19th century rifle returned to MDAH with the help of the FBI
The weapon was stolen more than forty years ago in the 1970s while on loan at Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis in Biloxi.
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A rifle belonging to an infantryman who served in the Mexican-American War in the mid-1800s has now been recovered with the help of the FBI.
“We are pleased to have the rifle safely back in the collections,” said the officials.
The weapon belonged to Charles H. Gibbs of Raymond. He carried the rifle in the Mexican-American War in 1847. On the weapon, you can see both his name and the dates of the battles he fought inscribed.
“This Rifle was put in the hands of Jefferson Davis’ regimens at this time of year, late July and 177 years ago in 1846, and the men salivated because, as you can see, it’s a beautiful weapon even by today’s standards,” Grady Howell, a retired historian at MDAH said.
The .54 caliber Eli Whitney rifle was initially donated to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1903 by his daughter, along with a bullet-cartridge box and belt. However, the weapon was stolen more than forty years ago in the 1970s while on loan at Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis in Biloxi. This launched an FBI investigation.
“In 2017, The FBI Philadelphia tasked the FBI New Fields Office with determining where the Gibbs rifle was stolen from and who was the rifle owner,” said FBI Special Agent Randy Deaton of New Orleans.
Deaton says Michael Corbett was indicted and pleaded guilty to possession of stolen firearms and other items stolen from museums in the 1970s.
“This is why the Department of Justice through the FBI and the attorney’s office is so committed to protecting and preserving the value and the rare cultural properties that help us better understand our history as a nation,” said Maher Dimachkie, FBI with the Jackson field office.
The FBI is now returning it back to the Department of Archives and History 120 years later.
“This case highlights relationships and partnerships between the FBI, the district attorney’s office, local law enforcement partners, subject matter experts, and staff working at the Museum of Art and Revolution,” Dimachkie said.
Charles Gibbs survived the war and returned to his home in Mississippi but died in the 1850s of Yellow Fever.
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