Outstanding Flintlock 2nd Model Virginia Manufactory Musket
Throughout the early years of the Federal era the Commonwealth of Virginia encountered a number of difficulties in procuring arms for its militia. Dissatisfied with the arms, or lack thereof, delivered to it by the Federal Government, the State sought to contract for arms on its own. Virginia would attempt to purchase arms from Europe, as well as procure arms from domestic contractors with mixed, though generally unsatisfactory results.
Towards the tail end of the 18th century, with the possibility of a war with France, the State attempted to streamline the process of arming its militia. To do this, in 1798 the General Assembly of Virginia enacted legislation to organize and construct a state arsenal for the production of arms. Construction of the Virginia Manufactory as it would become known began in 1799 just outside of Richmond on the banks of the James River. From late 1802 until the Armory's closing in 1821 a full complement of arms including muskets, rifles, pistols, swords, and cannons were fabricated at the Manufactory.
The most prolific arms manufactured at the Virginia Manufactory were muskets. These muskets were based the “Charleville Musquet” adopted as the standard pattern for Virginia’s arms on November 5, 1799. Throughout its time in operation the Virginia Manufactory would continually improve and modify the arms it produced, though no “pattern” arms were produced to guide production. Generally, the improvements made to Virginia Manufactory Arms were made at a similar pace to US muskets produced at the two National Armories.
Muskets produced at the Virginia Manufactory are generally assigned into three chorological categories based on their physical features and production time. The earliest muskets; those produced between 1803 and 1809, and considered to be “First Model” muskets, while muskets made in 1810 and 1811 are “Transitional Model” muskets, and muskets produced from 1812 to 1821 are typified as “Second Model” muskets.
The musket offered here is a very fine example of a Second Model Virginia Manufactory Musket as manufactured in 1818. These muskets were manufactured with high comb stocks, conventional forward-facing barrel band springs, and fitted with flat faced, beveled edge locks. Starting in 1818 the locks were equipped with brass pans. That year 5,292 muskets were completed at the Armory; its most productive year.
Our musket is in very good to near fine condition. The lock markings are especially crisp, even the script “Manufactory” marking that was often lightly struck. The metal components were cleaned to armory bright at some point, but are beginning to slightly dull. Though polished, the gun retains an attractive look, and has not been over cleaned or polished like many arms were in earlier years of arms collecting. The metal components are thoroughly marked with various mating marks. The number “11”, which appears to have been applied to rough finished parts is found in the side of the sideplate and on the sideplate mortise, underside of the trigger guard bow, underside of the buttplate, on the breech plug face and underside of the barrel, and inside the lock. The Arabic numeral “44” is found on the tops of all three barrel bands, as well as the trigger guard plate, rear sling swivel stud, buttplate, and sideplate. The number “4” is found on the hammer screw, frizzen spring screw, top jaw screw, inner face of the pan, the inner face of the hammer, as well as all of the internal lock parts save the mainspring which is marked with ////. The “////” mark is duplicated inside the lock mortise. The gun features several other assorted sub component markings, and is stamped with the Arabic number “14” on top of the bayonet lug. The barrel is also marked with a “P” proof mark on the upper left potion of the breech. The metal finish is smooth and free from pitting except for the muzzle area, front band, and upper portion of the ramrod.
The stock is in very good condition save for a thin sliver of wood missing from along the barrel channel on the left-hand side of the musket. A faint inspector stamp is present at the rear of the triggerguard, to me it appears to be an “RB”.
The left side of the stock is neatly carved with the name COL. E.B. TYLER. This name is believed to refer to Colonel Erastus B. Tyler of the 7th Ohio Infantry. Tyler organized the regiment in 1861 and lead it until promoted to command a brigade in 1862. Tyler was present at the First Battle of Kernstown in 1862 during which Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson suffered his only defeat of the war. On May 14, 1862 Tyler was promoted to Brigadier General.
Later that year he led a Brigade during the Maryland Campaign, Battle of Fredericksburg, and the “Mud March”. Subsequently Tyler saw action at Chancellorsville. After the battle 3 of the 4 Regiments in his Brigade were mustered out. Left without a command Tyler was sent to Washington, D.C. to await further orders. In June 1863 Tyler was assigned to command the defenses of Baltimore where in July of 1864 he successfully defended Jug Bridge during the Battle of Monocacy; an action for which Abraham Lincoln would credit him with saving the City of Baltimore. Tyler would be advanced to Brevet Major General of Volunteers to rank from March 1865 and was mustered out of the Army on August 24, 1865.
How Tyler acquired this musket is up for speculation, though it would seem that with his promotion in May of 1862 that if acquired after that point the inscription would show his rank as Brigadier General. If that theory holds true this musket would likely be a trophy from Stonewall Jackson’s Army of the Valley taken at Jackson’s only defeat of the war. Even without “buying the story” the gun is an excellent unmodified and un-reconverted example of a Second Model Virginia Manufactory Musket and would make an excellent addition to a collection of martial flintlocks, or Confederate arms.