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U.S. Harpers Ferry Model 1842 Percussion Musket (1)
The Model 1842 Musket was the standard arm of the U.S. Army prior to the development of the .58 caliber Model 1855 Rifle-Musket, which made the smoothbore Model 1842 obsolete. It was the first regulation percussion musket to be manufactured at both Springfield and Harpers Ferry Armories and the last model in .69 caliber smoothbore arms ordered.
The Model 1842 Musket was the standard arm of the U.S. Army
prior to the development of the .58 caliber Model 1855
Rifle-Musket, which made the smoothbore Model 1842 obsolete. Some
of these M1842 muskets were returned to arsenals and their barrels
were rifled. In addition, rear sights, which were not used in the
original smoothbore design, were added to these rifled muskets.
Model 1842 muskets that were not rifled were often loaded with
"buck and ball," consisting of a .69 caliber round ball and three
buckshot. This was done in an attempt to compensate for the lack of
accuracy in smoothbore barrels.
By 1859, the U.S. Armory at Springfield, Massachusetts was so overcrowded that the War Department ordered the shipment of one-fifth of the arms stored there to five Southern arsenals. Included in these shipments were a number of Model 1842 Muskets, as well as newer rifled muskets and converted flintlocks. Many more of these muskets remained in U.S. arsenals in the Northern states. In addition, a large number of these arms were already in the hands of state militia units in both the North and South. When war came, the Model 1842 saw extensive service; some units were still equipped with them as late as 1863.