A 74th Piedmontese Rifled Musket?
Bret coming face to face with 74th history at
More than occasionally, serendipity – the act of making discoveries by accident, plays a critical role in the advancement of the story and history of the 74th. Such was the case when a brown highway attraction marker caught the eye, and became the “let’s go find that on Saturday” mission.
National Civil War Life Museum is located in the same building as the
Now, building quickly on the photographic nature of this museum, there is a remarkable display of Civil War-era photographs, as well as the Civil War Life Studio. The latter is a working photographer’s studio where you can, by appointment, have a tintype or CDV made. Authentic uniforms, weapons, and the like can be provided. In looking through examples, I would be hard pressed to not consider some of the modern photos period pieces. Information on the studio and prices can be found at the Museum’s website.
consists primarily of an absolutely remarkable private collection that augments
the battlefield museums and tours of the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania
area nicely. With the focus being on the
soldier’s life, there are some items in the museum I have never seen before or
didn’t get the chance to “process seeing them.”
The layout of the museum is really conducive to seeing each area of
focus: Slavery; Cause of the War; Infantry,
Cavalry, Artillery, Navy,
At one of the cases with a remarkable collection of muskets and rifles, Bret got silent and just kept standing there. So, I came back and looked at the gun in question. Bret stepped away from it, looked about the case and then came back to this one gun. Finally, I came back to where he was standing and asked, “what was up?”
Bret was staring at the Belgian Piedmontese .69 caliber. This was a gun where 800 were imported, although some sites indicate more than that, of which 200 were rifled. Marcellus Hartley acquired these muskets and exported them to Herman Boker – who had direct ties to the 74th. Boker imported at least 800 of these muskets and of the original imported 800, over 550 went to the 74th. Of those 800, 200 were rifled and all of those went to the 74th at the beginning of the war. This is one of the historical gems that Bret uncovered in the National Archives files.
talking the Museum’s Executive Director, Terry Thomann, he was excited as we
were about this musket. He shared the
information the Museum had on this piece.
The stock is walnut, gunsmith William Knechtel a great grandson of
August Funk of the regiment, noted that it was probably of the
Note the mounting below the end of the barrel, now this would make it difficult, if not impossible to mount the sword bayonets that the regiment was issued at the same time it got these rifles. The Museum has such a bayonet in another case.
The A. Francotte gun works in Liege had a long history of producing quality fire arms, according William Knechtel. This musket remained with members of the regiment until they were later issued by the Army.
NOTE: We cannot say that this is a rifle that was in fact issued and/or used by a member of the 74th. Those veterans of more modern military service would be use to having serial numbers associated with the rifle assigned to them. That was not the case during the Civil War. In addition, the records of the arsenals are vague and generic at best. What we do know is that Boker imported 800 of these with 200 being rifled and those being issued to the 74th. Unfortunately, Boker didn’t counter mark those that he imported. Still, a neat opportunity to take a look at the type of rifle that some of our ancestors would have been familiar with.