Harper's Ferry 1855 Rifle Musket - Dated 1858
The 1855 rifle musket started production at Harpers Ferry in August 1857. The 1855 was a culmination of trials in the field of the Maynard tape primer and trials on rifling and studies to determine the most effective caliber for the new rifle musket. The type I configuration had a brass nosecap, a sliding leaf long range sight and no patchbox. The rear sight was modified to the three leaf version in mid 1858. At Harpers Ferry there was a misunderstanding on implementing the modification to the rear sight and the situation was not resolved until mid 1859. According to the to the new book "US MODEL 1855 Series of Small Arms" in 1858 production of this configuration of the 1855 Rifle Musket (second pattern rear sight) only a small number were produced. Production of all 1855 rifle muskets at Harpers Ferry was a little more than half of that of Springfield. While the burning of the facility in 1861 did not destroy the manufacturing equipment, the building used to store completed arms were almost a complete loss. Consequently Harpers Ferry 1855 arms are scarcer than those of Springfield. With the start of the war the 1855's being the most modern armory product, were in high demand and most saw heavy service.
This example is dated 1858 on both the lock and the barrel. The metal is a light grey patina and has a attractive appearance. The markings are clear and readable. The position of the date on the barrel is aligned with the bottom of the eagle head, which is a characteristic of Harpers Ferry. On Springfield barrels the date is centered on the VP Eaglehead. There are a few small areas of light pitting, but primarily the metal has a smooth texture. The parts are complete and all original. The primer mechanism is complete and functioning. The barrel has strong clear rifling. The stock is sound and full length. There are some dings and handling marks. The stock has had a light sanding and the one cartouche is visible.