Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 17: New Haven Arms Co. Henry Rifle 44 Henry RF

Auction Date: May 2, 2014

Scarce U.S. Contract, Martially Inspected, New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $45,000

Scarce U.S. Contract, Martially Inspected, 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: 1646
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 18
Class: Antique

Henry lever-action rifle manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co., in November 1863. This rifle is one of the 800 Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department in December 1863 to arm the 1st D.C. 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 was initially assigned to police and provost duty in the District of Columbia operating under the direct orders of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. After a series of successful raids against Federal units in Northern Virginia by Col. John S. Mosby, the 1st D.C. Cavalry was assigned to combat Confederate partisan rangers. In May 1864 the regiment was reassigned to the Department of Virginia and saw action in operations around Petersburg. The 1st D.C Cavalry was present at Appomattox Court House when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered on April 9, 1865. During the fighting around Petersburg during the summer and fall of 1864 a significant number of Henry rifles were captured from the 1st D.C. Cavalry. Some captured 1st D.C. Cavalry Henry rifles were apparently issued to the body guard of Confederate President Jefferson Davis when he fled from the Confederate capital during the final days of the Civil War. 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. The Ordnance Department purchased 627 additional Henry rifles in April-May 1865 to arm the 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry regiment. However the 1865 contract rifles did not have Ordnance inspection marks and were issued too late to be used in combat. 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 a square-back nickel-silver front sight blade and Third Pattern folding leaf rear sight with "900" yard marking below the sight notch on the top of the leaf. The magazine has the Second Pattern large diameter brass follower and the follower slot on the bottom of the receiver has milled flats to accept the larger follower. The distinctive brass receiver is the Second Pattern introduced about serial number 3,100 that lacks the alternate rear sight dovetail. The early style buttplate has a 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 screw fastened loop for a sling hook (most 1st D.C. Henry rifles were not fitted with sling swivels and loops which were special order items. The rifles were carried in a leather scabbard manufactured by the Washington Arsenal especially for the 1st D.C. Cavalry). The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the Second Style two-line legend "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860./MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN. CT.". The legend is slight larger than the markings used thru about serial number 3300 and has serifed (Roman) letters for all the markings. The right barrel flat is stamped with the "C.G.C." initials of Ordnance Sub-Inspector Charles G. Chapman. A Ordnance final inspection mark consisting of the script initials "CGC" with an oval border is visible on the right side of the stock wrist. A. "C" sub-inspection mark is also stamped on the right corner of the buttplate. A single New Haven Arms Co., "H" sub-inspection mark is stamped on the right barrel flat below the "C.G.C." inspection mark. Two "H H" sub-inspection marks are stamped on the right side of the receiver adjacent to the barrel. The rifle serial number "3592" is stamped on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and the receiver, on the lower left side of the receiver tang underneath the stock, in the upper tang inlet of the stock, on the inside of the buttplate toe and on the shanks of both the hand fitted buttplate screws. The tang screws are typically not serial numbered on Henry rifles above serial number 3100.

Rating Definition:

Good. The rifle is all original and shows wear expected of a combat weapon that was used in action. The barrel/magazine has a plum brown patina with smooth metal surfaces. The barrel edges are slightly rounded from handling. The New Haven Arms legend, serial number and "C.G.C." sub-inspection mark are light but legible. The hammer, trigger and lever have a mottled brown patina with traces of the original case colors. The brass receiver and buttplate have a good looking patina. The edges of the receiver show some handling wear and there are some scratches and dents along the upper edges of the side-plates. The side plate joints remain tight. The upper receiver tang is cracked across the forward tang screw hole and the tang and stock wrist are slightly bent. The buttplate has scattered minor dents and scratches. The stock has a faint but visible Ordnance final inspection mark on the left wrist and is good overall with moderate handling wear. The stock appears to have been lightly sanded and refinished. This is a good original example of one of the few Civil War weapons that can be identified to a specific combat unit; the 1st D.C. Cavalry.

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