While collectors have long referred to the Remington Zouave Rifle as the US Model 1863, information published by arms researcher and author George Moller indicates that the correct terminology is the Model 1862 Rifle. These 33” barreled percussion rifles are among the most attractive and best built of all the Civil War era US military long arms. In July of 1861, the US government contracted with the Remington Arms Company of Ilion, NY to produce 10,000 rifles of the Harper’s Ferry pattern, complete with brass handled saber bayonets for $20.00 each. The term Harper’s Ferry pattern during the period referred to either the Harper’s Ferry long-range altered Mississippi Rifles or the US Model 1855 rifle that had been in production at the rifle works in Harper’s Ferry prior to the burning of the armory and its subsequent capture by the Confederacy. In reality the rifle was a simplified and improved version of the US M1855 rifle. It eliminated the Maynard mechanical tape priming system and included older M1841 features like brass furniture and seven-groove rifling on some of the rifles, while others were rifled with the standard US three-groove rifling system. It is unknown where the nickname Zouave originated, but the term has been used for a very long time to describe these rifles, even though of the guns ever saw service with any Zouave regiment or any other regiment during the American Civil War. Quite possibly the term found its origins in the catalogs of Francis Bannerman & Company, who were selling the guns as surplus during the 20thcentury.
Due to manufacturing delays, probably due to the tooling up process at the factory, Remington did not actually deliver any arms until April of 1863. While testifying before the Holt-Owens Commission in April of 1862, Remington requested that the contract be enlarged to 40,000 or 50,000 rifles and offered to reduce the per unit price from $20 to $17, complete with bayonet. The Ordnance Department agreed to a new contract for an additional 10,000 rifles in August of 1862, but it appears that this contract simply replaced the contract from 1861. Additional manufacturing delays prevented the last 2,500 rifles from the contract from being delivered before the contract expired. In order to receive these rifles, the Ordnance Department authorized a new contract in December of 1863 for 2,500 rifles. This allowed the guns to be delivered but has led to the misconception that Remington actually produced 12,500 rifles, when in fact they only delivered 10,001 between April of 1863 and January of 1864. All of the rifles were delivered to the Watervliet Arsenal in New York, but none were ever issued during the course of the war. All of the rifles were sold to Francis Bannerman & Company on August 8, 1907 for $0.54 each, having never seen any military service, and essentially becoming a footnote in Civil War military arms history. It is interesting that when the Centennial of the American Civil War brought Civil War re-enacting to a large number of new participants, it was the Remington “Zouave” that was chosen as the representative Civil War long arm to have reproduced for the new living historians. A truly ironic choice for those involved in a hobby that would be plagued with historical pitfalls and misconceptions from its very beginnings!
This Remington Model 1862 Zouave Rifle is in about FINE overall condition. The lock plate retains about 85%+ of its original case coloring, which has faded dulled slightly with time, primarily around the periphery, but still retains some wonderfully vivid colors. The hammer has also dulled significantly and has a mottled patina with strong hints of the original color. The lock plate is clearly and crisply stamped 1863 horizontally to the rear of the hammer and is marked with a (Spread-Winged Eagle) / U.S. forward of the hammer. The lock is also marked in two horizontal lines: REMINGTON’S / ILION, N.Y. The lock functions very crisply on all positions and works exactly as it should, remaining mechanically excellent. The barrel retains about 85%+ of its original blued finish, which has faded and thinned. There is some silvering and loss along the sharp edges, and flecks of surface oxidation are shot through the blue throughout the barrel. The barrel is mostly smooth with some lightly scattered pinpricking and a couple patches of moderately oxidized surface roughness closer to the muzzle. The barrels shows no real pitting, but in addition to the scattered pinpricking and oxidation there are also some lightly scattered minor impact marks and dings here and there. The breech is clearly stamped with a V / P / (EAGLEHEAD) and with the date 1863. The left barrel flat is stamped STEEL and with the inspector initials H.S.L. The initials are the mark of Homer S. Lathe who worked as an armory sub-inspector, inspecting Remington M1862 rifles from April to November of 1863, as well as some Sharps Rifles and M1860 Army Revolvers. The bore of the rifle is in about VERY FINE condition and it remains extremely bright. It retains near new condition seven-groove rifling, which is extremely crisp and sharp. Even the screws retain the much of their original fire blued finish, which has faded and dulled slightly with time. The screw heads show some slot wear, but still remain fairly crisp. The original multi-leaf rear sight is in place on the top of the breech and is fully functional. The sight is a variant encountered only on these Remington rifles and is a sort of hybrid between the M1858 and M1861 pattern sights. It has the base and exposed screw head of the M1858 sight, while the leaves are squared off and notched like a M1861 sight. The gun retains both of its original sling swivels, as well as its original full-length ramrod, which is complete with fine threads at the end. The original saber bayonet lug is present on the right side of the barrel, near the muzzle, and the front sight is present as well. The original cone (nipple) is present as well and quite crisp. The brass barrel bands, trigger guard butt plate and patch box all have a really pleasing medium bronze patina and are in very fine condition. Most of the brass furniture has small, single letter inspectors’ marks on them and the buttplate tang is stamped with the usual US. The brass lock screw escutcheons on the stock flat show some green verdigris as well. The stock is in about FINE condition as well with no breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock does show a number of scattered bumps, dings and handling marks. There are also a couple of small slivers of wood missing from the ramrod channel. The stock flat is well marked with two clear and crisp inspectors’ cartouches. One is an HDJ, the mark of Henry D Jennings, a Springfield Armory sub-inspector who inspected at Remington in 1862 and 1863 and the other is the BH mark of Benjamin Hannis who was another armory sub-inspector who inspected a variety of contract revolvers from Allen & Wheelock, Savage and Colt, from 1861-1863, as well as Remington rifles. Both cartouches remain clearly and fully legible. The stock retains very sharp edges and crisp lines throughout and has never been sanded.
Overall, this is a very attractive rifle in really lovely condition with much of its original finish and a truly fine bore. The gun has wonderful eye appeal and is 100% complete, correct and unaltered. It will look great as an addition to your Civil War era long arms collection or would likely be a great addition to your battery of North-South Skirmish Association competition rifles, as I have heard that the seven-groove “Zouave” rifles are particularly accurate rifles.