Greenwood Altered US M-1816 Type III Musket
- Product Code: FLA-3263-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
In 1832 Miles Greenwood established the Eagle Ironworks along the Miami Canal in the Cincinnati area. The company quickly grew to be the largest ironworks in the mid-western United States, and the second largest ironworks in the “western” United States. The company produced a wide array of everyday iron items including “pulleys, shutter lifts and catches, sash weights, spittoons, teakettles and tailor shears,” and such common hardware as door knobs and door bells. In 1852 the Eagle Ironworks were destroyed by a fire, a problem that would continue to plague Greenwood’s operations for decades to come. As result of the fire, Greenwood, along with two other prominent Cincinnati residents, worked to produce a reliable and fully functional steam fire engine. While steam fire engines had existed prior to the trio’s 1852 effort, the Greenwood lead team developed the most successful design yet conceived and Eagle Ironworks produced the first truly successful steam fire engine which was immediately purchased by the city of Cincinnati and officially delivered on January 1, 1853. Greenwood’s efforts also helped Cincinnati to establish the first professional, paid fire department in the United States, replacing the somewhat unreliable volunteer force. The department came into being on April 1, 1853 and Miles Greenwood served as the first fire chief of Cincinnati. The success of Greenwood’s fire engine was so overwhelming that the citizens of Cincinnati raised the funds to purchase a second steam powered fire engine in 1854.
With the coming of the Civil War, Eagle Ironworks production shifted into high gear, with Greenwood focusing entirely on the Union war effort. One of his first military contributions was to manufacture a dozen iron anchors for pontoon bridges. It was reported that the ironworks produced the needed anchors in only twenty-four hours! This order came from General John C. Frèmont. Interestingly it would be Frèmont who was indirectly responsible for the Federal contract he received to alter 10,000 Austrian M-1842 to percussion via the “Belgian” or “cone-in-barrel” process during the fall of 1861. Greenwood was also contracted to rifle the Austrian smoothbore muskets and add long-range, adjustable rear sights. Earlier that year, Greenwood had undertaken to perform the same type of work for the state of Ohio. Ohio, like many of the states at the outbreak of the American Civil War, had large stocks or obsolete flintlock, smoothbore military muskets in storage. As a result, many states (both North and South) contracted with local gunsmiths, machinists, and manufacturing companies to have their arms upgraded to the percussion ignition system and in some cases to rifle the arms as well. The US arsenals had previously experimented with the rifling of percussion altered US M-1816 muskets during 1856 and 1857 and found that doing so weakened the barrel sufficiently as to make the guns unsafe. The issue was a combination of the barrel being thinned out by the rifling process and the additional breech pressure created by the use of expanding base ammunition. The result was that enough of the newly rifled M-1816 muskets burst in the field to give the Ordnance Department pause, and the project was abandoned at the national level. Greenwood apparently had more success with the rifling of altered muskets, and a Cincinnati newspaper article noted that Greenwood’s altered .69 caliber muskets had better penetrating power than the standard .58 rifle muskets, with his altered guns being able to penetrate steel plates at a greater distance than the .58 caliber guns. The guns that Greenwood altered became known locally as “Greenwood Rifles”, and several early war Ohio regiments went off to war carrying muskets that Greenwood had modified. “Greenwood Rifles’ were carried by the 41st Ohio Infantry at Shiloh and by the 51st Ohio at Perryville, and the guns saw use with many other Ohio infantry regiments until they could be replaced with more modern .58 caliber rifled muskets. Greenwood entered a contract to upgrade the muskets in the state of Ohio’s inventory during the summer of 1861. Greenwood’s contract called for the altering of flintlock muskets to percussion, and to rifle them as well. He also contracted to rifle the US M-1842 percussion muskets in the state of Ohio inventories. Greenwood was additionally contracted to install long-range rear sights on 1/20th of the guns (5%) that he rifled. Greenwood charged $1.25 to rifle each of the guns and an additional $1.75 to add the rear sight. It is not clear from the records what Greenwood charged to alter the flintlock muskets to percussion, and it is likely that some of the muskets in the Ohio inventories had been altered to percussion during the late 1850s when the Federal Government had undertaken that project in earnest. During the summer of 1861 a local newspaper noted that Greenwood was “rifling 3,000 smoothbore muskets per day”. While this was clearly hyperbole, it seems that the Eagle Ironworks was certainly burning the midnight oil to get the guns out the door as quickly as possible. Greenwood delivered his first 1,000 altered arms to the state of Ohio on July 24, 1861. By the end of the year his company had rifled a total of 23,482 guns for the state of Ohio (16,918 M-1816 and 8,406 M-1842 muskets), and it is estimated that slightly less than 850 had the new rear sights added. When the additional 5,000 Austrian muskets are added to this total (the other 5,000 of the 10,000 he contracted to alter were sub-contracted to Hall, Carrol & Company for the work), it appears that Greenwood rifled some 28,482 guns during a roughly six-month period. This equates to an average of slightly less than 4,750 guns per month and just shy of 1,200 per week. While this is certainly much lower than the “3,000 per day” noted in the newspaper account, it does show that the company was working diligently for the war effort.
In addition to altering, rifling and sighting muskets for the state of Ohio and the Federal Government, Greenwood was also involved in the production of the first six Gatling Guns in 1862. However, another fire ravaged his factories (this time set by southern sympathizers) and the first six guns were destroyed, along with patent models, drawings, plans and samples. In fact, southern sympathizers managed to set his works on fire a total of three times during the course of the war! Greenwood’s other war time manufacturing efforts included producing turrets for US Navy iron-clad ships, as well as manufacturing cannon (both iron and bronze) and other material for the war effort.
Offered here is a relatively scarce example of a US M-1816 Type III Musket altered by Miles Greenwood of Cincinnati, OH. As noted above, it is estimated that slightly less than 850 of the 16,918 US M-1816/22/28 muskets altered by Greenwood received these new sights. This gun is a classic example of a Greenwood altered, rifled and sighted US M-1816 musket. The gun was originally manufactured by Eli Whitney of New Haven, CT in 1834, and is part of the Whitney contract for 15,000 muskets that was entered into on August 5, 1822. The musket is a US M-1816 Type III in collector terminology, although per the Ordnance Department it is a Model 1822/28 musket. The lock is marked in three vertical lines behind the hammer: NEW / HAVEN / 1834 and forward of the hammer is the Whitney logo of a crossed olive branch and arrow with the letters US above and E. WHITNEY below. The barrel tang is date is illegible, and the breech is marked with the letters US over the inspection mark AH (for contract arms inspector Asabel Hubbard) over a P in a depressed starburst firing proof. The breech is also marked with the letters MS, indicating that the gun was in the inventories of the state of Massachusetts at some point during its service life. Under the Militia Act of 1808, the states were not only issued arms for the use of their state militias, but were also allowed to trade guns in periodically for other arms, often at a ratio that might require two older guns to be returned for a newer one. In this case, I would guess that this musket was returned to the Federal Government in exchange for one that had already been altered to percussion, and after this gun was altered to percussion it was sent to the state of Ohio, where it was rifled and sighted by Miles Greenwood in 1861. The stock flat has the outline of the original inspection cartouche from when the gun was accepted by the US Ordnance Department, the contents of the cartouche are not fully legible, but appears to be the script AH of armory sub-inspector Asabel Hubbard as well. The gun has no “re-inspection” cartouche (a set of initials with a number like 2 or 3), because when the US inventoried their flintlock muskets in the 1840s (prior to converting them to percussion) those that were made after 1832 were instantly considered to be “first class’ arms and were immediately slated for alteration to percussion. These “1st Class’ muskets were usually altered to percussion at US government arsenals using the cone in barrel or Belgian system. This gun bears the alphanumeric mating mark A / 6 inside the lock on the remnants of the flash pan and under the barrel. I believe these may be the remains of the mating marks applied by a US arsenal during the percussion conversion process. The gun is also marked with the reassembly mark 5 11 inside the lock mortise of the stock, on the bottom of the barrel and the bottom of the barrel tang, and simply with an 11 in the tang channel in the stock. My guess is that this is a Greenwood reassembly mark, but it is possible that my identification of these marks is backwards and the alpha numeric mark is Greenwood’s as he was known to use those types of mating marks, but so were national armories. A ““ tall number 19 is stamped into the comb of the stock, forward of the buttplate tang, and a much smaller 45 is stamped into the obverse of the butt. The reverse of the butt is carved in two lines: WADE. / GEO.. A search of Civil War solider databases shows only four men with the name “George Wade” that fought for the state of Ohio during the Civil War. As Greenwood altered muskets were only issued to Ohio soldiers, limiting the search to these soldiers is reasonable. Two of the four can be immediately eliminated. The first is the George Wade who enlisted in the 1st Ohio Light Artillery on December 24, 1863 and the second is George W. Wade who enlisted in the 149th Ohio Infantry on August 2, 1864. The first would not have been issued a musket and the second certainly would not have received such an obsolete gun in August of 1864. This leaves two possible George Wades. The first is George B. Wade who enlisted in Company G of the 22nd Ohio Infantry on September 6, 1861. This George Wade would fight in all the early battles in the Western Theater from Fort Donelson to Shiloh, where he would be wounded during the fighting on the first day, April 7, 1862, ending his military career. The second is George Wade who enlisted in the 117th Ohio Infantry on September 4, 1862, likely in response to Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky, a campaign that culminated in the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. While “Greenwood Rifles’ can be documented as being present at both Shiloh and Perryville, I have no direct information to indicate that either the 22nd OH or the 117th OH received Greenwood altered muskets. It is my belief based upon circumstantial evidence that this gun was mostly likely carried by George B. Wade of the 22nd OH, and was with him at Shiloh when he was wounded. It will certainly be worth the effort of the new owner of this musket to do additional research and try to confirm that that rifled & sighted US M-1816 conversion muskets were issued to members of the 22nd OH. Such information would provide nearly iron clad proof that this musket was carried at Shiloh by a 42-year-old man from Ohio who was wounded during the first day of the fighting.There is also a single T. carved on the reverse of the stock as well, maybe the initial of the Confederate soldier who picked up the gun after George Wade was wounded....
The gun is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition overall, and is a nice, essentially untouched example of a scarce Miles Greenwood Rifled & Sighted Musket. The metal has a thick brown patina over most of its surfaces. The metal shows even light pitting over all the surfaces, with a few areas of more moderate pitting scattered around the gun. The gun has the look of having been barn found, as the butt plate shows moderate pitting as well, with moderate surface oxidation and some surface rust present. There is also moderate pitting around the breech and bolster area, some of which may have been filled and filed at some point in time to support or smooth the area. The lock functions crisply and correctly on all positions and is mechanically sound. The musket retains both of its original sling swivels, and what appears to be a period replacement ramrod. The rod is a somewhat crude button head rod, which has been welded to the body of another rod that still retains threads at the end. The rod is functionally full-length although not exactly to specifications for a US M-1816, nor for a Greenwood altered rod. The bore is rifled with 3 grooves as is typical of Greenwood’s rifling. The rifling retains strong, and is very crisp. The bore has a dark brown, evenly seasoned patina and shows light to moderate pitting along its length, rating about GOOD+ overall, like the balance of the gun. The correct and original Greenwood long-range rear sight is present near the breech. The sight looks similar to that used on the P-1853 Enfield, no doubt resulting in the period reference to Greenwood’s arms being sighted with “Enfield” pattern sights. The sight is completely original and retains the ladder and leaf. Unlike similar sights of the period, no tension spring is included in the design. The correct Greenwood front sight is in place as well, a larger, built up version of the original brass front sight blade that was used when the musket was a flintlock. The musket stock is in GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD> condition as well. It is about 11/16” short of being full length, with a small amount of wood missing from the forend, which is essentially concealed by the upper barrel band. Why the stock was shortened this small amount is unknown, but the wood appears to have been sawed away while the barrel was in the channel, as scar is present on the bottom of the barrel at this point. It might be that this was done at Greenwood’s shop when the upper barrel band, possibly from another gun, did not quite fit and the “quick fix” was to take about 2/3 of an inch of wood off! There is a minor grain crack running from the rear lock mortise screw to the barrel channel and a chunk of wood is missing from the stock toe, as well as some chipping around the forward portion of the lock mortise. The stock does not appear to have been sanded, and the lines and edges remain in fairly good condition with any rounding or softening appearing to be from use in the field. The stock shows the usual assortment of bumps, dings and bruises from military use, but nothing exceptional (other than those issues already mentioned), especially when you realize that the gun is 182 years old, and had a military career of some 27 years before it was altered for Civil War service. Despite the various condition issued noted, the stock remains solid and sound. The number 19 is stamped into the comb of the stock, forward of the buttplate tang, and a much smaller 45 is stamped into the obverse of the butt. As previously mentioned, the name WADE. / GEO. is also carved into the reverse of the stock, along with the single initial T.
Overall this is a solid, essentially untouched and attic dark example of a very scarce Rifled & Sighted US M-1816 alteration by Miles Greenwood. The gun is in nice, complete condition, with lots of eye appeal and will be a great addition to any collection of Civil War era long arms, especially for a collector with an interest in Western Theater units, Ohio units or a connoisseur of altered flintlock muskets. The potential identification of the gun is certainly worth investigating further and might well enhance the value of the musket even more with more concrete evidence. With only about 850 of the Greenwood altered M-1816 muskets receiving long range rear sights, this is hard gun to find for sale and one that you will not likely find available again for some time.SOLD