Bavarian M1842/51 Rifled and Sighted Musket
Offered here is one of the scarcest of European longarms imported for use in the American Civil War. This gun has long been called the Bavarian Model 1842 Musket, but more recent information published in “European Arms in the Civil War” more accurately classifies these as the Model 1842/51 Rifled Musket.
The Model 1842 Musket was the first percussion ignition musket adopted as standard issue in Bavaria. It was a nominally .70 caliber smoothbore percussion muzzleloading musket with a 41 1/8th inch barrel. The muskets are iron mounted, with three barrel bands that are secured by band springs. The upper barrel band is single strapped. The front sight is an iron blade attached directly to the barrel just behind the rear edge of the upper band. A bayonet lug is present on the underside of the muzzle.
The stocks, though thought to have been walnut, are noted as being Cherry in “European Arms in the Civil War” by Marc Schwalm and Klaus Hofmann. The belly of the forearm has a decidedly flat surface with a very thin cut exposing the ramrod channel, in the same manner as the much more commonly encountered Austrian Muster 1842 Musket. The left side of the buttstock is equipped with a well-defined raised cheek rest.
In the 1850s the Bavarians began experimenting with rifling their stocks of smoothbore arms in the 1850s. Mr. Schwalm’s research indicates that 1,000 Bavarian Model 1842 Muskets were made up with unusual “elbow sights” and rifled. None of these muskets show any of the typical Amberg proofs normally found on Bavarian arms, and their absence in Europe leads many to believe that these were experimental arms made up for trials. The unique rear sights on these muskets are ranged for a rather optimistic 1,450 yards. The muskets were rifled with a five-groove rifling, rather than the four-groove pattern on other Bavarian arms, that enlarged to bore to .708 caliber.
The fragmentary records and poor descriptions of arms imported for service in the Civil war make tracking the numbers of a particular type of musket very difficult. However, it would seem that a fair number of Bavarian muskets were imported by the Federal Government as the category “Rifled Musket, Bavarian, caliber .69” is seen in the 1865 Instructions for Making Quarterly Returns for Ordnance and Ordnance Stores. Research by David Noe has revealed that nearly 3,000 Bavarian M1842 Muskets were sold off by the Federal Government after the war. Presumably, this figure included a number of other type of muskets that were imported alongside the actual Bavarian arms, and likely include many of the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th class arms purchase from arms brokers such as Herman Boker or John Hoey in the first years of the war.
The Bavarian Model 1842/51 Rifled Musket offered here is in very good overall condition. The stock and metal components have been cleaned, but the rifle retains a very appealing look. Iron components have taken on a dulled gunmetal patina that contrasts with the light color of the wood. There is some scattered very light pitting on the barrel. The bore shows strong five groove rifling, with only minor pitting.
As is correct with this style of rifled Model 1842, the gun lacks any external markings apart from a tang screw alingment mark across the top of the tang onto the breech of the barrel.
The stock rates good to very good as well. Though cleaned and lightly sanded, the edges are still fairly crisp. I have noted no breaks or cracks in the stock, only a few minor handling marks; the worst of which is on the top back edge of the stock flat. The musket is complete with its original cupped ramrod, and the fragile “elbow” type rear sight that is graduated to 1,450 yards.
Overall, this is a really lovely example of one of the rarest of European imported arms. This is an excellent opportunity to add one of these muskets to your collection. I also have an even more scarce example of the sighted socket bayonet that is correct for this musket that would make a great companion piece to it.