This extraordinary Henry Lever Action Rife was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co. in November 1863 as part of an 800 rifle order by the Ordnance Department for Henry rifles to arm the 1st District of Columbia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (DC Cavalry). The DC Cavalry was the only unit in the Federal Army armed entirely with Henry rifles. The 800 Henry rifles purchased for issue to the D.C. Cavalry were in the 3000-4000 serial number range and were stamped with the final inspection mark of Ordnance Sub-Inspector Charles G. Chapman (C.G.C.) on the right side of the barrel and right side of the stock. These rifles were also stamped with the "H" New Haven Arms Co. Sub-inspection mark on the right side of the barrel and receiver. Most of the DC Cavalry Henry rifles were not equipped with a sling swivel or loop for sling hook which were extra cost items in 1863. In March 1864, the DC Cavalry was issued 783 of the 800 rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department in November 1863. During the winter of 1864-65, the Federal Army raised at least three Veteran Volunteer Infantry (VVI) Regiments. The VVI regiments were recruited from veteran soldiers and were armed with Henry, Spencer and Sharps rifles. The VVI regiments were an elite corps commanded by General Winfield Scott Hancock. As an incentive to enlist, the soldiers in the VVI regiments were allowed to keep their issue Henry, Spencer and Sharps rifles when they mustered out of service. In April-May 1865, the Ordnance Department purchased 627 Henry rifles from the New Haven Arms Co. for issue to the VVI regiments. Most of these rifles were in the 7000-9000 serial number range and lacked the distinctive "C.G.C." inspection marks found on the 800 Henry rifles purchased for the DC Cavalry. Army records indicate that at least 74 DC Cavalry rifles in the 3000-4000 serial range were issued to the 3rd VVI along with late production Henry rifles between serial number 6806 and 9701. The rifles in the DC Cavalry serial number range were either un-issued rifles or rifles turned in by the DC Cavalry. This rifle is accompanied by a Springfield Research Service (SRS) letter that states: "rifle no. 3655 was issued first to PVT. Charles Hamann and then to PVT. Henry Bowie" about May 13, 1865, at Camp Stoneman in the District of Columbia. Private Bowie was discharged at Fort Snelling, Minn., on February 24, 1866. The 3rd VVI served as garrison troops in the Washington defenses until the regiment was mustered out of service at Camp Butler, Ill., on July 20, 1866. Documents with this rifle show that it was sold at auction in 1984 as part of the estate of descendants of Captain Alexander McCallum, 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry (8th PA). Service records and regimental histories included with this rifle indicate that the 8th PA fought in most of the cavalry engagements of the Army of the Potomac between March 1862 and April 1865. Captain McCallum enlisted on September 10, 1861, mustered out of service on September 30, 1864, and died in Richmond, Va., on March 17, 1872. The records and condition of this rifle indicate that it was probably never issued to the DC Cavalry but remained in stores until first issued to Company K, 3rd VVI in May 1865. Captain McCallum probably acquired Henry serial number 3655 after the Civil War, and it remained in the McCallum family until sold at auction in 1984. This rifle has distinctive brass receiver and buttplate with octagon barrel and integral 15-shot magazine. The rifle has the mid-production features which include tapered, flat-back, nickel silver front sight blade and third style folding leaf rear sight with 900 yard notch at the top of the leaf and no slide stop screw. The magazine has the later large diameter follower, and the receiver has the milled flats to accept the larger follower. The second style receiver lacks the rear sight dovetail found on receivers thru about serial number 3100. The buttplate has the early rounded heel and hinged trapdoor. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the first style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16.60/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." in two lines ahead of the rear sight. This legend is slightly smaller than the marking used on later Henry rifles and has the final "NEWHAVEN" stamped in block letters while the rest of the legend uses serif letters. The left side of the stock and barrel are not fitted with a sling swivel and hook for a sling loop. The butt-trap contains the four-piece, jointed, hickory cleaning rod furnished with most Civil War production Henry rifles. One cleaning rod section is stamped with the "H" New Haven Arms Co. sub-inspection mark. The hammer has borderless knurling on the spur. The serial number is stamped on the top of the barrel between the rear sight and the receiver. "3655" is also stamped on the lower left side of the tang beneath the stock, in the upper tang inlet of the stock, on the inside of the buttplate and on the shanks of the hand-fitted buttplate screws. The tang screws which had serial numbered shanks on early production rifles are correctly not serial numbered on this rifle. The assembly number "505" is stamped on the magazine tube and loading gate. The right side of the barrel is stamped with the "C.G.C." Ordnance inspection mark in block letters just ahead of the receiver. The Ordnance final inspection mark which consists of the script initials "CGC" with an oval border is stamped on the right side of the stock wrist. "Block "H" New Haven Arms Co. sub-inspection marks are stamped on the right side on the barrel below the Ordnance inspection mark, on the adjacent portion of the receiver and on the left heel of the buttplate. The barrel magazine and bolt have a military blue finish, and the rear sight is niter blue. The hammer, lever and trigger are casehardened. The brass receiver, magazine follower, cartridge elevator and buttplate have a natural finish. The stock is oil-finished, straight grain American walnut. This rifle is accompanied by extensive documentation which includes: (1) SRS letter, (2) copy of a Civil War picture of CAPT McCallum, (3) copies of PVT. Bowie's service records, (4) copies of the "Gun Repot" and "Winchester Reporter" that reference the rifle, (4) family and service history of Capt. McCallum and the 8th PA and (5) details of the 1984 auction in which this rifle and other McCallum artifacts were sold as separate lots. All of the surviving U.S. Contract Henry rifles are very scarce and highly desirable. The 800 U.S. Contract Henry rifles issued to the 1st DC were the only U.S. issued Henry rifles used in combat during the Civil War; the few surviving examples inevitably show the effects or hard use during and after the Civil War.
Excellent. This rifle is all original and shows remarkably little handling. It is reportedly the finest example of a U.S. contract Henry rifle extant and is the best U.S. contract Henry rifle ever offered for sale by the Rock Island Auction Company. The barrel and magazine retain 90% plus of the original blue finish with some very slight handling and storage wear. The New Haven Arms Co. legend, serial number, "C.G.C." inspection mark and "H" sub-inspection mark are crisp. Significant amounts of fire blue finish remain on the rear sight. The frame, tang and buttplate screws shows traces of the original blue finish. The hammer, trigger and lever retain 85% of the muted original case colors. The hammer shows some scattered age spotting. The brass receiver and buttplate are in excellent condition with a mellow, un-touched, attractive patina. The receiver side plate joints are tight. Wear on the brass components is limited to a few scattered and insignificant storage marks. The stock is in excellent condition with crisp original inspection marks, nearly all of the original oil finish and un-touched, raised grain; wear is limited to a few shallow and nearly un-detectable storage marks. The hickory cleaning rod is complete and in fine condition. This rifle is the benchmark against which any U.S. Contract Henry rifle must be compared. It is all original, fully documented and remains in excellent condition. Standard grade Henry rifles in excellent condition are rare; U.S. Contract rifles with any original finish are rare and very desirable. This is a documented U.S. Contract Henry rifle that remains in substantially the same condition as when it was issued to Pvt. Henry Bowie of the Veterans Volunteer Infantry in May 1865.
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