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Reference Items
H & P Conversion Musket

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In the years prior to, and during early portions of the Civil War, U.S. armories were gradually converting flintlock arms in their inventories to the more efficient and dependable percussion ignition. Federal stockpiles of flintlock muskets were inspected and graded, with the better condition arms then set apart for conversion.

Various methods were employed to accomplish the change-over, with some of the work being performed by private contractors. One of the more common methods was the bolster alteration seen here, on what is known as an H & P Conversion.

The flintlock flashpan was removed and a bolster installed near the breech of the barrel, along with a percussion nipple and new hammer. "H & P” for Hewes & Phillips is seen on the face of the bolster. Two thousand such alterations were completed to Model 1816 and Model 1835 flintlocks.

This .69 caliber musket is in fine plus condition showing much arsenal bright finish and original raised grain on the stock, with only tiny storage dents and minor losses opposite lock. It bears its original blued two leaf rear sight. The 1862 date on the smoothbore barrel indicates its conversion during the war. The lock is dated 1832. There is a very sharp eagle over "US” with "Springfield 1832” marked vertically on the lock. Two faint cartouches remain on the stock. Its bayonet and scabbard remain with the musket.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-174

Model 1855 Pistol-Carbine

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The Model 1855 Pistol-Carbine is a single shot, muzzleloading percussion pistol equipped with a separate shoulder stock that effectively converts it to a carbine. By this means, the carbine becomes useable as a longarm fired from the shoulder, increasing its stability and accuracy. Like its 1855 musket counterpart, the pistol-carbine fires a .58 caliber mini-ball and achieves ignition by means of the Maynard tape primer.

Although it was a well-made weapon, the pistol-carbine had one serious flaw; it was obsolete from the time of its first production. The rising popularity of the 6 shot revolvers being produced by the likes of Samuel Colt spelled the doom of the single-shot pistol. However, with the onset of the Civil War and the early shortage of available arms nearly all of the 4,021 carbines already in Federal armories were issued to early volunteers.

This carbine is in very good original condition. Its lock markings are sharp with fine condition metal showing light peppering. VP is marked on the left breech with an eagle head and RR markings on the barrel where it meets stock, good [JT] cartouche; the buttstock is an excellent match to the carbine stock. Two-leaf rear sight is graduated to 500 yds. This gun is complete and original throughout, considered by some collectors one of the more unique and picturesque of all Civil War U.S. martial arms.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-172

Personal items - Willis G. Babcock, KIA Gettysburg

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"…..Willis has laid himself on the altar of his country….” Thus the words of Samuel Babcock as he wrote to his two surviving sons, also serving in the Union army. As he informed them of the death of their younger brother at Gettysburg, Samuel had little notion that his two remaining sons would also give their lives for the cause, a year later and one day apart from each other.

Lt. Babcock’s personal effects include a Manhattan Navy Series II revolver, produced in a quantity of just over 10,000 by Manhattan Arms in Newark, New Jersey beginning in 1859. It has a five shot cylinder roll engraved in five decorative oval panels, its frame and hammer once casehardened. It’s barrel is 6½” in length, with address MANHATTAN FIRE ARMS MFG. CO. NEW YORK. The gripstraps are brass and bear the original period inscription "W. G. Babcock 64th N.Y.S.V." for Lt. William G. Babcock, of Company G, 64th New York Infantry. The revolver is in good condition with even patina and light pitting. All metal is uncleaned and all serial numbers match. The pistol is accompanied by a .36 cal bullet mold and by Lt. Babcock's brass pattern 1851 eagle belt plate which bears script initials on reverse WGB, bench number 215 with number 81 on keeper.

Young Babcock enlisted in the Union Army from Owego, New York at the age of 20, on November 4, 1861 as a Sergeant. He was promoted Lieutenant on July 26, 1862. His regiment fought at Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, was heavily engaged at Antietam, and again at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The carnage he witnessed at Chancellorsville prompted Willis to write his father for advice, as he was considering leaving the army. Samuel Babcock recommended that Willis stick it out for the final months of his enlistment period, when he could then leave the service with honor for himself and his family.

A few weeks later, the 64th endured their most severe fight of the war, in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg where Lt. Babcock was killed in action on the far edge of the field. His body was recovered on July 5th, stripped of his weapons and accouterments, but with a small note pinned to his coat. Written in a strange hand on the paper was "W. G. Babcock, 64th New York Infantry,” the exact notation shown on the gripstrap of his now missing revolver. Thankfully, the scavenger who stripped Willis of his possessions had conscience enough to leave such a note, or Babcock would have been lost to the ages, added to the numerous unidentified casualties of the battle.

The identity of the forager, the role played by Babcock’s revolver and belt rig for the duration of the war, and the paths they followed in subsequent years leading them to this collection, all remain a mystery.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-159

M1816 Belgian Conversion

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Just prior to the outbreak of hostilities in the Civil War, arms technology had advanced beyond the flintlock ignition system employed by longarms for nearly two centuries. As the benefits of percussion ignition were recognized, the U.S. Government reclaimed numerous Model 1816 muskets from storage in arsenals and converted them from flintlock to percussion.

Several types of conversions exist which offer interesting diversity to the collector. This musket is a Model 1816, officially termed "The Belgian Alteration" or more commonly known as the "cone style" conversion. All lock parts were removed and the flashpan was ground down flush with the lockplate, to be filled with a brass plug. A percussion nipple was tapped into the breech of the barrel and a distinct arsenal style hammer was installed. This method of conversion was only performed by the national armories. Virtually all of these arms were issued to early volunteers as the patriotic fervor surpassed available inventory in the armories.

This musket is in excellent condition with lock and barrel dates of 1835. It bears a very sharp eagle over US on its lock, shows strong case colors on the lock and hammer, and two perfect cartouches, CW and ESA with secondary marks at base of trigger guard. Its bayonet and scabbard are intact. It is a nice example of the Springfield conversion.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-155

M1847 Sappers & Miners Musketoon

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Model 1847 U.S. Sappers Musketoon made at the armory at Springfield, Massachusetts from 1847 - 1856. This specimen’s 1847 lock date places it among the first group of 250 manufactured from 1847 to 1848 and so dated. Total production was only 830, of which 228 were eventually altered to artillery models. The combination of its original configuration and 1847 date make this a very rare firearm.

The Sappers is easily recognized by the presence of a lug for the saber bayonet on the front barrel band and the double steel guides fixed on the right side of the muzzle. Lock shows eagle motif over U.S. with vertically marked SPRING/FIELD/1847 behind hammer. No date is present on barrel tang but barrel is correct and unblemished. Barrel breech marked with VP and eagle head, walnut stock bears clear [WAT] cartouche and remains in superb condition. All metal is evenly matched, showing evidence of mild cleaning many years ago. Barrel is smoothbore .69 cal with no rear sight, fastened by two barrel bands. Sling swivel on rear barrel band and below buttstock. Accompanied by original brass first model (with complete fuller) bayonet with leather scabbard (not pictured) which rival the Sappers model in rarity.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-151

M1855 Springfield Carbine

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Examples of this carbine were manufactured by Springfield Armory between 1855 and 1856 in a total quantity of 1020 arms. This is a single shot, .54 caliber muzzle loader with 22" round barrel and single barrel band. All mountings are iron with brass forend cap, all metal parts finished bright. The original button tipped ramrod is fixed to the underside of the barrel with a large oval U-shaped swivel. The walnut stock is 3/4 length, exposing a large portion of the ramrod. Lock markings are an eagle over US forward of the hammer with vertical marks "Spring/Field" and "1855" at the back of the lock. Barrel marks include "VP" with an eaglehead and the date "1855." U.S. is stamped on the tang of the buttplate. It also bears the correct large sling ring at the back of the trigger guard and the two-leaf rear sight on the barrel.

Of historical interest, this is the only arm in the M1855 series issued by the government and not equipped with the Maynard tape primer mechanism. These carbines were already obsolete at the time of their production, as a wide variety of faster and more accurate breechloading carbines were already gaining widespread support. Tradition holds that some the M1855's, after issue were purposely sabotaged by their owners to facilitate issue of one of the more advanced arms then available. The survival rate of these carbines was very limited, making this a scarce and rarely seen firearm.

Member - Mike Sorenson
Item #: CIV-144

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