RARE BEN BUTLER U.S. LINDNER CONVERSION MODEL 1841 RIFLE

$7,500.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1142-11

This is one of two hundred M1841 Rifles altered to the Lindner breechloading system for General Benjamin Butler in Fall 1861. Massachusetts had acquired 4,000 M1841s made by Robbins and Lawrence from the federal government, likely for issue to volunteer units being raised for the U.S., of which more than half were in turn sold to other states. Of those retained by the state, 100 were altered to the Lindner system in Fall 1861 by the firm of Allen and Morse, along with three samples altered by Amoskeag. These remained in state hands and were not issued. At the same time, however, Ben Butler was in Boston to recruit and equip New England troops and arranged for the purchase of 200 other M1841s from the state, which he also sent to Allen and Morse for alteration. These were completed, issued sometime after December 20, and were taken by Butler on his expedition to the Gulf where they saw action in the hands of the 12th Connecticut and were then reissued to other units of his command (Moller.)

The Lindner alteration involved removing 3 ¼ inches of the barrel breech and fitting a spring-loaded breechblock, somewhat on the idea of the Hall, that was released to pivot upward for loading by rotating a screw-sleeve cover fitted with a bolt handle, the sleeve acting to move the breechblock forward and seal the breach when closed. Butler’s U.S. alteration differs from the Massachusetts version in the use of brass for the reinforcing floor plate and long upper tang, along with a tang-mounted adjustable peep sight rather than rear barrel sight, and conventional rifle musket front sight mounted closer to the muzzle, rather one mounted for a Drake bayonet.

The wood has pleasing dark tones and a good fit to the metal. It does show handling marks as these rifles, in contrast to the state guns, were actually issued. The left forestock shows two areas of shallow chipping between the barrel bands and wear on the upper edge at the breech from throwing open the bolt. The right shows lesser handling dings forward and some minor chips and a narrow, repaired crack below the semicircular cut-out for the bolt handle forward of the lock plate. The side flat shows some dings on the upper edge and there is minor wear to the rod channel. The lock apron is tight to the plate and shows only minor rounding to the front and rear. Butt plate and base plate fit tight, with a very short narrow gap on one edge of the base plate, part of the alteration, and a sharp U.S. on the buttplate tang. Both sides of the butt show small handling dings and scratches. All the brass has a matching, very pleasing, mellow patina. The barrel forward of the sleeve shows gray and brown spotting, the breech being a bit cleaner, with case-hardened hammer showing some brownish blue and the lockplate showing some similar color, rubbed, but with sharp ROBBINS / & / LAWRENCE / US markings forward of the hammer and WINDSOR, VT / 1850 a the rear. The breech shows crisp US/JH/P inspection marks and the top of sleeve is crisply stamped PATENTED / MAR. 29, 1859. The patchbox cut-out is sharp, the hole for an extra nipple is there, and the door is numbered 35, Moller noting that numbers ranging from 9 to 176 are known, indicating that all two-hundred were serialized. The rod, bands, springs and swivels are all in place. The tang sight is missing, but the base retains the knurled set screw.

Intended for rapid-fire, long-range shooting, and skirmishing by allowing the soldier to reload while prone, the Lindners must have appealed to Butler, who liked modern arms, acquiring Greene and Sharps breechloading rifles as well for his New Orleans venture, and even tried out Gatling guns later in his military career. This is scarce breechloading rifle, all the more so as a pattern with known field use. [sr] [ph:m]

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