Confederate altered Evans Model 1816 Musket
The Union Manufacturing Company was founded in the late spring of 1860 when 42 prominent Richmond businessmen operating under the name "Old Dominion Company" convinced John H. Lester, a Connecticut native, to move his Brooklyn plant for manufacturing planing machines, steam engines, and sewing machines to Richmond. After relocating to Richmond the entity began operating under the name of Lester Manufacturing Company. Lester would withdraw from the firm on April 1, 1861 after a controversy over the manufacture of Elliptic sewing machines and from the overvaluation of Lester's machinery that had been moved to Richmond, and sew the firm for the value of his stock. The suit would be settled in December of 1863. Slightly before Lester's withdrawal, at least February of 1861, the company voted to reorganize, and changed its name to the Union Manufacturing Company. The company had two major branches; one for the manufacturing of sewing machines and the other for arms manufacture. Apparently, the firm also expended operations to also include Woodworth's Planing Machines as well as Steam Engines.
Although Lester would later deny at his military tribunal, during February and March of 1861 he actively pursued arms making machinery and an arms contract for 5,000 to 10,000 Enfield rifle-muskets for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A March proposal from the firm offered to lease the Virginia State Armory for 10 years and commence to altering the existing flintlock muskets at a rate of $1.50 per alteration.
After Lester's departure the firm would effect the alteration of muskets for Virginia, although at a much higher rate. In 1861 and 1862 the firm would receive payments totaling $45,550.00 for the alteration of muskets. No record survives detailing the exact price per alteration accorded to the Union Manufacturing Company, however, the forensic accounting of John Murphy and Howard Madaus an estimate of $5.75 per alteration, which is considerably more than what other contractors are known to have been paid. The $5.75 figure would account for the alteration of roughly 7,900 muskets. However, if the firm was paid commensurate to other contractors, at $4.00 or $4.50 an alteration, a total of 11,315 or 10,060 muskets respectively is reached. Records from the Virginia Chief of Ordnance indicate that the two main contractors for the alteration of muskets were to alter 10,000 muskets each, hence, $4.50 per alteration is probably a fairly accurate figure, and the extra money constitutes payments for extra cones and perhaps cone seats.
The Union Manufacturing Company was one of very few Confederate contractors to mark their arms. Those muskets altered by the Union Manufacturing Company bare a "U" mark struck on the inner face of the hammer, in association with an alteration number in Arabic Numerals (for example U over 169). The alteration number is often stamped on the under side of the barrel, and on the remnant of the inside of the flint pan. The latter number is often cut away due to the reshaping of the lock to accommodate the bolster, indicating the the number was stamped immediately after disassembly. The hammers are relatively tall, 17/16 to 19/16 inches, knurled cocking spur. The hammers are substantial and well made. Like most of the arms altered for Virginia the alterations by the Union Manufacturing Company are in the cone seat, or brazed bolster method. A iron bolster was fitted over the existing vent hole and brazed in place. A hole was then drilled through the face of the bolster into the vent. The hole was threaded and filled in with a screw that was brazed into place. Typically this screw head was then milled flat, but on some examples it is still visible. A second hole was drilled into the upper portion of the bolster and then threaded for the cone. Union Manufacturing alterations also have a unique round bottomed bolster that generally resembles a comma.
Some Evans contract M1816 muskets are marked with a reassembly number on the back face of the barrel between the left side flat and the breech plug. Murphy and Madaus speculated that these muskets may have been altered by the Confederate Government at the Richmond Arsenal with components purchased from the Union Manufacturing Company. Records show that no fewer than 2,752 hammers, 750 cone seats, and 3,500 spare cones were purchased by the Confederate Government from the Union Manufacturing Company between October 1861 and August of 1862. The Union Manufacturing Company was also contracted to for the "cleaning and repairing" of 765 muskets by the Confederate Government in April of 1862, and may have done more work, possibly including percussion alterations under government contract as well
The musket offered here is a textbook example of a Union Manufacturing Company alteration of a Brooke Evans contract Model 1816 type 1 flintlock musket. Presumably, this musket is one of 8,230 "U.S. muskets, flint, Evans' contract, bright." in the 1859 Adjutant-General's report on Virginia's arms. Evans had delivered 10,000 Model 1816 muskets assigned to him in 1821 on account of John Rodgers.. The lock, barrel, and hammer are all marked with the expected reassembly numbers. The inside of the hammer is marked "U" over "664". During the percussion alteration process the reassembly number was struck on the inside of the pan prior to it being milled to accommodate the bolster. As such the marking is partially removed, and only the "64" are visible. The rear of the barrel is marked 664 in the same manner as described in Confederate Rifles and Muskets.
The metal components of the musket have a toned gray-brown patina and are slightly rough to the touch. Generally the metal shows only light scattered pitting, there is however a substantial amount of pitting and burnout on and around the breech area. This I attribute to hard use rather than miscare in the ensuing years. The bolster looks to have been cleaned and shows a mostly bright finish.
The stock is in about good condition with no major issues. There is a commensurate amount of burnout behind the lock, and scattered handling marks, but no major cracks or issues to report. The stock appears to have been lightly sanded, but still has reasonably well defined stock flats. No cartouches are visible. A set of what appear to be initials NAH are found in front of the forward trigger guard extension. The left side of the stock has what looks to be a date, perhaps 1848 or 1868, the significance of which is unknown. There is also a series of round looking indentions on the right side of the buttstock.
The stock and barrel are both full length and unmodified. The muzzle is somewhat thin and has a small dent in the 12:30 position as shown in the photos. The ramrod measures the correct 42 inches, but is a more modern replacement. The last 1.25 inches of the ramrod is a separate piece that has been welded on. When stowed the ramrod protrudes about 1.25 inches beyond the muzzle. The musket is likely still loaded. When the ramrod is inserted into the barrel the threaded end protrudes just over 2 inches.
This musket is just as Confederate as any Richmond rifle-musket, but will set you back less than 1/3 of what a comparable Richmond would run. These Confederate percussion alterations are a real bargain in collecting, and I've priced this one where just about anyone can afford to add it to their collection.