Harpers Ferry 1815 musket / How to identify a HF ram rod and bayonet?

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GPW1942

Private
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Back story,
So, I was looking around a very small Antique shop when I noticed two long arms in a corner. One was a 1815 Harpers ferry flint lock.
Not knowing much about it, I called a friend who said if it was authentic i should but it. As he was telling me this, the store keeper was walking out to her car and drover away.
I return the next day and bought it.
After dropping the ram rod down the barrel a few time, I determined it was loaded or at least had something in the barrel.
I tried the compressed air method through the flash hole but could not get past the blockage.
So I took a trip to a friend who is a gun smith. Made a large screw and finally worked the blockage out.
Turned out to be loaded with a load of black powder and 19th century bird shot. Yes the powder still burned.
During the disassemble, We noted many makers marks (roman numerals).
A few pics below, but I have lots if your interested.
An yes she turned out to be unmolested, never converted.

Now to my questions.
The Frizzen screw was broken, but held in place by the tension of the spring. I did have a good friend machine it out, but I need to find a replacement.
I am pretty sure the ram rod is incorrect. See Pics
How do I identify a Harper Ferry ram rod for a model 1795?
And, I would like to find an original bayonet, but have no idea how to identify a Harper Ferry model.
Any help is appreciated. Please feel free to as for more pics if you would like.
Thank you.
Dj
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GPW1942

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Oct 8, 2019
Thank you. I had always wanted one and was in the right place at the right time.
Can any of you guys tell me how to identify a proper ram rod or bayonet?
 
Last edited:

Jeff in Ohio

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Joined
Oct 17, 2015
Here's what I would want to know - is this original flint, or a reconversion? It can be hard to judge if you don't have experience at it.
On a reconversion, there would be a welded up hole on the barrel where a nipple had been screwed in.
I see an OHIO mark on top of the barrel, and I am interested in whether this was marked on this gun when still in flintlock, or after it was converted to percussion.
 
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James Brenner

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Nov 10, 2016
Location
North Canton, Ohio
Re: Ohio mark. It was likely done about 1830, give or take a few years and done at a federal arsenal; probably HF. As background: because the states had trouble maintaining accountability of the muskets issued to them under the 1808 Militia Act, the Ordnance Department felt it would be useful to indelibly mark state ownership on the barrel prior to issue. The original intent was for only contract arms be issued to the states and the HF and S'field muskets would be issued to the regulars, but there seems to be as many exceptions to that rule as there are adherences. Anyway, in theory it was a nice idea; in practice, not so much. When the contract weapons arrived at either arsenal, they had to be uncrated, dis-assembled and the parts controlled (because of non-interchangeability), the barrel stamped, and the musket re-assembled, re-crated, and stored. It was a costly process in terms of time and money. Plus, if Ohio, for example, did not request muskets for a year or two (or three), the muskets could not be issued to any other state. By about 1835, the Ordnance Department discontinued stamping.

Also, while I'm thinking of it, check the stock of your musket right above the butt plate tang. There may be a small OHIO stamp there as well.

In 1863, Ohio began marking its property but did so on the wrist and/or flat. That mark is usually (not always) in block letters followed by a period: OHIO.

I hope this helps a bit.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Private
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
Re: Ohio mark. It was likely done about 1830, give or take a few years and done at a federal arsenal; probably HF. As background: because the states had trouble maintaining accountability of the muskets issued to them under the 1808 Militia Act, the Ordnance Department felt it would be useful to indelibly mark state ownership on the barrel prior to issue. The original intent was for only contract arms be issued to the states and the HF and S'field muskets would be issued to the regulars, but there seems to be as many exceptions to that rule as there are adherences. Anyway, in theory it was a nice idea; in practice, not so much. When the contract weapons arrived at either arsenal, they had to be uncrated, dis-assembled and the parts controlled (because of non-interchangeability), the barrel stamped, and the musket re-assembled, re-crated, and stored. It was a costly process in terms of time and money. Plus, if Ohio, for example, did not request muskets for a year or two (or three), the muskets could not be issued to any other state. By about 1835, the Ordnance Department discontinued stamping.

Also, while I'm thinking of it, check the stock of your musket right above the butt plate tang. There may be a small OHIO stamp there as well.

In 1863, Ohio began marking its property but did so on the wrist and/or flat. That mark is usually (not always) in block letters followed by a period: OHIO.

I hope this helps a bit.
I've paid attention to OHIO marked arms for many years, and my basic reference was an article published in the 1960s in the NRA magazine which showed the four variations of OHIO stamps, and although the writer thought all were stamped in 1863 or so, it did mention that an OHIO marked relicy rifleman's knife had been collected from a War of 1812 military campsite.

Of the 15 or so I've owned over the years, all were foreign imported arms. I've see five or six flintlock muskets with OHIO, two of the Harper's Ferry muskets, one converted, and the other in what looked like origianal flint to my eye) and I've never heard any story about the OHIO stamp being put on at the armories. Amoung other mysteries, why have I never seen any muskets marked for any other state, aside from the NJ (which I think was state stamped) and N CAROLINA on some long arms and some pistols?

Very interesting info.

Is there a good published source about these earlier OHIO stamps? You explanation has the ring of confidence, and I bet you have some good reference.

I've got a local Ohio friend who has collected nothing except these OHIO stamped arms for a couple decades or so, and I bet he too would be interested in learning more.
 
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Amoung other mysteries, why have I never seen any muskets marked for any other state, aside from the NJ (which I think was state stamped) and N CAROLINA on some long arms and some pistols?
You will find many state ownership markings on pre-Model 1816 arms, but the marking arms was practiced haphazardly through the Civil War. I am aware of Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont surcharges in addition to the ones already mentioned.
 
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James Brenner

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Unfortunately, there is no single source on the Ohio mark because I don't think anyone knows for sure - including me.

Several years ago, I spoke with Hutslar about his article in American Rifleman. He was very disappointed in it saying that much of the content had been edited out. I wish I knew what had been dropped, but, based on his comment, I'm a little leery about the article; particularly the knife. Hutslar's article is useful in one way, though. He mentions the different fonts used on the markings. An indicator as to date is the font used on the barrel marking. Examining the different fonts and comparing them to lock plate dates is a worthwhile exercise to help determine when something was stamped. The one shown in this thread is not at all like the later CW-era stamps.

Much of what I know (or think I know) comes from picking out nuggets here and there and trying to make sense of it all. For example, Ohio's various militia acts and the AG and QMG annual reports from 1823 on are very informative about the issue/loss of weapons throughout the pre-war period, often blaming the General Assembly for not appropriating funds for armories or requiring company commanders to post bond for the muskets issued them - as if any would agree to that. As for arsenal stamping, I'll have to look through my references, but it comes out of either Moller's, American Military Shoulder Arms or Schmidt's, U.S. Military Flintlock Muskets. It is possible that someone in Ohio hand stamped the barrels, but given how uninvolved the General Assembly was with the militia, I tend to doubt that the GA either paid to have the stamps made or hired someone to apply them.

Speaking of CW-era markings, surprisingly, I have never found an order/directive requiring that the state's ordnance property be marked OHIO. However, looking at the documentary record in both the state and national archives as well as looking/owning several Ohio muskets and leather goods, I am convinced that the state began stamping them after September 1863. Dennison and Tod both complained that the state had no arms after 1861 because all of the arms issued under the 1808 act (except for the obsolete stuff) which passed to federal control once the Ohio volunteers mustered into federal service. The lack of weapons became particularly important in light of the "siege" of Cincinnati, Morgan's raid, the Copperheads, and two prison camps in the state. Correspondence between and among Tod, Dennison, Wood, Wright, Ripley, Stanton, and Chase all address the transfer of arms in 1863. You mention the foreign arms with the OHIO. mark. Foreign and obsolete US models comprised the bulk of the transfer, although I have an Ohio-marked M1861 Springfields and know of two others. Funny, I have yet to come across an Ohio-marked Enfield, though. BTW, the 1863, Ohio QMG report mentions two OHIO. stamps in the arsenal.

That's a quick, down-and dirty summation. I wish I could be more definitive, but I hope this helps a bit.
 

Jeff in Ohio

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Oct 17, 2015
Lots of meat here.
Let me just add that as to that knife at the 1812 campsite, its obvious that a good campsite in 1812 would likely still be a good place for civilian and military to camp in later decades. When I was a boy on the farm, there were areas along a creek we farmed where you find lots of worked flint - not finished points, but flakes and cores left from a flint-worker sitting cross-legged and striking off flakes to make a point. This was good quality flint from far away, and was carried to this pleasant spot near a fresh spring, good fishing and so on - just the same place where we, many years later, decided it was good spot for us to camp and fish. Who can say when an object was left at a particular place?
Also, Ohio was using a stamp in later years. I once owned a nice Miller conversion rifle. Evidently Ohio got a few to try, but never bought these for issue. And toward the start of my collecting years, I owned a Remington rolling block single shot rifle in 7mm mauser caliber, beat all to heck, but stamped with OHIO before it was so worn and beat up. I figured then it might have been a souvenier from the Spanish American War in Cuba, brought home, stored in an Ohio armory, and stamped in an idle moment by some Ohio National Guardsman
 

James Brenner

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Nov 10, 2016
Location
North Canton, Ohio
You're absolutely right about not using the camp site as provenience for the knife. So many things can happen from when something enters into the archaeological record and someone finding it later.

There are a lot of Ohio one-off's. I've not seen the Miller conversion, but I have seen a Wesson carbine marked Ohio. I'd like to think that the state purchased them for some sort of breech loader trial after the CW. But I have never seen anything in any official report about Ohio even considering conducting such tests. Compounding the matter, the state gave no support whatsoever to the Guard (renamed OVM) until 1870 and even then it wasn't much. The only thing I can think of is that the OVM/NG bought them when the various coal/RR strikes started in 1874 and the strikers were better armed than the soldiers. But that's just speculation. By 1878, the USG was issuing trapdoors to Ohio so it became a moot point.
 
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Jeff in Ohio

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At the risk of hijacking this thread into an OHIO marking thread, I will attach photos of the OHIO markings on the Miller conversion which are in the usual places, one on top of the wrist and one on the flat opposite the stock. They are pretty crisp, and hey are different from four pictured in Hutslar's article - see how the sides are thicker and the tops thinner.

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rob63

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Jul 13, 2012
Location
Indiana
Getting back on track, I would love to see more photos of the OP's musket. I would be especially interested in detailed photos of the area around the touch hole and the flat part of the stock opposite the lock plate. Also, more general photos of the overall musket showing it put together. Thanks!

Regarding your original question; I have never come across a comparative study that was detailed enough to identify which armory a ramrod came from.
 

GPW1942

Private
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Here's what I would want to know - is this original flint, or a reconversion? It can be hard to judge if you don't have experience at it.
On a reconversion, there would be a welded up hole on the barrel where a nipple had been screwed in.
I see an OHIO mark on top of the barrel, and I am interested in whether this was marked on this gun when still in flintlock, or after it was converted to percussion.
Yes, it has never been converted or reconverted. I'll try to find some pics of the touch hole.
We also scoped it after getting the load out and the inside was solid. Could not get the barrel plug out. But did not try very hard.

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GPW1942

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Re: Ohio mark. It was likely done about 1830, give or take a few years and done at a federal arsenal; probably HF. As background: because the states had trouble maintaining accountability of the muskets issued to them under the 1808 Militia Act, the Ordnance Department felt it would be useful to indelibly mark state ownership on the barrel prior to issue. The original intent was for only contract arms be issued to the states and the HF and S'field muskets would be issued to the regulars, but there seems to be as many exceptions to that rule as there are adherences. Anyway, in theory it was a nice idea; in practice, not so much. When the contract weapons arrived at either arsenal, they had to be uncrated, dis-assembled and the parts controlled (because of non-interchangeability), the barrel stamped, and the musket re-assembled, re-crated, and stored. It was a costly process in terms of time and money. Plus, if Ohio, for example, did not request muskets for a year or two (or three), the muskets could not be issued to any other state. By about 1835, the Ordnance Department discontinued stamping.

Also, while I'm thinking of it, check the stock of your musket right above the butt plate tang. There may be a small OHIO stamp there as well.

In 1863, Ohio began marking its property but did so on the wrist and/or flat. That mark is usually (not always) in block letters followed by a period: OHIO.

I hope this helps a bit.
I do not see any OHIO near the butt plate.
 

GPW1942

Private
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Getting back on track, I would love to see more photos of the OP's musket. I would be especially interested in detailed photos of the area around the touch hole and the flat part of the stock opposite the lock plate. Also, more general photos of the overall musket showing it put together. Thanks!

Regarding your original question; I have never come across a comparative study that was detailed enough to identify which armory a ramrod came from.
Which part of the stock, I do not under stand where you would like to see. I added a pick of the touch hole above.
Lots more pics of the makers marks on various parts.
It is currently disassembled. Needing to find a frizzen screw.
Let me know what you want to see and I'll take more pics.
 

GPW1942

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Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Which part of the stock, I do not under stand where you would like to see. I added a pick of the touch hole above.
Lots more pics of the makers marks on various parts.
It is currently disassembled. Needing to find a frizzen screw.
Let me know what you want to see and I'll take more pics.
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Jeff in Ohio

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The OHIO marks put on arms in 1863 or later were stamped by the State of Ohio in the wood on the flat opposite the lock, and also on the wrist itself.
But on these Harpers Ferry muskets, it was stamped only once, in the metal of the barrel, which is visible on one of your first photos.
 

GPW1942

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Joined
Oct 8, 2019
The OHIO marks put on arms in 1863 or later were stamped by the State of Ohio in the wood on the flat opposite the lock, and also on the wrist itself.
But on these Harpers Ferry muskets, it was stamped only once, in the metal of the barrel, which is visible on one of your first photos.
The history of this is so cool. Ty
 
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