Crimean War Russian M-1828/44 Tula Arsenal Musket
- Product Code: FLA-1503-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
Of all European military long arms from the mid 19th Century, those from Russia are about the least often encountered for sale in the United States. One reason that they are rarely seen on these shores is that they were probably not imported for American Civil War use, although at least one Congressional Document concerning the importation and purchase of weapons by the American Government during the Civil War does refer to a purchase of 2,000 Russian Muskets. This reference, however, has never been substantiated and is generally assumed to be an error, with the guns really being Prussian muskets. Even if this small number of muskets were imported, they are still extremely scarce on the American collectors market today. They are equally scarce in Russia as well, since out of date muskets were perfect fodder for World War era scrap drives that turned any non-useful article into a useful weapon of war. In my many years of collecting and dealing in Continental arms from the mid-19th Century, I have only ever owned two Russian military weapons, one was a Li’ge manufactured Russian L’ttich Carbine (a copy of the British “Brunswick” rifle), and the other is the Russian Model 1828/44 Musket offered here. The M-1828 musket was based substantially upon the French Pattern 1822 musket, as well as the earlier Russian M-1808 musket. It was a flintlock, smoothbore musket of .69 caliber with a 41 ““ long barrel and an overall length of 57”. In 1841, with the adoption of the percussion cap for ignition, the Russians began the process of converting their flintlock muskets to the percussion system, thus the designation of Model 1828/44, a percussion conversion of the Model 1828 musket, based upon 1844 specifications. The actual conversion to percussion has features that are both familiar and somewhat odd. The gun bears the classic, heavy “bent” hammer common on “Belgian” or “cone-in-barrel” conversion muskets, and has had a bolster “lump” brazed onto the breech where the cone (nipple) is installed. This type of lump is encountered on French, Belgian and Austrian conversion muskets of the same period. The less common feature is that an iron plug with a round head has been installed in the old flintlock vent hole, with the head of the plug being supported by the recess of the brass pan. Most other conversion of the era brazed or welded up the touchhole and then filled the brass pan recess. The musket in Russian service during the early and mid 19th Century was really nothing more than a glorified pike, with the basic Russian infantry tactic being an overwhelming bayonet charge that would force the enemy from the field. In fact the credo known as Suvorov’s Apophthegm was “The bullet is a fool “ The bayonet is a hero!”. As author Robert Thomas notes in The Russian Army in the Crimean War, 1854-1856 that it was not uncommon for Russian soldiers who had spent 25 years in the army to have never fired their weapons! Rarely was powder or lead available for target practice or training, and Thomas notes that when the soldiers did train to fire their weapons it was often simply to get them to fire in unison (to provide an impressive volley), and more often than not clay balls were used instead of lead ones for the projectiles. Thomas additionally notes on page 17 that “Too often Russian muskets were poorly made and maintained....Out of 1,318 Moscow Regiment muskets inspected 534 were unserviceable. Appearance was everything: musket barrels were polished until dangerously thin, while left rusty on the inside. Clay practice bullets further damaged the barrels” Thomas further noted that the Russians tried to improve the accuracy of their muskets by making copies of captured Allied bullets, which for the most part would have been hollow based, elongated balls for use with English rifled arms like the Pattern 1851 Mini” Rifle and Pattern 1853 Enfield. This did not work out well for the Russians and Thomas points out that "Accuracy and range were improved by the use of bullets made from models of captured Allied bullets, but in time the barrel clogged and burst.". It is quite interesting that the author brings this specific issue up, as the Russian M-1828/44 musket offered here has had a catastrophic barrel failure, with the barrel busting with a wicked tear about 5 ““ long, roughly 5 ““ from the breech!
This Russian M-1828/44 Musket is one of the rarely encountered state arsenal manufactured muskets, and remains in about ATTIC FINE condition “ 100% original and completely unmolested. The Russians depended heavily upon the gun makers of Li’ge to satisfy much of their military small arms needs, with the balance delivered from the Russian national arsenal at Tula. The Tula Arsenal was established in 1712 under Czar Peter 1st in Tula, Russia and remained an important producer of Russian small arms through the Cold War. This musket is clearly marked on the lock in Cyrillic script: TULA/ 1832. The side plate, trigger guard and front barrel band are also dated 1832. The middle barrel band bears a Cyrillic mark in a box and is dated 1842 - likely the year of conversion to percussion. The barrel and butt plate are both marked 1313 and with a Cyrillic mark, this is presumed to be a rack number. The butt plate is also stuck with the double-headed eagle that served as the crest of Czar Nicholas I. The iron barrel bears a smooth, thick brown patina over its entire length, with only scattered areas of light pinpricking and peppering. As previously noted the barrel has burst in use, from the rear barrel band back towards the breech. The lock still functions crisply and correctly on all positions, and has a very powerful mainspring. The original cone (nipple) is present, but is severely battered. The musket retains both of the original iron sling swivels, as well as the notched rear site located on the barrel tang and the front brass sight blade, which is brazed to the barrel to the rear of the upper barrel band. What appears to be the original rammer is present “ a somewhat crude, trumpet shaped iron rod with a concave head and a small hole in the end, tapped in the Prussian style to accept the male thread from a wiper or ball puller. The barrel bands, trigger guard and butt plate are all of brass and have a fantastic, completely untouched and un-cleaned patina. The birch wood stock is in about GOOD+ to VERY GOOD condition overall, and is complete, full length and without any repairs. This is amazing, considering the catastrophic failure that the barrel experienced. The stock has a deep, untouched patina and coloration that is partly the result of the black paint that was likely on the stock during the Crimean War use. Traces of the paint appear to be present in the nooks and crannies under the raised cheek rest on the left side of the butt. The stock shows the normal bumps, dings and minor slivering that is typical of muskets in military service. There are a couple of fairly substantial slivers missing from the rammer channel between the middle and upper bands, which is not at all uncommon on field used muskets. The musket has a couple of minor, surface hairline draying cracks that follow the grain of the wood, very similar to those often encountered on Austrian arms made from equally hard and straight grained beech. The right side of the butt stock is also faintly marked with Russian Ordnance Department inspection and storekeepers marks.
Overall this is really a fantastic example of a Crimean War era Russian musket. These converted flintlocks were issued to the bulk of the Russian army during the Crimean War, with the more modern rifled muskets reserved for company skirmishers, Rifle and Cossack units. For those that collect Crimean War weaponry, this is a unique opportunity to own a very rarely offered Russian musket manufactured at the Tula Arsenal. For those who hold to the belief that Russian muskets were imported for Civil War use, this gun may be the missing link to confirm their presence. While a part of me wants to believe that the barrel failed during the Siege of Sevastopol, it seems quite unlikely that a musket that exploded in Russian service would have ever made the journey to America. That means that it is far more likely that the gun was imported to the United States prior to its failure. Since the US was over run with obsolete percussion converted arms in the years following the American Civil War, it seems highly unlikely that even Francis Bannerman would have found any need to import obsolete muskets from Russia to serve his customers. It is far more likely that a handful of these guns really did make the journey to America as part of an early Civil War era arms purchase, and the poorly cared for Russian musket failed in the hands of a poor, unsuspecting Union volunteer. One way or the other, this is clearly one of those muskets that you rarely get the opportunity to purchase, and would be a fantastic representative piece to display with your Pattern 1853 Type I or Type II Enfield and your Pattern 1851 Mini” Rifle (not the easiest gun to find”). Don’t miss your chance to own an incredibly scarce Crimean War veteran Russian musket, which may well have seen service in the Civil War as well. The burst barrel alone will make this the most commented upon relic in your collection of antique military arms!SOLD