In early 1861 the Harper's Ferry arsenal had not yet tooled up to produce the Model 1861. They were still actively producing the older Model 1855 rifle musket and as a result, about the arsenal held about 15,000 M1855 muskets in Armory storage. When hostilities erupted in April of 1861, 1st Lieutenant Roger Jones set fire to the Arsenal building and fled to Carlisle Pennsylvania. When Confederate forces arrived later that month, they were still able to salvage over 300 machines along with 57,000 parts and stocks. These components were sent to the Armory at Richmond, where they were later assembled into complete muskets.
The guns that were salvaged from the fire at Harper's Ferry, along with the muskets that were assembled at Richmond make the M1855 Harper's Ferry uniquely Confederate, as authors agree that it would be highly unusual for a Harper's Ferry rifle musket to have made it's way North prior to the war, as the Northern troops were mostly supplied by Springfield; whose output and quality were much higher than Harper's Ferry.
This particular Harper's Ferry M1855 has all the ear marks of a musket that was assembled at Richmond from salvaged components. The stock is unmarked, which is common for Richmond-assembled guns. The barrel was made by Harper's Ferry, as indicated by its distinct Harper's Ferry eagle head proof mark (each arsenal had a different style eagle head proof mark, which can be used to identify the maker of a particular barrel). The dates of the lock and barrel are mismatched, which would suggest the musket was assembled from components.
The musket is in great shape. The stock is good with crisp edges and some minor handling marks but no cracks or splits.
The lock is very good with a solid half and full cock. The Maynard tape primer components of the lock were removed, as was the primer door. This is a common feature of Southern-used '55s. As the South had trouble procuring Maynard tape primers and used traditional musket caps to prime their guns instead. While we think this is interesting talking point of this musket, we do understand the the gun's new owner may have a desire to display it "complete" so we have included a finished and aged reproduction primer door and pin with the musket (see pictures).
The barrel is full length and both front and rear sights are original; although the sight spring is missing from the rear sight. The bore is good with strong rifling an only scattered surface rust.
All the furniture is original including the ramrod; which is full length.
Questions? Call us at 262-473-5444