J. Henry U.S. Contract Model 1808 Flintlock Musket


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J. Henry U.S. Contract Model 1808 Flintlock MusketJ – Given the seeming inevitability of an impending war with Britain, the U.S. Government contracted with numerous, private arms manufacturers for production of Model 1808 muskets, after Britain’s firing upon and subsequent boarding of the USS Chesapeake, in 1807. Philadelphia based brothers, John J. and William Henry were among the gun manufacturers contracted by the government. The Henrys signed a contract on June 30, 1808, to supply 10,000 stands of arms at the cost of $10.75 each to be delivered to the Schuylkill Arsenal within five years. Surviving records indicate that they delivered at least 4,014 stands by the end of 1812 (Peter A. Schmidt, U.S. Military Flintlock Muskets and Their Bayonets, The Early Years 1790-1815, (Woonsocket, R.I.; Andrew Mowbray Publishers, 2006), pp. 188-196). The Henrys were the first to receive contracts for muskets under the 1808 militia act (Compliments – College Hill Arsenal, Tim Prince). Like most of the other firms to receive contracts, the Henrys ultimately did not fulfill their complete contracts. It has been estimated that they manufactured and delivered, between 1809 and 1812, approximately 4,500 weapons, on a 10,000-weapon contractual agreement. The guns manufactured by the Henry brothers were based on the Harpers Ferry Armory pattern of 1795. At the center of the lock plate is stamped an Eagle over a “US” – the eagle was lightly stamped and is somewhat difficult to discern; behind the hammer, stamped vertically, in an arch, is “J. HENRY / PHILA”. On the left of the breech is stamped, in an inset oval, a raised “P”, indicating the musket was destined to be issued for Pennsylvania troops. There are inspector’s initials on the inside of the trigger guard, as well. This musket, originally finished in the bright, has aged to a light brown, patinated surface; the firing mechanism functions; both original sling swivels are present. The oiled walnut stock remains in good condition.

Measurements: Cal. – .69; Barrel length – 45”; Overall length – 55”