SPRINGFIELD, USA A SCARCE .58 (C/F
Estimate: £800 - £1,200
ca. US$1,074 - US$1,612
Price realised: n. a.
SPRINGFIELD, USA A SCARCE .58 (C/F) SINGLE-SHOT RIFLE, MODEL 'NEEDHAM'S CONVERSION OF THE 1861 MUSKET', no visible serial number, also known as 'the Fenian model', circa 1866-71, with 37in. barrel in the white, block and blade fore-sight, small rear-sight consisting of one standing notch with two further folding leaves, plain rounded receiver with sideways opening breech-block locked shut by a ball-detent and the external hammer with elongated nose, bar action lock retaining a U.S. eagle device, the date '1862' and 'NEW YORK', walnut full-stock, the iron heelplate marked 'U.S.' on the top-spur and the left cheek stamped '16' in the wood, three iron barrel bands and cup-ended iron ramrod Other Notes: 4200 Springfield Pattern 1861 & 63 rifles were acquired by the Fenian Brotherhood, a Catholic organisation that attempted to disrupt British interests in Canada after the end of the U.S. Civil War. An Irish Republican organization based in the United States, the Brotherhood carried out skirmish attacks on British Army forts, customs posts and other targets in Canada in 1866, and again from 1870 to 1871 in what became known as the Fenian Raids. These incursions were made in an attempt to bring pressure on Great Britain to withdraw from Ireland, although none of these raids achieved their aims. In Canada, the incursions divided its Catholic Irish-Canadian population, many of whom were torn between loyalty to their new home and sympathy for the aims of the Fenians. The Protestant Irish were generally loyal to the British and fought on the side of the anti-Catholic Orange Order against the invaders. While authorities in the United States arrested the men and confiscated the arms of the Fenian Brotherhood, there was speculation that some in the United States government had deliberately ignored the preparations undertaken by the Fenians because of anger over actions that could have been construed as British assistance to the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Ironically, after the initial raids in 1866, all the Fenian participants were arrested and the guns confiscated. Because of a loophole in US law however, the guns were returned to the Brotherhood, who had them secretly converted to Needham's patent (an Englishman!) in a rented premises in Trenton, N.J. With a few additional muskets acquired, around 5040 were eventually converted and in 1870, 200 Fenians once again raided Canada. By the end of 1871, after a couple more unsuccessful raids, everyone involved was rounded up and their arms confiscated for a second time. This time the guns were eventually sold off by Bannermans in 1884, although approximately 2500 converted arms had been hidden along the U.S./ Canada border by the raiders and occasionally still turn up to this day.
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