Justice Rifled Musket - Inventory Number: RIF 119
From M.O.L.L.U.S. Museum Collection Inventory #86.5.29
Rare Musket with interesting History!
Here's an excellent example of one of the Civil War's most unique muskets. The rifled muskets built by the firm PS Justice of Philadelphia were assembled using surplus and condemned parts from other arsenals in combination with new components made by the firm. The resulting muskets were of a completely new and unique pattern with distinct civilian-style pointed lock panels and brass trigger guard.
Justice built his muskets inexpensively to maximize his profit. These muskets were so hastily and cheaply assembled that they were quickly given a reputation of being of extremely poor quality and even dangerous. One officer noted that the stocks were made of improperly cured wood which allowed for shrinkage and caused the stock to crack and the barrel bands to slide off. He also noted that the sights were useless and appeared to be soldered to the barrels with a fake screw head inserted into their bases to provide the illusion of a dovetailed and screwed sight. The bayonets provided with the muskets were "as soft as lead" and many bent and broke during bayonet practice drills.
Justice was brought before the 37th Congress to answer for his war profiteering and for providing shoddy and substandard guns. One officer, 2nd Lt, William H. Harris who testified about the quality of the Justice rifled muskets issued to the 55th PA infantry noted that:
This regiment is armed with rifle muskets, marked on the barrel, 'P. S. Justice, Philadelphia, and vary in caliber (sic) from .65 to .70. I find many of them unserviceable and irreparable, from the fact that the principal parts are defective. Many of them are made up of parts of muskets to which the stamp of condemnation has been affixed by an inspecting officer. None of the stocks have ever been approved by an officer, nor do they bear the initials of any inspector. They are made up of soft, unseasoned wood, and are defective in construction... The sights are merely soldered on to the barrel, and come off with the gentlest handling. Imitative screw- heads are cut on their bases. The bayonets are made up of soft iron, and, of course, when once bent remain set.
Col. (later to be General) Thomas D. Doubleday noted of the Justice arms that he had inspected:
The arms which were manufactured at Philadelphia, Penn., are of the most worthless kind, and have every appearance of having been manufactured from old, condemned muskets. Many of them burst; hammers break off; sights fall off when discharged; the barrels are very light, not one-twentieth of an inch thick, and the stocks are made of green wood which have shrunk so as to leave the bands and trimmings loose. The bayonets are of such frail texture that they bend like lead, and many of them break off when going through the bayonet exercise. You could hardly conceive of such a worthless lot of arms, totally unfit for service, and dangerous to those using them.
While it is true that Justice used a variety of obsolete and condemned parts in the construction of his arms (similar to the Whitney “Good & Serviceable” guns), he did also produce some arms of new parts. His greatest short fall appears to have been the use of wood for the stocks that was not sufficiently seasoned, which lead to shrinkage and multiple service issues.
This particular musket is in outstanding shape with right metal adorning all the steel parts and crisp, legible stamps on both the barrel and lock. This particular musket is an excellent example of Justice's cost saving practice of using "recycled" parts from other arsenals; as the lock still bears the remnant of its original "Eagle" stamp and “Harper’s Ferry” marking that was partially polished off and re-purposed by Justice for use in his musket. The lock holds flawlessly on both full and half cock and the stamps are all crisp and legible with no pitting or other damage.
The stock is in excellent condition with no burn out, cracks, or rotten spots. The original finish is intact on the stock and all the edges are crisp and un-sanded. Accompanied by an original museum auction catalog.
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Inventory Number: RIF 119