Very scarce Civil War US Model 1861 rifle musket by Whitney, .58 caliber

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Whitney Model 1861 percussion rifle musket made in New Haven, Connecticut circa 1861. Eli Whitney Jr. and his family legacy, Whitneyville Armory, played a large role in providing small arms to the Union during the American Civil War. This musket was part of his “Good and Serviceable Arms” line which was focused on providing arms to state militias, though he did have contracts with the federal government as well.


The Good and Serviceable Arms were made of large lots of parts which he purchased from the federal armories and other contractors to assemble into rifle-muskets good enough for service with the states who, unlike the federal government, had lesser standards and did not use gauges during their inspections. He wasn’t shy about this either. These arms were good enough, better to be sure than many of the muskets being bought and shipped back from Europe, and they were less expensive than had they been built from the ground up with all the gauging that went into federal contracts.


This one follows the Model 1861 pattern and bears no federal view or proof markings or inspector cartouches.  Many of these weapons actually ended up going South prior to Lincoln’s arms embargo, as Whitney was known to have sold both handguns and long guns to states such as Virginia from 1860 until mid-1861.  This is not a weapon commonly seen on the collector market and it is unknown exactly how many were produced or where they went.

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