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 Standard Model of 1815 begins in 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 Standard Model of 1815 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 Standard Model of 1815 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 Standard Model of 1815. Although intended as the standard production musket, the Model of 1815s production was limited entirely to the Springfield Armory. Several variations of the musket were produced in 1815, with what is accepted as the truest to Wickham's design, the Model 1812 type 2, being produced from the 2nd quarter of 1815 to the second quarter of 1816.
The Standard Model of 1815 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 Standard Model of 1815 muskets. Indeed, these muskets look nearly identical to early Model 1816 and 1816 transitional muskets, save for the old-style locks. Production of these last Model of 1815 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 of 1815.
Our musket was produced in early 1817, the last year of production of the Model of 1815, and features a very unusual lock marking that was used very briefly prior to the adoption of Model 1816 style lock markings. The front of the lock features a forward-facing eagle over US, while the rear of the lock is marked with a vertical arched SPRINGFIELD over 1817. This style of lock marking is generally similar to musket produced at the Springfield Arsenal in 1806. This marking was probably only in use for the first quarter of 1817, in which a total of 1,900 muskets were completed. Given the overall rarity of this lock marking style it is quite possible that less than 1,000 muskets were marked in this manner.
The musket was percussion altered via the National Armory “Belgian” or “cone-in-barrel” method. The hammer is a neatly made National Armory quality hammer, and the alteration itself was done in a very workman like manner. The musket lacks a classification cartouche which leads me to believe that this gun was probably State owned at the time of its percussion alteration.
Some number of 1817 dated Standard Model of 1815 muskets were altered for the State of Massachusetts between 1850 and 1851 at the Watertown Arsenal; however, this example lacks a Massachusetts property stamps, and the manner in which the pan divot was filled is not consistent with those alterations either. 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. I have also owned a Miles Greenwood altered example of this musket, though that musket had a 3rd class inspection marking.
In any event this is a very nice example of a late production Standard Model of 1815 with an uncommonly rare variant lock marking. This musket has been lightly cleaned, but retains a light ET cartouche on the stock flat, as well as sub-inspector cartouches behind the trigger guard.
The metal is mostly smooth with only a few light pinpricks, and has an attractive dull gunmetal patina, except on the muzzle extension, which is brighter. The bore is quite good, and mechanically the gun is in fine order.
For those interested in pre-Model 1816 muskets this is a great opportunity to add a scarce variant to your collection. I believe this musket would also make a great demo gun for a living historian, and it is priced comparably with modern Italian reproductions.