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Re: Springfield M1873 ID Help

Posted by John on Thursday, 19 July 2012, at 11:50 a.m., in response to Re: Springfield M1873 ID Help, posted by Stephen on Thursday, 19 July 2012, at 9:21 a.m.

Few states still have any sort of records which include serial number information for weapons issued in the trapdoor era.

Record keeping, except at the unit level, was generally numbers (120 rifles shipped to the Armory at xxxx city on [date]). Most of even those sparse records were discarded decades ago as no longer being useful for anything and just taking up space. Sometimes they were printed in annual reports to the legislature or something and can be found there, although the original manuscripts are long gone.

Records with serial numbers would generally be made at the unit level, probably Company level where the supply guy would record that PVT Bubba was issued a coat, haversack, haversack strap, cartridge belt, canteen and strap, and rifle number 12345 on [date]. When stuff was returned it was crossed off the list, or PVT Bubba was charged for items not returned. When the supply guy retired or the unit was disbanded, all the arms and equipment got turned in somewhere, and the supply guy's books were probably trashed when the accounting was complete.

In some cases the supply books did get archived, such as in the National Archives if the unit was mobilized for federal service. However, those unit records were already pretty well dug through by Frank Mallory many years ago and chances of finding anything new are extremely slim, or none.

Alas, I think all you will ever know is proven by the markings on the gun itself, that it was issued to the New Jersey National Guard/Militia. It may have been used by one of the state's units in the Spanish American War. Or, maybe never got more than 100 miles from Trenton and never did anything exciting.

That is why guns that CAN be documented are so fascinating.


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