Very solid example of this scarce Naval Civil War weapon, which fired a .69 caliber conical minie ball. The Whitney 1861 Navy Rifle, also known as the Plymouth or Whitney-Plymouth, was designed from the recommendations of Captain John A. Dahlgren, the famous American Navy Ordnance officer. The.69 caliber muzzle loading rifle was developed and tested on board Dahlgren’s ship, the U.S.S. Plymouth, 1856-1858, which is where the commonly used name comes from. The Whitney Arms Company supplied the U.S. Navy with about ten thousand Plymouth Rifles from 1862 to 1864 under direct US Navy contract.
Produced at the Whitney Armory near New Haven, Connecticut in the middle years of the Civil War, this original naval long arm is often referred to as either the Plymouth Rifle, the Whitneyville Rifle or the Dahlgren Rifle. Manufactured under a US government contract of July 1861, the weapon is a .69 caliber, single shot, two-band muzzleloader. One of only 10,000 rifle produced in 1864, this big bore rifle was designed especially for naval boarding parties and also for arming shore-landing elements.
The overall length of the weapon is 50″ while its round barrel measures 34″ in length and bears the distinct three-groove rifling. The barrel has a small, iron blade front sight and the large, unique long range, leaf-style rear sight graduated to 1,000 yards. The barrel markings, which are faint, show “1864” and a small anchor at the top of the breech. This weapon was designed to use a saber or sword bayonet which was manufactured the Collins Company of Hartford, Connecticut. There are faint “V /P/ eaglehead” proof marks on left facet of the breech area with inspector marks “F.C.W.” (Frank C. Warner) on the left flat. The barrel exhibits scattered, very light peppery pitting overall indicating it was actually used in the field.
The black walnut stock is oil finished and exhibits numerous dings and dents from normal use and storage. The weapon has the 2nd style lockplate that is marked in front of the “C” shaped hammer with small eagle-shield motif over “U.S.” and behind the hammer is a clear “1864”. A single-line, maker marking “WHITNEY VILLE” lies below the bolster. Sling swivels are mounted on the bottom of the middle band and on the toe of the butt stock. The iron trigger guard has an integral spur finger grip. The rifle features a large bayonet lug affixed to the barrel’s muzzle on the right side that is fitted to accept a twenty-two and one-half inch long, curved saber bayonet.
All mechanics are strong and crisp and the rifling is strong with very light scattered pitting and some surface grime. The weapon retains an iron ramrod with a large cylindrical head made to accommodate the larger .69 caliber projectile.