IDENTIFIED 1863 SPRINGFIELD RIFLE MUSKET

$2,925.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 846-115

This is a good example of the typical mid-war Union army rifle musket, the Springfield Model 1863. This one has a rectangular silver plaque on the left butt flat engraved “I. Mc D. Reid” or perhaps “J. Mc D. Reid” in Old English, pretty plainly the name of the veteran who carried it. The m1863 was an improved version of the model 1861, still a muzzleloading .58 caliber rifle musket, but featuring a beveled hammer, bolster without clean-out screw, and clamping barrel bands with no retaining springs among other improvements (though they thought better about the band springs.) Some 270,000 were produced in 1863 at the Springfield Armory.

Both sights are in place. The barrel is smooth metal from the muzzle to the breech area with bright metal mixed with small gray spotting. The top breech flat around the nipple shows pitting from the corrosive effects of firing percussion cap primers, so the gun has seen action, but the 1863 barrel date is clear, and the V/P/[eagle head] proof stamps on the left side are sharp. The lockplate has a crisp matching 1863 date in back of the hammer and crisp eagle over U.S. Springfield forward of the hammer. The bolster shows some slight pitting from firing, like the top breech, bu the eagle is sharp, like that on the lock plate. The lock is smooth metal, bright, and shows some faint case color at rear. Bands and swivels are in place. The directional “U” stamps on the bands are sharp. The butt plate shows the U.S. but has some gray and crusty brown from the rifle standing upright on a floor for a long time. The ramrod is Civil War, but the brass head indicates it is from a Whitney rifle musket.

The wood to metal fit is tight and the wood has good, deep color and just minor light handling scratches and a few small dings. The left side flat shows some small pressure dents, but two inspector cartouches are evident. The mechanics are excellent and the bore is good, slightly dirty, but it will clean and has good rifling.

The silver plaque measures about ¾ inch by 2 7/8 inches and is professionally engraved with a ric-rac border and is fastened at the corners with small nails. A previous owner identified the soldier as “I.M. Reid” from Iowa, and there are not many men named “I. Reid” to choose from. A quick check of CWData shows only three, one of whom has “N.” as a middle initial and one with no middle initial. The sole “I.M. Reid” was born in Virginia but enlisted at West Liberty, Iowa, at age 27 on 8/15/1862 and mustered as a private in Co. D of the 35th Iowa Infantry on 8/29/1862. He was severely wounded at Pleasant Hill, LA, 4/9/1864, and was discharged 12/20/1864 at Davenport. We pick him up applying for an invalid pension in 1866 and see his wife Maggie applied for a widow’s pension in 1892, but have not tracked him otherwise. His middle name clearly started with an “M,” but we cannot establish it was something starting “McD.” and published Civil War enlistment records are not usually detailed enough to pick such things up. We also cannot rule out entirely our other I. Reid, also Isaac, who served in an Ohio unit late in the war, and other variations are possible if you read the Old English as a “J” rather than an “I.” As they say, the rifle is worthy of further research. If the 35th Iowa identification holds up, they were a good fighting unit of the 15th and 16th Corps, losing 5 officers and 44 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded at actions such as Jackson and Pleasant Hill, where Reid was one of some 42 wounded in the fighting. [SR]

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