Battle Relic
: Model 1842 socket bayonet for the U.S. Model 1842 .69 calibre Musket
Introduction: On November 1, 2012 we bought this American Civil War battle relic from David Sutton of Cherokee Antiques in Cadiz, Kentucky.
The bayonet misses about 50% of the (business end of his) blade and had clearly spent a fair amount of time exposed to the elements.
According to David Sutton it was found in the ground in Huntingdon, Tennessee several years ago.

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We were in Sutton’s shop in the company of the Division Historian of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Captain James Page.

Captain Page is not only an expert when it comes to the 101st Airborne in World War Two (and to whom identifying fake Normandy crickets and 506th helmet stencils is a sure bet) but knows his Civil War details as well.

On display –and for sale- were two bayonets for the Model 1842 Springfield Musket.
This type of rifle was developed two decades before the start of the Civil War and saw action with both Confederate and Union troops.
It is therefore a symbol for the war between North and South; the Blue and the Grey.

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Mass grave locator
One Model 1842 Bayonet had been modified to be used as a prod, by bending the bayonet’s curved shank straight and inserting a wooden handle in the bayonet’s socket so it can be pushed forward.
Mr. Sutton explained to us that after countless battles of the Civil War, there had been so many soldiers killed in action and strewn across the terrain that they were often buried in mass graves temporarily.
Sometimes abandoned trenches were used for this; a common practice in Word War One in Europe as can be read in our Case File # 17.
When the time came to disinter, identify and rebury the dead, these mass graves had to be recovered again, which in some cases became a difficulty due do overgrowing vegetation.
That was when these prods or pokers were used.

Model 1842 Socket Bayonet and Model 1842 Musket
The item which we eventually bought was not altered for use other than a weapon, although it misses its point and a large portion of the blade.
An intact bayonet of this type was 20 1/2 inches long, with a 2 7/8 inch socket and an 18 inch triangular blade.
The U.S. Model 1842 Musket was the first arm to be produced at both the Harpers Ferry and Springfield Armories on a completely interchangeable basis.
This meant that from now on all guns parts of this model could be replaced without modification.
The Model 1842 was the first regulation percussion arm produced in the national armories, and at the same time, the last of the .69 caliber smoothbores.
Rifling of musket bores (the process of making helical grooves in a firearm’s barrel) became the standard by the time the Model 1842 came into mass production and the last batches came with thicker steel barrels.
This made these muskets suitable for subsequent rifling.

Without Captain Page’s knowledge of American Civil War weaponry at hand in Mr. Sutton’s business, we would not have identified this Battle Relic. It is now an important asset in this agency’s collection.


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