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Auction Date: December 6, 2015

Lot 3008: New Haven Arms Co. - Henry Rifle

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Fine Civil War Martially Inspected New Haven Arms Company Henry Lever Action Rifle From the Legendary Mac McCroskie Collection
Estimated Price: $65,000 - $90,000
Item Views 138 Bid Activity Average
Serial #New Haven Arms Co. - Henry Rifle ManufacturerNew Haven Arms Co. ModelHenry Rifle
TypeRifle Gauge44 Henry RF Catalog Page10
Barrel24 Inch FinishBlue/casehardened Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionManufactured by the New Haven Arms Company in November 1863. This rifle was part of the 800 rifle contract executed by the Ordnance Department on December 30, 1863, to arm the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry regiment. The 1st D.C. Cavalry was the only Federal unit entirely armed with Henry rifles during the Civil War. Commanded by politically connected Col. Lafayette Baker, the 1st D.C. Cavalry served on provost duty in the District of Columbia under the direct orders of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The unit's primary mission was to combat Confederate partisan rangers operating in Northern Virginia. In May 1864, the regiment was re-assigned to the Department of Virginia and saw action in operations around Richmond and Petersburg. The 1st D.C Cavalry was present when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. During the Richmond/Petersburg Campaign a significant number of Henry rifles were captured or lost in action. Some captured 1st D.C. Cavalry Henry rifles were re-issued to Confederate forces. The body guard of President Jefferson Davis was armed with Henry rifles when he was captured following the fall of Richmond. The 800 Henry rifles purchased for the 1st D.C. Cavalry under the December 30, 1863, contract are the only Henry rifles fully marked with Ordnance final inspection and sub-inspection marks. Although the Ordnance Department purchased an additional 627 Henry rifles in April and May 1865 to arm the 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry regiment, the 1865 contract rifles did not have Ordnance inspection marks and saw no action in the Civil War. This rifle has all of the features found on the late 1863 production rifles purchased for the 1st D.C. Cavalry. The barrel and integral 15-shot magazine have the second style, nickel-silver, square back front sight blade and third pattern, folding leaf rear sight with "900" yard marking on the top of the leaf. The magazine has the large, second pattern, brass follower. The follower slot on the bottom of the receiver has milled flats. The distinctive brass receiver is the second pattern introduced about serial number 3100 which lacks the alternate rear sight dovetail. The stock has the first style buttplate with rounded heel and hinged brass butt-trap door. The stock is correctly not fitted with a sling swivel and the left side of the barrel lacks the loop for a sling hook. Most of the 1st D.C. Henry rifles were not equipped with sling swivels and loops. The 1st D.C Cavalry carried their rifles in a leather scabbard manufactured by the Washington Arsenal specifically for the Henry rifle. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the large, second style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860./MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." in two-lines. The second style legend first appears in the low 3000 serial number range and utilizes all serif letters rather than the combination of serif and block letters used in the first style legend. The right barrel flat is stamped with the "C.G.C." initials of Ordnance Sub-Inspector Charles G. Chapman above an "H" New Haven Arms inspection mark. A second "H" inspection mark is stamped on the right side of the receiver immediately behind the barrel inspection mark. U.S. contact Henry rifles were stamped with a final inspection mark on the right side of the stock wrist that consisted of the script initials "CGC" in an oval border and frequently have a "H" or "C" inspection mark stamped on the right heel of the buttplate and adjacent portion of the stock. None of these markings are visible on the stock or buttplate of this rifle. The rifle serial number, "3585", is stamped: (1) on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and the receiver, (2) on the left side of the lower receiver tang, (3) in the upper tang inlet of the stock, (4) on the inside of the buttplate below the screw hole and (5) on the shanks of both the hand-fitted buttplate screws. All of the visible serial numbers match. The tang screws are typically not serial numbered on Henry rifles above serial number 3100. The rifle is complete with the four-piece, jointed hickory cleaning rod issued with Henry rifles in this serial number range.

ConditionVery fine plus. The rifle is all original and retains 75% plus of the original blue finish. The barrel/magazine has some wear on the high points and muzzle and a few minor handling marks. The barrel legend, serial number, "C.G.C." inspection mark and "H" mark are very sharp. The rear sight is original to the rifle and remains in very good condition. The receiver and buttplate have not been polished and have a very attractive aged patina. The side plate joints are perfect, and the side plates have not been removed from the receiver. The receiver has a few very minor handling marks and scratches and the buttplate has a few spots of age discoloration. The case colors on the hammer, trigger and lever have faded to a plum blue patina. The stock remains in very good to excellent condition and retains most of the original varnish finish. Wear is limited to a few light handling marks and scratches and several relatively minor dents in the right stock wrist. The "C.G.C." Ordnance final inspection mark on the right side of the stock wrist was susceptible to wear and is frequently not visible on U.S. contract Henry rifles; there is no trace of the final inspection mark on the stock of this rifle. This is an exceptional example of a U.S. Contract, 1st D.C Cavalry, Henry rifle. Although the Henry rifle was purchased in large numbers by individual Federal soldiers who appreciated the firepower offered by a 15-shot lever-action magazine rifle, the 1st D.C Cavalry was the only Federal unit equipped entirely with Henry rifles during the Civil War. Most U.S. contract Henry rifles show hard wear; this is one of the finest examples of a U.S. contract Henry rifle ever offered for sale by Rock Island Auction Company with phenomenal ownership pedigree.
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