US M1841 Mississippi Rifle with Apparent 1861 Colt Conversion Elements with Saber Bayonet
US M1841 Mississippi Rifle with Apparent 1861 Colt Conversion Elements with Saber Bayonet – This Mississippi remains in overall very good condition, retaining its smoothly patinated, original browned finish. The lock plate markings indicate that this rifle was manufactured by Eli Whitney, in 1851. The lock plate is stamped “E. Whitney / US” to the right of the hammer; behind the hammer is stamped “N Haven / 1851”. As with all Whitney Mississippi rifles, the barrel is stamped, at the breech area with a US over SK, with VP stamped beneath the SK; on the barrel flat, at the breech, is stamped “STEEL”. Stamped in the tang of the breech is the corresponding date to that on the lock plate – 1851. There are two inspector cartouches, opposite the lock, on the stock. The tang of the brass butt plate is stamped “US”. The replacement nipple remains within the brass patch box. In 1861, Colt purchased 11,368 surplus US M-1841 “Mississippi” rifles from the Federal government, completing several reconfigurations on these guns, at its Hartford factory – expanding the .54 caliber, rifled bore to .58 caliber. In addition, Colt replaced the simple, V-notched, rear sight, with a long range, leaf type sight. Also, Colt replaced the original, brass tipped ramrod, with a completely steel, tulip tipped ramrod, with a deeper dimple in the tulip to accommodate the use of a .58 caliber Minie’ bullet. Finally, Colt added a saber bayonet adapter near the muzzle of the barrel, to utilize a saber bayonet, manufactured by Colt; these adapters were numbered to correspond to the same number on the saber bayonet. Most of these rifles were sold back to the Federal Government, although the state of Connecticut purchased a number of these altered 1841s. Deliveries were completed by June 1862. The split metal ring type, bayonet adapter, clamped on the barrel to provide a bayonet lug.
This rifle has been bored out to .58 caliber; the bore is clean, but retains only traces of the original rifling. The rear sight and ramrod are the same as when the rifle was manufactured by Eli Whitney; neither have been changed since 1851. Near the muzzle, attached to the rifle’s barrel, is a numbered, Colt saber bayonet adapter; the number is – 9114. Accompanying the rifle is a Colt saber bayonet; these bayonets, manufactured by the cutlery and tool entity Collins & Co., were numbered to match the adapter affixed to the muzzle area of the rifle’s barrel, and dated. The number appears on the flat area of the brass hilt – this one is stamped with the number “ “. In addition, one side of the ricasso of the blade was stamped with the date “1861” – this example exhibits this date. The bayonet fits the adapter, although the numbers do not match. When we obtained this rifle, the bayonet was with it; the bayonet no longer retains its scabbard. The round barrel remains its original length, at 33”. Again, overall condition is very good, with a minor burn area in the stock, behind the nipple bolster; all brass elements have a pleasingly mellow patina. The mechanics of the rifle are good. There is a small age crack in the stock near the lock plate screw on the side opposite the lock plate and a hairline, jagged crack that extends from the trigger to just into the interior of the lock mortise – this latter crack appears to be an age crack, as well, and is not motile or structural in nature.
We believe that this rifle was indeed one that was sold to Colt for reconfiguring. The answer to why the more useful and accurate leaf sight, and the more practical ramrod, were never placed on this gun remains unknown.