This Henry lever action rifle was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co., in March 1865 and issued to 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment (3rd VVI). This rifle is one of 627 Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department in 1865. It is identified by serial number as a 3rd VVI rifle on page 76 of "THE HISTORIC HENRY RIFLE" by Wiley Sword. The 3rd VVI rifles were part of a group of Henry, Sharps and Spencer rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department to arm four VVI regiments of the Veteran Volunteer Corps raised in early 1865. These regiments were composed of veteran soldiers armed with the most advanced firearms who would serve as an elite infantry unit. As an incentive for enlistment, the VVI soldiers were authorized to retain their rifles when they mustered out of Federal service. The VVI regiments were organized too late to see any significant action in the Civil War. The 3rd VVI mustered out of service at Camp Butler, Illinois, in July 1866. Unlike the 900 Henry rifles purchased in 1863 to arm the 1st D.C. Cavalry regiment which had Ordnance inspection marks stamped on the receiver and stock, most of the Henry rifles purchased for the 3rd VVI in 1865 lacked any inspection marks. This rifle has the distinctive Henry brass receiver and buttplate and octagon barrel with integral 15-shot magazine. The barrel was blued and the hammer, trigger and lever were casehardened. The stock is straight grain American walnut. The rifle has the second style receiver with no rear sight dovetail, late buttplate with sharply pointed heel, large diameter brass magazine follower and beveled follower cut in the receiver. The rifle has a nickel-silver, half-moon shaped, front sight and folding leaf rear sight with rounded top, 900 yard center notch and elevator bar with rounded ends. The left side of the stock and barrel are fitted with the standard sling swivel and screw fastened loop for a sling hook. The top of the barrel is roll stamped with the large legend: "HENRY'S PATENT OCT. 16. 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEW HAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN CT." in serif (Roman) letters. This legend was introduced around serial number 4000. The serial number "8650" is stamped: (1) on the top of the barrel 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 and (4) on the inside of the buttplate at the toe. There is a large punch-mark on the barrel behind the serial number. The late style cap head buttplate and tang screws are correctly not serial numbered. All of the visible serial numbers match. The "H" factory inspection mark of B. Tyler Henry is stamped on the lower tang between the lever latch and tang screw. "R.F.ENEWOLD" is stamped in tiny block letters above the serial number on the receiver tang and in the stock inlet. Enewold was a retailer/collector from Reno, Nevada, and stamped many of the guns he sold, as discussed in the Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia. The significance of this marking is unknown but it appears to be a period mark.
About good. The rifle shows the wear typically found on issued Henry rifles. The barrel and integral magazine have a silver-gray patina with scattered pitting and age discoloration. The barrel legend and serial number are clear. The brass receiver and buttplate have a good looking, untouched patina. There a number of small dents and scratches along the edges of the side-plates and adjacent portions of the receiver. The receiver has scattered light scratches and handling marks with some shallow vice marks on the top near the ejection port. The hammer and lever screws are battered and there are light scratches on the receiver around the screw heads. The initials "NH" are crudely scratched on the left side of the receiver. The buttplate has a small dents and scratches. The stock is in very good condition with light to moderate handling wear. Although the 3rd VVI saw limited Civil War service, the Henry rifles issued to the regiment usually show moderate-heavy handling wear. This is a solid representative example of a documented "Type II" U.S. contract Henry rifle.
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