Civil War Rifle Traced Back to Marblehead
A weapon that may have been carried by a Marblehead resident during the Civil War is now in Nevada, and the owner is looking to our local museum for answers.
When Jim Hutton, of Henderson, Nevada, retired seven years ago, he decided to finally put some time into documenting and researching the antique guns in his personal collection.
Hutton knew that the weapons would be passed along to his son, and so he decided to spend some of his new-found spare time making sure that he would know as much about them as possible when it came time to pass them down.
So, Hutton took a magnifying glass and began deciphering some of the faint markings he could make out on a long-forgotten Civil War-era rifle - and, after a second look, discovered that he was holding onto a piece of Marblehead's distant past.
In 1946, Hutton, who was 9-years-old at the time, was given a Robbins & Lawrence M1841 Mississippi Rifle that was made in 1850. The gun was a gift from an elderly neighbor of his grandparents, who owned a summer cottage in North Hampton Beach, N.H.
The gun, he said, was one of two found at a local dump.
So, while investigating his M1841 about a year ago, Hutton said he found a small stamped unit marking on the gun's top butt-plate tang that said "8c/I" and stood for (Company C, 8th Regiment Infantry).
"I tried to pin it down as to that unit’s state, but so many states had an 8th Militia Regiment during the Civil War that I got frustrated and gave up," Hutton said in an email. "Months later I took a magnifying glass, and went over the rifle again."
Under closer inspection, Hutton was able to make out the letters "M-A-S-S” faintly stamped on the rear face of the butt-plate and finally knew which state history books to dive into.
After discovering that his gun was modified for a new bayonet under Mass. State contract in 1862, Hutton was able to determine that the gun most likely belonged to a member of Marblehead's Sutton Light Infantry militia unit, which mustered at the state of the Civil War and was led by Captain Knott Martin.
So, we decided to make a quick stop in down at the G.A.R. Museum to try to help Hutton find out as much as he could about Massachusetts' Eighth Regiment - and to see if we could match Hutton's gun with one on display.
None of the guns hanging on the wall at the local museum appeared to have similar unit-markings, but there was plenty of information on-hand about Marblehead's Civil War soldiers.
The Mass. 8th Regiment Voluntary Infantry was one of the first four militia units activated at the very start of the Civil War.
The majority of their service consisted of garrison, patrol and guard duty in and around New Berne, N.C., and the fortified defenses surrounding Washington, D.C.
Do you have any information for Hutton about Marblehead's Sutton Light Infantry militia unit? Do you own a similar Civil-War era weapon? Let us know in the comments section below and we will let him know.