Brass Napoleon Award French & Belgian Infantry arms of the American Civil War

James N.

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Since French flintlocks have been brought up, how about the Mle. 1763-Mle. 1768 family of guns. I don't know about them in their flint form, but some percussion conversions, including Confederate jobs have been noted.

Unfortunately I only have a couple of examples to offer - and one's a repro! The bottom musket is a Japanese reproduction of the Mlle. 1763 I acquired in trade with another reenactor. The one at top, however, is an original but no particular model: it's what author Edward Hicks (and probably others) called a fusil deparielle or simply a parts gun. During the French Revolution there was a shortage of serviceable arms and the arsenals were scoured for salvageable parts to be built into new weapons. Unlike earlier guns manufactured during the Monarchy, or later ones made during the Empire, this one's lock is stamped simply St. Etienne instead of engraved with Mfture Royale or Mfture Imple. According to Hicks, these are typically made up from pieces from various earlier models with no other concern than serviceability; I've identified several earlier models represented in this one.

As an aside, I'll mention that this musket illustrates why I don't care for God's Gift to arms collecting, Norm Flayderman: I bought this from his catalog now many years ago and at the time it was described as being a typical Revolutionary example - without bothering to specify French Revolutionary instead of American! There's a BIG difference in value - at least, here in America - between the two, and what was left unsaid speaks volumes about Normie Baby (as a friend of mine sarcastically called him) and his evident cavalier attitude towards his customers. At least I knew the difference and was neither surprised nor disappointed when I received this poor old thing; but the experience is just another example of the importance of Caveat Emptor!

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James N.

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When Napoleon made himself crown king of Italy on May 26, 1805, all the Italian weapons factories were used to produce French rifles, they are rare because there are only a few pieces. The most important was the "manifacture real de Turin" the city that will become the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia!
I am lucky, because in my collection of European rifle, i have two guns of this period, one for infantry and one for dragons


this is a painting where you see a dragon with his carbine:View attachment 212482

and this picture ( on the left) see a light infantry man with the dragoon musket
View attachment 212483

here below the AN IX flintolock dragoon rifle made by " Manifacture royale de Turin"
View attachment 212484
View attachment 212485
View attachment 212486

and this AN IX flintlock infantry rifle made by " Manifacture royale de Turin" the first model lenght 1515mm
View attachment 212487

View attachment 212489 View attachment 212488

As you probably noticed, my collection is grouped around a ca.1900 print copy of Edouard Detaille's painting of charging French dragoons! (I've seen the original painting in the Musee de l'Armee in Paris.) It wasn't only French firearms that were copied by Italian arms makers: the M. An XIII sabre at top below is stamped on the back of the blade Barisoni and was likely made to arm cavalry of Napoleon's Army of Italy or Murat's Kingdom of Naples. A friend of mine owned a cuirassier sabre made by Barisoni and I also saw a sabre-briquet in the Musee similarly stamped Barisoni.

French Napoleonic Cavalry Arms 024.jpg


* I'll add to at least partially legitimize this admitted turn from the Civil War that for some reason unknown to me, there is a French M. An XIII saber displayed in the exhibition area of Stonewall Jackson's House in Lexington, Virginia - whether it has any connection at all to Jackson or belonged to him I have NO idea!
 
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James N.

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For others not familiar with the subject of French cavalry, notice the way the fusil d'dragon is suspended: owing to its length, almost as long as a regular infantry musket, suspension like a carbine or musketoon would be impractical. A leather "boot" is attached to the right stirrup to hold the butt, while a leather strap secures it around the middle near the distinctive double middle band. Notice also the white buff leather sling attached to its regular sling swivels; this was because dragoons were trained to dismount and fight on foot just like our cavalry in the Civil War (think Buford at Gettysburg), so might have cause to carry them slung over-the-shoulder like infantry. His white buff over-the-shoulder strap is attached to a large cartridge box for the fusil. I'll also note that the central figure is NOT a color- or guidon-bearer; these French dragoons have just smashed through a line of Prussian infantry at the 1807 Battle of Heilsburg and this trooper has captured their color - note the broken flagstaff.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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View attachment 212567



Unfortunately I only have a couple of examples to offer - and one's a repro! The bottom musket is a Japanese reproduction of the Mlle. 1763 I acquired in trade with another reenactor. The one at top, however, is an original but no particular model: it's what author Edward Hicks (and probably others) called a fusil deparielle or simply a parts gun. During the French Revolution there was a shortage of serviceable arms and the arsenals were scoured for salvageable parts to be built into new weapons. Unlike earlier guns manufactured during the Monarchy, or later ones made during the Empire, this one's lock is stamped simply St. Etienne instead of engraved with Mfture Royale or Mfture Imple. According to Hicks, these are typically made up from pieces from various earlier models with no other concern than serviceability; I've identified several earlier models represented in this one.

As an aside, I'll mention that this musket illustrates why I don't care for God's Gift to arms collecting, Norm Flayderman: I bought this from his catalog now many years ago and at the time it was described as being a typical Revolutionary example - without bothering to specify French Revolutionary instead of American! There's a BIG difference in value - at least, here in America - between the two, and what was left unsaid speaks volumes about Normie Baby (as a friend of mine sarcastically called him) and his evident cavalier attitude towards his customers. At least I knew the difference and was neither surprised nor disappointed when I received this poor old thing; but the experience is just another example of the importance of Caveat Emptor!

View attachment 212566

The one on top almost looks like a Mle. 1774, I personally love the Rev. War era Frenchys one of these days I'll get a repop of the 1763 and make a "US" surcharged replica.
I had a shot at a Mle. 1766 converted to percussion for near nothing, but alas, it was not to be.

This example is from a friend of mines collection, it isn't a bona fide "US" piece, but its original. My conclusion is the gun is something of a "trade gun" built from dissociated parts with a US surcharged lockplate finding its way into the mix it was built from.
 

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James N.

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The 1700's were a time of seemingly constant and numerous revisions of French muskets, etc. and there a dizzying number of models which often differ little from one another. The popular Mlle 1763 that was imported into the U.S. during our Revolution were available mainly because there had just been yet another revision resulting in the Mlle 1774 and 1777. A word about the confusing distinction An XIII etc.: During the French Revolution the French wanted a clean break with their past and adopted a new Revolutionary Calendar that dated everything from the Revolution, which according to them began in 1792 with the execution of Louis XVI. So that means the Year Thirteen (An XIII) is actually 1805: 1792 + 13.
 

Urrikane

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The one on top almost looks like a Mle. 1774, I personally love the Rev. War era Frenchys one of these days I'll get a repop of the 1763 and make a "US" surcharged replica.
I had a shot at a Mle. 1766 converted to percussion for near nothing, but alas, it was not to be.

This example is from a friend of mines collection, it isn't a bona fide "US" piece, but its original. My conclusion is the gun is something of a "trade gun" built from dissociated parts with a US surcharged lockplate finding its way into the mix it was built from.

This is a flintlock M1816/22,It is the only one that has the particular lock plate (indicated by the arrow in the image below)
IMG_20181201_202734.jpg
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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This is a flintlock M1816/22,It is the only one that has the particular lock plate (indicated by the arrow in the image below)View attachment 212585

Not exactly....

It has a modified US marked 1770's lockplate, 1822 components attached to it, a Belgian barrel, (I think its rifled, I can't remember off hand), an American walnut stock, bands from a later US M1816, (not gonna swear to that, I have no pictures, and ain't been over there in a while), and a few other things making it a headscratcher.

Its some sort of throw together gun, the barrel is pre-1890, as is all the parts on it. I heavily suspect it was thrown together by some retailer for "surplus" sales, or perhaps a the Indian trade, (long shot). Its also slightly shorter than an issue musket.

Bannerman's could have been the maker, or someone else who had barrels of old surplus parts to throw together and put in a stock. Either way its an interesting piece.

EDIT: Just remembered some of the internal parts of the lock are Springfield, probably US M1816
 

Urrikane

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Oct 26, 2018
Urrikane,

Since most of Sanford's Chasseurs de Vincennes purchases appear to have been current production, and were delivered incrementally, I have tended to assume - assumptions can be dangerous - that they were Model 1859s or perhaps 1853(T)s [probably with the Tige removed]. I know that both models are found, with Civil War provenance, in U.S. collections. But, across all the importers - North and South - descriptions of what was being imported are very generic (i.e., "French" [generally they meant French models produced at Liege], "Belgian," "Austrian," "German," "Tower," etc. Sometimes with comments regarding caliber. Were "rifled" arms rifled when manufactured or rifled when transformed? What techniques were used in transformation? These issues are generally not discussed.)

Once the weapons were received, there is considerable inconsistency in how the officers and men of the Federal and Confederate Armies described their weapons in both official and unofficial documents. In 1863 Lieutenant Colonel Mallet suggested that Confederate ordnance revise the nomenclature it used to describe arms, in that the generic names in use – “Austrian,” “Belgian,” and “English” – covered a number of different weapons models and calibers. Federal soldiers generally described the Muster 1854, Type I or II, System Lorenz weapon as a rifle musket, for example, while Confederate soldiers generally described it as a rifle. But, this was inconsistent in both armies. Both sides were rank amateurs as soldiers. Quotations from original sources reflect this dichotomy, and it should always be kept in mind by the modern reader.

Regards,
Don Dixon

@Don Dixon
on this site the "Chasseurs de Vincennes" Carabine is defined as a French M1859 rifle:

http://ww2.rediscov.com/spring/VFPC...g/DETAILS.IDC,SPECIFIC=13291,DATABASE=objects,
 

Don Dixon

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I agree that the Model 1859 is one of the rifles described as a Chasseur de Vincennes, but, as one of your earlier posts pointed out, other models of rifles are as well. The descriptions in the Springfield Armory Museum's on-line database should be viewed very cautiously. In general, they were written by Park Service personnel, and not by the U.S. Army ordnance personnel who ran the armory before it was closed. Nor, did the Army maintain good records on the provenance of the weapons that went into the collection. It was not originally established as a museum, but as a technical reference collection. Many of the descriptions are based upon dated, English language secondary sources, such as Edwards' Civil War Guns. Some of the descriptions of Civil War period Austrian arms in the collection, for example, are laughable, a matter which I have discussed at length with the current curator in several visits with him. But, most of the English languages books which discuss the Austrian arms are laughable.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Urrikane

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"But, most of the English languages books which discuss the Austrian arms are laughable."
Really?
 

thomas aagaard

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Until I started to study the 2nd schleswig war closely a few years ago I had the impression that the Lorenz was a complete garbage of a firearm. That was thanks to books about the civil war.

After actually reading about how the danish army saw it, and actually speaking to people who own one and have done live fire with it. And just as importantly learning from people on this forum, I now know that the Lorenz design it self was actually a good firearm and in some way superior to other firearms of the period.
(smaller bullet, higher velocity, so a flatter bullet path, making it easier to hit at longer distances compared to the Springfield)
And any issues civil war soldiers had with it, was not because of the design but a long list of other factors...
 

Don Dixon

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"But, most of the English languages books which discuss the Austrian arms are laughable."
Really?

Urrikane,

Most English language books which mention the System Augustin and System Lorenz weapons [there are currently no detailed English language books on the subject], and are written by Americans, would have you believe that they were the worst trash that could be imagined, and that no competent army would ever have equipped troops with them. There are reasons for these beliefs, but they relate more to the incompetence of the Federal and Confederate ordnance establishments, the technical quality of issue ammunition, and modification of the weapons after they left k.k. Army service, rather than the basic quality of most of the imported weapons. I have to point out, however, that some utter trash was imported. But, no one ever said that gun runners were paragons of integrity.

When I visited the curator and master restoration gunsmith at the Austrian Army Museum, I spoke with them about some of the commonly accepted American "gun show wisdom" about Civil War period Austrian arms. For example, the commonly accepted belief here that some of the lockplates on Muster 1854 rifles do not have the Kaiser's double headed eagle and three digit date codes because the metal in the plates was so soft that the soldiers polished the markings off. The discussion was greeted with repeated laughter and the comment "Americans really believe that?!"

My own experience shooting Austrian arms in the North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) indicated that they were very accurate once you learned how to load and tune them. A dispute with the N-SSA's inspector general over the configuration of a rifle I was shooting led to my research interest in the arms, and the research interest finally led to my current book project.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Don Dixon

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Another comment on the inadequate descriptions contained in Civil War documentation. I was working in Record Group 156, Entry, 981, Correspondence Relating to Proposals, Orders, and Contracts, 1861-2, at the U.S. National Archives yesterday. The following proposal caught my eye.

On 8 November 1861, a Dr. John D'oyle Evans of 15 Rue de la Paix, Paris, proposed to provide the Federal Army with 30,000 "best French Minnie rifles, sword, bayonet, army regulation pattern of the latest improvements, used by the Chassseur de Vincennes." The offer was accepted on the 12th, but was ultimately cancelled because the arms were never delivered.

From the description, one would assume that the tendered arms were Model 1859 Chasseur de Vincennes rifles, but nowhere does the offer actually say that. Unfortunately for the modern arms historian/collector, this sort of description in Civil War Federal Army documents is more the rule than the exception.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

MSpade

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A bit tardy to the party...
@Urrikane, where did you find your 1859 Carbine? I've been desperate to find one to complete my 16th O.V.I. Impression of my 3x Great Grandfather. Finally picked up the bayonet and scabbard not long ago, but finding the carbine has been a whole different endeavor.

MSpade
 

RijekaFiume

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Jun 2, 2018
Can anyone tell me if Belgian gunmakers made copies of the Prussian M1839 and M1839/55? If so, is there any documentation avaliable if they were made under contract for some European nation or for the Union? I was trying to dig up info but no luck.
 

johan_steele

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Can anyone tell me if Belgian gunmakers made copies of the Prussian M1839 and M1839/55? If so, is there any documentation avaliable if they were made under contract for some European nation or for the Union? I was trying to dig up info but no luck.
I don't believe they made copies of them but I do know that numbers were converted by Leige from Flintlock to percussion. Whether this was done by the Prussian Govt or by a 3rd party prior to them being sent to the US I don't know.
 

RijekaFiume

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I don't believe they made copies of them but I do know that numbers were converted by Leige from Flintlock to percussion. Whether this was done by the Prussian Govt or by a 3rd party prior to them being sent to the US I don't know.

That was the 1809 musket and its rifled variants. The 1839 was purpose built as percussion. The only info I found is that the Prussioms only sold a small number of them to the Union since they were still in active use by all the Prussian units that had been issued the Dreyse needle rifle.

Saw one with belgian markings, thought it was weird since to my knowledge the Belgians mostly were making copies of French and British pattern guns.
 

Cannonman1

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Nov 28, 2018
Used to own a large bore French Dragoon Rifle (Fusil de Dragoon) as tag on it said.. It was all brass mounted and dated 67 which I assume was date of conversion. It was a shorter rifle.. comparable to a Model 1855 in length.. It had a Snyder like hinged breech and was a monstrous caliber.. I would say over .70 cal. What was that exactly? Unfortunately I sold it many years back .. It was my first period gun and memorable.
 

johan_steele

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Used to own a large bore French Dragoon Rifle (Fusil de Dragoon) as tag on it said.. It was all brass mounted and dated 67 which I assume was date of conversion. It was a shorter rifle.. comparable to a Model 1855 in length.. It had a Snyder like hinged breech and was a monstrous caliber.. I would say over .70 cal. What was that exactly? Unfortunately I sold it many years back .. It was my first period gun and memorable.
If you go to post 5 on this thread you’ll see mine. Likely yours was a .71 converted to a breech loader usually as a shotgun if a smooth bore.
 

Cannonman1

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If you go to post 5 on this thread you’ll see mine. Likely yours was a .71 converted to a breech loader usually as a shotgun if a smooth bore.
It had a beautiful rifled bore.. The recoil of that gun must have been considerable.. Would love to have been able to try it out.. Conical ball it fired must have been high on the grain count.
 
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