Thomas Adams Altered Virginia Manufactory Type 2 Musket
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. Musket production commenced in March of 1802 and would conclude in 1821. During that time a total of approximately 58,428 muskets would be produced. Muskets produced by the Virginia Manufactory are generally divided into three classifications based on their specific features. The earliest arms, those produced from 1803 to 1809, are considered to be the "First Model", those muskets produced in 1810 and 1811 are generally deemed a "Transitional Model", while the arms produced from 1812 to 1821 are considered to be "Second Model" Muskets.
The musket offered here is one of the later production, Second Model Virginia Manufactory Muskets. These muskets are identified by the shape of their locks, which are generally similar to that of the US Model 1812 musket. The lock is flat surfaced with a beveled edge. The tail end of the lock is formed by two gently curving arcs that meet at a point. When in flintlock configuration these muskets were equipped with a flat faced beveled edge cock with a forward reinforcing strap. Those muskets produced from 1812 to 1815 are found with integrally forged iron pans, while those manufactured from 1816 onwards have detachable brass pans. The rear and middle barrel bands are retained by forward projecting band springs.
Our example is an 1818 production musket, as is evident by the date at the rear of the lock. As is correct for guns of that year the lock was produced with a brass pan which has been removed during the percussion alteration. An iron filler has been inserted into the pan recess and supports the bottom edge of the percussion bolster. The musket has a standard 42 inch barrel, although 36 and 39 inch barrels are also correct. Virginia Manufactory muskets are generally well marked with mating numbers on all of the major iron components. This example appears to have been marked with a 6 or 9 on its component parts, however, pitting has obscured most of the mating numbers. Virginia Manufactory muskets are not generally proofed on the tops of the barrels like most US muskets and this example is no different.
The percussion alteration was completed in the brazed bolster, or "cone seat" method that is common for most alterations done for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The bolster is 3 faceted, and generally resembles that of the US Model 1842 Musket. The percussion hammer is new made and of a military pattern. The side of the hammer has an enlarged flat surface to allow for a proper fit of the original flint tumbler screw. The thumb piece is knureled with two sets of obligue lines that intersect in the center of the hammer. The knurling was done nearly, but not nearly to the standards of a norther or National Armory alteration.
Percussion alterations effected by many of the contractors that altered arms for Virginia in 1861 and 1862 are very similar. The chief defining feature of an alteration performed by Thomas Adams is the presence of Roman numeral reassembly numbers found on the inside of the hammer and lock, on the under side of the barrel, and the stock flat opposite the lock. This example shows a Roman numeral XVIII in all of those locations.
In 1860 Thomas J. Adams was working as a gunsmith in the employ of James Walsh of Richmond, Virginia. It is unknown when Adams separated from Walsh, but on October 23, 1861 he independently billed the Confederate Ordnance Department for repairing twenty-eight Colt Revolving Rifles. Just over a month later, on November 29, Adams received a shipment of 100 muskets to alter for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Between December 21, 1861 and June 2, 1862, Adams was paid a total of $6,908.68 in nine separate vouchers for alteration work for the State of Virginia. Based on the amounts paid to other contractors it would appear that Adams altered about 1,750 arms, of which approximatey 1,200 were muskets. Statstically this places him in fourth place in terms of muskets altered out of the six major Virginia contractors; the most prolific of which would be S.C. Robinson (18,782), the Union Manufacturing Company (10,000 to 11,000), and Francis Persignion (1,850). Smaller quantities would also be delivered by J.B. Barrett (1,171) and William Morgan (956).
This musket is in about good condition. It shows general light to moderate pitting over the majority of the metal surfaces. The bore is dark and rough, although it may improve from a good scrubbing. The rear barrel band's fit seems imperfect and it may be a replacement, although the heavy black patina matches that of the rest of the gun so if it is it is certainly from the period of use. The musket retains both of its original sling swivels. The stock is in good condition and is very solid with only one area of repair; there is a nailed repair holding on a piece of wood between the upper edge of the lock and the barrel tang. In this case as well it appears to be a period of use fix. There are some other scattered handing marks and bruises along the stock, but nothing more than expected. An "X" shape has been carved into the underside of the stock in front of the forward triggerguard projection.
Mechanically the musket is in excellent condition with a strong action that holds well and half and full cock. The percussion cone is also in very good condition and appears to be original. The lock, as mentioned is marked with the year of production 1818 and RICHMOND in vertical lines to the rear of the lock. Forward of the hammer the lock is marked VIRGINIA over Manufactory. The Manufactory stamp is very light, probably due to a poor stamping to begin with. All of the other markings are easily read.
Unfortunately the ramrod, tang screw, and one lock screw all look to be more modern replacements. Overall they do not affect the look of the gun, although their appearance could be improved by blending their patinas.
Despite this musket's detractors this is a nice, complete example of a scarce Confederate percussion altered musket. If you don't have the money to shell out for a Richmond rifle-musket, this Richmond musket is an excellent option that is actually much more rare than its pricier kin.