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Rare Model 1816 Flintlock Musket, L. Pomeroy, c. 1832

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Rare Model 1816 Flintlock Musket, Lemuel Pomeroy, c. 1832

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This is a rare U.S. Model 1816 Flintlock Musket manufactured by Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1832. This particular flintlock musket remains in its original flintlock configuration.

U.S. military small arms procurement between the end of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 was one characterized by both corruption and incompetence on many levels. The Militia Act of 1808, which authorized substantial funds to manufacture and procure flintlock muskets for both militia and regular U.S. Army issue, exacerbated the problem. Although the 1808 law established a pattern musket that was to be produced, the quality of those manufactured left a lot to be desired and highlighted problems in letting arms contracts, procurement and inspection of arms to be accepted into U.S. service.

All of these problems led the Secretary of War to replace Tench Coxe, the Purveyor of Public Supplies, with Callender Irvine, Commissary General of Purchases, on August 8, 1812. In this capacity, Irvine was in charge of musket procurement for the U.S. Army. Prior to this time, the standard musket carried by U.S. Army soldiers and militiamen was either the Charleville pattern flintlock musket or a Charleville derivative sometimes referred to as the Model 1808 Pattern Musket. Shortly after Irvine assumed his new duties he began the process of introducing an entirely new pattern musket that was created by Peter Peleaux under the direction of Marine T. Wickham, a private arms manufacturer, who was the manufacturer of this particular flintlock musket.

Irvine sent Wickham, and the new pattern musket design, to meet with Secretary of War William Eustis on December 2, 1812. The Secretary of War approved the new musket design on December 8, 1812. The same day, Secretary of War Eustis wrote to the superintendents of Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry Armory, “The pattern musket is adopted as the Standard at the public armories, and in order to establish it at the private works, it appears advisable that new contracts should be entered into with those contractors who are now under employment to the U. States and who are disposed to carry on this work.” This new pattern musket became the Model 1812 and is significant because it was the first U.S. designed musket intentionally designed for the U.S. military. The Model 1812 Musket was also significant in that it was intended to be the first U.S. regulation musket with fully interchangeable metal components. This goal, however, was not realistic.

The Model 1812 Musket initially encountered resistance from the Superintendent of Springfield Armory and from the Chief of Ordnance. Chief of Ordnance Colonel Decius Wadsworth felt the new musket was too heavy, that the balance was too far forward and that the method of attaching the socket bayonet was poorly designed. Springfield Armory’s Superintendent Benjamin Prescott also complained that the new design had a very high cost of production.

Regardless of the stated concerns, the Secretary of War pushed forward with the new design and ordered Harpers Ferry to fabricate twenty-four pattern muskets of the new design in 1813. This request was later modified downwards to six pattern muskets of which five were ultimately manufactured. These five muskets were then sent to Springfield Armory in 1813 to serve as patterns for Springfield Armory manufactured patterns and were then to be sent to various civilian contractors to serve as pattern muskets for subsequent civilian contracts.

Springfield manufactured six Model 1812 Muskets based on the original Harpers Ferry Armory pattern. The principal difference in the Model 1812 Musket from the preceding Model 1795 Musket and the succeeding Model 1816 Musket is the lock. The Model 1812 lockplate has a flat surface with beveled edges and its rear profile ends in a point. The plate also has an integral, round-bottomed flash pan. The earlier Model 1795 lockplate ended at the rear in a pronounced projecting point while the lockplate for the later Model 1816 had a rounded, rather than flat, plate.

Despite all of the effort made to introduce a new, American design, the Model 1812 Musket was not produced during the War of 1812. Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry Armory were both producing the earlier models based on the French Charleville design and the correct decision was made not to changeover production in the middle of a war.

In addition, the realities of arms production in the early 19th century meant that parts interchangeability was a goal that could not reasonably be met. All of this meant that the first production of muskets containing Model 1812 locks were not produced until 1815 and, even then, were manufactured mostly with earlier Model 1795 components. These muskets are generally known as Model 1812 (Type I) Muskets.

Once the supply of Model 1795 components was exhausted, true Model 1812 Muskets with new components were manufactured beginning in the middle of 1815 and were produced until late June 1816. These muskets are known as the Model 1812 (Type II) Muskets.

On February 8, 1815, a new law was enacted that required the Ordnance Department (which took over small arms procurement from the Commissary General of Military Stores as a result of the same law) to “insure [sic] the uniformity [of the arms produced] in the public armories.” In response, Chief of Ordnance Colonel Decius Wadsworth wrote the Secretary of War that he had consulted with present Springfield Armory Superintendent Benjamin Prescott, past superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Roswell Lee, Harpers Ferry Armory Superintendent James Stubblefield and firearms designer Eli Whitney, and that all were in agreement on the “essential properties and dimensions of firearms.” Wadsworth’s letter then outlined the design features of what would become the Model 1816 Musket and the Model 1817 Rifle. Fabrication of prototype Model 1816 designs began at Springfield Armory in 1815 and the newly adopted pattern musket was sent from Springfield to the Chief of Ordnance on August 27, 1816. The Secretary of War approved the new Model 1816 Musket on November 27, 1816.

Despite the November 27, 1816 approval date, Springfield Armory did not manufacture a “pure” Model 1816 Flintlock Musket until late 1817 or early 1818. The reason for this was economic; Springfield used up existing Model 1812 components, sometimes interspersed with newer Model 1816 components. By early January 1818, however, it is presumed that Springfield began producing the Model 1816 Flintlock Musket in the form that it would until the end of production.

Since the “model making armory” during this period was Springfield Armory, Harpers Ferry did not begin making the Model 1816 Flintlock Musket until later than Springfield. Harpers Ferry began production of component parts for the Model 1816 at least as early as August 1819, because records indicate the new brass pan was being cast at that time. More than likely, full production of the Model 1816 did not begin at Harpers Ferry until early 1820. Once the production of Model 1816 Flintlock Muskets was firmly in place at both national armories, the Ordnance Department began to look to private contractors for the production of identical muskets based upon the Model 1816 pattern.

Initially, contractor manufactured Model 1816 pattern muskets were purchased by the US Government for issue to individual state militias. This decision was based on the US Militia Act of 1808, in which the federal government had the statutory responsibility to supply military stores to all state militias. Generally, as noted, muskets intended for the regular United States Army were to be manufactured at one of the national armories, Springfield Armory or Harpers Ferry Armory. The Ordnance Department, however, realized the need for civilian contractors to supplement national armory production as well as manufacture muskets under the Militia Act for the states and select contractors entered into contracts with the federal government to produce muskets to both the US government and the states through the US government. Up until 1834, the US government entered into contracts with various firearms manufacturers, most of which were to be supplied to state militias. From 1834 to 1839, instead of individual contracts, the total number of muskets required for state militias for the following year were determined and then that number was divided amongst the approved contractors with the total being considered an “assignment” rather than a contract.

As noted, this particular Model 1816 Flintlock Musket was manufactured by Lemuel Pomeroy of Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1832. Pomeroy entered into four separate contracts with the US government and was given a subsequent six “assignments”, one of which was canceled. This particular musket was manufactured under Pomeroy’s fourth and final contract, entered into on January 26, 1829, for a total of 8,750 muskets. This contract covered production from 1829 to 1834 and ended up producing 9,060 muskets. In 1832, when this musket was manufactured, Pomeroy manufactured only 1,680 muskets for the US government.

While the U.S. Model 1816 Musket would remain in production, with various improvements, for nearly 30 years, confusion as to the correct model nomenclature was created in 1821 with many collectors, and many reference books, referring to a Model 1822 Musket. This confusion originated on September 3, 1821, when Colonel Bomford ordered thirty muskets each made "according to established standard pattern," at both Springfield and Harpers Ferry. The "established standard pattern" at that time was the US Model 1816 Musket. The purpose of this order was for Ordnance Department personnel to examine the two lots of thirty muskets from the two national armories and select one armory's muskets as the pattern for subsequent contractors to follow based on the uniformity of muskets within the lot. Ultimately, the muskets made at Harpers Ferry were selected as the contractor pattern. Although no new model of musket was intended, the Harpers Ferry pattern Model 1816 Muskets had lower sling swivels riveted to the front of the trigger guard bow instead of being riveted to the vertical stud passing up through the front trigger guard extension. These Harpers Ferry muskets were all dated "1822," and were also stamped "MODEL" on many of the component pieces as they were, indeed, "models" of the Model 1816 for purposes of the selection of a standardized weapon that could be reproduced by private contractors. Any apparent confusion would have died then had someone at the Ordnance Department not made reference to a "Model of 1822" musket in an Ordnance Manual in 1841. From that point forward the confusion, and the myth of a Model 1822 Musket, has been perpetrated.

The US Model 1816 Flintlock Musket is generally divided into three "types," none of which were considered different Models by the Ordnance Department during the weapon's period of active service. The "type" classification was only used by the Ordnance Department later when stocks of Model 1816s were differentiated for purposes of determining which weapons were most suitable for alteration to percussion. The Type I musket consists of the first production Model 1816 Muskets until late 1822 or early 1823 and were typically finished in the National Armory Bright finish. Type I muskets have a lower sling swivel riveted to a vertical stud that passes up through the trigger guard's forward extension and just forward of the trigger bow.

The Type II muskets were manufactured from late 1822 or early 1823 until some time in 1831 and were finished "brown" instead of with the National Armory Bright finish. The Type II muskets also had a new trigger guard that eliminated the vertical stud and, instead, the sling swivel was riveted directly to the front branch of the trigger guard bow.

The Type III, and final of the US Model 1816 Flintlock Musket types, was manufactured from sometime in 1831 until the end of production. The Type III muskets were finished in the original National Armory Bright finish and the sling swivel base, which was still riveted to the trigger guard bow, was increased in size.

This particular US Model 1816 Flintlock Musket is a Type III musket. As noted, the Type III muskets exhibit a change back to the original National Armory Bright finish, which was authorized by Chief of Ordnance Colonel Bomford on July 7, 1831. The change was implemented at Springfield Armory sometime during the July-September 1832 quarter and Harpers Ferry probably implemented the change during the same period. Since contractors were held strictly to the production standards as dictated by the national armories, the contractors around this same time would have implemented this change.

The Lockplate on this Model 1816 Musket is in fine condition. To the rear of the cock is crisply stamped vertically, in two lines, “1832 / US,” all with serifs. Forward of the cock is the correct and crisply stamped horizontal “L. POMEROY” stamp under the federal eagle stamp. The lockplate generally exhibits a plum patina on the outside surface. The cock itself also a plum patina with areas of old pitting. The back of the cock has a serif “L” stamp and assembly dimple stamp. The convex head, single slot cock screw retains the same finish as the cock itself with more pronounced ptting. The cock is correctly convex in profile up through the neck. The top jaw exhibits a matching patina and the jaw screw still easily moves the top jaw up and down. The dimpling to the interior portions of both jaws is still crisp.

The original brass pan is inclined and has the characteristic deep contour. The pan exhibits a beautiful and original dark mustard patina. The flat head, single-slot ban/frizzen screw is present and the slot is only minimally marred with evidence of old pitting. The bottom of the pan has a serif “C” inspection stamp. The Frizzen itself exhibits a plum patina and the top portion angles slightly towards the front, which is another attribute of the true Model 1816 Musket. The Frizzen also has a serif “F” inspection stamp and a serif “L” stamp with assembly dimple stamp. The original Frizzen Spring is present and is still strong with upward pressure on the Frizzen. The Frizzen Spring ends in the rounded teardrop shape and the frizzen spring screw has the correct, slightly convex head with single slot and the assembly dimple stamp. The back side of the Frizzen Screw, visible on the inside of the lock, has a serif “L” stamp.

The reverse side of the lockplate still retains considerable original national armory bright finish throughout. The inside plate has the serif “LM” inspection stamp. The frizzen boss on the inside has the assembly dimple stamp. The inside edge of the pan has a serif “L” and a serif “V” stamp. The pan screw has an assembly dimple stamp. The main Hammer Spring is present and is still strong.

The Tumbler and Bridle both retain the majority of the original tempered blue finish. There is an assembly dimple on the face of the bridle. The Bridle, Tumbler and Sear Spring Screws all have the assembly dimple stamp. The Sear retains the majority of its tempered blue finish with an assembly dimple stamp. The lock mechanism works perfectly.

The Upper Barrel Band is the correct Model 1816 type that has two ½” wide barrel rings on the top portion. The length of the upper band at the top is 2 3/8” and is 3 ½” long on the bottom portion, which extends towards the rear of the musket. The band exhibits a plum patina with small areas of pinprick pitting. The top, rear barrel ring has the original brass front sight that is brazed solidly to the ring. The upper band Retaining Spring is correctly inletted into the stock to the rear of the band and it secures the band with a stud at the front of the band.

The Middle Barrel Band measures 5/8” wide and has the sharper shoulders that differentiate it from the earlier Model 1812 bands. The upper sling swivel is riveted to the lug protruding from the bottom of the band and it rotates freely. The band and sling swivel both exhibit a dark plum patina with areas of old pitting. The middle band retaining spring is correctly inletted into the stock forward of the band and it secures the middle band tightly with its integrated stud.

The Lower Barrel Band is 11/16” wide at the top and extends forward at the bottom to a width of 1 ¼”. The band exhibits a plum patina with areas of old pitting. The band is secured by the correct lower band retaining spring, which is inletted into the stock forward of the band. The Side Plate measures just over 4” in length. The side plate exhibits a dark plum patina. The original side plate screws are present and have convex heads with unmarred single-slots.

The original Ramrod is approximately 42” long with a button-head. The rear portion of the ramrod is threaded on the end for the ball and wiper. The ramrod exhibits a plum patina with pitting towards the button-head and there is a crack approximately seven inches from the head. The ramrod secures tightly in its stock channel.

The original Trigger and Guard Assembly is present and measures approximately 9 7/8” in length. The Trigger Bow is integral to the assembly and measures 1 1/8” wide at the bottom. The assembly exhibits a plum patina with small areas of pinprick pitting. Both original assembly wood screws are present and the convex, single-slot heads are unmarred. The Lower Sling Swivel assembly is riveted integrally to the front of the trigger guard bow and the swivel still moves freely. The original Trigger is present and is secured through the trigger pin in the stock. The Trigger exhibits a plum patina and works perfectly.

The original Butt Plate is present and measures 2 ¼” long at the tang and 4 ¼” along the rear. The rear portion has a straight profile with a slightly convex surface and is secured by the original convex, single slot wood screw. The original convex, single slot tang wood screw is present. The tang has the correct “US” stamp forward of the tang screw. The back of the butt plate and the tang exhibits a dark plum patina with significant old pitting throughout.

The original Barrel is present and measures 42 1/16” in length. The bore measures .695” at the muzzle and is clear to the touchhole. The bore is in excellent condition considering its age with moderate pitting along its interior. The original touchhole is present and is unmodified. The original Breech Plug is present and measures 2 1/8” long by 9/16” wide with a rounded end. The back of the plug has stake marks on the left and right side that aligns with the stake marks on the back of the barrel. The top of the barrel, just to the rear of the muzzle, is the original bayonet stud that has an inspection stamp “2.”

The bottom of the barrel has several inspection stamps including stock fitting stamps, serif inspection stamp “JM” and a serif “V” proof stamp. On the top portion of the breech plug tang is the barrel date stamp “1832,” which is slightly double stamped. On the top, rear of the barrel has a serif “US” stamp over the inspection stamp “JM” over a sunken “P” proof stamp. The left, rear barrel flat has a script “M” stamp. The barrel still retains considerable original National Armory Bright finish in the protected areas with the top, exposed portion exhibiting a plum patina with areas of pitting throughout.

The original and beautiful black walnut stock is in fine condition. The left stock flat has the oval inspector’s cartouche with script initials “JM,” which are the final inspection initials of Justin Murphy, who was an ordnance inspector in New England in the first part of the 19th century. Murphy inspected 880 of Pomeroy’s muskets in 1832 when he inspected this musket. Significantly, there is no classification stamp above the final inspection cartouche, which will be discussed below. The trigger guard plate inlet has the “X” assembly stamp. In the lock mortise is a serif “JB” inspection stamp. The bottom of the wrist has serif “L” stamp and a “V” stamp.

The absence of the classification cartouche on the stock as noted above makes this a very scarce flintlock musket. As noted, the "Type" classification of US Model 1816 Flintlock Muskets was undertaken to prioritize weapons based on their suitability for conversion to percussion. This became necessary because the adoption of the US Model 1842 Musket in the early spring of 1842, which was a percussion musket, rendered all existing flintlock muskets obsolete. Because so many flintlock muskets were then in service, and to return as many of those flintlocks as possible to current, serviceable condition, the Secretary of War authorized an inspection of muskets owned by the federal government to classify them in terms of suitability for alteration. On June 4, 1842, Ordnance Lieutenant Peter V. Hagner was assigned as the senior Ordnance officer in charge of inspection and classification of flintlock muskets.

The classification system that was adopted involved four classes of flintlocks. The 1st Class included those "good and serviceable arms made since 1831," and these weapons were not examined. It was directed that all 1st Class muskets be kept in stores and not issued except on special orders. The 2nd Class included all "good and serviceable arms made from 1821 to 1831 inclusive," and it was ordered that they be issued for ordinary purposes and held as "suitable to be altered to percussion." This particular flintlock musket would have been have fallen into the 2nd Class of weapons.

The 3rd Class included "all arms made from 1812 to 1820 inclusive," and these were considered unsuitable for ordinary use and were not suitable for alteration although they could be used in cases of emergency. The 4th Class included all "arms made prior to 1812," which were to be collected for later sale. What makes this flintlock musket rare is that the vast majority of the 1st and 2nd Class Muskets were later altered to percussion using the Maynard Tape Primer System and many of these were later issued during the early days of the Civil War. What makes it even more rare is that this musket was never even inspected, and then stamped, during the classification process. This musket was probably in the hands of a private soldier before the classification process began in the 1840s.

This Model 1816 Flintlock Musket is in its original flintlock configuration and was never altered, making it one of the few survivors of the period when the vast majority were selected, and later altered, to percussion. My view is that this musket was somehow "appropriated" by someone after it was initially issued, perhaps at the end of the Mexican War when many Model 1816 Muskets, still in flintlock configuration, were used, and that it was then very well taken care of and kept preserving it in this state with expected, minor corrosion over the years.

This is a very rare US Model 1816 Flintlock Musket manufactured by noted arms maker Lemuel Pomeroy in 1832 that remains in the original flint in every respect.

This musket is an antique so it can be shipped to anyone. It will also come with a historical writeup and a CD containing all of the photos. I accept Visa and MasterCard and charge NO FEES. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like additional photos posted.


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