Recent Find Tell me more! 1841 Mississippi - Leman Modification

Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Hi folks.

I just bought an M-1841 Mississippi (due to arrive any day now). My “Missy” (she's a bit of a rough-looking girl) was made at Harper’s Ferry in 1853.

lockplate.jpg

a5.jpg


In 1861, it had been re-bored to .58 cal, and also had the Leman modification to accept a socket bayonet. These modifications were made to 2,352 of the M-1841s that had been issued to Pennsylvania. Thie picture below shows the Leman modification:

a3.jpg


I’ve been trying to learn more about this particular modification, and the Pennsylvania regiments that might have received these as their service weapons. Based on what I’ve found on the Internet so far, M-1841s were in use by Union troops in the first 1.5 years of the war, and later phased out. The Confederacy used their M-1841s right to the end of the war. Wikipedia stated the following:

At the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, US Regular Army regiments had Model 1855 Springfield rifles and some companies also had Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifles, however most soldiers in both armies had smoothbore muskets, primarily the Model 1842 musket or percussion-converted Model 1816/1822 musket (as well as some muskets still using the original flintlock mechanism).

I am looking for any information on these Pennsylvania M-1841s and regiments that used them, but here are a few focused questions to get things started:

  • If the M-1855s were preferentially given to the US Regular Army troops early in the war, it would presumably be safe to assume that the Leman-modified M-1841s were issued only to Pennsylvania regiments?
  • The M-1841, being still a relatively modern design, compared to the many smoothbores still in inventory, would have been considered the best quality musket available to the Pennsylvania regiments early in the war?
  • Which Pennsylvania regiments were known to have been issued the M-1841s (e.g. based on ordnance records when they were being swapped out for 1861/63 Springfields, or based on other official correspondence or soldier’s letters home, etc.)?
  • The socket bayonet used was a modified 1842 bayonet. Does anyone know what the specific modification was?
Any other information is welcome!

For anyone learning more about the 1841 “Missy”, the following websites provide a lot of useful information and pictures of the 1841 Mississippi and its various modifications for various States and the Federal government:

https://americansocietyofarmscollec...8-B97-Beautiful-Rifles-With-Pointy-Things.pdf

https://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?33634-M1841-Monograph

If anyone knows of another website or a comprehensive book on the M-1841s, please share. Thanks!
 
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johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
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Location
South of the North 40
I’m glad you grabbed that one. Dennis Fulmer is a gem.

By 1863 I don’t know of any PA Regiments with M1841’s of any model. As to the particular model any regiment carried it is almost impossible to determine specific versions without pictures or getting lucky with detailed letters or diaries. I have been lucky to handle and examine a variety of original arms with provenance (however shaky) to the 4th MN but it’s been more than a decade of research and searching.

The best thing I can suggest is to take a look at the PA ordnance returns to identify what regiments received M1841/M1845 Rifles and then start hitting the individual Regimental histories.

It is a daunting task of which you may never get all the answers. Welcome to the hunt. It can be quite rewarding.
 
Joined
May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
The book you might want is "American Military Shoulder Arms vol.3" by George D. Moller. It has all Flintlock and Percussion alterations of shoulder arms 1840-1865. Regarding the Leman alteration, there is only about one page. The bayonet, 1012 pieces of 1841/42 angular. As the lug was now .11" high , the bridge and locking ring's height was increased to clear the .135" high stud on the altered rifle. The bayonet lug was rectangular .23" x .24" brazed under the barrel. New front sight. Barrel was reduced to .853" tapered to .64" at muzzle. Rear sight was not changed.
 
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Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Thanks for your contributions. Quite frankly, I had expected a lot of replies re Pennsylvania Regiments. Perhaps I misnamed this thread. Any way to change the thread title at this point to something like "Pennsylvania Regiments - 1841 Mississippi Rifle"?
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
searching.

The best thing I can suggest is to take a look at the PA ordnance returns to identify what regiments received M1841/M1845 Rifles and then start hitting the individual Regimental histories.

Where can I get these? Are these available online and is there a cost?
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
Where can I get these? Are these available online and is there a cost?
You would have to contact the PA Historical Society for a list of Regimental Histories, quite a few are available on line. The Ordnance returns are not available anywhere I know of online and scanned copies are difficult to read. But PA kept very good records and I believe they are one of the states that maintained their own copies. I'm not certain how easy dealing with the PA historical society is. Easch State also did a 2-3 volume set of their history in the War of the Rebellion, and a good number of those will have some clues. Some are available online, depending upon the state. They are sometimes available via CD Rom as well.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Thanks for your contributions. Quite frankly, I had expected a lot of replies re Pennsylvania Regiments. Perhaps I misnamed this thread. Any way to change the thread title at this point to something like "Pennsylvania Regiments - 1841 Mississippi Rifle"?
According to RG 156: Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance--"Summary Statements of Quarterly Returns of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand in Regular and Volunteer Army Organizations, 1862-1867, 1870-1876." (M1281, Rolls 1, 2 and 4) NARA, transcribed by Eric J. Mink and published Nov. 2008 by the National Park Service--Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park,

Company A of the 136th Pennsylvania Infantry had 54 "U.S. Rifles, sword bayonet, model 1840, 1845. Calibre .58
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Thanks for that, FedericoFCavada. Where did you find those Ordnanace Records...somewhere online? If yes, please share the link.

If only all those old records were converted to a format that allowed you to search for particular words...think of how much more we could easily learn from those records.

I did a quick Google search using the title of the records you listed above, and i found your document (I think)..anyhow, the first few pages provide an overall summary of the Ordnance records. Check this out...it's of broader interest than just the topic of 1841 Mississippi's:

https://npsfrsp.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/armament-aop-chancellorsville2.pdf

I have yet to see the 1841 Mississippi specifically listed. What does the "N.A" mean in this category "Springfield Rifled Muskets, model 1855, 1861, N.A. and contract. Calibre .58" (EDIT: answered my own question. N.A = National Armory).

I find it hard to believe that the 1842 smoothbores show up in many regiments, but not a single listing for the 1841 Mississippi...does that seem believable?
 
Last edited:

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Try the Fredericksburg National Battlefield and/or the National Park Service? There are several interesting transcriptions on some Civil War battlefield sites. There is also the work done in publications like Earl J. Coates' An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms, although these types of regimental or company level lists are almost all or at least heavily weighted toward Union regiments. The relevant Confederate records are much, much more difficult to come by.

Digitization is making huge strides, that is for sure! At some point things might get easier, but for now there is just a lot of stuff still in archives and libraries and so on.
 

limberbox

Private
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
Thanks for that, FedericoFCavada. Where did you find those Ordnanace Records...somewhere online? If yes, please share the link.

If only all those old records were converted to a format that allowed you to search for particular words...think of how much more we could easily learn from those records.

I did a quick Google search using the title of the records you listed above, and i found your document (I think)..anyhow, the first few pages provide an overall summary of the Ordnance records. Check this out...it's of broader interest than just the topic of 1841 Mississippi's:

https://npsfrsp.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/armament-aop-chancellorsville2.pdf

I have yet to see the 1841 Mississippi specifically listed. What does the "N.A" mean in this category "Springfield Rifled Muskets, model 1855, 1861, N.A. and contract. Calibre .58" (EDIT: answered my own question. N.A = National Armory).

I find it hard to believe that the 1842 smoothbores show up in many regiments, but not a single listing for the 1841 Mississippi...does that seem believable?
Great job finding this, Canuck. Thank you.
 

limberbox

Private
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
Great job finding this, Canuck. Thank you.
Does anyone have a lead on finding similar armaments compilations from the Quarterly Ordnance Stores Summaries for troops in the Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Tennessee or Army of the Ohio?
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Earl J. Coates and Dean S. thomas, An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms (Thomas Pubs., 1990), p. 92:

Model 1841 "Mississippi" Rifle .54 cal.
U.S
2 Indian Home Guard
46 MA
51 MA
9 NH
45 NY
15 NY H.A.
1 WA Terr.

C.S.
18 GA
21 MS
1 MD Cav
3 SC
8 SC
15 SC
8 TX Cav
11 TX Cav
23 VA
12 VA Cav
14 VA Cav
34 Bn VA Cav
35 Bn VA Cav
36 Bn VA Cav

Model 1840/45 Rifles .58 cal.
U.S.
10 IL
42 IL
64 IL
11 IN
48 IN
3 Indian Home Guard
5 IA
10 IA
1 KS
8 KS
10 KS
4 MN
5 MN
1 MO
9 OH
39 OH
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
@Craig L Barry ....we need your help on this, please. You co-wrote an article about the M1841:

https://www.authentic-campaigner.com/forum/showthread.php?33634-M1841-Monograph

In that article, you stated:

In 1864 as more and more regiments turned in their still serviceable US 1841 rifles for the Union Army’s standard versions of the US .58 rifle-musket, increasing numbers of them went into storage at either the various Arsenals or storage depots. Already by February 1864, their number had risen from 5,900 in December to 8,700. By February of 1864, 650 were stored at the New York Arsenal, 1,582 at the St. Louis Arsenal, 1,740 at Vancouver, and 2,186 at Washington Arsenal. By June of 1864, only about a dozen units were reporting US 1841s in their possession. In addition, with the Civil War’s end in April of 1865 in the eastern theater, it was reported that Union troops took home officially at least, 146 Whitneyville, 11 Windsor, and 15 Harpers Ferry produced US 1841s for use as hunting rifles or perhaps souvenirs.

Yet no 1841s show up in the Ordnance records noted in posts #8 and #9....I am a bit confused, can you please explain?

Also Craig, do you have information on any Pennsylvania regiments that used the M1841s? Any references you can point to for me to scour through?
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
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Location
South of the North 40
I've been able to narrow a timeframe a little bit to pre November/December 1862. By the end of 1862 there were 50 Regiments reporting 9600 M1841 in US hands. Only the 55th PA Inf Regiment is listed in that group. What model is not mentioned. But it's a place to start. This is in Rifles of the US Army by McAulay.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
I've been able to narrow a timeframe a little bit to pre November/December 1862. By the end of 1862 there were 50 Regiments reporting 9600 M1841 in US hands. Only the 55th PA Inf Regiment is listed in that group. What model is not mentioned. But it's a place to start. This is in Rifles of the US Army by McAulay.
Thanks for that. Does it say how many were in the hands of the 55th PA Inf Reg?
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
@Craig L Barry <snip>
able US 1841 rifles for the Union Army’s standard versions of the US .58 rifle-musket, increasing numbers of them went into storage at either the various Arsenals or storage depots. Already by February 1864, their number had risen from 5,900 in December to 8,700. By February of 1864, 650 were stored at the New York Arsenal, 1,582 at the St. Louis Arsenal, 1,740 at Vancouver, and 2,186 at Washington Arsenal. By June of 1864, only about a dozen units were reporting US 1841s in their possession. In addition, with the Civil War’s end in April of 1865 in the eastern theater, it was reported that Union troops took home officially at least, 146 Whitneyville, 11 Windsor, and 15 Harpers Ferry produced US 1841s for use as hunting rifles or perhaps souvenirs.

Yet no 1841s show up in the Ordnance records noted in posts #8 and #9....I am a bit confused, can you please explain?
Seems like very many of the un-modified, 7-groove .54s were used in the west--Washington Territory, Kansas, Minnesota, etc. and that those still in the east were altered to .58, or left in storage at Southern armories where they were used as .54s throughout the war.
 

rob63

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Location
PA, but still a Hoosier
Yet no 1841s show up in the Ordnance records noted in posts #8 and #9....I am a bit confused, can you please explain?
It's not really clear to me whether your question has been answered, so forgive me if this reply is unnecessary. I think the answer to your question is that what we know as the Model 1841 is often listed as a Model 1840 in the records. Here are examples from page 2 of the monograph you linked. Thanks for that, by the way!

205 – U.S. Rifles, sword bayonet, model 1840, 1845. Calibre .58 – less than 1%
524 – U.S. Rifles, model 1840. Calibre .54 – less than 1%


These are almost certainly Model 1841 rifles. There are other similar examples listed in the previous replies so I am sure that others have the same understanding as me, it's just not clear to me that anyone specifically said so in reply to your question. The officers recording the ordnance returns didn't necessarily use the same terminology that we now accept, you have to be willing to interpret the information available. Hope that helps.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
It's not really clear to me whether your question has been answered, so forgive me if this reply is unnecessary. I think the answer to your question is that what we know as the Model 1841 is often listed as a Model 1840 in the records. Here are examples from page 2 of the monograph you linked. Thanks for that, by the way!

205 – U.S. Rifles, sword bayonet, model 1840, 1845. Calibre .58 – less than 1%
524 – U.S. Rifles, model 1840. Calibre .54 – less than 1%


These are almost certainly Model 1841 rifles. There are other similar examples listed in the previous replies so I am sure that others have the same understanding as me, it's just not clear to me that anyone specifically said so in reply to your question. The officers recording the ordnance returns didn't necessarily use the same terminology that we now accept, you have to be willing to interpret the information available. Hope that helps.
Very helpful indeed! I did look at these entries and go "hmmmmmm" but since it said M1840, I just figured they were smoothbores that were altered for rifling. The Leman alterations were for socket bayonets, as were some of the other 1841s that were altered by states like NY (some of them, using the Grosz alteration), NJ, Maine and Massachusetts. Apparently no entries for 1840s with socket bayonets? (I haven't checked for that ... probably should, but a word search capability would make that far easier....sigh...)
 

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