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Excellent example of an unaltered US Model 1841 in unissued, fine condition. The condition of the nipple and bore suggest that this rifle has been rarely, if ever, fired.
Eli Whitney contracted with the US Government for 22,500 rifles, delivered between 1842 and 1854. The first US mass produced rifle, the 1841 was used extensively by Dragoons, Mounted Rifle Regiments and US Infantry “Regulars” prior to the Civil War. After the John Brown Raid on Harpers Ferry in October of 1859 the southern states demanded additional weapons. In December, 10,000 Mississippi Rifles were sent to southern armories at the direction of the Secretary of War. These rifles saw extensive service for the south when war erupted in 1861. As such, the Mississippi Rifle is considered a secondary Confederate firearm by collectors.
While a number of Mississipi rifles were altered to .58 caliber, this rifle remains in its original .54 caliber. All metal is smooth with the lockplate and hammer still showing faint signs of mottled case-coloring. The barrel is in original brown, fading to an even patina. There is no pitting present. The brass is a beautiful, even and uncleaned mustard color which compliments the condition of the rifle. Screw heads are excellent and un-marred. The two large buttplate screws still retain 50-70% of the original fire blue. The barrel date of 1851 matches the lock date. All inspector proof marks, including the correct STEEL stamping on the barrel, are present and crisp. In addition to the date, the lockplate is correctly stamped E. Whitney and New Haven.
The wood is untouched with sharp edges at the lock bevels and barrel margins. Fine wood to metal finish is typical of the Whitney contract examples. Two cartouches are visible on the stock flat. There is a scratch on the wood flat opposite the lock which culminates in a short, hairline crack where the wood meets the barrel metal. This can be seen in the pictures. It is the only blemish on an otherwise perfect and beautiful stock.
Most US Mississippi Rifles saw heavy use and fine, unaltered examples such as this one are rare. Most were issued prior to, or during the Civil War. 10,000 went south to join many that were already housed in southern arsenals. All of these saw heavy use by a Confederacy desperate to arm its soldiers. After the war, Mississippi rifles were issued to volunteer regiments in the west for use during the Indian Wars. A few remained in armories, unissued and were sold by the US Government through agents such as Bannermans. This rifle, if issued, saw little or no use and remains today an outstanding example of the US 1841 Rifle.