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The Model 1795 Musket was a flintlock musket produced from 1795 until 1819 (general concensus) by the Springfield Armory and also manufactured Harpers Ferry US Armory as well as other smaller gun manufacturers.
The original Model 1795 Muskets were heavily based on the Charleville Musket of French origin. The Charleville had been imported en-mass during the American War of Independence with the Springfield Armory using the same dimensions for the barrel and bore at 44in and 0.69in respectively.
The bayonet was originally (like the Charleville) fixed by a lug underneath the barrel and the same length, however this was changed on later models to the top of the barrel, allowing the bayonet to be used as a sight (a common practice at the time as very few muskets had sights, an even those were basic in design).
The Model 1795 Musket was bored in .69 caliber, shooting .69in (17.5mm) musket balls. The later models of the Model 1795, used during the American Civil War, would be converted to fire percussion caps.
The Model 1795 was muzzle loaded, with the shooter drilled to fire between two to three shots per minute.
The Model 1795 Musket was, as previously stated, manufactured by both the Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry US Armory. This meant that the muskets produced by the two Armories were reasonably different in some respects, largely due to the fact that the final product's performance was dictated by the individual who made it (mass production was yet to be thought of concept in the late 18th century).
Springfield Model 1795 MusketEditThe Springfield Model 1795 Musket was the original design and remained close to the Charleville Musket until the Model 1795 was developed in 1812, and hence becoming known as the Model 1812 Musket. The Springfield Model 1795 would be the first to move the bayonet to the top of the barrel. A total of 80,000 Springfield Model 1795 Muskets are believed to have been produced.
Harpers Ferry Model 1795 MusketEdit
Harpers Ferry's production of the Model 1795 began in 1801 and would move further away from the Charleville Musket earlier into its development, using a shorter 42in barrel. Parts on the Model 1795 Muskets produced by both Springfield and Harpers Ferry are not interchangeable, due to the lack of a pattern. A total of 70,000 Model 1795 Muskets would be produced by Harpers Ferry which was smaller than Springfield at that time.
Model 1812 MusketEditThe Model 1812 Musket was a development of the Model 1795 Musket, produced by Springfield only at the time of its release. The major difference between the two was the shorter barrel of the Model 1812, designed to improve the manoeuvrability of the musket. The lug for the bayonet was also moved.
Model 1816 MusketEditThe Model 1816 Musket incorperated the features of both the Harpers Ferry and Springfield developments, meaning parts could be interchanged as the muskets became virtually identical. However due to both being handmade some parts are not interchangeable between the two manufacturers products.
Model 1822 Musket / Model 1835EditThe major development for the Model 1822 Musket was the adjustment in location for the swing swivel, improving the overall balance of the Musket. It was also one of the lighter Springfield Muskets, whereas its direct decendent the Model 1835 would be among the heaviest, returning to the original barrel of the Model 1795.
Model 1842 MusketEditThe Model 1842 symbolised the beginning of the end for the Model 1795 line of muskets, with the flintlock mechanism being replaced in favour of the more reliable percussion lock. This meant the Model 1842 was significantly more reliable than the older Models, particularly in damp conditions. The Model 1842 was also the first US made firearm to use entirely interchangeable parts.
Model 1855 MusketEditThe Model 1855 Musket was a further step away from the original Model 1795, replacing the smoothbore barrel with a 3 twist 1:72 twist ratio barrel, evolving the Springfield muskets into rifled musket. The musket ball was also replaced by the Minie Ball at this time, removing another symbol of the musket. The Model 1855 also pioneered the use of the Maynard tape-primer, a revolutionary concept replacing percussion caps with a primer tape, used to ignite the powder.
Springfield Model 1861EditAlthough the Model 1861 was heavily based on the Model 1855, it returned to the Model 1842 method of using a percussion cap to fire the Minie Ball. This was the first time that a member of the Model 1795 family was commonly referred to as a rifled musket and a rifle.
Springfield Model 1863EditThe Model 1863 was a refined version of the Model 1861. Furthermore it is the last firearm produced by Springfield that can trace its lineage directly back to the Model 1795, with the ramrod in particular being shaped to resemble to one that was used on the Model 1795. From the Springfield Model 1865 onwards Springfields would become known as "Trapdoor" Springfields referring to the hinged breechblock action, and ending the era of the musket in both the US army and the Springfield Armory.
The Model 1795 Musket was used from 1795 by the American government. The first major usage of the Model 1795 was be the War of 1812, after which the Model 1795 would evolve into the Model 1812 Musket. The service life of the Model 1795 would outlive the production with the Model 1795 being used in the Mexican War and as late as the American Civil War, where many surviving examples being coverted to fire percussion caps.The main competition to the Model 1795 Musket at the time was the Brown Bess, a British Musket, which shot a larger .71 caliber musket ball. However the shorter Model 1795 had the advantage of a longer range, meaning that during the War of 1812 the Americans had the advantage. As the Model 1795 was based on the Charleville Musket the two are very similar.
The Model 1795 was used on by several servicemen during the Lewis and Clark Expedition across Western America. The Model 1795's first year of production saw 245 examples produced, most of which were used by the American government, while some were sold to the Expedition group.
Lewis and Clark Tailor Made, Trail worn: Army Life, Clothing & Weapons of the Corps of Discovery - Robert John Moore, 2003