Maine attic recovery
Mod 1817 Common Rifle and  the Hall Breech Loading Mod. 1819
At the outbreak of the American Civil War thousands of outdated government flintlock shoulder arms were in storage in state and Federal
armories throughout the South.  The number of such arms, altered to percussion and pressed into service by the Confederacy, did not go
unnoticed by many a Yankee certain that the new president of the Confederacy, once U. S. Senator, Jefferson Davis had exercised his pre-
secession power as chairman of the U. S. Senate, Military Affairs Committee, then as U. S. Secretary of War to move the large cash of federal
weapons south.  Also suspect were the motives of Virginian, John B. Floyd, U.S. Secretary of War under President James Buchanan and soon to
become a Confederate general, who had arms sent south out of northern U.S. armories. Among those arms were the U. S. Model 1817 muzzle
loading flintlock ‘Common Rifle’ and the  Hall’s Patent Model 1819 flintlock, breech loading rifle.  Hard use and common discarding in the field
in favor of battlefield captured Union arms, cut the survival rate of examples of such early Civil War conversions to nill save the rare attic found
war trophy that somehow made it through.
This Maine attic recovery of a Confederate percussion conversion Mod. 1817
Common Rifle (so called in period references simply to differentiate the
muzzleloader from the breech loading Hall) offers an example of the
unsophisticated work which frequently defined these Southern conversions.  This
example remains as it was brought home by one of a number of Maine Civil War
Veterans who’s war trophies once made Maine attics, barns and defunct country
meeting halls fertile ground for the Civil War collector / historian.  The weapon’s
crudely fitted and blacksmith welded, make-do hammer is indicative of
Confederate work and is augmented in this case by a scratch engraved notation
barely discernable on the underside of the patchbox cover.
A native of Hannibal, Missouri (Founded by his father Moses Bates in 1819 and
destined to become best known as the home town of author Mark Twain and as the
setting of his Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ) Moses
D. Bates Jr. enlisted on June 16, 1861 and was mustered in as a Corporal of Co. K, 4th
Missouri Infantry.  He was wounded and taken prisoner at Corinth, Mississippi on
October 3, 1862.  Paroled (date unknown) Corp. Bates returned to Co. M of his 4th
Missouri regiment and was captured yet again at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  As his earlier
Co. K of the 4th Missouri was designated as the ‘Missouri Grays’ it is safe to assume
his Common Rifle was lost when he was wounded and captured at Corinth.  How Corp.
Bates’s rifle came to Maine has been lost in time.
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