HISTORIC SAVANNAH, GEORGIA PRESENTATION MUSKET.
Historically important musket with two silver presentation plaques. The first plaque reads "PRESENTED BY THE SAVANNAH VOLUNTEER GUARDS TO W.H.C. MILLS THE BEST SHOT JANUARY 8TH 1841." The second plaque reads "PRESENTED TO THE SAVANNAH VOLUNTEER GUARDS BY CAPTAIN W.H.C. MILLS PHOENIX RIFLEMEN AND WON BY CORPORAL THOMAS J. NAYLOR 8, JANUARY 1849." Savannah, Georgia is rich in the the history of it's many volunteer militia units including the famed Chatham Artillery dating back to 1786. Other units of note were the Georgia Hussars dating back to 1796 and the Republican Blues which were organized in 1808.
The Savannah Volunteer Guards were organized in 1802. During the years prior to the Civil War the volunteers drilled and performed duty around Savannah. At the beginning of the Civil War they became the 18th Georgia Battalion and served around Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina participating in the defense of Battery Wagner. In May of 1864 they were ordered to Virginia and participated in the last battles of the Army of Northern, Virginia.
The first plaque states that the musket was presented to W.H.C. Mills for being the best shot in a shooting competition held on January 8, 1841. Born in 1810, William H.C. Mills was a prominent citizen and banker in Savannah. He was also captain of the Phoenix Riflemen who were organized in 1830. Obviously the Riflemen were one of the several militias that participated in the contest. During the Civil War due to his age, he served as captain of the Georgia 1st Reserves Infantry in the defenses around Savannah.
It appears the Captain Mills later presented the musket back to The Savannah Volunteer Guards to be the prize in another shooting competition held on January 8, 1849. In that competition it was won by corporal Thomas J.Naylor. The 1860 census list him at age 42 working as a conductor on the Savannah and Georgia Railroad. He died in 1894 at the age of 75 and is buried in the Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.
Very attractive example of what appears to be a New England militia musket. At some time it was converted to percussion by adding a fabricated bolster to the bolster. I am not sure when this was done and it could be a much later addition. The butt-plate, barrel bands and trigger guard appear to be made from coin silver. The stock is embellished with silver inlays in several places and with one on the cheek of the stock depicting the American Eagle. The barrel has very nicely detailed scroll in several places along with the barrel bands.The wood is good with checkering on the fore end and wrist. The stock has 2 cracks with one on the butt extending from the presentation plaque about 1 inch to the butt-plate as shown in my pictures. There are several pieces of wood chipped around the lock plate with a tiny crack running from the back of the lock running upwards about 1/2 of an inch. All in all a very historic presentation firearm rich in Savannah, Georgia history.