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41173Re: Was: 1812 Firearms issued to non-Federal US troops/ accuracy

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  • Sanford
    Nov 6 7:05 PM
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      I'm a new member of this group and have been lurking for a short while. I have been a rev war reenactor for about 12 years in New England but recently moved to the mid West and so am pursuing a War of 1812 impression.

      I have been following this thread with some interest and I would like to comment on the use of the term "Charleville musket" in this time period.

      This term could well apply to the arms of the US forces around 1812, at least by the US Government. Maj Hicks, in his work "U.S. Military Firearms" (1962) shows a typical contract of 1798 which states:

      "The said Arms shall be delivered at (BLANK) in the State of (BLANK) and shall be made after the Charleville model. …"

      The above quote from a contract of 1798 is, of course, a bit early for our period but habit and language die hard.

      Then, on the 1st of Jan 1799 a receipt from a Mr Rhodes: "Received of John S. Dexter, Supervisor for the District of Rhode Island, One Musquet, with Bayonet complete, of the Charleville pattern, …"

      Maj Hicks also states under the heading "Contract Muskets of 1808":

      "It must be kept in mind that the arms manufacturing armories were known at that time as the "Charleville pattern." Then too some of the real French Model 1763 muskets were given out as patterns."

      Peter Schmidt, in his work "U.S. Military Flintlock Muskets, And Their Bayonets, The early years 1790 – 1815" includes a letter from the Commissary General of Purchases dated 25 May 1812 requesting the storekeeper at Springfield armory, John Chaffee, to provide a complete inventory of all the ordnance at Springfield. In response to this request Mr Chaffee conducted an inventory and stated that there were 70,201 muskets on hand and that 1,406 of them were French, English, and Dutch; he further stated that many muskets required inspection prior to being issued. As a result of this inspection the French muskets seemed to be in better condition than the Springfield muskets.

      Included in the inventory of Springfield armory completed in 1812, there was a total of 40,391 serviceable "Springfield" muskets (both from the national armory and from contractors) and 1,000 serviceable French muskets.

      Finally, Mr Schmidt includes a letter dated 19 Dec 1803 from the Superintendents Office, Philadelphia to Geo. Ingels, Military Storekeeper, U S Arsenal [Schuylkill]:

      "Sir, Be pleased to deliver to Tench Coxe Esqr, Purveyor of public Supplies One Charleville Musket with Bayonet complete, and one good Rifle, also One Bayonet Scabbard with Belt, to be retained in his office as patterns."

      Mr Schmidt speculates that this musket was most likely one from Harpers Ferry used as a pattern for the 1808 contracts.

      I realize that the `official' language had changed by 1812, my intention here is to show that the term "Charleville musket" was in use by the US government shortly before 1812 to describe the official muskets and therefore the term may well have still been in general use. In addition, given the fairly large numbers of "French" muskets stored at Springfield there is a very real possibility they were issued to the Army for the war. And of course, all of the muskets up to the Model 1816 were based on the French Mle 1763 Leger (aka: 1766/68) provided in great quantity to the United States during the AWI and generally called "Charleville" regardless of which of the three manufacturies they actually were produced at.

      John, back to your original question and your statement that Model 1795 Springfields are pretty scarce. You can swap out the lockplate from a Charleville Model 1763 (aka 1766/68) with one from the Rifle Shoppe with just a bit of work. Or, if you want to go with an India gun, www.militaryheritage.com has a Springfield for $560.00 US, and Dixie Gun Works has Petersolis' M 1795 for $1,250.00..

      Just thought I'd throw my two cents worth in.

      Sandy Walker
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