CONFEDERATE ALTERATION OF A 1763 REVOLUTIONARY WAR CHARLEVILLE

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Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 766-919

This is a classic Revolutionary War French 1763 pattern Charleville musket altered to percussion using the drum bolster method and an 1861 pattern military hammer. The musket is still full length, with very nice wood, having good color and edges, and a good fit to the metal. The barrel retains its “M1763” engraved in a “semi-script” on the breech plug tang and a small “B73” at left breech that may be the actual date of manufacture. French arsenals began updating older muskets in 1770 and this does not have the 1763 style ramrod channel cover, and has been updated with a spring for the rear barrel band.

The musket was altered to percussion by removing the external lock parts, fitting a cylindrical bolster drilled for a nipple into the old touch hole, and mounting an 1861 style military hammer. The lockplate is deeply stamped “C. Curtis,” who is almost certainly the one performing the alteration. We have not tracked him down, but the method was simple, common in civilian guns, and within the means of most small town gunsmiths. The date of the musket, the method of conversion, and date and style of the hammer, however, point to a gunsmith arming early war southern volunteers. Thousands of these muskets remained in national and state hands after the Revolution. (Indeed, they were the pattern for the first muskets produced at U.S. arsenals and by contractors as the government sought to replenish national stocks, supply militia needs, and encourage domestic arms production starting in the early 1790s.) They were too old, however, to be altered to the new percussion system by the national or state governments in the 1850s and even in the press to obtain arms in 1861 northern gun makers had plenty of more recent flintlock arms to work on.  Only in the south do we see evidence of antiquated Charleville and Brown Bess muskets being brought out of long-term storage in an effort to arm volunteers in 1861. J.P. Murray of Columbus, GA, altered several hundred older flintlock military muskets, though not quite of Revolutionary vintage, using the drum bolster method, and mounting British P51 style military hammers with high spurs. Ben Michel illustrated a Brown Bess with drum bolster conversion in the catalog of his Confederate alterations (Lot 1067.) And, Murphy, Confederate Rifles and Muskets, shows an ambrotype of a Virginia Confederate showing off a French Model 1777 with a drum bolster conversion and crude hammer (p.541.)

The musket remains full length, with all barrel bands, ramrod, front sight on the double-band end cap and top mounted bayonet stud in place. Barrel length is 42”. The sling swivels were removed (the lug in front of the triggerguard cut.)  The barrel and iron mounts are generally deep brown and smooth metal, though with some roughness at the top breech from firing or process of conversion. The wood has very good edges around the lock and left flat. The lockplate shows some wear and perhaps an effort to efface the original maker, but some careful inspection might show which of the three French arsenals (Charleville, Ste. Etienne, or Maubeuge) produced it. Muskets from all three were imported here in large quantities to aid American independence, and cause the British trouble. This is an interesting musket with a lot of history.  [sr]

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