Springfield Model 1855 Musket
Model 1855 Musket
Country of origin



Springfield Armory, Harpers Ferry US Armory

Year(s) designed


Weapon type

Rifled Musket


.58in (14.7mm) Minie Ball


Percussion lock

Overall length

49in (1.24m)-Model 1855 Rifle, 56in (1.42m)-Model 1855 Rifled musket

Barrel length

33in (0.83m)-Model 1855 Rifle, 40in (1.01m)-Model 1855 Rifled musket


9lb (4.1kg)-Model 1855 Rifle, 10lb (4.5kg)-Model 1855 Rifled musket

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

1 (Muzzle loaded)

Maximum effective range

1,000yards (910m)

Used by

United States

The Model 1855 Musket was produced by the Springfield Armory. Unlike its predecessor, the Model 1842 Musket, the Model 1855 was a rifled musket using the new Minie Ball ammunition.

Design DetailsEdit

The Model 1855 Musket was rifled, meaning that the Model 1855 could use the Minie Ball (a new ammunition, developed in France) which improved the range and accuarcy of the Model 1855 compared to its predecessors. The barrel was 40in (1.01m) in length with a twist rate of 1:72 with 3 twists in the barrel. 

The Model 1855, like the Model 1842 used the percussion lock mechanism (over the flintlock mechanism used on older Springfield muskets since the Model 1795 Musket). However, unlike the Model 1842, the Model 1855 used the Maynard tape primer (which replaced the conventional percussion cap) with a tape that was automatically fed into the barrel when the hammer was cocked, which improved the rate of fire of the Model 1855 (however the other musket procedures for loading were maintained). However this was a short lived innovation, with the Model 1861 Rifled-Musket returning to the standard percussion cap in 1861 when it replaced the Model 1855.

The area on the stock around the hammer was also modified, with a unique hump resulting from the addition of the Maynard tape primer mechanism. The barrel was attached to the stock by three barrel bands on most models, with the Model 1855 having an overall length of 56in (1.42m). Sights were fitted on the Model 1855 as standard. 


The Model 1855 Musket, by virtue of having a rifled barrel, fired a .58in (14.7mm) Minie ball. The musket ball, the conventional musket ammunition, had been replaced by the more accurate Minie ball as early as 1847.

The Model 1855 Musket was muzzle loaded, the norm for muskets, with the user expected to fire three shots or more in a single minute. The use of the Maynard tape primer had been intended to increase the rate of fire, however the system often provided more problems then it did speed.


The Model 1855 Musket started off its production as a 56in rifled musket, named so due to the fact it was rifled whilst retaining the length of the muskets it replaced. 
Springfield Model 1855 Musket hammer

A drawing of the hammer area of the Model 1855, showing the hump and the panel which covers the Maynard tape-primer

Model 1855 RifleEdit

However a second version of the Model 1855 was introduced and named the Model 1855 Rifle. This model was shorter than the original at 49in (1.24m), using a 33in (0.83m) barrel. Despite this the Model 1855 Rifle used the same twist rate of 1:72 with 4 twists and fixed to the stock using two barrel bands.

Model 1855 modified (Model 1858)Edit

The Model 1855 was later modified in 1858. The changes included a simplified rear sight and an iron nose cap (the original featured a brass nose cap). A patchbox was also fixed to the side of the buttstock.


The first use of the Model 1855 was the Battle of Four Lakes in 1858. This battle demonstrated the ability of the rifled musket, with the American forces repelling the American Indian tribes before they could get in range with their smoothbore muskets. No American servicemen were killed in the battle, despite being outnumbered.

Around 60,000 Model 1855 were produced in its production from 1856 to 1860, when it was replaced by the Springfield Model 1861. The Model 1855's production, at the Harper's Ferry US Armory, ended prematurely when Confederate forces took the Virginia Armory and moved the machinery to Fayetteville, North Carolina. This sparked the production of the Richmond Rifle (produced by the Richmond Armory, Richmond) in 1861 and the Fayetteville Rifled Musket (produced by the Confederate States Armory, Fayetteville) in 1862, with both designs being heavily based on the Model 1855.