Confederate Altered Model 1816 type 2 Musket
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Commonwealth of Virginia had in its possession in excess of 60,000 flintlock muskets.The majority of these had been manufactured by the State run Virginia Manufactory between 1803 and 1821, but significant numbers were also comprised of earlier flintlock muskets, such as Model 1795 and 1798 Contract muskets, as well as contractor produced Model 1816 type muskets.
In order to render these muskets as serviceable as possible the Commonwealth would contract with several Virginia based firms to have the arms percussion altered, along with cleaning and repairs as needed. One of the most prolific contractors, in terms of arms altered, was the Union Manufacturing Company of Richmond.
The Union Manufacturing Company got its start in early 1860, when a consortium of Richmond businessmen managed to persuade John H. Lester to move his sewing machine and wood planing machine manufacturing facilities from Brooklyn, New York to Richmond. The firm, known as Lester Manufacturing Company, began operation in Richmond in September of 1860. Before long, friction between Lester and his other partners centered around the Lester's over evaluation of his machinery and the company's attempt to produce Wheeler and Wilson sewing machines with Lester's company's name stamped on them marketed in Richmond caused Lester to drop out of the firm.
Lester withdrew from the firm in early April of 1861 and would sue the company for the value of his stock. However, prior to Lester's departure, the company voted to reorganize and changed the name to the Union Manufacturing Company. It was under this name that the company would contract with the State of Virginia, and Confederate Ordnance Department to supply military wares to the new Confederacy.
As early as February 1861 the firm advertised it's ability to manufacture arms. Indeed, during February and March of that year John Lester was actively pursing arms manufacturing machinery and an arms contract for 5,000 to 10,000 Enfield pattern arms.
Although Lester's efforts to secure a contract to manufacture new arms was unsuccessful, the firm was able to gain a contract to percussion alter flintlock muskets for the Commonwealth. Between November of 1861 and May of 1862 the State would make five payments to the Union Manufacturing Company for a total of $45,550.00. Although the receipts do not indicate a unit price per alteration, the forensic accounting of the late Michael Madaus in "Confederate Rifles and Muskets" estimates the price at $4.50 per alteration; a comparable rate to what other contractors are known to have paid. At the $4.50 per alteration price, it is believed that the firm altered somewhere in slight excess of 10,000 muskets.
In addition to arms altered for Virginia, the Union Manufacturing Company also contracted with the Confederate Ordnance Department. Although the specifics of the contract are unclear records do show that the firm "cleaned and repaired" no less than 765 muskets and sold the Ordnance Department no fewer than 2,752 hammers, 750 cone seats, and 3,500 spare cones.
In May of 1862 the Commonwealth of Virginia cancelled its contract with the Union Manufacturing Company. The firm would continue to produce components for percussion alterations, but it also shifted into bayonet manufacturing around this time. In June of 1863 the firm received a contract for 35,000 socket bayonets from the Confederate Ordnance Department.
The arms altered by the Union Manufacturing Company may be identified by the distinct round bottomed bolster that the firm employed. Typical of Confederate bolster alterations, an iron lump was brazed onto the side of the barrel, over the existing flintlock vent, and then drilled for a flash channel and tapped and threaded for a percussion cone. The round bottom is atypical of most Confederate contractors, who's bolsters generally resemble those of Model 1842 muskets.
Due to the shape of the bolster used by the Union Manufacturing Company, the lock was milled out to accommodate it. Reassembly numbers are found stamped on the inside of the lock, inside of the hammer, and bottom of the barrel, often in conjunction with a "U". Based on examples studied, it appears that the lock was stamped prior to milling, as the numbers are often distorted or missing portions.
The particular musket offered here is an Asa Waters contract Model 1822 (Model 1816 type 2) dated 1826 on both the tang and lock. This may very well have been one of the 620 "U.S. muskets, flint, Waters' cont. brown" stored at the Richmond Arsenal in December of 1859. The musket is complete save the missing ramrod and tang screw. Like most Confederate arms, this one has seen some hard use. The stock exhibits a large amount of burnout behind the cone as well as a large chunk of wood missing to the rear of the lock. The forearm is in rough shape with a crack on the left side of the forearm behind the middle barrel band. There is also some wood loss behind the rear band. Although showing heavy use the stock is unmolested and has slightly visible cartouches present on the stock flat opposite the lock. All of the metal components have an attractive pewter patina with some areas of a more chocolate coloration. The metal components have scattered pinpricking with more severe areas around the breech and lock area. The underside of the barrel, and the inside surfaces of both the lock and hammer are all marked with the Arabic numerals 3 and 5 over 4, no "U" is present on any component.
Overall this is a nice representative example of a desirable Confederate percussion alteration. Although the Union Manufacturing Company altered in excess of 10,000 muskets, the hard service that these muskets saw causes a relative low survival rate in any condition. This musket will be a fine addition to your collection of Confederate muskets, especially for the budding collector who can't afford to spend the $5,000.00 a comparable Richmond rifle musket will cost.