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P. S. Justice Done!
A P. S. Justice Rifled Musket
(3rd Type Justice)

 

Obverse View of 3rd Type P. S. Justice Rifled Musket
Obverse View of 3rd Type P. S. Justice Rifled Musket

 


 

     Among all the types of Civil War U.S. government contracted rifled muskets, the most confusing as to a standard make up has to be the weapons that P. S. Justice furnished in late 1861. In the autumn of 1861, Phillip S. Justice of Philadelphia delivered to the Ordnance Department 2,174 rifled muskets. The first of these were fabricated from the parts of several muskets. He utilized Model 1861 lock and trigger assemblies, Model 1840 or 1842 barrel bands and springs, Enfield type brass stock tips, and newly made stocks similar to the Model 1816, without comb. The black walnut stocks were sometimes made with green unseasoned wood. They had bolster type converted barrels fitted with a long-range rear sight and rifled in .69 caliber with 3 broad bands and very shallow grooves. A "tulip-head" ramrod similar to the Model 1863 was utilized with this model.

 

     A second variation was made without barrel bands or sling swivel. It had all brass furniture, a matchbox and a different type of 'tulip-head' ramrod held under the stock by two brass thimbles. It featured an unusual, configured trigger guard with a double curve profile. They are found with long-range rear sights or a fixed "V" notch type dovetailed into the barrel. It was .69 caliber rifled with 3 shallow grooves. The stocks were black walnut and rather crude having been made from unseasoned wood. It is considered to have been the most inferior of all arms delivered to the U.S. Ordnance Department during the Civil War.

 

Reverse View of 3rd Type P. S. Justice Rifled Musket
Reverse View of 3rd Type P. S. Justice Rifled Musket

 


 

     The third type, as pictured here, was made entirely as a new arm. It did not, supposedly, utilize any old parts. It is basically a well made attractive arm. It does not conform completely to Riley's description in "United States Military Small Arms, 1816 - 1865", nor exactly to Flayderman's description. It comes nearer to Bill Edwards description in "Civil War Guns." Since I have this gun myself and have carefully measured and inspected it in detail as well as by photograph, I will certify the following descriptions and measurements to be exact as they apply to this particular individual arm. I will further certify that this rifled musket is, with the possible exception of the ramrod, entirely original. However, I believe the ramrod is good also but, since it is removable, I can not attest to it being original to the arm.

 

     The overall measurement of this arm is 55". The barrel is 39" and the stock wood is 52" with a 9-1/8" low comb. The brass, Enfield like nose cap is 7/8" long. The oval brass top barrel band is ½" in width. The middle and upper oval brass barrel bands are 5/16" wide. A sling swivel is in place on the middle barrel band. The lower sling swivel is on the forward arm of the trigger guard knuckle bow. The 8" long brass trigger guard bow and tang are of one piece construction with the front termination being square and the rear slightly curved. The brass, Sharp's like patch box and the brass butt plate are typical of Justice type arms.

 

The 3rd or Lower Barrel Band
The 3rd or Lower Barrel Band
The 2nd or Middle Barrel Band with Sling Swivel
The 2nd or Middle Barrel Band with Sling Swivel
The 1st or Upper Barrel Band and Nose Cap
The 1st or Upper Barrel Band and Nose Cap
Bottom View of  Brass Trigger Guard
Bottom View of Brass Trigger Guard
Oblique View of Brass Butt Plate
Oblique View of Brass Butt Plate
   
Stock Comb and Brass Patch Box
Stock Comb and Brass Patch Box

 

Close Up of Brass Patch Box
Close Up of Brass Patch Box

 

     A bayonet stud, ¼" long by 3/16" wide by 1/16" high, is located on the top of the barrel 1-1/8'' back from the front of the barrel. The front of the 3/16" high, brass blade front sight is located 1-5/8" back from the rear of the bayonet lug or 3-1/16" from the muzzle. The long range, side protected rear sight is graduated from 100 to 400 yards. It is secured to the barrel by a real screw, not just a screw head that has been soldered on, as in the case of earlier models.

 

Side View of Front Blade Sight and Rectangular Bayonet Lug Top View of Front Blade Sight and Rectangular Bayonet Lug
Side and Top View of Front Blade Sight and Rectangular Bayonet Lug

 

Side View of Long Range Rear Sight
Side View of Long Range Rear Sight
(Note Graduations)
Top View of Sight in Base
Top View of Sight in Base
Top View of Sight Base With Sight Raised
Top View of Sight Base With Sight Raised 
      The top of the barrel is marked "P. S. JUSTICE/PHILA" in 2 lines just forward of the nipple recess. The barrel shape, at the breech section where the name has been struck, is somewhat semi-octagonal in form. The serial number "483" is stamped at the top of the barrel tang. The same number, "483", is on the rear tang of the trigger guard under a "P".

 

Justice Barrel Marking
Justice Barrel Marking

 

Serial Number "483" on Barrel Tang
Serial Number "483" on Barrel Tang

 

"P" Plus "483'' on Trigger Guard Tang
"P" Plus "483'' on Trigger Guard Tang

 


 

     There are numerous variations in lock plate marking found on Justice's arms. However no one mentions markings on the ram rods. Here is the lock plate on the rifled musket pictured. It is marked with a eagle and shield stamping over "U S" to the left of "P.S. JUSTICE" over "PH(ILADA)". The ram rod has the Roman numeral marking of "X VI" (16?), 2" back from the tip of the ram rod*.

 

View of Lock Plate, Hammer and Trigger Guard
View of Lock Plate, Hammer and Trigger Guard
View of Hammer Screw on Reverse Stock
View of Hammer Screw on Reverse Stock

 

Close up of Lock Plate Marking
Close up of Lock Plate Marking

 

Ram Rod Marking - X VI"
Ram Rod Marking - X VI"

* The ram rod when seated is ¾" down from being even with the barrel mouth.

 

     The .69? caliber barrel is rifled with 3 broad grooves and lands. A .69 caliber minie ball is a little bit loose at the barrel opening. It may however expand sufficiently to grip the rifling when fired. Following are pictures of the front of the barrel showing the lands and grooves and with a bore gauge inserted. I would say that it measures closer to .72 caliber than .69. What do you think? 

 

Front of Muzzle
Front of Muzzle
Shows 3 Lands and 3 Grooves

 

Looks like .73 cal. here
Looks like .73 cal. here
(Groove to Groove)

 

Measurement of .72 Caliber .72 Caliber (Land to Land)
These Indicate Measurement of .72 Caliber (Land to Land)

 


 

     Well, I'm out of both pictures and words (almost). Say what you will about Phillip S. Justice, he delivered on his contract in a few short months in 1861. What he delivered was better than his sample arms. The government knew what they were getting and in most cases got better than they bargained for. P. S. Justice was vilified in some quarters but he delivered when his country needed it most. He suffered large losses in both personal and financial standings. Give justice to Justice..........he delivered what he promised .....Fake screw heads and all.

 

     Credit for some material and all inspiration for this posting should go to P.S. Justice and the fine rifle musket he  made for me and..........to Robert M. Reilly and his book "U.S. SMALL ARMS 1816 - 1865" and to........... William B. Edwards for his great book "CIVIL WAR GUNS" and to, of course, the great Norm Flayderman for his seemingly endless series of "FLAYDERMAN'S GUIDE(S) TO ANTIQUE AMERICAN FIREARMS.... AND THEIR VALUES."

 

Dave Radcliffe