My oldest smoothbore Warhorse

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

Joined
Oct 13, 2020
Messages
21
Reaction score
74
Location
Arkansas
In my long-standing attempt to collect an example of every major longarm used by the US military, I just got this in a few weeks ago. It's a model 1816 Springfield .69 cal smoothbore flintlock manufactured in 1832. The M1816s were improved versions of the M1795, which was our very first domestic manufactured general military longarm and mostly used in the war of 1812. The M1795 was based on the French Charleville musket pattern used by the continental army in fairly large numbers---2nd only to the use of the Brown Bess overall. The US military determined that the Charleville pattern was superior to---and easier to, manufacture than the Bess so that's what they went with. The M1816 was produced from 1816 until 1844 and afterward, many were converted from flintlock to percussion so many soldiered on--even through the ACW.

This is one of the listing pictures that convinced me to purchase it. It actually looked even better in person than in these lightbox photos and came with a nice matching US marked and inspected bayonet. It's obviously been cleaned and the metal all buffed back to armory bright, so I got it at a good price. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge except the last photo of the reenactors
eHDUOsM.jpg


The M1816s were used in the 2nd Seminole war in 1835 and reportedly some older early models were used in the Texas War of Independence also in 1835. It then was our main battle musket for the Mexican-American war (1846-1848). Even though the army was in the midst of converting to percussion by the time of the Mexican-American war, the leaders and planners were worried about the logistics of keeping the armies on the Texas frontier and in Mexico supplied with musket caps. These caps could only be produced in sophisticated factory environments. Thus, if a soldier armed with a percussion firearm ran out of musket caps all he was left with was a fancy club or a spear if he had a bayonet. On the other hand, flints are long-lasting plus they are a naturally occurring mineral that can be found almost anywhere.

Here is it in person along with a few appropriate props. We were still using white buff leather during the Mexican-American war so that's what I went with for the photo. The Mexican war M1839 forage caps looked a bit like a modern police hat. click picture for full size
X08AZjc.jpg


Between the Springfield and the Harpers Ferry armories plus a number of contract makers, over 700,000 of these were produced up until 1844. In the mid to late 1840s the armories started converting these to percussion while they also introduced the Model 1842 which was simply the M1816 design manufactured as a percussion model. These muskets remained our main battle musket up until 1855 when the .58 cal Minie ball was adopted. This meant that the army could finally convert to more accurate rifled muskets. Our military was also being issued rifles, such as the M1841 "Mississippi", during these earlier periods but they were reserved for specialty troops like scouts, skirmishers, and what were sometimes referred to as flanking units.

The Dragoons (cavalry) during the Mexican-American war were even issued early breech-loading rifles since managing a muzzleloader from horseback was problematic. Still, the smoothbore musket remained the main infantry longarm until 1855, because it was both easier to load, simpler to maintain, and required less training to use effectively.

It should be noted that due to the shortages of rifled muskets at the start of the ACW, 10s of thousands of the converted smoothbore M1816s saw service by both the North and the South in the early years of the war. Some Southerners were still carrying flintlock versions. Thus, this musket was in continuous service longer than just about any other US service arm--from 1816 to as late as 1864 or 48 years. Of course, these muskets were made more effective as smoothbores during the ACW by the use of "buck & ball" loads which were made up of 3 each quarter-inch buckshot on top of a .68 cal round ball.


My example still has faint images of the original military inspection cartouches in the wood.
WnznwgC.jpg


close up detail of the previous layout photo--click for full size
098dqG7.jpg


Finally, here's an old photo of some US regular reenactors from the Mexican-American war. Notice how their white buff slings make an X on the chest. I have been told that this was the inspiration for the white X symbols used to indicate infantry positions on a map. I will say that with all the gray in their beards, these guys look a little long in the tooth to have been a typical soldier of the period.
default.jpg


Thanks for reading and I hope I didn't bore you with information you already knew.

Cheers
 
Last edited:

Eterry

69 Cal.
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2010
Messages
3,155
Reaction score
2,185
Location
Between Red River Station and Doans Crossing, Tx.
In my long-standing attempt to collect an example of every major longarm used by the US military, I just got this in a few weeks ago. It's a model 1816 Springfield .69 cal smoothbore flintlock manufactured in 1832. The M1816s were improved versions of the M1795, which was our very first domestic manufactured general military longarm and mostly used in the war of 1812. The M1795 was based on the French Charleville musket pattern used by the continental army in fairly large numbers---2nd only to the use of the Brown Bess overall. The US military determined that the Charleville pattern was superior to---and easier to, manufacture than the Bess so that's what they went with. The M1816 was produced from 1816 until 1844 and afterward, many were converted from flintlock to percussion so many soldiered on--even through the ACW.

This is one of the listing pictures that convinced me to purchase it. It actually looked even better in person than in these lightbox photos and came with a nice matching US marked and inspected bayonet. It's obviously been cleaned and the metal all buffed back to armory bright, so I got it at a good price.
eHDUOsM.jpg


The M1816s were used in the 2nd Seminole war in 1835 and reportedly some older early models were used in the Texas War of Independence also in 1835. It then was our main battle musket for the Mexican-American war (1846-1848). Even though the army was in the midst of converting to percussion by the time of the Mexican-American war, the leaders and planners were worried about the logistics of keeping the armies on the Texas frontier and in Mexico supplied with musket caps. These caps could only be produced in sophisticated factory environments. Thus, if a soldier armed with a percussion firearm ran out of musket caps all he was left with was a fancy club or a spear if he had a bayonet. On the other hand, flints are long-lasting plus they are a naturally occurring mineral that can be found almost anywhere.

Here is it in person along with a few appropriate props. We were still using white buff leather during the Mexican-American war so that's what I went with for the photo. The Mexican war M1839 forage caps looked a bit like a modern police hat.
X08AZjc.jpg


Between the Springfield and the Harpers Ferry armories plus a number of contract makers, over 700,000 of these were produced up until 1844. In the mid to late 1840s the armories started converting these to percussion while they also introduced the Model 1842 which was simply the M1816 design manufactured as a percussion model. These muskets remained our main battle musket up until 1855 when the .58 cal Minie ball was adopted. This meant that the army could finally convert to more accurate rifled muskets. Our military was also being issued rifles, such as the M1841 "Mississippi", during these earlier periods but they were reserved for specialty troops like scouts, skirmishers, and what were sometimes referred to as flanking units.

The Dragoons (cavalry) during the Mexican-American war were even issued early breech-loading rifles since managing a muzzleloader from horseback was problematic. Still, the smoothbore musket remained the main infantry longarm until 1855, because it was both easier to load, simpler to maintain, and required less training to use effectively.

It should be noted that due to the shortages of rifled muskets at the start of the ACW, 10s of thousands of the converted smoothbore M1816s saw service by both the North and the South in the early years of the war. Some Southerners were still carrying flintlock versions. Thus, this musket was in continuous service longer than just about any other US service arm--from 1816 to as late as 1864 or 48 years. Of course, these muskets were made more effective as smoothbores during the ACW by the use of "buck & ball" loads which were made up of 3 each quarter-inch buckshot on top of a .68 cal round ball.


My example still has faint images of the original military inspection cartouches in the wood.
WnznwgC.jpg


close up detail of the previous layout photo
098dqG7.jpg


Finally, here's an old photo of some US regular reenactors from the Mexican-American war. Notice how their white buff slings make an X on the chest. I have been told that this was the inspiration for the white X symbols used to indicate infantry positions on a map. I will say that with all the gray in their beards, these guys look a little long in the tooth to have been a typical soldier of the period.
default.jpg


Thanks for reading and I hope I didn't bore you with information you already knew.

Cheers

I always wondered what the Texicans used in the war for independence in 1835-36. I always figured they had a mix of Brown Besses and Charlevilles. Where did you find info about their using the M1816?
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2020
Messages
21
Reaction score
74
Location
Arkansas
Thanks for the kind words gents.

I always wondered what the Texicans used in the war for independence in 1835-36. I always figured they had a mix of Brown Besses and Charlevilles. Where did you find info about their using the M1816?

They used a wide variety of firearms in the Texas revolution including the ones you mention but I came across the info about the M1816 being used in the Texas revolution from Wikipedia of all places

Here's the link : M1816 musket

and here's the pertinent quote:
This model of Springfield musket was used by Texans during the Texas Revolution and by the U.S. Army and militia during the Mexican–American War. During this conflict, the flintlock version of the Model 1816 was preferred by U.S. regular forces, due to percussion cap supply concerns.

I can only guess that since the M1816 would have been in service by 1835 for 19 years and had gone through several revisions, some of the older models had been sold off as surplus.

Cheers
 

gemmer

40 Cal
Joined
Oct 30, 2018
Messages
272
Reaction score
163
The 1842 Springfield percussion musket was a direct descendant of the 1835/1840 flintlock musket, not the 1816.
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2020
Messages
21
Reaction score
74
Location
Arkansas
The 1842 Springfield percussion musket was a direct descendant of the 1835/1840 flintlock musket, not the 1816.

That is technically correct, but according to authors George Moller and Kent W. Johns both the M1835/1840 and the subsequent M1842 line of muskets were mostly derivative of the M1816. I probably could have stated this in my original text but did not.

At one time all the later versions of the M1816 used to have their own model numbers, but at some point, because they all were so derivative of the previous model collectors just started dividing them into Types. Type I from 1816 to 1821, then type II from 1822 until 1831 and then Type III from 1832 until 1844.

The M1835/1840 was the first to realize a new model number because of the emphasis on being manufactured with interchangeable parts but it is still considered as a derivation of the M1816. I just chose not to muddy the waters with these technical classifications because most people don't care about that much detail.

It was created during a period when all the national armories were trying to implement fully interchangeable parts. Its biggest innovation over the M1816 was a thicker barrel with the idea that it could be rifled sometime in the future. However, it's still a .69 caliber smoothbore flintlock with the exact same length as the M1816 at 57 and 13/16th inches. The locks were almost identical as were most of the fittings. The M1840 had a slightly higher comb on the stock and a slightly different configured front barrel band. I think the top jaw on the cock varied.

Here's the summation on this at Wikipedia. I don't like using them all the time as a reference but it's easier than hand transcribing all this info from my two books on the subject matter

Link: The model 1842 musket

lead quote from the article:

The US Model 1842 Musket was a .69 caliber musket manufactured and used in the United States during the 19th Century. It is a continuation of the Model 1816 line of muskets but is generally referred to as its own model number rather than just a variant of the Model 1816.

The Model 1842 was the last U.S. smoothbore musket. Many features that had been retrofitted into the Model 1840 were standard on the Model 1842. The Model 1842 was the first primary U.S. muskets to be produced with a percussion lock; however, most of the Model 1840 flintlocks ended up being converted to percussion locks before reaching the field. The percussion cap system was vastly superior to the flintlock, being much more reliable and much more resistant to weather.

Like all Model 1816 derivatives, the Model 1842 has a .69 caliber smoothbore barrel that was 42 inches (110 cm) in length. The Model 1842 had an overall length of 58 inches (150 cm) and a weight of ten pounds (4,5 kg).


Cheers
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top