By Joseph Rochez
This gun was primarily used in the United States Civil War by the Union to fight against Confederate armies. This rifle musket was manufactured at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Springfield Armory – now part of the National Park Service – has massive historic value, as it was used to supply firearms to the US military from 1777 until its closing in 1968. Following the American Revolution, there was a decline in military use. Henry Knox, the Secretary of State at the time, established the armory as a weapons development and storage facility due to a surplus of metal, lumber, and oil.
The Springfield Model 1863 rifle musket was produced to fight the US Civil War. There were two variants. This gun differs from its model II as the barrel bands are sealed by screws rather than springs. The Springfield 1863 Model I was one of the first rifle-muskets to be built. Production of rifle-muskets began in 1855 and continued throughout the Civil War. Because there were more screws on the rifle rather than springs and nuts, it would have had less recoil when shot, which meant a faster shot and more accurate shot than muskets manufactured earlier in the century. Although this gun has a more accurate shot, this was still a close range type of gun, where the shooter would have to get within a 50-100 meters of their target.
The butt of the gun has a hand carving of a clover. The clover implies that the soldier who owned the gun originally was a part of the Union army 2nd Corps, the regiment of the Union army which was in service the longest and sustained the greatest casualties in the war of the 100 regiments.
The 2nd Corps was in service from 1862 to 1865 and fought in famous battles such as Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Farmville. The casualties in this regiment suffered almost 2,000 men lost in action throughout its three years in action. The soldier who owned this gun must have seen unprecedented violence on a daily basis where he might have lost a brother, cousin, or close friend. One can only wonder how personal fighting in the Civil War must have been. The casualties suffered in this war overall was staggering: in all the wars the United States have fought, the civil war was known as the bloodiest war in American history and suffered the greatest percentage of men lost on the field. This is a time in history which cannot be forgotten.
Every soldier has a story to tell such as the soldier who held this gun.
“Model 1863 Percussion Rifle-Musket Type 1.” Fine Military Americana. Horse Soldier: Gettysburg, PA. Web. September 2016.
“Springfield Armory U.S. 1863.” Rock Island Auction Company. Rock Island, IL. Web. September 2016.
“U.S. Springfield Model 1863 Type II Rifle Musket.” NRA Museums. The National Rifle Association of America: Fairfax, VA. Web. September 2016.
Hickok45. “1863 Springfield Civil War Rifle (Original).” Online video clip. YouTube: 21 September 2014. Web. September 2016.
“Union Army 2nd Corps from Fox’s Regimental Losses Chapter VIII.” Shotgun’s Home of the American Civil War. CivilWarTalk Network. 23 February 2002. Web. September 2016.