Thursday, November 1, 2007
The Mississippi Rifle
The U.S. Model 1841 Rifle was one of the first percussion firing longarms made. This made it capable of firing in most any weather condition, a great improvement over flintlock longarms that often misfired in any wet or damp weather conditions. Originally, it was a 54 cal., longarm. At the start of the Civil War, many were rebored to 58 cal., enabling them to use the same ammunition as the 1861 U.S. Springfield. This helped cut down on the problems of logistics in shipping different ammunition to different units.
This rifle gets its nickname from the Mexican War. Jefferson Davis' company of Mississipians were issued this weapon.
When Eli Whitney took over management of the armory in 1842, one of his first major tasks was to retool the machinery to make the lock and barrel of the new musket, as the armory currently still produced the 1822 contract flintlock musket. This led to the long-desired goal of achieving total parts-interchangeability in military longarms in the late 1840's.
The M1841 was smaller and lighter than most military longarms of the time. Being only 50 inches long and weighing 8lbs. the rifle was a good 7 inches shorter and 2lbs. lighter than the M1842 musket.
Widely used by the Confederate Army of Tennessee, the Mississippi rifle was a favorite of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. He preferred the accuracy of the Mississippi rifle over the many types of shotguns and carbines in use at the time.