Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3014: U.S. Contract Henry Rifle

Auction Date: September 10, 2011

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $45,000 - $80,000

U.S. Contract Henry Rifle

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry RF
Barrel: 24 Inch
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1584
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 195
Class: Antique

This is an example Henry lever action rifle that was manufactured in 1864 by the New Haven Arms Company. This rifle is one of approximately 1000 Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department in late 1863 and early 1864 to arm the 1st District of Columbia cavalry regiment. The 1st D.C. Cavalry was the only federal unit entirely equipped with Henry rifles during the Civil War. Organized in December 1863, the 1st D.C. Cavalry was initially assigned to combat Confederate partisan operations in Northern Virginia. In April 1864, the 1st D.C. Cavalry was assigned to the Department of Virginia Cavalry Division where it saw extensive action in operations near Richmond and Petersburg. Six companies of the 1st D.C. Cavalry were transferred to the 1st Maine Cavalry regiment in August 1864 and served with the Army of the Potomac in cavalry operations that culminated at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. The 1st Maine Cavalry had the greatest number of troopers killed in action of any cavalry regiment in the entire Federal Army. The Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department to arm the 1st D.C. Cavalry were stamped with the initials of Ordnance Inspector Charles G. Chapman (C.G.C.) on the right side of the barrel and had a final inspection mark that consisted of the script initials "CGC" with an oval stamped on the right side of the stock wrist. This rifle has the second pattern brass receiver which lacks the rear sight dovetail found on early Henry receivers. The buttplate is the early pattern with rounded heel. The barrel has a front sight with nickel-silver blade and a dovetail mounted folding leaf rear sight with 900 yard center notch. The stock and barrel are, correctly, not fitted with sling swivels. The black walnut stock has a varnish finish. The hammer and loading lever are casehardened and the barrel is blued. The legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16, 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS. CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." is roll-stamped in two lines on the top of the barrel ahead of the rear sight. The serial number, "3051" is stamped on the top of the barrel between the rear sight and the receiver. The right side of the barrel is stamped with the "C.G.C." Ordnance inspection mark above an "H" factory inspection mark just ahead of the frame. Two "H" factory inspection marks are stamped on the right side of the frame next to the junction with the barrel. The script/oval "CGC" Ordnance final inspection mark is stamped on the right stock wrist. "C" sub-inspection marks are stamped on the right side of the buttplate heel and on the right side of the stock just below the buttplate heel. The early pattern, hand fitted, buttplate screws are stamped with the rifle serial number "3051" on the shank. "3051" is stamped on the inside of the buttplate. The rifle serial number, "3051" is stamped on the left side of the lower receiver tang and in the upper tang inlet of the stock. All of the visible serial numbers match. The tang screws are correctly not serial numbered.

Rating Definition:

Very fine as partially refinished. The professionally refinished barrel retains 70% of the rust blue finish. The edges are sharp and the factory legend, serial number and inspection marks are crisp. Handling wear is primarily confined to the lower portion of the barrel around the spring slot and the barrel edges. The brass receiver is in very fine condition. The receiver has never been polished and has a very attractive, untouched, patina. The side plate joints are fine and free from marks. The sides of the hammer and loading lever retrain traces of the mottled gray case colors. The contact portions of the loading lever are silvered from handling and have some scattered light pitting. The revarnished stock is in very fine condition and retains much of the varnish finish with scattered, minor, handling marks. The "CGC" Ordnance inspection cartouche has once been varnished dover and subsequently cleaned out. Few U.S. contract Henry rifles show more than traces of the Ordnance inspection mark on the stock. The brass buttplate has not been polished and is in very good-excellent condition with the same untouched patina as the receiver. This is a nice example of a scarce and historically significant Henry rifle.

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