GETTYSBURG COPELAND SPENCER M1860 ARMY RIFLE #2494: THIRD PURCHASE ORDER

$7,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1081-25

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Wiley Sword correlated Spencer production numbers with deliveries to provide estimated serial number ranges for the 1,200 Model 1860 Spencer Army Rifles ordered by Col. Joseph Copeland to arm the 5th Michigan Cavalry, with the remainder being issued to the 6th Michigan. Both units were in the Michigan Cavalry Brigade under Custer at Hunterstown, Hanover, and on the East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg on July 3, and theirs were the only Spencers on the battlefield. Other Spencer rifles may predate the battle, but if you want a Spencer with a real chance of being there, and in the hands of a famous unit, Sword’s serial number range are the best guide. Any rifle falling in that range is scarce. They saw a lot of field use through the rest of the war, with many turned in and reissued, lost, captured, or damaged. This is a good example of one of the most revolutionary weapons to see field service in the war and would be a key piece in any Civil War collection or display.

The first Spencer rifles, produced for the US Navy, ran the serial numbers into the 800 range and an estimated 100 to 250 promotional or private purchase arms pushed the range of the first 500 received by Copeland in late December, 1862, to the 1000-1550 range. These were issued about January 5, 1863, and were supplemented by 500 more, reaching the 1151-2050 serial number range, issued by January 17. Copeland’s final 200 were delivered in the week following January 20 and came from 1,200 falling in the 2051-3250 range that had been delivered to the Washington Arsenal, with the remaining 1,000 from that delivery shipped west for issue to the Ohio sharpshooters. This rifle is crisply numbered 2494 and falls well within this “third purchase” range, even allowing for Roy Marcot’s suggested lowering of the upper number by fifty rifles.

The rifle is complete and all original. Both sights are in place and the rear sight is complete with ladder and slide. All bands, springs, stock tip, and sling swivels are present, as is the magazine. The metal is generally smooth, with some light freckling to the barrel and top of the receiver, and the barrel showing as a medium brown, with slightly darker mounts. The receiver shows as a mottled bluish gray mixed with brown, and a little silver gray next to the hammer and on part of the lever, lighter brown on the rear of the lock plate, a few lighter spots on top from handling, and mostly bluish gray on the lever and triggerguard tang, all with a few small silver gray areas. The buttplate is brown. The markings are good. The range designations on the sight are sharp. The barrel inspector’s initials are legible on the left breech of the barrel. The serial number 2494 is clear on the wrist. The Spencer stamp on top of the receiver is sharp: SPENCER REPEATING / RIFLE CO BOSTON MASS / PAT’D MARCH 6, 1860. Mechanics function well. Bore has very good rifling, with just light scattered peppering.

The wood is a warm brown mixed with dark stains around the barrel bands, etc. It shows wear to the edges, some dings and some hairlines, but is solid. The sides of the barrel channel are worn around the rear sight, a natural place to hold it, and between the top band and stock tip, with the left side showing an old long chip to the edge that is rounded from wear, likely from sliding in and out of a rifle boot, and we see some dings lower down on the forestock that are similarly rounded from continued use. There is a hairline on the left extending a few inches forward from the receiver, and another on the same side running back from the receiver along the wrist through three holes left from brass tacks. Naturally, there are no signs left of cartouches on the wrist. There are some scuffs and minor hairlines toward the buttplate on the left. On the right ten brass tacks are still in place- grouped three-five-three, with one of the five missing. The right buttstock shows some rubs and dark staining around the tacks. The brass tacks might be taken as an Indian addition, but we would expect the rifle to then show harder use, and it looks more like decoration by a frontiersman, civilian or the veteran himself, and in any case a legitimate part of the rifle’s colorful history. These were valued and respected repeating arms.

The Spencer was a revolutionary and influential weapon in the Civil War. The Copeland Spencers saw a lot of field use in hands of their original cavalry owners into 1864, when they were largely replaced by carbines. Many had been lost by that time and those still serviceable were subject to reissue to infantry outfits, further reducing their numbers. This is a very rare rifle, worthy of prominent place in any Civil War, cavalry, or Gettysburg collection.  [ph:L]

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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