Over the years, we've seen and handled lots of Mississippi rifles but probably never one as quite as interesting and mysterious as this one. This one is a Remington contract made in 1849 with matching barrel and lock dates. This gun appears to have gone through at least three different modifications. The primary alteration was done to convert this rifle to a Cavalry or Artillery Carbine. The barrel was shortened to from 33" down to 20" and the wood trimmed back to accept the original front band. However, unlike most post-war alterations of military percussion rifles and muskets in which guns were typically modified for sporting use, this could be a Civil War era alteration as someone went to a fair bit of trouble to keep this rifle in its military configuration. Another alteration is a clean-out plug was added to the bolster.
However, the final and most interesting alteration is located on the front barrel band where the front strap has been crudely removed. This would have been done prior to the gun being shortened as this was from a previous alteration to accept a bayonet. This same alteration can be found in Dr. John Murphy's Book, "Confederate Rifles and Muskets" on Pages 348-360, in which reveals this as a probable Confederate adaptation for a saber bayonet. Murphy has photos of several guns depicting guns with brazed bayonet lugs added to the side of the barrel that have altered front bands identical to this rifle. Each rifle...he has photos of not one, but five different guns including 2 dug relics from the Virginia Theater of the War...have bayonet lugs brazed been to the right side of the barrel and clearly show the the top portion of the front barrel band have been trimmed back just like this one. Unfortunately, with the barrel cut on this gun, the lug is no longer present. Nonetheless, the band still tells the story of its likely Confederate past. Interestingly enough, while Murphy is not able to establish which Southern firm or arsenal performed these modifications, his research shows a strong relation that these rifles were used by Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. His primary evidence are 2 rifles excavated from King and Queen County, VA. His research also shows through a paper trail of VA based units being issued bayonets. If in fact these guns were used by Confederate units in Virginia, we found it interesting that this particular example was recently purchased from a large collection of guns from a West Virginia estate.
Overall, this gun has a nice even look to it with a smooth brown patina, nice markings, and mellow brass furniture. The metal isn't pitted and if you slide the bands off, you can see the metal is much brighter...revealing it was shortened many years ago. The gun even still has its original leather sling which is tattered and in need of repairs. Both sling swivels are intact. Left side of the stock has a faint cartouche still visible. Barrel markings are US/JH/P over "STEEL" with "1849" clearly stamped on the barrel tang. Lockplate is marked "REMINGTON'S/HERKIMER/N.Y." and "1849/US" behind the hammer. The buttplate tang is marked "US". There is what appears to be a small religious symbol carved into the left side of the stock just in front of the buttplate depicting a cross on top of a square (Church or Evangelical?). Patchbox still contains its original spare nipple. The ramrod has been altered from the original to accept a minie ball. Hammer works well on both half and full cock positions. Original rear sight is intact. The wood looks great but if you look closely, there is a fine break to the wood between the front of the lockplate that angles slowly up to the barrel about 2-3" behind the rear band. Someone repaired it long ago and its hardly noticeable....the split is so tight and the angle runs so closely with the grain that an experienced woodworker could probably make this all but disappear with a little effort. The original sling will also need some mending but how many Mississippi's have you found lately with their original leather slings attached? All in all, this is a truly unique one-of-a-kind altered Mississippi rifle that was more than likely used by the Confederacy.