The Model 1812 Musket, produced by the Springfield Armory as the Springfield Model 1812 Musket, was a 58in long .69 caliber musket using a flintlock mechanism like its predecessor the Model 1795 Musket.
The Model 1795 Musket, produced by both Springfield and Harpers Ferry US Armory, formed the basis of the Model 1812. Hence the same flintlock mechanism, stock and .69 caliber were used, although with minor changes made to the flintlock system were made to improve the reliability of the Model 1812 when used in the rain.
The major difference between the Model 1795 Musket and the Model 1812 Musket though would be a shortened barrel. Although Harpers Ferry Model 1795 Muskets had already been produced with a 42in (1.07m) barrel, Springfield retained the original 44in (1.12m) barrel for the Model 1795. The reduction in length of the barrel meant that the Model 1812, by using the shorter 42in barrel, was more manoeuvrable than its predecessor, a flaw that was recognised during the War of 1812 in America.
Furthermore the barrel was fixed to the frame by barrel bands. Although this joining technique was used on the Model 1795 and Charleville Musket (Model 1795 predecessor) the Model 1812 used small springs to clamp the barrel to the frame. The springs themselves were rectangular in shape and not seen on any other US manufactured musket.
From the release of the Model 1812 the lug that located the bayonet would be placed on the top of the barrel (as standard), rather than underneath as the Model 1795 had located it. This allowed the bayonet to be used as a basic sight, improving the Model 1812's accuracy.
The Model 1812 Musket was bored for .69in (17.5mm) musket balls. The .69 caliber had been made the standard size for muskets at the time due to the Charleville Musket from France (upon which the Model 1795 Musket was based).
As with all muskets, the Model 1812 was muzzle loaded, with the user expected to fire two to three shots within a minute.
UsageEditThe Model 1812 Musket's development had resulted from the use of the Model 1795 Musket in the War of 1812, where several flaws in the Model 1795 were recognised on a large basis. The Model 1812 was designed to improve upon the Model 1795 and address these issues, however the majority of improvements would be released with the Model 1816 Musket.
The first recorded use of the Model 1812 Musket, in a military battle, was the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, even though it had been surpassed by the Model 1816 Musket. Similarly the American Civil War saw the use of the Model 1812, although the Model 1812 would be converted to percussion lock at this stage, helping to solve the issue of misfires occuring when the musket got wet.
Around 30,000 Model 1812s were produced, solely by Springfield, in the two years of production. The Model 1816 Musket replaced the Model 1812 in 1816, in both military and production lines.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/36224933@N07/3512922401 - Springfield Model 1812 original upload image location