The Mousqueton Modele 1854, named for General Antoine Hector Thésée Treuille de Beaulieu, was the first breechloader adopted by the French military. It was issued to the Cent Gardes (personal bodyguard) of Emperor Napoleon III and used a 9x46mm copper-cased pinfire cartridge. The action is a unique dropping block style that fires from an open bolt. The carbine itself was very light and handy, and to make it more imposing for the guards, it was issued with a meter-long saber bayonet.
A version without the bayonet was considered for more widespread cavalry use, but not adopted. Later on in the 1860s, some of these carbines were rebuilt to use centerfire ammunition, replacing the mainspring with a more traditional trigger guard. The Cent Gardes were disbanded in 1870, and the Modele 1854 left service at that time.
This carbine is part of the Liege arms museum’s display of military arms, and I’d like to thanks them for taking it out of their display so I can show it to you! If you are in Liege, stop in and see the museum!