1841 Rifle - Robbins and Lawrence Dated 1849
The 1841 rifle was the first percussion rifle adopted and production started in 1844 at Harper's Ferry Armory. 5 contractors produced 1841 rifles under contract for the Government. 66,500 were delivered from all the contractors. Robbins and Lawrence had a contract to produce 15,000 model 1841 Rifles between 1848 and 1853. This example is dated 1849 on both the lock and the barrel tang. As delivered the rifles had a fixed rear sight and no provision for a bayonet. With the start of the Civil War in 1861, these rifles were in demand for the newly organized regiments. Massachusetts had some 560 Model 1841 rifles in their state inventory. Sometime in the later part of 1861 Massachusetts received an additional 4,000 1841 rifles, which had been made by Robbins and Lawrence. These rifles were in original configuration, 54 caliber, with a fixed rear sight and no provision for a bayonet. Mass shared these rifles with Maine (2,161) and New Hampshire (961). Mass. then contracted to alter 1,839 by Drake & Co. Their alteration consisted of adding a new front and rear sight and provide a new socket bayonet with a socket large enough to fit the rifle barrel diameter. Mass issued their rifles to the 46th and 51st Mass infantry regiments. The State of New Hampshire alter their 961 rifles by adding a saber bayonet lug to the side of the barrel. The original sights were not altered. Most of NH 1841 rifles were issued to the 9th NH infantry. A number of period photographs exist showing the 9th NH with 1841 rifles with saber bayonets.
This example is interesting in that it is marked NH in the wood on the left side of the stock and has the mortise for the saber bayonet lug on the side of the barrel. The NH lug was attached by dovetail and two screws, one in the lug and one in the long guide. This barrel has a piece of metal plugging the dovetail where the lug would have been. The screw hole for the guide has been plugged as well. In addition it has the new front sight and rear sight used in the Drake alteration. So in effect it had both alterations. So it is a bit of a question where it went. There is that NH stamp in the wood that show NH ownership. With this example having both alterations it raises the question that perhaps the same firm performed the conversion for both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Since the Bayonet lug from the NH alteration was removed, it seems this example went to Massachusetts.
The rifle itself in a nice example of a Robins and Lawrence produced 1841 rifle. It is complete and nicely marked. The metal is a silvery grey color with areas of light pitting. The markings are all deep and readable. There are some spots of pitting on the lock but the Firm name is clear as well as the Windsor and the date. The barrel has a version of the 1858 rear sight mounted on the barrel with a screw. The brass front sight was removed when the iron front sight was installed. The front sight also serves as the bayonet lug for the socket bayonet. The rifling is nice and the bore is 54 caliber. The barrel has clear inspector's marks and the date on the barrel tang is small and fine and readable.
The stock is very nice with strong clear cartouches. A very Clear WAT stamp is in the rear of the wood flat. The other stamp is clear as well. Between the two is a stamp that looks to have an X through it. I speculate it might have been a MS for Massachusetts ownership. And there is a NH stamped in the wood as well. The interior of the patchbox is crisp and fresh. The wood is very nice but does have a few dings and scrapes. The brass furniture is nice and complete. The ramrod looks to be a type used on conversion 1841 rifles and looks original. It is not the original design 1841 ramrod.
This 1841 rifle displays very well and is a interesting combination of two alterations.
I just picked up the drake bayonet for this conversion.