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Springfield v. Richmond

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At first glance, the Model 1861 Richmond looks almost identical to the Model 1861 Springfield:

300px-Springfield_1861.jpg   Model 1861 Springfield rifle-musket (from wikipedia)


325px-Richmond_musket.jpg      Model 1861 Richmond rifle-musket (from wikipedia)

[Note:  Both weapons are the same length, 56 inches, in real life. Both are a little over 9 pounds, have 40 inch long barrels, are of .58 calibre, and use individually placed percussion caps (placed on a nipple and struck by the hammer) to initiate the firing of a minie ball out the rifled barrel. Effective range is 400 yards on the Springfield; perhaps 100 yards better on the Richmond, due to the sights. Rates of fire for both at 3-4 aimed shots per minute.]

The main difference is found when comparing the firing mechanisms, close up:


[Model 1861 Richmond firing mechanism, from gunauction.com]



[Model 1861 Springfield firing mechanism, from rockislandauctions.com ...1862 indicates year of manufacture, of this particular weapon.]


The reason for the similarity in appearance: both weapons share the same pedigree, derived from the Model 1855 Springfield. However, while the 1861 Springfield was 'purpose-built' to have clean lines, while improving on the design of the Model 1855; the 1861 Richmond was manufactured using the milling machines, lathes and dies taken from the Harpers Ferry Arsenal in April 1861... hence 'the hump,' between the hammer and the percussion cap nipple. Some believe that the hump (which gives the 1861 Richmond its iconic appearance) was an intentional feature, designed to provide the shooter with an 'eye shield' from a sparking cap; in actuality, it was merely a hold-over from the Model 1855 'red cap system' that was deemed best left alone, to allow quick production of the 1861 Richmond... which commenced in October 1861, at Richmond, Virginia, in the Old State Armory building. In four years, some 31000 Model 1861 Richmonds were manufactured (with some produced at Macon, Georgia when the machinery was relocated there.) Later versions of the Richmond rifle-musket sported brass butt plate and brass nose cap. Although several Confederate regiments at Shiloh were provided with Model 1861 Richmonds after the battle, I have yet to determine whether any regiments used them on April 6 and 7.

The Model 1861 Springfield was one of the most highly sought-after weapons during the Civil War. Primarily produced at Springfield Arsenal in Massachusetts (where 300,000 units per year were turned out), there were an additional 15-20 contractors, mostly in Massachusetts and Connecticut, that contributed thousands more units. With an effective range of 400 yards (not as accurate as the 1853 Enfield because of the nature of the sights), the 1861 Springfield was used by both sides at Shiloh (the 15th Iowa is known to have been issued with the Springfield; and the 47th Tennessee is known to have 'picked theirs up in the Hornets Nest,' after Prentiss' surrender.)



References:  encyclopediavirginia.org











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