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Greenwood of Ohio Rifled & Sighted M-1816 - RARE

Greenwood of Ohio Rifled & Sighted M-1816 - RARE

  • Product Code: FLA-3033-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a very nice example of a relatively scarce rifled and sighted alteration of the US M-1816 Musket. The alteration was performed by Miles Greenwood of Cincinnati, OH for the state of Ohio, during the first year of the American Civil War. Greenwood received state owned M-1816 muskets in both original flint and those that had already been altered to percussion by the national armories. He altered those that needed to be altered to percussion, and further modified the guns by rifling them. Greenwood was also contracted to install long-range rear sights to 1/20th of the guns (5%) that he rifled. Greenwood charged $1.25 each to rifle each of the guns and an additional $1.75 to add the rear sight. Greenwood rifled a total of 23,482 guns for the state of Ohio (16,918 M-1816s and 8,406 M-1842 muskets), and it is estimated that slightly less than 850 had the new sight added. The US arsenals had previously experimented with the rifling of percussion altered M-1816/22/28 muskets during 1856 and 1857 and found that doing so weakened the barrel sufficiently as to make it 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 end result was that a substantial number of the rifled M-1816 muskets burst in the field, and the project was abandoned. Greenwood apparently had more success with the alteration of the 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 a greater distance than the .58 guns. The guns that he altered became known locally as “Greenwood Rifles”, and a number of early war Ohio regiments went off to war carrying muskets that Greenwood had improved. “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 rifled muskets. Miles Greenwood was an interesting entrepreneur in mid-19th Century Cincinnati. He was born in New Jersey in 1807 and in 1832 he established the Eagle Iron Works along the Miami Canal in the Cincinnati area. In 1852 his ironworks were destroyed by fire, and Greenwood subsequently funded the purchase of the first fire engine for the city of Cincinnati and helped to establish the first professional fire department for the city as well. With the coming of the Civil War, Greenwood’s production shifted into high gear, and a local paper noted that by mid-1861 Greenwood was rifling 3,000 smoothbore muskets per day. Greenwood delivered his first 1000 altered arms to the state of Ohio on July 24, 1861. Greenwood also altered and improved foreign muskets during 1861 and 1862, including some Austrian M-1842 “tube lock” muskets that were sent to his factories by General Fremont for conversion to percussion, rifling and sighting. Greenwood was also involved in the production of the first six Gatling Guns in 1862, but again 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. Miles Greenwood died on November 6, 1885 at the age of 78.

The gun offered here is a classic example of a Greenwood altered, rifled & sighted US M-1816 musket. The gun was originally manufactured by Nathan Starr of Middleton, CT in 1834, and is one of 2,360 muskets delivered by Starr in that year. The musket is a US M-1816 Type III in collector terminology, although according to the Ordnance Department it is really a M-1822/28 musket. The lock is marked in three vertical lines behind the hammer: MIDDTN / CONN / 1834 and forward of the hammer is the Starr “Starburst Logo” with the letters US above and N. STARR in an arc below. The barrel tang is marked with the matching 1834 date, and the breech is marked with the letters US over the inspection mark NWP (for contract arms inspector Nahum W. Patch) over a P in a depressed starburst firing proof. 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 legible. The gun has no “re-inspection” cartouche (a set of initials with a number like 2 or 3), due to the fact that when the US inventoried their flintlock muskets in the 1840’s (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 altered to percussion at US government arsenals using the cone in barrel or Belgian system. The musket is marked with the alphanumeric mating mark H 2 on the top of the buttstock comb and under the barrel. This pattern of markings has been identified as the system used by the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, NY when altering US muskets from flintlock to percussion. A re-inspection cartouche is stamped on the buttstock comb as well; forward of the buttplate tang, showing that the percussion alteration was correctly performed and the musket has passed the conversion inspection. This gun additionally bears the alphanumeric mating mark H 7 on the barrel tang and in the stock next to the barrel tang. This mark may have been applied by Greenwood when the rifling and sighting operations were performed.

The gun is in about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition overall, and is a very nice example of a scarce Miles Greenwood Rifled & Sighted Musket. The metal has a medium pewter patina, with areas of lightly scattered age discoloration and oxidized staining. Most of the metal is smooth, with some patches of light peppering and pinpricking scattered along the length of the barrel. The only area of significant pitting is located at the breech, which shows light to moderate pitting. This is typical of percussion arms that saw heavy service. The lock functions crisply and correctly on all positions and is mechanically sound. The musket retains both of its original sling swivels, and its period replacement ramrod. The rod is a trumpet shaped rod with a recessed tip for use with conical projectiles. The rod is full length and threaded on the end, and was likely added to the gun during the process of rifling and sighting it, or it may have been picked up off the battlefield to replace the original ramrod. It is interesting to note that the only other Greenwood altered M-1816 that I have ever owned had this same pattern of ramrod and not a button head, 1816 pattern 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 is mostly bright and shows only some lightly scattered pitting along its length, rating about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE 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 VERY GOOD condition and is full length, solid and free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock shows the usual assortment of bumps, dings and bruises from use in the field, but nothing exceptional, especially when you realize that the gun is 181 years old, and had a military career of some 27 years before it was altered for Civil War service. The number 3 is painted behind the triggerguard in the belly of the stock in very old paint that may have originally by white, but now has a yellowish tinge. It is not clear if this is some sort of rack number, an old collection number, or what. What is clear is that the paint almost certainly dates to the period of use.

Overall this is a really nice, completely original and untouched 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 an 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. 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.


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Tags: Greenwood, of, Ohio, Rifled, Sighted, M, 1816, RARE