Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 191: 7th Illinois VVI New Haven Arms Henry Rifle

Auction Date: May 3, 2019

Historic, Identified and 7th Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry Inscribed New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle

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

Historic, Identified and 7th Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry Inscribed New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle

Manufacturer: New Haven Arms Co.
Model: Henry Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 44 Henry RF
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: blue/casehardened
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 1615
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 110
Class: Antique

This Henry lever action rifle was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company and is inscribed: "M SHOUGHNESSEY/Co. A/7TH. ILL V.V.I." on the right side plate. This rifle is accompanied by extensive documentation that includes copies of Michael Shaughnessy's volunteer enlistment certificate, service records, pension application, marriage certificate and other period documents. Michael Shaughnessy enlisted in the 7th Illinois Infantry at Springfield, Illinois, on February, 18, 1864. The enlistment certificate states that he was born in Carlow, Ireland, was 22 years old and a farmer. The document describes Shaughnessy as 5' 11" with blue eyes, "light hair" and "light complexion". Shaughnessy signed his enlistment papers with an "X". In 1864, the soldiers of the 7th Illinois purchased 500 Henry lever action rifles for $52.50 each. Although a privates' pay was $13.00 a month, the soldiers of the 7th Illinois were willing to pay a premium for the firepower of a Henry rifle. On October 4, 1864, the 7th Illinois was part of the garrison of Altoona Pass, Georgia, when it was attacked by Confederate forces led by Major General Samuel G. French. The Confederate forces were repelled in a savage battle that resulted in 2,190 Federal and 3,553 Confederate casualties (21% and 40% of the forces engaged). The 7th Illinois lost 35 men killed, 67 wounded and 1 missing in the battle. In November 1864, the 7th Illinois was part of the 15th Corps in General William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea". It subsequently fought in the battles of Bentonville and Columbia. The regiment marched in the Grand Review of the Union armies in Washington D.C. on May 24, 1865. Michael Shaughnessy fought in all of the 7th Illinois engagements during 1864 and 1865 and mustered out of service in Springfield, Illinois on July 9, 1865. He died in Tecumseh, Nebraska, January 7, 1904, survived by his wife Catherine. The Shaughnessy rifle, serial number "2892", is a mid-production Henry manufactured c. July 1863. The rifle has the distinctive octagon barrel with integral magazine and brass receiver and buttplate. The barrel has a nickel-silver, half-moon shaped front sight and folding leaf rear sight with 900 yard center notch and no elevator bar stop. The magazine has the large diameter brass follower. The first style receiver has the alternate rear sight dove-tail and beveled follower cut. The oil finished walnut stock has the first style brass buttplate with round-profile heel. The stock has a hinged butt trap. The left side of the stock and barrel are equipped with a sling swivel and screw-mounted loop for a sling hook. The top barrel flat is roll-stamped with the first style legend: "HENRY'S PATENT OCT. 16. 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN. CT." in two lines ahead of the rear sight. The first style legend uses all serif letters except for the second "NEWHAVEN" which is stamped in block letters. The serial number is located: (1) on the top barrel flat between the rear sight and receiver, (2) on the lower left side of the receiver beneath the stock, (3) in the upper stock tang inlet, (4) on the inside of the buttplate heel and (5) on the shank of the two hand-fitted buttplate screws. All of the visible serial numbers match. The "H" inspection mark of B. Tyler Henry is stamped on the left side of the lower tang behind the serial number.

Rating Definition:

Very good. This rifle shows extensive handling wear appropriate to a weapon that saw combat service in the Civil War. The barrel/magazine has a even brown patina with some surface texture but no pitting. The front and rear sights are original. The barrel legend and serial number are clear. The engraved inscription shows some handling wear but is clear. The inscription is nearly identical to the inscription on another Company A, 7th Illinois Henry rifle, serial number 4140. The brass receiver and buttplate have an untouched and very attractive, historic, dark aged patina. Both of the side-plate joints are perfect. The receiver and buttplate have numerous minor scratches and light handling marks but are in good overall condition. The stock remains in good condition with numerous scratches and handling marks; there is some finish loss on the bottom edge near the buttplate. This is a truly historic Civil War Henry rifle carried by the young Irish immigrant Michael Shaughnessy at the savage fight at Allatoona Pass and in Sherman's historic march "From Atlanta to the Sea". It is a great example of an inscribed and extensively documented Civil War Henry lever action rifle.

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