Old South Military Antiques

Richmond Armory Rifle Musket
Item #: OS-7259

The parts and machinery taken at Harper’s Ferry in April of 1861 were transported to Richmond, Virginia and set up in the old Virginia Armory. The state of Virginia transferred the armory to the Confederate Government in August, 1861 and from that time forward the facility was known as the Richmond Armory. The Richmond Armory was far and away the most prolific maker of arms for the Confederacy. The rifles and rifle-muskets made at the Richmond Armory are the most widely recognized and sought after long arm of the Confederate era.

Slight variations in the profile, markings, and the materials used in the construction of the early Richmond rifle-muskets exist. This variation allows the modern collector to more specifically calculate the date of manufacture of a particular arm. In the case of this example, it has the year 1862 stamped into the low hump lock and into the top of the barrel flat. This of course dates its year of manufacture, but it can be dated more specifically than just the year by its configuration.

In February of 1862 the Armory changed the method of attaching the nose cap from a rivet to a screw and the high hump lockplate was still in use. In March, the Armory reduced the lock plate profile and made the last of the iron butt plates. April saw the first full month of lower profile lock production and the first of brass butt plates like that shown here. May brought little change, but the Federal army’s glacial advance up the Virginia peninsula induced the authorities in Richmond to move the Armory’s stock making machinery to Georgia. This of course took time and the Armory’s production plummeted by more than fifty percent in June due to lack of stocks. In order to keep up all possible production, the Armory began producing stocks by shaping and sanding stock blanks by hand. July brought new changes; with the stock making machinery out of service and progress on the handmade stocks slow, the lack of stocks seriously affected output; new production remained less than half of its earlier totals, and the Armory’s focus shifted to repairing arms picked up on the Seven Days battlefields and utilizing parts leftover from Harper’s Ferry. During this month only 471 rifle-muskets were manufactured, but 1050 arms salvaged from the Seven Days Battles around Richmond were put in order. In August only 197 handmade stocks were produced in Richmond; new production continued to fall and salvage and repair was pushed forward. September saw the production of only 20 handmade stocks. In October no handmade stocks were produced and the first machined stocks made in Macon, Georgia were sent to Richmond.

The rifle-musket shown here has an unmarked brass buttplate and a riveted, brass nose cap. The ramrod appears to be original to the gun and is the tapered shank Richmond style. One iron barrel band is totally unmarked and two are marked with the U found on Model 1861 U.S. arms and it has a Harper’s Ferry hammer. The stock of this example has the Maynard primer mortise which shows that it is not a Richmond Armory manufactured stock, but rather one utilized during the window of time between the Seven Days Battles at the end of June 1862 and the end of September, 1862 when the newly manufactured stocks began arriving in Richmond. Comparing the rifle-musket’s configuration to production records at the Richmond Armory indicates that the gun was made in July, August or September of 1862. It was most likely made in July of 1862, since the guns most easily manufactured would have been the first to be assembled. When the barrel and stock were fitted, the Roman numeral IV was cut into the stock’s barrel bed and into the bottom of the barrel.

The gun’s condition is excellent; the metal has a beautiful natural patina with no pitting at all. An indicator of its exceptional condition is the fact that you can still easily read the year stamping on the top of the barrel flat which is a rare occurrence. On only a very few surviving Richmond long arms does this date stamp remain legible. The rifling remains strong. The stock shows the minor dings and nicks consistent with use and has an untouched, near black patina. The gun’s only flaw is that one ear of the rear site has chipped off, but wear and patina indicate that this was done in its period of use. The stock has the name E. (or B) Ward, stamped into the right face and the name E. Beck carved deeply into the right stock face. There are several initial and name matches for both of these gentlemen on the Confederate roster so I am unable to determine the precise identity of the Confederate infantryman that carried the weapon.

The gun is completely original and unaltered in any regard since its manufacture. Richmond rifle-muskets lacking a Richmond made stock are generally looked at with skepticism as to their originality, and rightly so. However, on this example you can still read the barrel date assuring that the lock and stock are original to each other, and the barrel and stock are both marked with the Roman numeral IV, assuring that they are original to each other. These factors combined with records of the Richmond Armory leave no doubt whatsoever that this Richmond rifle-musket is complete and original as manufactured in the Richmond Armory in the summer or possibly early fall of 1862. Even though the gun is original, the lack of a Richmond produced stock affects its value. A Richmond rifle-musket in this fabulous condition with a Richmond produced stock would be priced at approximately $20,000.00.

This one can be purchased for $12,000.00.

Price $12,000.00 USD