Percussion altered Standard Model of 1815 type IV
This is a very nice example of a National Armory percussion altered Model 1812 type 3 (Moller), or Standard Model of 1815 type 4 (Schmidt). The history of the Model 1812 goes back to the 4th quarter of 1812, when Marine T. Wickham submitted a newly designed pattern musket for examination by the Secretary of War. The musket would be adopted as the standard production arm on December 8, 1812, but due to the desperate need for arms during the War of 1812 its production would be delayed until 1815.
As originally designed the musket was much different from the muskets that would eventually be produced based on its design. The most salient differences being the lock, which, based on surviving pattern arms produced in 1813, would have resembled the French M1777, and the trigger guard, which is similar to that of the Model 1822 (Model 1816 type 3). Instead, the Model 1812 was produced with a round bottom integral iron pan, and a short rounded ended trigger guard on which the rear sling swivel stud is pinned to the stock after passing through the forward extension of the trigger guard plate. Aside from being the first US designed pattern of musket, the Model 1812 is also the first musket intended to be manufactured with interchangeable parts.
In any event, the production of 1795 type muskets would continue until the end of the 1st quarter of 1815, at which point new locks were introduced into production beginning the production of the Model 1812. Although intended as the standard production musket, the Model 1812's production was limited entirely to the Springfield Armory. Several variations of the Model 1812 were produced in 1815, with what is accepted as the most true to Wickham's design, the Model 1812 type 2, being produced from the 2nd quarter of 1815 to the second quarter of 1816.
The Model 1812 had long been disliked by the Ordnance Department. As early as March of 1813 ordnance officials had complained about the balance, weight, and projected high costs of manufacture of the new musket. In 1815 Congress enacted legislation that required the Ordnance Department to "insure the uniformity in the public armories". To do this, a new pattern musket was developed at the Springfield Armory in that year, and adopted by the chief of ordnance in August of 1816.
With a new pattern musket adopted, production of component parts was shifted towards the new standard, resulting in the adoption of a new low-comb stock and forward facing barrel bands in the final production of Model 1812 muskets. Indeed, these muskets look nearly identical to early Model 1816 and 1816 transitional muskets, save for the old Model 1812 type locks. Production of these last Model 1812 muskets (Model 1812 type 3, or Standard Model of 1815 type 4) began sometime in September of 1816 and continued until the end of 1817. On January 10, 1818 Lieutenant Colonel Roswell Lee wrote that the new Model 1816 locks had been incorporated into production, this ending the run of the Model 1812.
The musket offered here is one of the last Model 1812 muskets produced. It shows 1817 production dates on both the lock and barrel. The lock is stamped in the same manner as Model 1816 muskets, with SPRING (over) FIELD (over) 1817 stamped vertically at the rear of the lock, and a rearward facing eagle (over) US forward of the cock. The low comb stock intersects the wrist about 10.25 inches forward of the butt, a feature of post November 1816 muskets. The trigger guard is the correct short pattern adopted in 1817. As is correct, the sling swivels are retained with screws rather than pins.
This musket shows a Massachusetts ownership stamp of MS on both the stock flat and the breech of the barrel. A rack number, 25, is engraved on the buttplate and stamped onto the stock flat. The stock shows an inspectors mark at the rear of the stock flat, and another behind the rear extension of the trigger guard.
The percussion alteration exhibited on this musket is the National Armory or "Belgian" style of alteration. The hammer is a neatly made National Armory quality hammer, and the alteration itself was done in a very workman like manner. Given the later dislike of the cone-in-barrel alteration method it is possible that this musket may have been one of the 11,240 muskets altered for Massachusetts in 1850 and 1851 at the Watertown Arsenal.
This musket presents very well, but has been cleaned and lightly sanded at some point. The metal is generally free of any pitting, excepting for some minor pin pricking around the cone. The metal components are bright and the stock is an attractive light brown with defined edges and readable cartouches.
Overall this is a great representative example of a generally uncommon US musket configuration.