IDENTIFIED FIELD USED 9th MICHIGAN CAVALRY M1860 SPENCER ARMY RIFLE

$3,950.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 2021-01

This low-numbered Spencer rifle, #3670, is verbally identified to Jerome K. Brown,  Co. K 9th Michigan Cavalry, and is one number away from one documented by Springfield Research Services as belonging to a member of the same regiment and company. This is the classic Civil War repeating rifle and bears characteristic signs of field use by a mounted soldier. Spencer carbines were not manufactured until Fall 1863, the first 7,500 Spencers produced for the army in early 1863 being rifles and issued to both infantry and cavalry outfits. They saw heavy action in eastern and western theaters of war in the hands of units such as Wilder’s Lightning Brigade and Custer’s Michigan Cavalry Brigade.

This rifle is complete, all original, and follows the standard configuration of the Civil War Model 1860 Spencer Army Rifle. Front and rear sights are in place and the rear sight is complete. Nosecap and all bands, springs, screws and swivels are present. The metal is smooth, shows a little crustiness here and there, a minor ding or two, but no pitting, and has a uniform plum brown patina on barrel, receiver, lockplate and buttplate. The bands and hammer are smooth as well and show a matching, slightly deeper color. The breechblock, when lowered, shows steel gray with a hint of color and even some faint blue on screw heads. The mechanics are good. The bore is in the black, but has visible rifling. The magazine tube is present. The three-line Spencer address stamp is fully legible on top of the receiver. The serial number at the wrist is sharp.

The wood has a good fit to the metal and generally good color. The buttstock shows minor scratches, dings and small wear spots, but still shows the outlines of a cartouche at the left wrist. The forestock shows some dark spots, scratches and wear on the right side, and lots of wear on the left, particularly lower down just above the lower band and from there down to the receiver. This is exactly the type of wear that shows up on Spencer rifles that have seen service in mounted units. The rifles were not equipped with side-bars and rings for carbine slings, but only with sling swivels for carriage by standard rifle slings. Carrying it across the back was uncomfortable and inconvenient for mounted troops, who even complained about the light, early Smith carbines set up with sling swivels, and who sometimes improvised a carbine sling ring for the Spencer rifle by screwing a saddle staple into the stock, etc.. More often they opted to carry it across the pommel of the saddle, producing precisely the wear evident on this one: mostly on the left side at the bottom of the forestock from laying the gun across the pommel, muzzle to the left, and more or less on its left side as it was convenient to grasp it at the wrist and steady it with the right hand, while keeping hold of the reins with the left. Appreciating this is like appreciating an old wine (one of our customers says,) and we would discourage any thought of replacing the forestock, which would degrade a unique historical object into a generic example.

The rifle is accompanied by a 2005 letter written by a previous owner to our consignor, implying he had acquired it in the Hinton, WV, area but was not aware of the identity of the soldier, though our consignor was: Corporal Jerome Brown, Co. K 9th Michigan Cavalry. The rifle’s serial number, 3670, is just one off from #3669, listed in a January 1865 return as in the hands of a member of Co. K 9th Michigan Cavalry, along with a substantial number of other Spencer rifles in the hands of Company K, along with a few in Company B. Using purchase and payment dates in Marcot, the number falls at the tail end of the fourth group of Spencer rifles purchased officially on 4/13/63 and paid for 4/22/63, corresponding nicely to the Brown’s enlistment and muster dates.

Brown (1846-1907) enlisted at age 18 on 4/9/1863 at Mendon, Michigan, and mustered into co. K of the 9th Michigan Cavalry as a private on 4/14/63. He made corporal 6/15/65 and mustered out 7/21/65 at Lexington, N.C. The regiment had begun organizing in 1862 and included many former officers of the 1st Michigan Cavalry. It was officially mustered into service in May 1863 and was armed from the outset with Spencer rifles. It saw its first action in June against guerrillas in Kentucky, took part in the pursuit of John Hunt Morgan, fought under Burnside in Tennessee, and then faced Morgan again in Kentucky, before joining Sherman for the Atlanta Campaign and then the March to the Sea. While under Sherman they serving in Kilpatrick’s cavalry corps, taking part in numerous raids and actions against Wheeler and Hampton. After reaching Savannah, the regiment took part in the campaign of the Carolinas, seeing action in South Carolina and North Carolina while operating in advance and on the flanks and rear of the army against Confederate cavalry, and was skirmishing near Chapel Hill when news of Lee’s surrender was received. They mustered out at Concord, NC, 7/21/65 and were disbanded at Jackson, Michigan, nine days later. They had lost 40 officers and men killed or mortally wounded, and about three times that to Confederate prison camps, sickness and disease. Dyer’s Compendium lists scores of engagements for them and it is a sign of how active they were that Civil War Data records 98 points at which they were engaged with losses of killed, wounded, or captured.

This Spencer saw real use in the war by an active unit and has a great untouched look as it must have had when the veteran brought it home.  It would make a great addition to a cavalry collection.  [sr]

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire!

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