This Henry rifle was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Company in December 1864, it remains in outstanding condition, and falls within the serial number range of the 627 Henry rifles purchased by the Ordnance Department on April 7 and May 16, 1865 to arm the 3rd Veteran Volunteer Infantry regiment (3rd VVI). This example (no. 7614) falls between Henry rifle nos. 7610 and 7615, which are known to have been issued to the 3rd VVI (see Wiley Sword's "The Historic Henry Rifle," page 75). In December 1864 the Federal Army organized nine regiments composed of honorably discharged volunteers to act as an elite infantry corps. These regiments were armed with Sharps, Spencer or Henry rifles. As an enlistment bonus, the volunteers were authorized to retain their rifles when they mustered out of federal service. Approximately 800 Henry rifles were issued to the 3rd VVI including a number of rifles initially purchased to arm the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry regiment in 1864. The 1st D.C. Cavalry and 3rd VVI were the only federal regiments issued Henry rifles by the Ordnance Department during the Civil War. The 3rd VVI was assigned to the defenses of Washington D.C. in the spring of 1865 and mustered out of service at Camp Butler, Illinois in July 1866. The rifle features a later style front sight with squared back, a folding ladder rear sight marked "900" on the top of the leaf, a second style brass receiver that correctly lacks the alternate rear sight dovetail, brass buttplate with pointed upper extension, factory sling hook loop on the left side of the barrel, and factory sling swivel fastened to the left side of the stock. The top barrel flat is stamped with the two-line patent/address legend ahead of the rear sights and the serial number "7614." at the breech. The matching serial number is stamped on the top barrel flat, left side of the lower tang, stock inlet, and buttplate. The tang screws are, correctly, not stamped with the rifle serial number. The "H" inspection mark of B. Tyler Henry is stamped on the lower tang behind the lever latch. As seen on this example, the only Ordnance mark on the 1865 rifles is a tiny "J.T." inspection mark stamped in block letters on the left side of the stock wrist. Due to the size and location of the marking it is rarely visible on rifles with any significant handling wear. The "JT" marking on this example is clearly visible. The barrel and integral 15-shot magazine are blued, the receiver, cartridge elevator and buttplate have a natural brass finish, the rear sight, bolt, and tang and buttplate screws show traces of niter blue in protected areas, and the straight grain walnut stock is oil finished.
Extremely fine overall as one of the best U.S. Henry Rifles extant. The barrel and magazine retain 70% plus original blue finish with smooth brown-gray patina on the balance. Both the front and rear sights are original to the rifle and remain in very fine condition. The excellent original brass frame has a highly attractive untouched aged appearance. The receiver has tight fitting sideplates. 40% original nitre blue remains on the bolt. Slight patterns of original case colors remain on the hammer. Half of darkened original case colors remain on the lever in the protected areas. The wood is excellent with some minor handling/storage marks. The excellent stock retains the correct Henry "bump." The "JT" Ordnance marking on the stock wrist is crisp. Mechanically excellent. This rifle is in outstanding condition for a U.S. Henry rifle falling in the 3rd Regiment Veteran Volunteer Infantry serial number range, and is a must have for the serious Civil War or U.S. arms collector. These U.S. martial arms generally show hard use and are difficult to find in any condition. This example certainly rates as one of the very finest U.S. martially inspected Henry Rifles we have offered at auction.
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