Henry Rifle Model 1860

Currency:USD Category:Firearms & Military / Long Guns - Rifles Start Price:9,000.00 USD Estimated At:18,000.00 - 25,000.00 USD
Henry Rifle Model 1860
15,000.00USDto J*****2+ (3,750.00) buyer's premium + applicable fees & taxes.
This item SOLD at 2018 Mar 18 @ 12:02UTC-7 : PDT/MST
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General History

The Henry repeating rifle came on the market in 1862, and about 13,00-14,000 were manufactured.

First guns were presented to government officials, but were not as much purchased by the government as by private individuals. However, about three-fourths of the production saw Civil War service, on behalf of western volunteer regiments in the Union Army, and particularly in battles in Carolina and Georgia, including Sherman’s March.

It was so unusually effective that it was nicknamed the “Damned Yankee Rifle”; theoretically it could be loaded on a Sunday and fired all week.

There is a story of a Capt. James Wilson (Union, Co. M, 12th Kentucky Cavalry), who is said to have privately used a Henry rifle in outshooting seven guerillas at his home in Kentucky. Apparently, the Winchester Arms Company used Capt. Wilson’s experience for advertising purposes. An engraved Henry rifle #5952 was letter presented to Capt. Wilson in 1864. Capt. Wilson was described as “an unconditional Union man, living in a strongly disloyal section of Kentucky.” Texts indicate that the 12th Kentucky Cavalry used the Henry rifle, which merged with the 17th KY Infantry.

Specific Rifle
This rifle bears registration # 5446, stamped Henry’s Patent Oct. 16, 1860, manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co., New Haven, CT. This gun is apparently the late frame brass model. The receiver and trigger guard lever are brass and the butt plate is steel.

The gun was found in the late 1970’s by Lucien Ruby when cleaning out the attic of his aunt, Louise Wilson Ruby Cummings (1888-1990) at her house on 264 Union Street in Madisonville, Hopkins County, Kentucky. (No family relationship was found between Louise Wilson and the famous James Wilson mentioned above). Louise indicated that it must have been in the house since before she moved there in the early 1900’s. When found, the gun had some coal soot on it (the house having been coal heated in a prior era), which was wiped off. Other than that, no modern cleaning, repairs or changes were made to the gun. It has been held in protected storage since the late 1970’s.

Members of the Ruby family resided on the property where the gun was located from the late 1880’s until 1981. The original family homeowner was John Edwin Ruby (Louise’s father-in-law and Lucien’s great grandfather), who came to Madisonville in 1869. (Previously, J.E. Ruby operated a stagecoach station near Madisonville; he did not fight in the Civil War) J.E. Ruby operated a large general store in Madisonville (see attached drawing), where he sold groceries and a wide variety of supplies and building materials (it’s not clear if they sold guns). J.E. Ruby died in 1891.

Around 1896, the Rubys’ wood frame house was moved to the back of their lot and a larger house was built on the front (see attached photo of 264 Union Street as constructed then and existing in the 1970’s when was the gun was found, and today). Louise W. Ruby Cummings lived there with her first husband, Turner Edwin Ruby (1874-1938), and later with her second husband.

The famous Brigadier General James Murrell Shackelford, a Civil War figure who commanded the 25th and other Kentucky regiments (the 25th was consolidated with the 17th in 1862), was a member of the Ruby family. The 25th KY regiment was organized in 1862 in Hopkins County, KY.

Ruby family records include original communications and military documents related to a George Simons and his wife, who also lived in Madisonville, KY (and others). George Simons was a member of the Shackelford regiments, and apparently was a friend of the Ruby family. It has not been verified whether the Shackelford regiments used Henry rifles.

The family members were not collectors of firearms, antique or otherwise, so the rifle likely was originally used by a family member or otherwise given to a family member in the mid-1800’s to late 1800’s. Given the family and property history, it seems unlikely that the gun ever moved far from its Civil War owner or was ever traded, sold or moved out of the family after that time.

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This gun is an antique and no attempt has been made to fire this gun to confirm its mechanical integrity. Nor should this gun be fired without the examination by a qualified gunsmith. Any attempt to fire an antique gun is at the risk of the owner and not consistent with the value of the firearm. HWAC# 42770