Springfield Model 1816
Muzzle-Loaded, Single-Shot Flintlock / Percussion Musket
The Springfield Model 1816 Musket lived a long and healthy service life - seeing action throughout all of the American Civil War of the 1860s.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Springfield Model 1816 Musket was developed by the gunsmiths of the Springfield Armory to succeed the earlier Model 1812 Musket in United States military service. The Model 1812, itself, was a successor for the Model 1795 series which showed its age and limitations by the time of the War of 1812. The Model 1816 was a further revision of the Model 1812 and was heavily influenced by the French Charleville.
Like other American muskets of the period, the Model 1816 was designed around the .69 ball ammunition and was given a 42" barrel length (smoothbore). Slight differences in the metal works was introduced in the newer gun including a straighter shoulder stock and grip handle. The weapon measured 58" in total length (even longer with a bayonet fitted) and weighed around 10lb - a hearty load for an infantry service gun. The action comprised the proven flintlock arrangement, which was susceptible to environmental factors, and the firing action was limited to single shot. A trained shooter could expect to fire off between two and three shots per minute due to the lengthy loading/reloading process involved (the shot and powder rammed down the barrel through the muzzle.
The long rifle was made up largely of wood with the metal barrel inset along nearly the entire length. The trigger unit was underslung in the usual way and the flintlock cock set to the right side of the gun's body. Sighting devices were fitted over the receiver and closer to the muzzle for ranged fire. Two barrel bands added rigidity to the length of the rifle, joining the barrel and wooden forend to one another. The ramrod was held in a channel burrowed into the forend under the barrel assembly.
In terms of production the Model 1816 was a resounding success, accounting for some 675,000 total units created by both of the government arsenals - Springfield and Harpers Ferry. Production spanned 1816 until 1844 and improved models followed the line throughout its lengthy career - the Model 1822, Model 1835, Model 1840 and Model 1842. Such was the circulation of this long gun that it remained in service during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and was featured throughout the Civil War (1861-1865) though more or less rendered obsolete by the end of 1862. By the time of the latter conflict, the guns were being modernized to the percussion cap system of operation (moving away from the temperamental flintlock action) which did much to improve firing reliability in-the-field.