This is a scarce 3 Band Springfield Cadet Musket. Only 4,000 units of this scaled down version of the Model 1842 were mfd primarily for military Institutes like West Point and VMI from 1851 to 1853. This one has never been upgraded or rifled like many of the West Point guns. According to Flayderman's Guide Most 1851's were produced in 1852-53 but a few were mfd. in 1851. This example is 1st year production with an 1851 dated lockplate which could possibly associate it with the Virigina Military Institute. Its been documented that VMI received 200-300 Model 1851's by direct order of President Zachary Taylor and believed all to be dated 1851. Since there were so few produced during this year, its certainly plausible this gun could have gone to VMI. Furthermore, its hard usage is similar to many Confederate weapons we've handled in the past. During the Battle of New Market in 1864, General John C. Breckinridge reluctantly ordered 257 VMI Cadets (aged 15 to 17) which who were being held in reserve to fill a 350 foot long exposed gap in the Confederate Line. The cadets arrived just in time to successfully repulse a charge by the 34th Massachussetts Infantry before taking the field.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Fair, but it shouldn't require too much effort to get it up to Good condition. The metal is a dark brown patina with some pitting around the rear of the barrel and bolster from powder flash. Lockplate is clearly marked "SPRING <over> FIELD <over> 1851" Barrel measures 40" long secured by 3 barrel bands, and a lug for securing an angular bayonet located on the bottom of the barrel about 1" from the muzzle. The forward strap of the front band has its original brass front sight blade intact. The wood shows plenty of handling and wear but solid with no repairs. Both original cartouches on the left side of the stock are faint but still visible. Wood behind the bolster is worn from burn-out due to powder flash. Top of buttplate is marked "US". Lock still works on both half and full cock positions. Here are the areas that will need attention: 1. Percussion nipple appears original but is either bent or badly offset in the bolster causing improper alignment with the hammer. 2. Rear swivel is original but bent and cracked (could be repaired or you can replace it). The front swivel is broken off over 100 years ago. 3. Ramrod is a correct-looking but newer replacement that measures 3/4" too short. Fortunately, this scarce little musket is solid, all major components are original, and the aforementioned problems are fairly minor issues. We're going to price it with these issues in mind. Correcting them should result in a substantial increase in its value.