Prussian Model 1809 Musket
The musket offered here is a very nice example of the Prussian Model 1809 Musket. These muskets served as the backbone of the Prussian Army throughout the Napoleonic Wars until the adoption of a new percussion musket in 1839, followed by the Dryse breechloading "Needle-Rifle" in 1841. Colloquially these muskets are often referred to as "Potsdam" muskets. This name is derived from the lock markings on a substantial portion of these muskets that indicates the Potsdam Arsenal as the place of manufacture. However, the Model 1809 was also produced at Prussian Arsenals at Saarn, Neisse, and Suhl.
Following the adoption of the percussion ignition system in 1839 the Prussian military began percussion altering their existing stocks of flintlock arms. The percussion alteration was accomplished by removing the external components of the flintlock battery from the lock and brazing a new percussion bolster over the existing flint vent. Finally a new percussion hammer was fitted to the lock.
At the start of the Civil War arms speculators and government purchasing agents began scouring the various arsenals of Europe. Between 1861 and 1862 the United States Ordnance Department purchased in excess of 160,000 Prussian muskets, 100,300 of which were described as smoothbore arms. The majority of these muskets would see service in the Western theater of the war, and a substantial portion of the troops the Grant would capture Forts Henry and Donelson with were armed with them.
The musket offered here is an attractive example of the Prussian Model 1809 Musket. The musket features a correct 41.25 inch barrel with a nominally .71 caliber bore. The bore is dark and somewhat pitted, and could stand a thorough cleaning. Although a smoothbore, the musket is fitted with a simple block rear sight that is mounted on the barrel's tang. The musket's furniture is brass and all parts show the same mating symbol, which appears to be somewhat reminiscent of an Omega symbol. The stock shows several Prussian inspection markings and has a very nice FW over crown stamp on the right side of the buttstock. The ramrod is full length with clear female threads on the exposed end, as is correct for this model. Both sling swivels are present.
The lock is faintly marked Saarn. This is probably due to over polishing or milling at the tie of percussion alteration. The lock functions properly with both a half and full cock. The percussion cone is in good condition and is unobstructed. There is some mild pitting around the breech area, which is very typical of these arms.
Overall the metal rates in about good condition with some very minor scattered pitting in addition to the a fore mentioned pitting in the bore and on the breech area. The stock is in very good condition overall and lacks the typical drying cracks that are often present on these beech stocked guns. There is one area of damage to the forearm just forward of the middle barrel band as shown. The ramrod channel has a few minor chips, but no major wood loss to report.
All in all, this is a very nice example of what I consider to be one of the more attractive Continental European imported arms of the Civil War. I managed to purchase this gun at a very reasonable price and am passing that along to you. This would make a great purchase for the new collector, and would neatly fill a place in anyone's European Arms collection.