Nestled in the Tennessee Valley between Missionary Ridge and Signal Mountain, Chattanooga has been a hotspot for history since its founding at Ross’s Landing nearly two centuries ago.
The past lingers in the hills of Hamilton County, where Civil War trails dot the mountains, and where the New York Peace Memorial atop Lookout Mountain’s Point Park stands visible for miles throughout Tennessee and Georgia.
The Civil War
Chattanooga, nicknamed “The Gateway to the Deep South”, was the center of several battles during the American Civil War, as the city’s railroad hub made it a location of critical importance to both armies.
The Chattanooga campaign commenced after a series of skirmishes between the Union and Confederate armies around North Georgia and the Chattanooga area — most notably the Battle of Chickamauga, where the former battlefield now serves as a 141-acre National Park.
The Battles for Chattanooga began in November of 1863 at a knoll named Orchard Knob, now the location of several monuments and a neighborhood in the Highland Park area.
The first major battle in the area took place at Lookout Mountain — where part of the battle involved Union General John W. Geary pushing Confederate General Edward C. Walthall’s troops to the Cravens House, which still stands overlooking Chattanooga today.
The fighting in and around Chattanooga met a decisive conclusion at the Battle of Missionary ridge, where Union troops lead by General Ulysses S. Grant — who was later elected America’s 18th President — advanced up the steep slope of Missionary Ridge, overwhelming the Confederate army from their entrenched position atop the ridge.
The Chattanooga campaign resulted in the routing of one of the Confederacy’s two major armies, with Union forces gaining undisputed control of Tennessee through their victory at Chattanooga.
America’s Most-Produced Flintlock
Throughout the Civil War, soldiers carried weapons like repeating and long rifles, cavalry sabers, bayonets, and pistols. While muskets are often associated with earlier conflicts like the Revolutionary War, they were widely used up to and after the Civil War.
The Harpers Ferry Model 1816 — designed by Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin — is a musket that was commonly used during the Civil War in places like Chattanooga, on account of their availability.
The Springfield and Harpers Ferry Armories mass-produced the Model 1816 from 1816 to 1844. These armories and others produced over 675,000 Model 1816 muskets, earning it its status as the most-produced flintlock firearm in U.S. history.
The Model 1816 was first used in the Texas Revolution and was later used throughout the Mexican-American War and the U.S. Civil War. Many Model 1816s and other muskets have since been lost over the years, making them rare collector’s items in the present day.
Many Model 1816s later had their flint striking ignition mechanisms converted into percussion ignition mechanisms in the mid-19th century for the purpose of modernizing the weapons.
Compass is currently auctioning a Pre-Civil War Harpers Ferry Model 1816 .69 Smoothbore Musket as an item in our current Firearms, Ammo, & Accessories Auction. Like many other Model 1816s, it has since been converted to a percussion cap action rifle.
The musket has been a family heirloom for its consignor for over 170 years and was originally owned by a soldier of the Confederacy. The musket comes with two powder horns, one of which bears the initials of the musket’s original owner.