.58 Centerfire. 37" round barrel secured by three flat, spring-retained barrel bands. SN: NSN. Bright finish, iron furniture, walnut stock. Single shot breechloading cartridge alteration of a muzzleloading percussion rifle musket. Remnants of original Alfred Jenks & Sons "Bridesburg" lock markings. A clear 1864 date is present at the tail of the lock. A block IN cartouche is on the counterpane and is believed to stand for "Irish Nation" and was theoretically applied to the 6,500 Jenks manufactured US Model 1861/63 percussion rifle muskets that were delivered to the Robert's Wing of the Fenian Brotherhood during the spring of 1866. (See Erin's Hope: The Fenian Needham Conversion Rifle by Kenneth L. Smith-Christmas). Many of these were later altered to the Needham system by the Fenians. A small block J.W.R. inspection is present on the counterpane as well. The rifle retains an 1858 pattern leaf rear sight, combination musket front sight and bayonet lug, both sling swivels but is missing the ramrod. Like many of the Fenian Needham conversion rifles, this one has a "V" shaped cut in the forend, under the middle band, to allow for disassembly into smaller packing crates.
The Fenian Brotherhood was one of the many mid-19th century Irish nationalist groups that can in many ways be considered the forerunners of modern Irish political and militant groups like Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army. The group originated in the United States among Irish fugitives from the 1848 uprising and along with groups like the Irish Republican Brotherhood vowed to arm themselves and overthrow British rule in Ireland by force. As the various groups vying for power within Irish nationalist circles splintered and found themselves at crossed purposes as to how to achieve their ultimate goals, the Fenians undertook to invade Canada with the the thought to hold the country hostage in exchange for Ireland's freedom. After an ill-fated initial attempt to invade Canada in June of 1866, most of the Fenian arms were confiscated by the US Government. When the guns were finally returned to the Fenian's many were in poor condition from improper storage. Eventually the majority of the arms, roughly 5,000, were altered to the Needham breechloading system for yet another ill-fated Canadian invasion in May of 1870, when the Fenians were repulsed at the Battle of Eccles Hill. Although another brief and unsuccessful incursion was made into Manitoba in 1871, the 1870 battle essentially spelled the death knell for the Fenian plans to invade Canada. An interesting example of a breechloading cartridge alteration of a Civil War period US rifle musket wrapped in the story of Irish Nationalism and another battle for freedom.
Good. Metal heavily oxidized with a somewhat crusty surface roughness over much of the metal. Mechanically functional, poor bore is dark, dirty and pitted with strong rifling. Wood very good, mostly crisp and sharp with scattered bumps, dings and mars. Like most Fenian guns this one is cut under the middle band to allow disassembly and shipping in smaller crates. A solid example of fairly scarce firearm with an interesting backstory.
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