MANUFACTURER(S): Springfield Armory - USA
OPERATORS: Confederate States; United States
ACTION: Flintlock System / Percussion Cap; Single-Shot; Muzzle-Loaded
CALIBER(S)*: .69 Musket Ball
SIGHTS: Iron Front and Rear (Rifled Versions)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Springfield Model 1842 Muzzle-Loaded Musket / Rifle.
Entry last updated on 10/16/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The battlefields of the American Civil War (1861-1865) became home to many different gun types - pistols, carbines, muskets and rifles. Old and new models were featured side-by-side in what became a clash of technologies and tactics. One of the muskets relied upon by both sides was the flintlock-based Model 1816 which originally emerged from the storied Springfield and Harpers Ferry armories. This line was progressively updated to become the Model 1840 (still in flintlock form) and, ultimately, the Model 1842.
Like the Model 1816 and Model 1840 before it, the Model 1842 arrived in .69 musket ball chambering and had three barrel bands along its length. The shoulder stock was integrated as part of the grip handle and forend. The action was arranged through metal components concentrated near the trigger unit - which was underslung in typical fashion. Sights were not included in the smoothbore's design (this arrived later when the gun was rifled). Construction involved a good deal of machining which was a first for a U.S. government-made firearm. Another first for the Model 1842 in U.S. service was its switch to the percussion cap action (from flintlock) which improved environmental reliability. The barrel was of particular thickness so as to be rifled at a later date. It was also the last government-issued musket in .69 chambering as the arrival of the spin-stabilized French Minie Ball changed everything.
The 10lb musket was 58 inches long with a 42 inch-long barrel length. Effective range was out to 75 yards and maximum range reached 200 yards - the smoothbore nature of the barrel made for a natural inaccuracy imparted to the outgoing bullet - which was subject to all kinds of factors once it left the confines of the barrel.
From the period of 1844 until 1855 about 275,000 Model 1842 muskets were manufactured and some of this total also came from private providers commissioned to help. The gun was in circulation during the time of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and firmly entrenched by the time of the Civil War in 1861 - even so, they were generally regarded as obsolete though a lack of better alternatives along both sides often placed these muskets into soldier's hands nonetheless. In time, the guns were finally rifled and had sights fitted to them to make for a more modern, and potent, weapon at range. The series eventually saw service from 1844 until the end of the war in 1865.