Merrill Carbine, Old Model

James H. Merrill of Baltimore Maryland manufactured guns as early as 1840 with minimal success. At the outbreak of the war the Federal Government was desperate to arm there growing army with the weapons needed to defeat the Rebel forces.

In the fall of 1861 after correcting some quality issues the Ordnance Department trail board found with the plunger,

Merrill Carbine, First Type Breech Plunger

Merrill Carbine, First Type Breech Plunger

which was made of iron and was used to push the paper cartridge into the barrel chamber acting to prevent gas from escaping from the breech. Mr Merrill secured his first Government contract for 600 Carbines, but also an equal number or cartridge boxes, cap boxes, slings and also 60,000 cartridges and 80,000 percussion caps.

The first 600 Carbines were issued to General Stoneman’s calvary consisting of the 11th Pennsylvania and the 1st New York Mounted Rifles. December 24th 1861 the Ordnance Department placed an order for an additional 5,000 Merrill Carbines at $30.00 each.

The Old Model Merrill’s were .54 caliber percussion Carbines and measured 37 3/8”overall length, weighed 6 pounds 8 ounces, the bullet weighed 400 grains with 40 grains of powder, serial numbers were stamped vertically behind the hammer and on the lever latch, the barrel band, trigger guard, butt plate and patch box were all made of brass.

The New Models differ from the previous in that the Lock Plate is stamped to the rear of the hammer the date 63,64 plus it has a small eagle forward of the hammer, no patch box and the lever latch was changed to the round button type latch.

A total of 14,255 carbines and 770 rifles along with 5,502,000 cartridges at a cost of $105,779. Calvary Regiments that were issued Merrill’s were the 27th Kentucky, 1st, 5th, and 18th New York, 1st New Jersey, 7th Indiana 1st and 3rd Wisconsin, 11th, 17th and 18th Pennsylvania and the 1st Delaware.

During the 1863-1864 Ordnance Department survey of officers using the various breech loading Carbines in field use 91 officers responded on the Merrill. The results were Best – 5, Good – 14, Fair – 13, Poor – 16, Worthless – 43.

With little business in post war the Merrill Company closed it doors in 1869.

The Merrill carbine featured is an Old Model with the New Model round button type lever latch.

Merrill Carbine, Button Type Latch

Merrill Carbine, Button Type Latch

I’m guessing it was one of those that failed in the field and was sent back for repair. Serial number 11468 puts it in the issuance range of late 1863.

This was not a arsenal stored weapon, it’s clear this carbine saw hard use and was fired many of times, oh if only it could talk.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions about this weapon or any of the other weapons in my arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West.

Kerr Revolver Serial # 9900

Manufactured by the London Armoury Company from 1859 through 1866 with a total production of about 11,500 pieces. With its 54 bore (44 caliber) and single action this 5 shot revolver was a favorite weapon of Confederate officers and calvary men.

Over 9000 revolvers were purchased by the Confederate States in three variations. Most of the wood grips have the JS/anchor viewers mark below the trigger guard. The three variations are serial numbered as follows: 1st 1 – 1050, 2nd 1051 – 2700, 3rd 2701 – 11,500. The highest known serial number confirmed to date bearing the JS/Anchor mark is 9975.

The Kerr (pronounced Carr) was preferred in the field with its ease of maintanence and repair. Having a Lock Plate (similar to a Rifled Musket) built into the wood grip handle allowed for easy repair of its internal hardware with the removal of two screws. It wasn’t as prone to fouling as other revolvers, such as the Colt and Remington and its early pattern arbor pin retaining catch which allowed the user to change cylinders quickly without tools.

Some of the Kerr Revolvers have unquestionable provenance, serial # 1041 was presented by President Jefferson Davis to Captain Given Campbell as well as serial # 8977 which was presented to Colonel Josiah Gorgas, Confederate Chief of Ordnance by the London Armoury Company.

Well known pages from the pocket notebook (ledger) of Lieutenant G. Julian Pratt, Company H, 18th Virginia Calvary. In his ledger (Squad Roll) he documents the names of troops, revolver types, and serial numbers. Among the serial numbers mentioned in his ledger are Kerr Revolvers 9240, 9740, 9927, 9949, 9955, 9961 and 9974. He makes mention of other revolvers Adams, Tranter and Webley but we’ll save that for another time.

My new Civil War Arsenal weapon is a 3rd variation Kerr Revolver, serial number 9900. It’s in good condition for its age, however the cylinder plunger may have been replaced at one time. The wood handle is in good condition with no cracks but on the left side someone has used a small wood screw to hold the handle tight against the frame of the revolver. It’s not uncommon for the wood to separate a bit here which could lead to the grip cracking.

This revolver does not have the JS/Anchor found on so many of the Confederate imported Kerr’s. Revolver # 9974, which is in a private collection from the Pratt ledger (squad roll) doesn’t have JS/Anchor viewers mark either. It’s fair to say that this revolver #9900 which is only 74 serial numbers away from that revolver and only 27 serial numbers away the lowest revolver #9927 in the Pratt ledger (Squad Roll) is a surviving Confederate Import.

Thanks for stopping by the Civil War Arsenal, if you have any questions about this weapon or any of the other weapons in my Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West and if you have any Confederate weapons you’re looking to part with let me know maybe we can strike a deal.

Gettysburg Confederate Reunion Flag

For some time now I’d been on the hunt for a historical Southern flag, but with what original Battle Flags and other Brigade and Calvary flags sell for these days I knew they’d be out the of my budget. Then recently I was on Jeff Bridgman’s website of Historical Flags and there it was, a Southern Reunion Flag that not only had visual impact, historical significance but was also in my budget. I contacted Jeff and negotiated the best price I could for this framed beauty.

My new flag is hand sewn and of satin/silk measuring 18” X 32” with gold painted text that reads “WELCOME COMRADES, JONES VA VOLS. 1863- 1913” celebrating the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. Unlike most reunion flags of the time this flag is a bit more unusual in that it is facsimile of the 2nd National Pattern Flag, A.K.A. the Stainless Banner with its colorful Battle Flag canton and its white field. This flag was not as liked by most Confederates because of it’s white field background which could be mistaken as a flag of surrender if not viewed in full sight.

Brigadier General John M. Jones, nicknamed “Rum Jones” after his favorite pastime was promoted and served in Major General Edward Johnson’s Division who was attached to Lt. General Richard S. Ewell Second Corps. Jones Brigade consisted of Virginia Volunteers of the 21st, 25th, 42nd, 44th, 48th, and 50th infantry during the battle of Gettysburg.

In May of 63 Jones was promoted to Brigadier General in Edward “Allegheny” Johnson’s division to replace John R. Jones (not related). During the assault on Culp’s Hill, Jones suffered a severe wound in the thigh that put him out of action but he return only to be killed at the Battle of the Wilderness while attempting to rally his wavering men.

The Jones Brigade crossed Rock Creek and up the wooded slopes of Culp’s Hill towards the entrenched Union positions. Although the Southerners greatly outnumbered the enemy at this point of attack the advantage of defense clearly favored the North. Of the 1600 Jones Brigade troops that were present during the campaign 58 were killed, 302 wounded and 61 were missing for a total of 421 casualties or more the 25% casualty rate.

From the Battle of Manasas, Antietam (Sharpsburg), Gettysburg, Valley Campaign, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, 3rd Winchester, Cold Harbor all the way to Appomattox the Jones Brigade was there from start to finish. Wonder how many surviving members were present at the Gettysburg 50th anniversary? Wonder where there Camp was….near Culp’s Hill? Which of there wife’s, children, grandchildren made this flag? Guess I’ll never know the answer to all those questions……but I’m delighted to be the keeper of this war memento, at least while I’m here.

Monument Avenue, Richmond Virginia

Recently I had the pleasure of exploring the great city of Richmond Virginia, the first stop driving up from Florida was in Georgia with a stop at Stone Mountain….but I’ll talk more about that in another post. My concern these days is that Southern Landmarks will be torn down and placed in the Monument Grave yard…..I’m hoping fair minded people can have open discussions and figure out a way to leave the monuments and landmarks without the knee jerk mod mentality reactions that we’ve seen recently.

J.E.B. Stuart Monument

At the far eastern end of Monument Avenue is a traffic circle known as Stuart Circle. The J.E.B. Stuart Monument has Stuart turned in the saddle facing east while the horse faces north, the equestrian bronze perched upon a granite base. The statue was sculpted by Fred Moynihan of New York and was unveiled May 30, 1907 making it the second Monument unveiled on Monument Avenue.

Robert E. Lee Monument

The Robert E. Lee Monument was the first and the largest of all Monuments on Monument Avenue in Richmond Virginia. The Lee Monument association commissioned the adaption of a painting by artist Adalbert Volck into a lithograph, depicting Robert E. Lee on his horse. The bronze was created by French sculptor Antonin Mercie. Apparently Antonin didn’t think that Lee’s horse “Traveler” was the right scale for his sculpture so in place of Traveler he used a larger scale horse, which many have criticized him for….after all Traveler is/was revered by many in the south……Robert E. Lee said on more then one occasion how fond he was of Traveler.

The completed statue was unveiled May 29, 1890. The entire Monument stands 60’ tall with Lee and his horse measuring about 14’.

Jefferson Davis Monument

The Davis Monument is located four blocks west of Lee Circle, with its tall central column surrounded by a Doric colonnade makes it an impressive landmark, the Davis Monument was unveiled June 3rd 1907. The Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the prolific sculptor Edward Valentine who also was the artist who did the Recumbent Lee marble and the Stonewall Jackson Bronze both in Lexington Virginia as well as the Thomas Jefferson Marble located at Jefferson Hotel in Richmond Virginia…..just to name a few.

Stonewall Jackson Monument

The Stonewall Jackson Monument is located three blocks west of the Davis Monument. The equestrian bronze figure has the galant General Jackson atop his horse “Sorrel” facing North keeping an watchful eye on the Union invaders. Artist William F. Sievers was commissioned by the Daughters of the Confederacy and the monument was dedicated October 11, 1919 at a cost of $40,000. The monument stands a total of 38’ tall with the bronze sculpture measuring 17.5’ and the oval marble base measuring 20.5’.

C.S. Armory Fayetteville, Type III Rifle & Linen Sling

Fayetteville Armory Rifles are some of the most sought after Confederate weapons made. Most Southern weapons made during the war didn’t have much quality control, with most showing obvious flaws in the stock, barrel and hardware. Most collectors including myself find the flaws unique to the weapon and love the story behind the flaws, however the Fayetteville Rifles were above the the quality standard for all Confederate weapons.

Union weapons went through a vigorous inspection process, if the viewing officer found flaws in the quality of the weapon he would reject it sending it back to the maker. The maker then would not get paid for the weapon potentially losing future contracts.

In the South it was a very different story, most armories and manufactures of weapons didn’t have much of a quality system. At the Richmond Armory, the Souths largest weapons factory there was a viewing process but most of the weapons that were viewed and proofed would not pass Northern standards.

However it was a much different story at the Fayetteville Armory. Phillip Burkhart, the former Harper’s Ferry mechanic and John Hall protégé served as master armourer for the Fayetteville Armory. He along with many of the mechanics, craftsman and laborers that worked at the Harper’s Ferry Armory were responsible for making the different versions of Fayetteville Rifles throughout the war.

Some of the equipment that was confiscated by Stonewall Jackson at Harper’s Ferry in May of 1861 was sent by rails to Richmond Virginia the rest was sent to the Fayetteville Armory in North Carolina along with many of the expert mechanics. This would give the Fayetteville Armory the quality equipment and expert craftsman they needed to make such a quality weapon that would even pass the strict quality inspections in the North.

The newest addition to the Civil War Arsenal is an 1863 Fayetteville Rifle Type III. Except for the S style hammer the rifle is a close copy to the U.S. Model 1861 rifle-musket. Clean straight lines and brass hardware make the Fayetteville a hard weapon not to like. The type III is different from the type II with its 1863 dated Lock Plate made entirely at Fayetteville. The Type II Lock Plates were made at the Richmond Armory and were very similar to the Richmond Lock Plates with the low profile hump, only difference is the markings on the plate.

Similar to the U.S. Model 1855 rifle the Fayetteville was designed with a stud on the right side of the muzzle for affixing a saber bayonet. Thousands of these fish scale bayonets were fabricated at the armory in 1862-1863. The saber bayonet was replaced with a socket bayonet by late 1863 on the Type IV Fayetteville’s for the remaining portion of the war.

I am looking for a fish scale Saber Bayonet, if anyone knows of one please please contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West. Thanks for stopping by, and if you have any questions about this rifle or any of the other weapons in my Arsenal feel free to ask…..oh and I’m always on the hunt for new weapons to add to my collection, especially Confederate. If you have any and are interested in selling them give me a shout maybe we can make a deal.

Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, Ellenton Florida

After the Seminole War of (1836-1842) which removed many of the Native Indians from Florida, Congress passed the “Armed Occupation Act”. The act promoted settlement of the frontier and offered settlers 160 acres if they would cultivate 5 acres of property for five years. In 1843 Major Robert Gamble Jr. of Tallahassee claimed his acreage along the Manatee River, a region then remote from civilization with the hopes of establishing a sugar plantation. The Mansion took six years to complete using slave labor and local craftsman. Gamble eventually accumulated about 3500 acres and produced large amounts of sugar, but fortune did not favor his efforts. Natural disasters and a fickle Sugar market drove him into debt by 1856 forcing him to sell the plantation in 1859.

The Gamble Mansion or Gamble Plantation also known as the “Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park”, wow that’s a lot to say……also home to the Florida Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, located in Ellenton Florida on the Manatee River. The historic antebellum Mansion is the last remaining on of its kind in the Florida Western Peninsula. A 40,000 gallon cistern fresh water holding tank supplied drinking, cooking and bathing water for those on living on the plantation. At its peak the plantation had between 160-200 slaves maintaining the property and the fields.

The columns and the two foot thick walls are constructed of Tabby an indigos material that substituted for brick. Tabby is made with a mixture of crushed sea shell, lime and sand creating a perfect material for insulating the Mansion from the hot tropical sun and the many sever storms Florida is know for.

At the outbreak of the war in 1861 the Mansion was occupied by Captain Archibald McNeill the famous Confederate blockade runner. Archibald sailed from Europe to ports in the South with great success supplying the Confederacy with supplies needed for the war effort.

Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of State and President Jefferson Davis escaped Richmond Virginia in April 1865, fleeing the Union Army that was tightening the noose around the Southern capital. Somewhere along there escape they separated and Jefferson was captured in Georgia and imprisioned. Meanwhile Judah who was arranged for the assassination of President Lincoln and feared he wouldn’t receive a fair trial headed further south making his way to the Gamble Mansion. Captian McNiell aided Benjamin in escaping to the Bahamas and then eventually sailing to England arriving with hardly any resources. He went on to establish a distinguished second legal career in London and in 1872 was selected as the Queens Counsel…..similar to America’s Federal Supreme Court Seat.

Meanwhile back in America, Union Raiders destroyed the Gamble Sugar Mill leaving only brick ruins today. However they did spare the Mansion and in 1925 the Mansion and the grounds were purchased by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and donated to the state of Florida as a memorial to Judah P. Benjamin who served three Cabinet positions under Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Today the Gamble Mansion serves as home to the Florida Division United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). In 1937 the UDC installed a memorial plague to Benjamin at the Mansion. Also on the grounds is the Confederate Veterans Memorial Monument erected October 10, 1937.

Ames Enlisted Model 1860 Calvary Saber

Troopers in the field were unhappy with the model 1840 commonly referred to as the “old wrist breaker” they wanted a lighter and more maneuverable Saber. The new model 1860 Saber as the Ordnance Department response. The light Calvary Saber had a blade that was shorter, not as thick or wide, and came with a scaled down scabbard to fit the new blade. The center of balance was moved back more toward the hilt by slimming the overall blade and the tip from the hatchet type tip to more of a sharp point.

So in 1857 the Ames Sword Company received a request from the US Government to provide sample patterns of a new light Calvary Saber made after the French model of 1822 and referred to in the Ordnance Department records as the “new pattern”.

Pre War US Government procurements were as follows.

Prewar 1859-1860
Made by Ames
1856-57 – 1000
1858 – 1800
1859 – 5000
Total. 7800

Wartime 1861-1865
Made by Ames
1861 – 10000
1862 – ——–
1863 – 23500
1864 – 31000
1865 – 10000
Total. 74500

The sword you see here is stamped U.S. ADK, 1862 on one side of the ricasso and Ames Mfg. Co, Chicopee Massachusetts on the other side. One of the branches on the knuckle-bow has an inventory # 18320…..the drag plate on the scabbard is also marked ADK, these initials are of the weapons inspectors who’s name was King.

The blade measures 34” long and the handle is 5.5” for a total length of 39.5” with a small and a large fuller. The leather grip is in excellent condition and has 13 rows of brass wrappings. Overall this is a nice example of a Ames Enlisted Model 1860 Calvary Sword, in my opinion it’s a early version probably from the 1856-57 Government procurements.

If you have any questions about this sword or any of the other items in the Civil War Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West

1863 Confederate States, Richmond Carbine & Linen Sling

If you’ve been following the Civil War Arsenal for enough time you know I have a soft spot in my heart for Richmond made weapons. I’m always on the lookout for affordable quality Carbines, Short Rifles and Rifle Muskets.

So recently Rick Burton of http://www.ccrelics.com made available a very good condition 1863 Richmond Carbine with a linen sling. I contacted him and we negotiated a fair price that we both could live with. I received the Carbine shortly after and “WOW” I was extremely impressed with the condition of the weapon.

It was the first CW weapon I’d purchased from Rick and was impressed with the overall experience. His website was user friendly and he had a large selection of neat Confederate pieces (and Union)…..and he’s got some nice edged weapons….if only I was rich…haha

So anyway back to my new 1863 Richmond Carbine, she’s a beauty the stock, barrel, lockplate and all hardware are correct and in very good condition…..heck it’s even got the original rear sling swivel screwed into the stock…..for anyone who doesn’t know the rear sling swivel is generally missing from most Richmond Carbines. And the icing on the cake is that it came with a Confederate Linen Sling, I will admit the sling is not perfect however neither am I…..lol

The butt plate is steel and marked U.S., the rear sight is original and the front sight hasn’t been filed down, the barrel band closest to the breech is Richmond made due to the U being offset, the brass nose cap has a nice patina and the lock plate has very good markings as well as good action. The stock is in great condition with some initials and the year 1865 lightly carved on the right side.

This brings my collection of Richmond’s to 9……6 Carbines, 1 Short Rifle and 2 Long Rifles……not bad if I do say so myself.

If you have any questions about this weapon or any of the other weapons in my Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West

1863 Springfield Rifle Musket, Type 1

The newest weapon in the Civil War Arsenal is an 1863 Rifle Musket. I purchased this weapon many years ago because it was so clean and straight. This weapon looks as though it was just removed from the crate it was shipped in. The stock is smooth and clean with hardly a scratch on it, the metal looks as good today as it did 154 years ago and the lock plate and hammer still have its rainbow of casehardening colors.

Manufactured in Springfield Massachusetts at the Springfield Armory the 1863 Rifle Musket is a .58 caliber single shot muzzleloader with a 40” round barrel and three barrel bands. A total of 273,265 were produced making it the most common of all Union weapons.

Iron mountings. All metal parts finished bright except for the lock-plate and hammer the rear sight is sometimes blued, as are the barrels bands. The ramrod is either tulip type or straight type shank and the front sight doubles as a bayonet stud.

If you have any questions about this weapon or any of the other weapon in my arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West. Thanks for stopping by.

Confederate Light Artillery Saber

Some of the most sought after edged weapons in collectors collections are Confederate swords. Most commonly they are Calvary Sabers and Staff & Field Swords however occasionally Southern Artillery Swords become available.

Confederate Artillery Swords are rare, no reason is known for this but the fact remains that three to four officers swords show up for every Artillery sword. So when this sword became available I negotiated the best deal I could to make it apart of my collection.

My new acquired Confederate Enlisted Man’s Artillery Sword is a copy of the Model 1840, Type 1 U.S. Artillery Saber. The Saber has a typical Southern scabbard with a crude lapped seam and brass mounts. The grip retains about 90% of the original leather with the iron wire. The blade is unmarked and has the classic unstopped fuller with very visible fault lines typically found on Confederate swords. The overall length of the sword is 36” with the blade measuring approximately 31” the scabbard measures a total of 34” from the throats to the bottom of the drag. The blade is 1 ¼” at its widest point with a 24” fuller on either side. The sword has what I believe to be many of the characteristics of swords manufactured by the Haiman Brothers of Columbus Georgia.

If you have any questions about this sword or any of the other weapons in my Arsenal contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com Attn: Gene West….thanks for stopping by.