Extremely Rare US Socket Bayonet for Prussian & Austrian Muskets
- Product Code: EWB-2570-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a great example of an extremely scarce US made socket bayonet for use with the Prussian Model 1809 Potsdam musket. The bayonet is well documented in Robert Reilly’s seminal book American Socket Bayonets & Scabbards and is listed at Figure 99 in that book.
During the American Civil War, hundreds of thousands of obsolete Continental arms were imported by the US for use during the first 12-18 months of the war. Not all of these muskets arrived on these shores as complete stands of arms, including their bayonet and other necessary accessories, which created a need for US made socket bayonets that would function on these imported muskets. The US Ordnance Department proceeded to procure socket bayonets with standard US Model 1855 style bayonet blades but mated with sockets that would fit the European import arms. Among the patterns of bayonets procured were sockets that would fit the Austrian Model 1842 Laukart latch musket, the Austrian Model 1854 Lorenz and the Prussian Model 1809 Potsdam musket. What is most interesting about the Potsdam musket bayonets is that they seem to have been an afterthought. All of the known examples were fabricated from US made bayonets for the Austrian M1842 Laukart system muskets. It is quite apparent that the socket retains a portion of the mortise cut that was designed to engage the Laukart latch under the barrel of the Austrian muskets. However, the rear portion of socket has been re-machined to engage the spade shaped spring catch that was located under the barrel of Prussian M1809 Potsdam muskets. It is not clear if these bayonets were a production overrun that were subsequently modified, or if the need for Potsdam bayonets was simply much greater than the need for Austrian M1842 bayonets. Another option that is not noted by Reilly is that the bayonet catch of the Austrian Model 1799 through 1838 series muskets was very similar to the Prussian catch and these bayonets may have been modified for use on the Austrian muskets that were equipped with this earlier pattern of catch.
Robert Reilly’s research indicates that these bayonets were initially manufactured, and possibly modified by, the firm of Ridgeway & Rufe of Germantown, PA. Allen Ridgeway was listed in the 1856 Germantown directory as a manufacturer and John Rufe was listed as a mechanic. In 1860 they were subsequently listed as “fork makers”, and by 1861 were listed as “cutlers” and “manure fork manufacturers”. They do not appear as “bayonet makers” until the 1863 directory and retain that listing until they disappeared from the directories after 1866. Ridgeway & Rufe had a major contract to provide socket bayonets to the firm of Alfred Jenks & Company (Bridesburg) for use on the US Model 1861 contract rifle muskets that Jenks delivered to the Ordnance Department. This explains their ability to manufacture the M1855 style blades, and clearly any manufacturer who could produce manure forks would be the perfect choice to produce bayonets for the obsolete European muskets, that were not held in high regard by the soldiers that carried them!
The US Socket Bayonet for Prussian Model 1809 Musket is in about FINE condition. The 18” blade of the bayonet remains full length. The face of the blade is clearly marked with a crisp US and an alphanumeric US arsenal mating code is present on the side of the socket: U 67. These mating codes were used to help keep the non-interchangeable bayonets with their appropriate muskets, after they had been fit to each other. The bayonet retains much of its original arsenal bright finish, which has dulled and muted somewhat to a more pewter tone. There are some very minor patches of lightly scattered age discoloration and flecks of oxidation present on the bayonet, mostly on the socket and less so on the blade. The socket shows some moderately oxidized pinpricking that is mostly confined to the back half of the socket, as well as a couple of visible forging flaws. The metal of the blade is entirely smooth and free of any pitting. The socket is in fine, round condition and retains the applied eccentric locking ring at the rear, which is in fine, functional condition. The socket bore diameter measures about .865”, very close to the .858” listed on Reilly’s example and not out of the norm for muskets that had widely varying bore diameters.
Overall this is a really fantastic example of an extremely scare US socket bayonet manufactured for use on some of the stop gap arms that were imported during the early days of the American Civil War. This pattern of socket bayonet is very rarely offered for sale, and in all my years of collecting and dealing, with an emphasis on imported infantry arms and their bayonets, this is the only the second example that I have ever had the opportunity to own. This bayonet deserves a place in a very advanced Civil War import arm collection or an equally advanced Civil War socket bayonet collection. Don’t miss your chance to own a really scarce piece of early US Civil War history.