50-70 US Army Trapdoor Springfield Model of 1866

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      US Army Model of 1866 Springfield trapdoor (2nd Allin conversion) rifle, caliber .50-70 conversion of an 1863 musket rifle. Complete with the original 1855 bayonet and frog.

      These rifles were delivered to troops for ‘field trials’ in mid 1867. Within days of their arrival they played a pivotal role in the Wagon Box fight in which 26 soldiers and 6 civilians held off and withstood multiple attacks of about 1,000 Cheyennes and Lakota Sioux being lead by their Chief Red Cloud.

      Up until only a few days earlier the soldiers had been armed with the 1861 muzzle loader and the favored Indian tactic was to draw a volley of fire then charge forward while the troopers were reloading their muzzle loaders.

      This tactic had worked quite well only a few months earlier, in the same area, against the command of Captain Fetterman and it resulted in the total annihilation of him and his entire command (81 men) and briefly drove the US Army completely out of Crow Territory.

      However on August 2, 1867, after the Army’s return, when a small corral used by Army woodcutters was attacked the presence of these early cartridge firing breech loaders totally changed the game.

      The soldiers and civilian teamsters retreated to a corral they had made by circling wagons and for the next 6 hours successfully withstood repeated waves of assaults until the Indian forces gave up and withdrew when more soldiers arrived from Ft. Kearney. At the end of the fight only 3 soldiers had been killed, but estimates of the Indian warriors dead ranged from 50 to several hundred.

      A similar Indian defeat, again involving these rapid loading 1866 cartridge rifles and an attack on a small wood cutter’s camp by a much larger Indian force occurred only a day earlier in the Hayfield Fight near Ft. Smith. These Civil War muzzle loading rifles converted into breech loading cartridge rifles continued to serve on America’s Western frontier until 1873 when the smaller caliber .45-70, Model of 1873 replaced them. The era of the muzzle loader was over.

      This rifle will be detail stripped, cleaned and if safe to fire a video of that firing will follow soon.

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