Colt Model 1855 Rifled-Musket Serial Number - 4909
from the Private collection of Frank Kalinowski
Date of Manufacture - 1861
This weapon is a .56 caliber, 5 shot, Military Rifle, which, because it has a 37 ½ inch barrel, is denominated the "Rifled-Musket." It is made to accept the socket bayonet using the front sight as the bayonet lug. Between 1855 and 1864, Colt produced 9,310 military rifles: 8,075 of them in .56 caliber and 4,825 of these with 37 ½ inch barrels. During the Civil War, the U.S. government bought 4,613 Colt Rifles - 3726 directly from the Colt factory (all in .56 caliber with 37 ½ inch barrels) and 957 from private dealers (various barrel lengths). Several renowned units were issued Colt Rifled Muskets, the most famous being the 1st and 2nd Regiments of U.S. Sharpshooters, a.k.a., Berdan's Sharpshooters. On January 27, 1862, the U.S. Government ordered 1,000 .56 caliber Rifled Muskets from Colt which were delivered the next day. The 1st U.S.S.S. received 886 of these and the 2nd U.S.S.S. received the others. According to the Descriptive Record of Company G of the 2nd U.S.S.S., a copy of which I acquired from the National Archives, Colt Rifled Musket number 4909 was issued to Private George W. McCrillis of the Berdan Sharpshooters. As an identified issued weapon, this is one of the most important Colt longarms of the American Civil War.
Condition: This gun is in NRA-rated "Fine" to "Excellent" condition. As evidenced by the complete lack of finish under the forestock, and confirmed in an e-mail from Colt authority Herbert Houze, this gun was issued "in the white." Accordingly, the metal has only a slight patina over a bright surface. The surface of the gun is smooth (showing signs of only the light removal of surface grease), the edges are crisp, all principal lettering is fine (including the numbers on the sight), and the action is virtually mint. All serial numbers match and the wood retains at least 90% of its original varnish. As is proper for many of these Rifled Muskets, there are no government markings on the gun except a subinspector's letter at the back of the cylinder. The only minor detractions are some roughness near the muzzle and on the inside of the topstrap (indicating that the gun was fired), and a replaced cleaning rod. The Berdan Sharpshooters turned in their Colts and were issued Sharps in June of 1862, and so, while this gun was part of this legendary regiment, it shows that it was only in service for three months.