This scarce Sharps U.S. Navy Mitchell contract New Model 1859 rifle is serial number 40428 and rates Excellent for condition. The Navy had supplemented its 200 Model 1855 Sharps rifles by ordering 900 .56 caliber NM1859 rifles in September 1859 and took delivery from November 1860 through April 1861. On June 4, 1861, they ordered an additional 1,500 rifles through John J. Mitchell, a Sharps sales agent in Washington. One hundred-fifty were to be delivered to each of the navy facilities in Boston, New York and Philadelphia within six days and the remaining 350 to each by June 25. These rifles were in the more standard .52 caliber, which was a bit of a headache for navy supply, and did not come with their saber bayonets, which the Navy had to acquire directly from Ames, but were delivered very quickly. The bulk of them were in Navy hands by the end of July (New York had all 500 by August 7) and they are known to have been wide service, being issued to the sloop Iroquois, the St. Lawrence in the Mississippi fleet, to the USS Pensacola, and also to the USS Kearsarge of Kearsarge/Alabama fame.
Serial numbers for these rifles fall between 39436 and 42500. This one, 40428, follows the standard configuration with stud and guide for the saber bayonet, iron patch box, pellet primer etc. All bands, springs, swivels and sights are in place. The barrel is smooth metal, blue turned plum with a little silvery gray coming up toward the muzzle. The barrel bands have good color as well, with just some rubbing from handling on the top band. The barrel markings are very good and fully legible: SHARPS RIFLE / MANUFG. CO / HARTFORD, CONN. crisply stamped forward of the rear sight, and NEW MODEL 1859 to its rear, with just slight rubbing. The Lawrence patent markings on the sight base are sharp. The receiver and lock show strong smokey blues, with just some rubbing to gray on the high points and edges, more on the left than the right. The loading channel naturally shows rubbing. The receiver has sharp markings, SHARPS PAT. / SEPT 12 1848 on the upper left, and SHARPS PAT. / OCT 5th 1852 behind the hammer and S. LAWRENCE PAT. / APRIL 12th 1859 just above on the right. The patchbox and buttplate have very good surface and color as well. Many of the screws retain significant blue. The bore and mechanics are good; bore is slightly dirty. 2b1af7f3a8