would be expected for a gun chosen for such a presentation. As the gun was never submitted to the Ordnance Department for delivery, but rather given as a gift, it does not have any cartouches or inspection marks on the counterpane. The 150+ year-old stock does show the expected assorted bumps and dings from handling, storage and use, but no abuse. 

 

Overall, this is a really nice example of one of the less commonly encountered variants of a US Model 1861 contract rifle musket, a presentation gun. This would be a fine addition to any collection of Civil War long arms, particularly one that concentrates of Connecticut made arms, in particular those produced in Norwich and that was presented to one of the town’s leading citizens of the Civil War period.

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Tags: Engraved, Norwich, Contract, Model, 1861, Rifle, Musket, Presented, to, Pierre, St, M, Andrews