IF NOT A DIFFERENT DRUMMER, PERHAPS A DIFFERENT MUSKET

Given the large number of reproduction muskets in the hands of reenactors and skirmishers today, the types of muskets carried by reenactors and skirmishers are not as varied as would historically reflect the presence of non-Springfield/Enfield in the hands of original Civil War soldiers. It is probably safe to estimate that more than 90% of all longarms used today in living history activities are standard Springfield or Enfields Reproductions, as they came from the carton they were shipped in. Some units require the use of a 3-band musket for participation in reenactments. Many skirmishers select the 2-band versions for their quicker loading capabilities, but they are still plain vanilla factory models.

A quick review of military longarm literature will reveal a startling fact. Hundreds of thousands of the muskets carried in the civil war were produced by contractors, and marked accordingly. Most, but not all, were patterned after the Springfield or Enfield, but carried contractors markings, particularly on the lockplates. A crafty and/or skilled musketperson, therefore, could alter the apparent manufacture of the musket by merely changing the lockplate. In several other instances, a replacement ramrod, nose cap and/or bayonet lug would result in a 100% authentic non-Springfield/Enfield repro.

To their lasting credit, many of the sutlers now carry reproduction arms which attempt to recreate such notable Armories as the Cook & Brother Company of New Orleans/Athens, GA and the Confederate Armory in Richmond. These efforts, if successful, will hopefully result in other minor armories having their production reproduced.

Luckily, a reenactor/skirmisher/living historian need not buy a whole new musket just to carry a Richmond musket, however. Some sutlers carry replacement lockplates, which, when installed on the standard reproduction Springfields, change the manufacturer. Bill Osborne, proprietor of Lodgewood Mfg., 151 Oak Street, Berlin, WI, 414-361-4939, has many 1855 and 1861 style lockplates available. These lockplates will accept the parts from your standard lockplate, and in addition to making your musket readily distinguishable from others in a stack, help you create a persona for your personal weapon. I carry an 1857 dated model 1855 Rifle Musket which I scratch built, and it has a "Harpers Ferry" plate I happily acquired from Bill. Stop by Bills' stand at the N-SSA National Spring Skirmish, or drop him a line.

For some reason, replacement lockplates for Enfields have not been as readily available. Certainly, there are as many Enfields as Springfields in the hands of potential musket customizers, but, so far, no one has produced the lockplates to accommodate those who might want them. Many Enfield look alikes were produced and carried, during the Civil War. Some, like the Blunt-Enfield Rifle Musket, made in New York City about 1862, where so identical to standard British arms that only a proof mark serves as manufacturing identification (the Blunt even had crown markings!). The drawings included with this article demonstrate the appropriate markings for Enfield look-alikes, and hopefully you can either file your current plate down and remark it or some enterprising soul will start to offer Enfield pattern lockplates.

Also, I am including some information on several standard and non-standard longarms with this article. The table provides information for five different types of "Springfield" look- alikes. The information covers the model designation, quantity produced, lockplate markings, barrel description, if a patchbox was included, sight information, hardware description, and some special notes. Parts like nose caps, buttplates, ramrods, etc., are easily available, and will give you that different look you might be looking for in a musket rifle. This information will also help you as a parts list if you want to attempt to create a musket from scratch.

Customizing your standard issue musket into a stand-out unique arm is well worth the effort and investment. I hope this information will help you.

Until the next time, shoot safe and have fun.

(C)1993 Tom Kelley
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