View Full Version : Prussian M1809 use in Civil War
10-30-2009, 02:03 PM
I'm trying to find out if any Prussian M1809 muskets were imported by either side for use during the conflict. Thinking about picking up a Pedersoli in percussion for use as a early war/ Militia musket (if they were undeed used as such).Couldn't find anything online.
10-30-2009, 02:14 PM
Found this from an internet search:
Well, it took me forever but here is the information. Your M1809 was converted during or after 1839. The barrel was rifled in 1855 or after. A little more information: The Union purchased a total of 165,073 obsolete muskets from Prussia, mostly the converted M1809 with a few M1839 muskets and M1839/55. The vast majority purchased were smoothbore but 22,250 were rifled, mostly rifled M1809 muskets like yours. Prussian muskets were the first foreign purchased arms getting to the Union forces, starting in August of 1861 and were sorely needed to arm new Yankee regiments. While heavier than the French-styled American arms, the were considered substantial and effective in the early war period, they were very well made.
Interestingly, there are no records here or in Germany of purchase of any Prussian muskets by the South, their first successful purchase of foreign arms was the coup of an early lock on British P53 Enfield rifled muskets. As a matter of fact, Union purchasing agents were comparatively unsuccessful in Europe. They received largely 3rd and 4th Class European muskets for their money, but their manufacturing caught up by early 1863 and the Prussian muskets ended the War in storage or training and were quickly surplussed in the post war period. Those of the Prussian muskets that saw Confederate service, and there were a few, were from battlefield captures. Makers can be Potsdam, Saarn, Neisse, Suhl or Dresden
Ooops, forgot to add that the above information came from "Firearms From Europe: A History of Firearms Imported During The American Civil War By The United States and Confederate States of America."
Last edited by TP; 01-18-2009 at 03:53 PM.
10-30-2009, 02:29 PM
Here is a link of a source I found a while back when I picked up an original 1809 Prussian converted musket. http://www4.pair.com/justfolk/Diary6.htm. It talks about how heavy they are but is only a small mention. Regarding use in the war (and I have no way to verify this) but when I got the gun I picked up at an auction (for a mere 175) home, I decided to take it apart just to see what the underside of the barrel looked like, I found written on the stock under the barrel, "Shilo - April 8, 1862" Pretty neat find I thought, if it is in fact legit and also hints to use of Prussian muskets during the war. I also read, and cannot remember where, that they were more widely used in the western theater but I cannot verify this either. Good luck in your quest for info!
John of the Skulkers Mess
10-30-2009, 03:58 PM
Off the top of my head, the state of Illinois used 'some' of them. I want to say 10,000 but I need to check with 'Arming the Suckers' or some other notes. I seen reference to some regiments such as 100th or 101st (110th?) getting 'some' - and also an 80-something regiment. I believe some were sent to the city of Chicago. My foggy memory says it was a request from the mayor, perhaps to sooth fears regarding Camp Douglas...
I have an original one and thoroughly enjoy using it - in the proper setting.
10-31-2009, 10:49 AM
Tim Prince of College Hill Arsenal has an original attic condition one for sale
11-09-2009, 02:15 PM
From James Whisker "Firearms from Europe" page 89, about 1809 conversion muskets:
11-09-2009, 04:48 PM
Its your choice, but...
Given the price of the Italian repros, have you considered getting an original? Imported muskets, particularly Prussian, Belgian, and Austrian examples, can still be found at prices at or below repro prices.
Just a thought!
11-09-2009, 06:33 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone, looks like I have some decisions to make.I thought about getting an original, but I have a chance to get a Pedersoli that has been converted at the factory to percussion for a great price, about what I'd pay for an original in very good condition.
11-09-2009, 09:06 PM
Originals go up in value.
Repros go down as soon as you open the box.
Just sayin'... ;)
Either way, I'm sure you'll get years of good service out of your musket and have a lot of fun in the process.
11-26-2009, 04:25 PM
Supposedly the state of Minnesota gave a bunch of these to settlers during the Sioux Uprising.
There's a fancy restaurant in New Orleans that has a dozen or so of these in their entrance, forming a sort of archway. I seem to recall reading that N.O. brought a bunch in for their militia durning a period of racial violence just after the war.
Definately go with an original (as long as it's safe to use) vice a repro. Years from now, guess which will be worth a LOT more?
11-29-2009, 03:28 PM
The Prussian M-1809 aka "Potsdam" saw heavy use by Western Theater US troops in the opening months of the American Civil War. Some estimates place the number of Potsdam muskets in the ranks of Grant's men at Fort Donelson at nearly 50%. It is a very appropriate weapon for a Western Theater Federal infantryman from the beginning of the war, to as late as the Vicksburg campaign. They show up with OHIO property stamps from time to time. They are typically stamped on the wrist and the flat opposite the lock. They also appear with both the "CITY OF PHILADELPHIA" and the "A WURFFLEIN" mark from time to time- the marks are a city property mark and the mark of gunsmith Wurfflein who was not the procurer as has long been thought, but apparently inspected them and stamped them to show they were serviceable (I have to credit author David Noe for that bit of information). Plenty of variations came over here, including the M-1839, the M-1839/55 and the M-1839 German Federal Naval rifle - quite rare but apparently they were purchased by Philadelphia in some quantity, as a handful have been documented with the Wurfflein and Philadelphia marks. I'll be listing a pretty nice Ohio marked Potsdam on my site in the next few days.
12-05-2009, 09:58 AM
Hello, These Prussian Muskets are very well made and heavy. Many NSSA shooters make the Model 1809 their smoothbore of choice in competition. I would strongly suggest that before you take it into the field, to have it checked out for safety purposes. Have the nipple threads checked, the bolster checked, and the bore checked for bumps or even a load!?-- Lodgewood Mfg. in Wisconsin has a ton of 1809 parts. This Musket you can still find for under $700.
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