Excellent US M-1842 Musket - Dated 1845
- Product Code: FLA-1890-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
The US M-1842 percussion infantry musket represented a major advancement in the production of US military small arms during the mid-19th century. The M-1842 was the first general issue long arm to utilize the percussion ignition system and was also the first general issue arm to be manufactured on the principle of fully interchangeable parts. While the percussion ignition system had been introduced with the M-1841 “Mississippi” Rifle, that arm was not widely issued and was reserved for specialty troops and state militia use. Likewise, the Harper’s Ferry produced M-1819 Hall Rifle had been produced on the interchangeable parts principle since its introduction, but it was also a long gun that would see limited issuance and use, when compared to the infantry musket. The M-1842 also had the distinction of the being the last general issue .69 caliber smoothbore weapon to be manufactured and issued to the US military, and was superseded by the .58 caliber M-1855 rifle muskets. The design that would become the M-1842 musket was initiated at the end of 1841, when the Chief of Ordnance requested that sample arms be forwarded for to the Ordnance Board for approval. The specification was simply that the current M-1840 flintlock musket be redesigned as a percussion ignition weapon, with a few changes as possible, in order to make the transition to production of the new musket as simple as possible. The US M-1842 percussion musket went into production at the Springfield Arsenal in 1844, with 2,956 guns being delivered into stores that year. Production did not commence at Harper’s Ferry until 1845, and that armory delivered 2,225 arms into store in 1845. The muskets remained in production until 1855, with Springfield Armory producing 165,970 and Harpers Ferry producing 106,629, making the total production for the M-1842 musket 272,599. The M-1842 musket saw significant use during the American Civil War and as late at the summer of 1864, a significant number (at least 25,000) were still in the field with US forces, and similar (or possibly large number) were almost certainly still in service with the Confederacy. The fact that the US M-1842 remained in service with the US government well into the war is underscored by the fact that government was forced to make inquiries with contractors to provide spare parts, ramrods and bayonets for the guns. As late as the 2nd quarter of 1864 the Ordnance Department was still attempting to obtain the necessary parts to keep the M-1842 muskets in the field in service. The ever-frugal US government kept thousands of US M-1842 muskets in government stores until 1870, when they began to sell of the arms via auction.
This US M-1842 Percussion Musket is in about EXCELLENT condition. The musket was manufactured by the Springfield Armory in 1845, and is marked with matching dates on both the lock and the barrel tang. Springfield only produced 12,107 M-1842 muskets in 1845, of which 322 were “second quality” arms. The musket is clearly and crisply marked in three vertical lines behind the hammer: SPRING / FIELD / 1845. The usual US (EAGLE) / US is marked on the lock, forward of the hammer. According to arms historian and author George Moller, it appears that the M-1842’s manufactured during 1844 and early 1845 had color case hardened locks. The lock of this musket appears to retain some traces of case hardened mottling, with some very minor bluish tinges present. The lock has a muted, almost satin steel appearance, and retains the original polishing marks on the beveled edges of the lock. The lock is like new inside and is mechanically perfect. It functions very crisply on all positions. All of the markings on the lock are crisp and perfect, and as clear as the day the musket was built. The breech of the musket is crisply marked with the usual V / P / (Eagle Head) proof and inspection marks, and the barrel tang is crisply stamped with the date 1845. The barrel of the musket has the same satin steel appearance, with the metal having dulled very slightly from its original arsenal bright finish. Moving the barrel bands clearly shows the original brilliant arsenal bright polish in the areas that have been protected from the air. The barrel is completely smooth and free of any pitting or even pinpricking. There are a couple of thumb sized lightly oxidized brownish stains present on the barrel, as well as some other scattered, smaller flecks of lightly oxidized brownish age discoloration. These same tiny patches of scattered age discoloration are also present on the iron furniture. There are also some traces of old, dried oil on the barrel and the furniture. A little time with some emery cloth and light oil would probably remove the light dulling form the barrel and furniture and return the musket to its original brilliant arsenal bright finish. The bore of the musket is absolutely stunningly bright and perfectly smooth, and truly rates MINT. The tang of the buttplate is marked with usual US, which is crisply and deeply struck. The musket retains both of the original sling swivels and its original trumpet head ramrod, which is full-length and has perfect threads on the end. The side lock screws retain traces of their original blued finish, which has faded with age and exposure to the moisture in the air over 167 years. The stock of the musket is in even better condition than the metal and rates EXCELLENT+ to NEAR MINT. The stock is absolutely in nearly new condition, with perfectly sharp edges and lines throughout. The surface of the wood is still “feathery” and has never been molested in any way. The stock is full-length with absolutely no breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock does show a handful of minor bumps and dings from storage and handling, but absolutely no abuse of any kind. The wood to metal fit is absolutely outstanding. The stock flat, opposite the lock, is crisply and deeply marked with a pair of script cartouches. One is a GWH and the other is a FW. The “GWH” mark is likely that of armory sub-inspector George W Hanger, but George W Hamlin and George W Hartwell were inspecting arms during the same general period of time, so the mark may represent one of them. The other mark is that of an inspector that I cannot identify. There is a small inspectors mark in the wood behind the triggerguard tang, which is so deeply stamped that it is not legible.
Overall this is simply an outstanding example of a very early production US M-1842 musket. The gun is extremely crisp and sharp throughout with fantastic edges on both the wood and the metal. It is really amazing that a 167-year-old musket has survived in this condition. The gun was produced during the first full year of production at the Springfield Armory, and is one of only 12,107 produced that year. The musket has the very desirable, pre-Mexican War production date of 1845 and lock and tang dates match, as they should. It would be very difficult to improve upon the condition of this musket, and if you could, you would likely spend at least $1,000 more to accomplish the task. For any serious condition collector of 19th century US military long arms, this would be a fantastic addition to your collection. It is simply a fantastic musket in fantastic condition that I am quite sure you will be very pleased with.SOLD