Excellent US M-1835/40 Rifled & Sighted Musket
- Product Code: FLA-2855-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a nice example of a scare alteration to a contractor produced US M-1835/40 flintlock musket. The model was officially designated the M-1840 by the US Ordnance Department, but since the initial design was accepted in 1835, collectors have long used the designation of M-1835 or M-1835/40. I have chosen use M-1835/40 designation, as it indicates the initial adoption of the new pattern musket as well as the first year in which it was produced. The M-1835/40 was the last flintlock percussion musket to be adopted by the US military. It was a .69 caliber smoothbore musket and in many ways was nearly identical (except for the lock and ignition system) to the subsequent US M-1842 percussion musket, which replaced it. The M-1835/40 was produced from 1840 to 1844 at the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, with a total of 30,421 musket produced there. Unlike the previous M-1816/22/28 series of muskets, the Ordnance Department only contracted with two outside vendors to produce the new pattern of musket. The Daniel Nippes Company of Mill Creek, PA produced 5,100 of the muskets from 1842-1848 and Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, MA produced 7,000 from 1840 to 1846. With the adoption of the percussion ignition system in 1842, the US Ordnance Department moved to quickly alter all of the newest and best condition flintlock musket in store around the country to the percussion ignition system. This meant that the M-1835/40 muskets were all almost immediately altered to percussion. The large majority of the muskets were altered by the Belgian System aka the Cone-In-Barrel. Very few of the M-1835/40 muskets had been issued, and most were sitting in various armories in pristine condition, having never been used. The ordnance department has long used a delivery system that required contractors to deliver their work to the nearest Federal Arsenal, to keep the cost of shipping to a minimum. This meant that Pomeroy contract arms were typically delivered to Watervliet Arsenal in New York, and Nippes contract arms were usually delivered to the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, PA. It was at these locations that the M-1835/40 muskets delivered by the contractors were altered to percussion. The Pomeroy contract arms were altered between 1850 and 1851, using machinery that was installed at Watervliet in 1849. The Nippes contract M-1835/40 muskets were altered in 1852 and 1853, after Watervliet received the percussion alteration machinery that had previously been in use at the Watertown Arsenal. With the adoption of the conical, hollow base Burton Ball (based upon the French Mini” ball) in 1855, the Ordnance Department decided to experiment with additional alterations and upgrades to older percussion conversion muskets in store. The “upgraded” altered muskets were rifled with three wide, shallow grooves and most had long base, long-range rear sights added to them. Additionally, the original brass front sight blades were removed and new, taller iron front sight blades were added to the front strap of the upper barrel band. The upgrades began in 1856 at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal, when 2,000 percussion altered flintlock muskets (believed to be mostly M-1816/22 muskets) were rifled and had long range rear sights mounted on them. Harpers Ferry would upgrade 9,126 in the same way in 1857, 1,433 in 1858 and 200 in 1859, for a total of 12,760 upgraded muskets. Approximately 1,500 of these guns were specifically noted as being “browned” and having been altered for the US Navy. The browned guns were definitely US M-1816/22 muskets. The majority of the other muskets upgraded at Harpers Ferry were likely to have been M-1816 series muskets as well, as the upgrades were most likely applied to arms already in storage there. Harpers Ferry had not produced the M-1835/40 musket, nor were any of the contract arms delivered there. As such, it is unlikely that many M-1835/40s were altered at Harpers Ferry, other than a special group of muskets that were upgraded in 1860 for the state of Virginia. Frankford Arsenal upgraded 120 altered flintlocks with rifled bores and rear sights in 1857 and another 299 in 1858. They also rifled, but did not add rear sights to 680 altered muskets in 1858. It appears that most of the time and effort at Frankford Arsenal was spent performing the Remington Maynard alteration to M-1816/22 muskets. The Saint Louis Arsenal also performed the rifling and sighting upgrades to altered flintlock muskets. They upgraded 1,381 in 1857, 4,250 in 1858 and 2,180 in 1859, for a total of 7,811 upgraded muskets. As with Harpers Ferry, it is likely that the large majority of arms upgraded at Frankford Arsenal and Saint Louis Arsenal were of the M-1816/22 pattern and were predominately guns already in storage at that facility. Unfortunately the Ordnance Department soon determined that the increased breech pressure created by using the conical, expanding base projectiles in these upgraded muskets resulted in unsafe pressures building up. The increased pressure could lead to the catastrophic failure of the musket, and cause significant harm or death to the soldier! As a result the rifling and sighting of cone-in-barrel altered muskets was abandoned on the Federal level in 1859, and subsequently only those guns that were adapted with a patent breech were rifled and sighted. Some of the older cone-in-barrel guns that had been rifled and sighted received new patent breeches as well, to make them safer and more serviceable. Even though the rifled and sighted cone-in-barrel alterations were considered unsafe for service and use, many of the guns in store at the beginning of the Civil War were still issued to troops, due to the lack of available arms for service. Most of these percussion altered, rifled and sighted arms saw service with Western troops, and many were issued to Illinois regiments such as the 91st which listed their initial issue of arms as “old, altered rifled muskets, caliber .69”. The 87th, 88th, 103rd, 122nd & 129th Illinois also listed “US Rifled Muskets, .69 - altered to percussion” in their inventories at some point during their service. Due to safety concerns, the Ordnance Department apparently attempted to replace these muskets as quickly as possible and most seem to have been removed from service by the fall of 1863. In late 1859, the state of Virginia requested a number of cone-in-barrel, percussion-altered muskets be delivered to them under the Militia Act of 1808. Due to the poor success encountered with most of the other upgraded percussion altered arms, it believed that this order was filled with US M-1835/40 muskets, which had thicker barrels than the earlier model muskets and were considered marginally safer than the rifled M-1816/22 muskets. Following the logic that then arms would be altered at and delivered from the closest arsenal, the work was almost certainly done at Harpers Ferry in 1860 and the arms delivered to the state of Virginia in Richmond during that year. I have not been able to find the specific number of US M-1835/40 altered, rifled & sighted muskets that were delivered to Virginia during 1859-60, but the fact that they were is well documented, as is the fact that by the end of 1860, Virginia had drawn their allotment of arms for 1861 and part of their allotment for 1862, in an effort to be prepared for the coming war.
The US M-1835/40 Rifled & Sighted Musket offered here is in EXCELLENT condition. It is a contract musket by Pomeroy and has been altered to percussion by the Belgian system and then subsequently rifled and sighted with a long-range rear sight. The gun is clearly marked on the lock plate with a (Spread-Winged Eagle) / L. POMEROY forward of the hammer and vertically behind the lock with 1841 / U.S.. The tang of the barrel is dated 1844. It is not uncommon for the barrel and lock dates on the rifled and sighted arms to be mismatched, as these guns were produced on the system of interchangeable parts and as the rifling and sighting upgrade only required the removal of the barrel from the stock, little effort was made to mark parts for reassembly. The breech is crisply marked in three lines: U.S. / JCB / (Circle) P. The initials JCB are those of Springfield Armory sub-inspector Joseph C Bragg, who inspected contract arms during the early 1840’s. In 1844 he spent 2 “ months during August, September and October, inspecting the arms produced by Lemuel Pomeroy in Pittsfield, MA. The left flat of the breech is marked with the inspection mark J.H and is probably the mark of armory sub-inspector Joseph Hannis, although it might be that of John Hawkins. Both worked during the time that this musket was assembled. The buttplate tang is crisply marked U.S., and small sub-inspector marks are present on some of the metal furniture of the musket. The left flat of the stock shows two excellent inspection cartouches, the script EB of armory sub-inspector Elizur Bates and the final acceptance stamp of Ordnance Officers William Anderson Thornton, whose mark was a script WAT cartouche. Additional small inspection and assembly marked are found in the wood, particularly behind the triggerguard, and the possible rack number 3 4 is stamped deeply into the top of the stock comb, forward of the buttplate tang. The musket is 100% complete, correct and original. The musket retains both of its original sling swivels, as well as its original ramrod. The rod is the correct trumpet shaped rammer, that has had the face of head dished for use with conical projectiles, and the end of the rod has excellent threads for the attachment of appendages. The original US long-base, long-range rear sight is in place on the barrel. This is the same pattern of sight used on the rifled & sighted US M-1842 muskets, and was most likely produced at Harpers Ferry. The lock of the musket functions crisply and correctly in every way and is mechanically excellent. The metal of the musket is smooth and bright and retains much of the original arsenal bright polish. Some of the iron furniture is starting to mellow slightly, developing a more muted, silvery pewter tone and some lightly freckled patches of minor age discoloration and light oxidation are starting to develop over the barrel and iron mountings. There are some extremely light patches of speckled pinpricking present on the metal, but they are barely worth mentioning. The overall condition of the metal is really outstanding. The bore of the musket rates about EXCELLENT, and is extremely bright and shiny with very crisp rifling. The 3 rifled grooves show odd striations along one edge, possibly the result of the rifling in the bore being cut one groove at a time, leaving a tool mark along the track of the previously cut groove. The bore is probably as close to new as could be had on percussion altered, rifled and sighted M-1835/40 musket. The stock of the musket is in about EXCELLENT condition as well. It is in really fantastic condition with extremely sharp and crisp lines and edges throughout. The stock retains two outstanding cartouches on the flat opposite the lock, as well as numerous other small markings. A tiny S is present on the front edge of the lock mortise, evidently an inspection mark of some sort. The stock has not been sanded or abused in any way, and is free of any breaks or repairs. The stock does show some minor handling marks, bumps and dings, as well as a thumb sized bruise along the edge of the toe, behind the triggerguard. The wood to metal fit is excellent throughout, and the condition of the stock would be very difficult to upgrade.
Overall this is a fabulous example of a rather scare rifled & sighted percussion alteration of a Pomeroy M-1835/40 musket. Only 7,000 of the Pomeroy contract muskets were produced, and while nearly all were altered to percussion, only a small percentage were upgraded by rifling and sighting and only a handful of these examples appear to have survived the war to make their way into collections today. It is impossible to know for sure if this is one of the guns that was altered for Virginia and was delivered to that state just before the outbreak of hostilities, but it is known that those guns were of this pattern. This is simply a stunning example of the Ordnance Department’s attempt to make older weapons more serviceable and useful during a period where they had become outclassed and been made obsolete by smaller caliber percussion rifle muskets. This will be a fantastic addition to any advanced Civil War long arms collection and is a gun that would be almost impossible to upgrade from.SOLD