U.S. Martial Henry Lever-Action Rifle up for Auction

Fine U.S. Martial Serial Number Range Henry Lever-Action Rifle

Rock Island’s fantastic Spring Premiere Auction to be held April 25th, 26th and 27th 2009

Fine U.S. Martial Serial Number Range Henry Lever-Action Rifle
Fine U.S. Martial Serial Number Range Henry Lever-Action Rifle

Rock Island Auction Company
Rock Island Auction Company

Rock Island Auction Company – -(AmmoLand.com)- A rare example of one of the 800 U.S. Martial Contract Henry rifles with U.S. martial inspection marks.

On December 30, 1863, the Chief of Ordnance ordered 800 Henry Rifles from the New Haven Arms Company. These rifles were issued to the 1st District of Columbia Cavalry Regiment in March, 1864.

The 1st D.C. Cavalry was originally raised to combat Confederate partisan rangers like Col. John S. Mosby around Washington D.C. The 1st D.C. Cavalry participated in the Richmond Campaign in the spring and summer of 1864, suffered heavy losses and was eventually merged with the 1st Maine Cavalry.

The 1st D.C./1st Maine Cavalry saw extensive combat and many of the Henry Rifles were captured by the Confederate forces. The 1st D.C. Cavalry was the only federal unit entirely armed with Henry Rifles during the Civil War.

U.S. Martial Henry Lever-Action Rifle
U.S. Martial Henry Lever-Action Rifle

All ordnance inspected U.S. Contract Henry Rifles are in the 3000-4000 serial number range. The U.S. Contract Henry rifles had the initials of the ordnance inspector, “C.G.C.” (Charles G. Chapman) stamped on the right side of the barrel just ahead of the receiver. They also usually have a Henry “H” inspection mark stamped on the right side of the barrel just below the “C.G.C.” markings and on the right side of the receiver opposite the government inspection marks. This rifle shows all such markings.  A third “H” is stamped in the same position of the left side of the receiver.

The rifle has the early pattern buttplate with round heel, locking lever latch and single rear sight dovetail on the barrel. The left side of the stock is fitted with a sling swivel and a sling loop that is screwed to the left side of the barrel. The original folding adjustable left sight has been replaced with a period fixed, buckhorn rear sight.

The top barrel flat is marked: “HENRY’S PATENT.OCT.16.1860/MANUFACT’D. BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS CO. NEWHAVEN. CT.” in two lines ahead of the rear sight. The serial number, “3588” is located on the top of the barrel behind the rear sight, on the lower left side of the receiver tang underneath the stock, in the stock inlet and on the inside of the buttplate. All of the serial numbers match. Both of the buttplate screws are numbered “3588”.  The rifle has a four piece iron cleaning rod with brass tip issued with late production Henry Rifles.

Near fine overall. The barrel has a very attractive, deep brown age patina. Metal surfaces are smooth and free from pitting and the edges of the barrel flats are sharp. Traces of the original blue finish are visible in protected areas.

There are some old vise marks on both sides of the barrel just ahead of the receiver. The New Haven Arms address, serial number and inspection marks are crisp. The rear sight has the same age patina as the barrel and appears to be contemporary to the rifle.

The hammer and loading lever have a gray-brown patina with traces of the original casehardening colors. The brass receiver and buttplate have not been polished and have a mellow and very attractive age patina. The edges of the side plates are tight and have minimal battering.

The receiver and buttplate have only light to moderate handling wear and are generally free from dents or scratches. The stock is fine and has moderate handling wear overall. There is a deep gouge in the left side behind and below the sling swivel.  There is a small chip in the toe just ahead of the buttplate and a minor, hairline crack on either side of the chip. U.S. Contract Henry rifles typically show the service wear received during the Civil War and are rarely seen in very good condition.

This is a superior example of one of the most desirable of all Civil War small arms. The U.S. Contract Henry rifle is one of  the very few Civil War weapons that can be definitely associated with a specific military unit.

Auction Estimate: $35,000 – $50,000

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Auction Details:
Rock Island Auction Company announces the next Premiere Firearms auction to be held at their facilities in Moline, IL. The huge success of our regional sale ($2.2 million) proves that people are investing in what they know: firearms are solid investments that hold value through economic downturns. Investing and collecting opportunities abound at Rock Island’s fantastic Spring Premiere Auction to be held April 25th, 26th and 27th. At a time when the stock market changes daily, gun collectors are seeing the worth of their investments. Hard assets are the place to invest your money and gun values continue to rise. This auction has firearms for every level of collecting and investing from Colts to Winchesters, military to Class III and the hundreds of high quality sporting arms. Rock Island’s continued sell through rate of over 97% proves that items that come to RIAC are for sale and now is your chance to make a solid investment.

Rock Island Auction Company has been solely owned and operated by Patrick Hogan. This company was conceived on the idea that both the sellers and buyers should be completely informed and provided a professional venue for a true auction. After working with two other auction companies, Mr. Hogan began Rock Island Auction in 1993. Rock Island Auction Company has grown to be one of the top firearms auction houses in the nation. Under Mr. Hogan’s guidance the company has experienced growth each and every year; and he is the first to say it is his staff’s hard work and determination that have yielded such results.

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Would like to know of Clarence Slagle. He owned a Henry that had CGC stamps on each piece. I held it in my hands in June of 1965 in Indiana. Clarence was a gun collector and had several historic weapons, including a cannon.

James N. Smith

What happened at the auction? Did you ever determine to whom the Henry was issued to in March, 1864?