I recently received a family keepsake -- a 60 cal, smooth bore, buck and ball, Union, Civil War rifle. It was manufactured by Colt and is dated 1863.
The family member, who acquired it the hard way, was recruited into the 157th New York in September of 1862 and remained active throughout the war. It would appear, from its date, that it is not the rifle first issued to him.
Stephen Sears gives the impression that this weapon was more or less unique to "The Irish Brigade" which included the 88th New York. My relative was Irish, but not in that brigade. At Gettysburg, the 157th New York was in the first brigade of the third division of the eleventh corps.
The weapon is in very good condition (the only flaw I can find is a cracked nipple) and is complete with all the accessories. The accessories include a full tin of percussion caps. In that it has not been fired since the war, I assume they are original. On the plus side, the container seems to be relatively air tight as the copper of the caps is still bright. In any event, I expect they are, by now, unstable. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to deal with them?
Does anyone have any ideas on how this weapon may have ended up being mustered out with a member of 157th New York or any other information that might be useful/interesting? As I recall, most similar weapons were rifled and slightly less than 60 cal.
I realize that it is extremely difficult to estimate without seeing the weapon. However, given that it is as near mint condition as any weapon I have seen of similar age (with the exception of the cracked nipple -- probably from dry firing), are there any guesses as to a value that should be reported to the insurance company?
Thanks for any information you might be able to offer.