As hostilities between American and Great Britain escalated during the first few years of the 19th Century, it became clear to the U.S. government that a second war with England was impending. To make matters worse, America founds its aresenals sparsely stocked and made up of outdated Revolutionary War-era weapons. In response to this, the Militia Act of 1808 was passed. Under the act, the Federal government undertook to procure arms for the individual states. Each states was allocated a given number of newly-produced muskets each year depending on its population. The contracts to build these muskets were to be given to private and state armories, while muskets built by the Federal armories of Springfield and Harper's Ferry were to be reserved for the regular U.S. armed forces.
The 1808 contract guns were not manufactured under the same strict gauging as the M1795 muskets produced at the Federal armories; as the private armories could not match the manufacturing capabilities of Springfield. Instead, loose guidelines were established for the 1808 muskets: the new arms had to be .69 caliber, they had to have the ability to mount a socket bayonet, and they needed to roughly conform to the dimensions of either 1808 Springfield or 1808 Harper's Ferry.
As a result the state-procured guns vary from one manufacturer to the next - particularly in the shape of the butt stocks and combs. In fact, its interesting to note that stock modification ordered by the state of New York during a contract with Eli Whitney would later be adopted by the U.S. government when developing the M1816.
This particular musket was built by Connecticut gun maker Ethan Stillman. Stillman was a small firm located in Burlington Connecticut. Unlike large companies like Pomeroy, Waters, and Whitney, who had contracts to deliver arms to several different states, Stillman appears to only have made arms for Connecticut.
According to author George Moller, this particular musket represents the earliest known contract for the state of Connecticut; as indicated by the musket's 1808 date stamp; making this a true War of 1812 musket. It is not known how many muskets of this pattern were produced by Stillman, but they do represent an extreme rarity on the modern collector market.
This musket is in good attic-found condition. Like many other state contract muskets, this gun was converted to percussion via the "drum" method. However, the hammer holds solid on both full and half cock and the lock works well overall.
The stock is very good with no cracks or chips; and wonderfully defined lock moldings, indicating that the stock was never refinished.
The cock holds solid on both half and full cock, and the frizzen spring is crisp.
This musket is based off of Springfield's pattern and as such the barrel is a full 44" which corresponds to Moller's research on this particular contract. The bore is dark and "as-found" with some rust and scattered pitting.
The furniture is all original and in good condition; although the front swivel is missing.