Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3067: Fine Civil War New Haven Arms Co., Henry Lever Action Rifle

Auction Date: December 8, 2013

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $22,500 - $35,000

Fine Civil War New Haven Arms Co., Henry Lever Action Rifle

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry RF
Barrel: 24 inch octagon
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 914
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 37
Class: Antique

Henry Lever Action rifle manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co., in April 1863. This is a commercial production Henry that falls within the 2100-2300 serial number range of the 80 Henry rifles shipped to the Ordnance Department on June 20, 1863 as part of a 240 rifle order for the 1st D.C. Cavalry. The 1st D.C. Cavalry was commanded by politically connected Col. Lafayette Baker who was the provost Marshall for the District of Columbia and reported directly to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The primary mission of the 1st D.C. Cavalry was to suppress Confederate Partisan Rangers in Northern Virginia. The Ordnance Department purchased 240 Henry rifles for issue to the 1st D.C. Cavalry between June and November 1863; none of these rifles had military inspection or property marks. An additional 800 fully inspected Henry rifles in the 3000-4000 serial number range were shipped to the 1st D.C. Cavalry in March 1864. Some of the 1040 1st D.C. Cavalry rifles were subsequently issued to the 4th U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry (VVI) Regiment in May 1865. A substantial number of 1st D.C. Cavalry Henry rifles were captured by Confederate cavalry and used against Federal forces. The Henry rifles issued to the 1st D.C. Cavalry and 4th VVI were the only Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department during the Civil War. The rifle has the standard blue octagon barrel and integral magazine, casehardened hammer, trigger and lever and brass "gun metal" frame and buttplate. The stock is varnished walnut. The rifle has the early style frame with rear sight dove-tail and buttplate with rounded heel. The barrel has the second style square back, nickel silver front sight blade and third variation folding leaf rear sight with rounded top and "900" yard marked center notch. The integral magazine has the large diameter magazine cartridge follower and the frame has milled flats on the follower slot. The left side of the stock and barrel are not fitted optional sling swivel and loop for a sling hook. The top of the barrel is die-stamped with the first style, smaller two-line legend "HENRY'S PATENT OCT.16.1860./MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." This legend has "NEWHAVEN in Gothic (block) and the remainder of the marking in Roman (serifed) letters. The "H" inspection mark of B. Tyler Henry is stamped on the lower tang behind the lever latch. The serial number "2251" is stamped on the top of the barrel between the rear sight and the receiver, the lower left side of the tang beneath the stock, in the upper tang inlet of the stock, the inside of the buttplate at the toe and the shanks of the hand- fitted buttplate screws and the tang screws. All of the visible serial numbers match.

Rating Definition:

Good. The rifle is all original and shows only light to moderate handling wear. The barrel and magazine have a good looking, deep brown, patina with traces of blue finish in protected areas. The surfaces of the barrel and magazine are smooth and free from scratches or pitting. The edges of the barrel are sharp. The rear sight is original to the rifle and very good. The legend and the serial number are crisp. The hammer, trigger and lever have a mottled brown patina and retain significant amounts of the casehardened finish. The brass frame and buttplate are very good and have a mellow, un-polished patina. Handling wear is limited to a few very minor dents and scratches. The side plate joints are tight. The stock has been lightly sanded and re-oiled long ago but remains in very good overall condition with no cracks or repairs. Nearly all of the standard grade Henry rifles manufactured between 1862 and 1865 saw Civil War service. Most Henry rifles were purchased by Federal soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan who were willing to spend their pay or re-enlistment bounties to have the advantage of a 15-shot repeating rifle. There is a good possibility that this rifle was one of the first Henry rifles purchased to arm the 1st D.C. Cavalry. In either case, this is a fine example of a Civil War production Henry rifle.

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