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RARE 1 of 770 CIVIL WAR Antique US JAMES MERRILL .54 Cal. Percussion RIFLE Similar to the MERRILL CARBINE with a 33” Barrel
RARE 1 of 770 CIVIL WAR Antique US JAMES MERRILL .54 Cal. Percussion RIFLE
Similar to the MERRILL CARBINE with a 33” Barrel
Here we present an antique U.S. James H. Merrill Percussion Rifle, made circa 1862 in Baltimore, Maryland. These were made by the company of James H. Merrill in Baltimore, Maryland (a very divided city leading up to the war). The Merrill rifle was produced from 1862–65 with a total quantity of reportedly 770. These rifles are generally considered to the among the rarest and most sought after percussion rifles of the Civil War, and were issued in limited numbers to sharpshooters in Michigan, Arkansas, and Massachusetts regiments. The rifle was a .54 caliber, single -shot, percussion, breechloader with an action identical to the Merrill Carbine, but with a 33-inch barrel, two barrel bands, and a lug for attaching a bayonet. It also had a brass patch box similar to the First Type carbine. Serial numbers are in the "4000 - 14000" range. Of the rifles produced, most or all were purchased by the Union government during the Civil War.
The Merrill carbines are known to have been allocated to the following Union cavalry regiments: NY 1st, 5th and 18th; Pennsylvania 11th, 17th, and 18th; NJ 1st; Indiana 7th; Wisconsin 1st and 3rd; Kentucky 27th; and finally the Delaware 1st. They are also known to have been used by Confederates as they were available before the war or as they would capture them. Confederate ammunition for these were made at the Richmond Laboratory on Brown’s Island in Virginia. It is telling about how many of the carbines the South may have fielded to justify a significant operation making ammunition at the lab.
As an interesting side-note, the Confederate States Richmond Laboratory was the site of the worst home-front disaster in Richmond for the entire war when careless handling of percussion caps caused the several hundred thousand percussion primers, cannon friction primers and 10 lbs. of gun powder to explode, killing at least 44 and seriously injuring 25 more in the small building.
The overall condition is fair. Original patina. The action is excellent. The bore is in good condition with strong rifling and surfaces are reflective. The stock is split on either side of the top tang at the wrist, though it is stable. A very difficult to find piece in any condition!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 33 inches.
Caliber: .54 percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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