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Discussion Starter #1
I have a family heirloom that I'd really like to know more about. I was told it fought for the south in the civil war. There are no markings at all that I can see. It came to me with two powder horns, one of which heavily scrimshawed. It is a percussion cap rifle with a long (heavy) octogon barrel. I can see that it probably was built as a flint lock and converted. Judging by the lead ball ammunition that came with it, it appears to be a 32 caliber.

Not having the required 50 posts I am not yet allowed to post photos. I'd like to find a knowledgable source who can shed some light and possible value.

Any help, ideas or referrals appreciated. JR
 

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:confused:?? Best of my knowledge, you are not required to have 50 posts to post photos, otherwise, with out photos there is no way to even make a decent guess:)
 

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I have no idea what led you to think 50 posts were necessary, but:

To post photos, click on the Go Advanced tab below the reply screen, then click on the paper clip next to the smiley face, and Browse to find and Upload your photo or photos. (Don’t forget to click Submit Reply after uploading)

Without photos, your description of heavy barrel and small caliber sounds more like a typical midwest post-Civil War farm gun.
 

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.32 caliber is more of a squirrel gun. All of the Civil War musket/rifles were at least .56 caliber. It may have been used during the war, but it would have been someone's personal rifle, more that likely a young boy.
 

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At the very start of the civil war volunteers showed up with every type of rifles, flintlocks included. As the south became better armed the civilian arms were discarded, some times by being thrown away, after all, there was no way to mail them home and no infantry grunt is going to carry two rifles.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
FWIW, a few days ago I posted a link to a video about a new high tech scope that effectively re-aims the weapon after the intended target had been acquired. The post was gone the next day. Never having posted a kink to a video before I assumed it was because of the 50 post rule.
 

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Looks like a fairly late original percussion half-stock with double set triggers, much like the one my ancestor obtained in central Missouri after the war.

How long is the barrel and what's the weight? No markings on barrel or lock?
 

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The percusssion lock also looks original, so the powder horns are, well I don't know what they go with, but they, within them self, can be valuable. Yes, your rifle could date to the 1860's but it is in too good a condition to have been dragged around in the mud and snow. If I was to take a wild guess I would say it was a hunting rifle and dated post civil war.
 

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It could be any where from 1840 to 1880 or later. I have one that is similar, .32 cal, doubleset triggers, and with a rather pronounced drop pf the butt. I agree that. although it may have been used by the South in the War of Northern Agression, it was most likely used to kill gray squirrels rather than blue coats.
 

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The walnut stock, heavy and rather tight side facing around lock, and very small bore suggest you have a late percussion rifle, probablyl 1850s and perhaps a little later. The arrow and diamond shaped inlays were most often used on southern rifles...can you post a photo of the back side of the butt, plus a good photo of the tang to see its length and shape, to give us a better idea of whether the gun is a northern or southern product? The current placement of the rear sight suggests the barrel has been shortened at the breech end about six inches from its original length...a common occurance on old rifles.

If any remnant remains of the gunmaker's signature or initials, you will find it on the top flat of the barrel several inches behind the rear sight...but since your barrel appears shortened and the sight moved back, any signature may be badly damaged/corroded or gone. But it's worth looking there for any trace of lettering, and if present, let us know what is there. Shelby Gallien
 

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for value, it's kind of difficult to give an assessment. Only a collector would be interested and, generally, collectors don't want to pay too much. These old flintlocks are found all over the place in bars and restaurants as wall decorations. Best guess I can provide is some amount less than a hundred bucks. There just isn't anything 'special' about the rifle and it's condition is not pristine. It does make a good wall decoration though.
 

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From the meager info on it, I would value it at $300 if in original 'survivor' condition with stock sound, lock functions and no obvious bubba 'restoration'. Plus-minus $100 depending on hands-on look.

As for the $100 valuaion of 'these old flintlocks' I'll take a dozen and pay 20% for seller's trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
This photo shows why I think it might have started off as flintlock. It appears that something was originally attached to the barrel and sawed off to convert it. The barrell length is 35". Thanks to all for the input. JR


 

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Many of the old rifles used the drum and nipple setup when they were made. Your rifle looks like it may have had some type of flash shield on the breech (or maybe some kind of tag? looks a little odd) but I see nothing to indicate it was originally flint. It would require a hands on evaluation to give any more precise info.

I have dealt with quite a few guns of this era over the years, many families have passed old guns down and stories sometimes get a little confused over time. While someone might have carried a personal hunting gun off to war it more than likely stayed home to feed the family while the soldier was gone. By the way, have you checked to be sure there isn't a load in it? More than a few of the old muzzleloaders I have encountered turn out to still be loaded.
 

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It is quite common for "family legend" in the South to ascribe Civil War* service to about any firearms that are old enough to have been in existence in the 1860's (and some that aren't).

As RJay says, such guns might have been carried to the early musters, but they soon gave way to standard muskets and cartridges, not loose balls and powder horns.

In fact, at the time of that rifle, powder horns would have been out of style even for hunting, discarded in favor of powder flasks with measuring spouts.

*Sorry, "The War Between the States", or "War of Yankee Invasion", or "War of Southern Independence", or whatever is the current name.

Jim
 

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Your rifle has always been a percussion gun. The remnants of a (brass?) plate on the barrel above the percussion lug was a flash shield. This type shield, i.e. inlaid sheet on the barrel flats, usually two flats but sometimes three flats, was most common on "southern" rifles, perhaps more often seen on Georgia rifes but at times on other southen guns. Value is subjective...but there is always value in original guns, even the plain ones. We should see the back side of the butt and the tang for a better idea of where the gun was made, since if really a southern gun, it might be worth a little more. Otherwise the $200-250 range seems about right. Shelby Gallien
 

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I think the valuations on this gun are a bit low. If it functions and is rifled, it would easily bring $350-$400 in my neck of the woods (Fredericksburg, VA). And unless the thimbles have been moved, I doubt that the barrel was shortened, unless it was repurposed from an older gun--a very common practice, particularly in the south or Appalacians. The gun I have is very similar to yours, but once I remove the barrel, old dovetails on the underside of the barrel, now covered by the stock, reveal it came from an older rifle, probably a flintlock.

As far as sight placement goes, the closer the sight is to the breech, the longer the sight radius and the more accurate your aim. As a shooter aged, he would often move the sight closer to the front sight (an inch or more) to compensate for aging eyes. Not uncommon to see 2 to 3 dovetails on these guns.
 

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Styles change also. The full stocks of the early rifles gave way to the short stocks as shown around 1850-1855. Of course, that didn't happen overnight, but by about 1860 that half-stock setup was pretty common. Had the Civil War not provided a technological jump to metallic cartridge and repeating firearms, those muzzle loaders would probably have been around for another ten years at least. As it was, some people in the south and west not only kept their muzzle loaders for years, but had new ones made. That was partly out of tradition and partly because the new metallic ammunition was expensive and in some places hard to find.

Jim
 

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John, any chance we can see pictures of your powder horn with the scrimshaw work that accompanied the rifle? I've collected and researched Tansel powder horns, Mercer County, Ohio horns, and other horns for years and always enjoy seeing a new horn I haven't seen before. I can probably help you with it, and give you some idea of its value. Shelby Gallien
 
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