The Price of Freedom: Americans at War Home Collection Search

Object Record

    New Search

Mississippi Rifle
Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Mississippi Rifle

Date: 1849
Catalog #: 32808    Accession #: 69413
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


Eli Whitney, Jr. (Manufacturer)

When young Eli Whitney, Jr. took over management of the Armory in 1842, he set about tooling up under his new contract from the U.S. government for making the model 1841 percussion rifle. Machinery and fixtures for making the 1822 contract flintlock musket had to be retooled or replaced in order to produce the lock and barrel of the new model. Whitney, Jr. had the good sense to hire Thomas Warner as foreman, who, as master armorer at Springfield Armory, had just been making the same kind of major changes there. Thomas Warner had spearheaded the drive to equip the Springfield Armory with a set of new, more precise machines and a system of gauging that made it possible for the first time to achieve, in the late 1840's, the long-desired goal of interchangeability of parts in military small arms. Under his tutelage, Eli Whitney, Jr. equipped the Whitney Armory to do likewise.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 7" H x 50" W x 2.75" D

Physical Description

Model 1841 Mississippi rifle, .54 caliber.

General History

This gun derives it's nickname of the Mississippi rifle from the Mississippi Riflemen led by Jefferson Davis. The Mexican-American War began in 1846. Davis looked favorably upon the war as the United States stood to acquire a considerable land south of the Missouri Compromise line. It was an area which Southern institutions could expand. He resigned his House seat in June, and rejoined the Army. On 18 July 1846 he was elected colonel of the first regiment of Mississippi riflemen. In September of the same year, he participated in the successful siege of Monterrey, Mexico. In June, the Army offered him an appointment as a Brigadier General of a militia unit but he declined. In traditional Southern style he believed the appointment was unconstitutional. The United States Constitution, he argued, gives the power of appointing militia officers to the states, not to the federal government.


Country: United States
State: Mississippi
War: Mexican War
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Printable ScriptVisit the MuseumEducationCredits