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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have what appears to be a Prussian smooth bore musket stamped on the left side of the stock with “J” and “100” below it. On the right side of the stock someone had carved initials that appear to be “S. A.” G Suhl is stamped on the right side on the brass lock plate. The top left of the barrel is stamped “1821”, “F.W.”, a crown, and what appears to be “i100” “w” stamped along the left side just above the stock. The crown stamp appears on all brass parts. The screws all have a 0 stamped in them. Barrel length is 21 ¼ inches and the overall length is 36 ¾ inches. ***I have removed the barrel and the lockplate and found the stamp on the underside of the barrel to be 1844D and "100" on the tang. Under the lockplate I found a script "R" a circle with a "G" in it and the letters "IUNG" stamped next to it***. It was owned at one time by a Charles Nowak in western New York State. I am attempting to find out some history or information on the gun and its markings as it was recently given to me. If anyone could help it would be much appreciated.

 

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The FW and crown would indicate King Friedrich Wilhelm III, who was King of Prussia from 1797-1840. 1821, of course, the gun's manufacture date. Short barrel suggests possibly a cavalry, engineer or artillery carbine. Need soembody other than me to tell you the model and arsenal.
 

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Prussian M1809 is the best I can come up with. Please post pictures, identifying a musket from described markings can be, at best, an iffy proposition. I am assuming that this is a cut down or shortened military musket, undoubtedly cut after it went into the world of non-military use. How many barrel bands? Are they and the rest of the furniture brass? You say that the lock plate is brass but are you sure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
re Prussian Musket

I am having a problem uploading the photos. It does look like the photo posted, and you are right about the lockplate, not brass. I will continue to try to get these photos up. Thanks for the info so far.
 

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These are commonly known as Potsdam muskets. Many were bought in Europe at the start of the Civil War by Northern agents,and were carried by the troops until more suitable rifles could be supplied,after which these were placed in storage. After the war, guns like this were sold by outfits like Bannerman's,and they often cut them down to make cheap shotguns.

I should mention that these were made by a number of different armories,and various names can appear on the lockplate, like "Potsdam" or "Suhl". There are different fittings,too,brass or iron, depending again on who made them.
 

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Makers marks for the M1809 Prussian musket will be Saar, Potsdam, Suhl, Neisse and possibly others that I can't remember right at the moment. The Prussian musket, imported early in the War by the North only was considered an arm of the 4th Class. While a sturdy and well made musket and utterly flawless in function, it was considered too heavy and took non-standard ammunition - .71 caliber as opposed to the US standard .69 caliber. The US standard ball for the .69 smoothbore musket was both .64 and .65 in diameter, the Prussian used a .67 and this was simply not available, making the Prussian muskets unacceptably inaccurate with the US ball. It's biggest problem, though, was that maintenance was very difficult - no spare parts were imported and from that standpoint, they gave Federal maintenance armorers huge headaches. As far as Confederate use? The South early on got huge contracts for British and then Austrian arms and did not import many from other sources. Captured Prussian muskets may have seen some Southern use but mainly would have gone to rear echelon troops that saw little if any front line service. Like the North, the average Southern soldier was well armed by mid-1862 and 4th Class arms were simply put into storage or disposed of.

As stated earlier, the Prussian muskets came here early and were issued and used early by US forces who were desperately short of arms, especially in the Western Theater, but by late 1862, better weapons were available and the Prussians went into storage to be surplussed quickly after the War.
 

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I have two of these muskets, and I can certainly attest to the size and weight of them-they are massive weapons. Very long and heavy. The correct bayonet for them is a big heavy thing,too. They are an attractive gun,though, with lots of brass.
 

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It's Saarn, not Saar. The muskets made in Suhl were made by various Suhl-based makers usually indicated by their initials over SUHL. Some of those imported during the Civil War were used by state troops; occasionally one turns up with an OHIO stamp in the wrist area - it can be impressed into the wood or even ink-stamped; in the latter case one has to look very carefully since the ink wears off over time.
 

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The barrel may have been manufactured in 1821 but the lock plate shows no plugged retainer and/or screw holes for a frizzen spring normally indicative of its previous life as a flintlock. I'd say a new percussion lock was retrofitted to an earlier musket, a not uncommon procedure during the early stages of the transition period from flint to percussion throughout European armies.
 

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Bump.

I have just received one of these muskets as well. The lock on mine is marked Danzig and 1831. I also have an 1844 date on the underside of the barrel, I assumed it was the date of conversion from flintlock to percussion.

The most interesting aspect of mine is the fact the thing appears to be loaded. The person I bought it from didn't pay it too much attention, he mentioned it came out of an Ohio estate sale some years back. I found out quickly there was something in the barrel, after pouring boiling water down the barrel I started to see little pieces of cartridge paper come flowing out the front end. I shone a flashlight down there and noticed what looks like a giant aged round ball at the breech end. I am unsure as to if I want to remove it, its a great piece of history.
 

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If you can get the nipple out you can get the powder out from behind the ball. Failing that, and assuming it will free up, a gunsmith can remove the breechplug - but if you go that route warn him not to heat the barrel...
 

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I would remove it simply because if there's a ball then there is a charge beneath. Eventually an accident may happen. It can be removed with compressed air if you don't want to put a screw hole in it.
 
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