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.

Dahlgren Camp 98, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Formed in the late 1870’s Son Of Veterans was an organization started to preserve the memory of the Union Veterans who served in the “Great War of the Rebellion”. The SUVCW, originally named the Son of Veterans was founded by Major Augustus P. Davis to ensure the preservation and principles of the Grand Army of the Republic or GAR and to provide assistance to Veterans. It was based on the principles of Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty.

Davis’s vision for the SV was as follows:

The Sons of Veterans is destined to become the great military organization of the country, that glory of its supremacy, that healing of the sense when its national hymn are that none other not thus reared can know or feel. Through this organization the declining days of the Union Veterans will be made pleasant, his record of service to his country preserved, his memory honored, patriotism promoted. While if the dire necessity of the nation should dictate, the Sons of Veterans, uniformed, drilled and equipped would come at once to her defense with the glory of there fathers surrounding them, each heart pulsating in unison. With the rising and falling of the Nations emblem. And who would be powerful enough to prevail against such a host?
The Sons of Veterans, “Dahlgren Camp 98” was from the South Boston area which would have made the Grandfathers, Fathers, Uncles, neighbors and friends who served in the “War of Rebellion” pretty tough war veterans…..after all 150 + years later it’s still a pretty tough neighborhood.

My research leads me to believe the Dahlgren Camp were the Sons of Veterans who served in the South Boston Heavy/Light Artillery, it’s a little confusing but I think there designation changed more than once during the war.
So all this brings me to this Model 1863 Springfield Rifle Musket, Type 1. It’s not in very good condition but it definitely saw war service and it has the Dahlgren Camp medallion. My best guess is that it was displayed in a “Sons Of Veterans Hall” in South Boston at one time.

If you happen to stumble on this article and you have any history to offer on the Sons of Veterans, Dahlgren Camp give me a shout…..you can contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com Attn: Gene West…thanks for stopping by.

S.C. Robinson (Sharps) Carbine

Samuel C. Robinson was a prominent businessman and property owner in Richmond, Virginia at the outbreak of the “war of Northern aggression”. He teamed up with John H. Lester who had migrated to Richmond shortly before the out break of the war. John was a accomplished businessman who moved his wood working machinery from Brooklyn, New York to Richmond, Virginia.

December of 1862 the Confederate Government entered into contract with the S.C. Robinson Arms Company, of which John Lester was superintendent. The contract was for as many Sharps pattern carbines the firm could produce. During the following 15 months (December 62 – March 63) S.C. Robinson’s Arms Co. manufactured around 2000 “Robinson Sharps” carbines.

The factory was taken over by the Confederate Government sometime after March of 1863. and as the war pressed on and the need for Calvary weapons increased the fabrication of weapons was rushed and many of the Robinson Sharps gained a bad reputation among the troops. One report contending that seven out of nine carbines had burst while testing. Investigation determined that improper handling of the arms would cause loose powder to leak into the lever spring mortise in the forestock, resulting in ignition and bursting of the forestock when firing. The problem was eventually solved by milling a half crescent shaped cutout in the bottom of the forestock allowing any residual powder to fall free.

While the S.C. Robinsons Arms Manufactory was in private hands there was approximately 1900 carbines manufactured and approximately 3500 made while under Confederate Government control.

S.C. Robinson Carbines are one of the few Confederate weapons with serial numbers on them, which allows us to understand when a particular carbine was manufactured, giving us better insight into there history. Most Confederate weapons aren’t so kind to the collector and enthusiasts leaving us grasping at straws to there history. In John M. Murphy’s book “Confederate Carbines and Musketoons”, John claims based on his research the lowest serialized S.C. Robinson carbine known to exist is “11” and the highest is “1909” and the lowest serialized Confederate produced carbine is “1925” and the highest is “5463”.

Robinson Carbines measure a total of 38 ½” with barrels that are 21 ½” long. They are .52 caliber and are rifled with six lands. Most barrels were browned, however some were heated blue. The lock plates/ actions were color-case hardened. The earlier versions made by S.C. Robinson are marked on the lock plate behind the hammer “S.C. Robinson / Arms Manufactory / Richmond VA/ 1862” in four lines, the serial number was stamped on the tail of the lock plate. The Government produced carbines are virtually identical to those made by S.C. Robinson except there lock plates are unmarked except for the serial number and the barrels are marked with Richmond VA behind the rear sight.

All this leads me to one of my many new Confederate Weapons. This carbine has been on my wish list for years, it is a carbine manufactured while under Government control with serial number “4469” on the tail of the lock plate, the tang at the rear of the breech block as well as the backside of the sling plate which can’t be seen while attached to the stock. All in all the carbine is in great shape for its age and history. The action is a little sloppy, but that’s to be expected, the stock does have a small crack on the left side above the trigger, beneath the sling ring…..but it’s minimal. Seems as though the horseman who carried this carbine carved his name and company into the left side of the stock (refer to the photos) which makes this weapons that much cooler…..

So there you have it another Greeeeeaaaaat Confederate weapon, I’m currently looking for an early version of the S.C. Robinson Carbine manufactured while privately owned, which should put the serial number below 1900. If you happen to have an early version Robinson Sharps that you’d like to sell give me a shout maybe we can strike a deal. If you have any questions about this or any of the other weapons at the” Civil War Arsenal” contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see ya again.

1863 Richmond Carbine

The newest weapon in the ever growing Civil War Arsenal is an 1863 Richmond Carbine that is in excellent condition with all of its accoutrements still in tact. This is not the only Richmond Carbine I own nor is it the only 63 Carbine in my Arsenal, however it is my first complete Richmond Carbine with everything in place…I.E. pinched sight, ram rod, rear sight, swivel slings,etc…..another neat feature of this Southern weapon is that it’s 100% Southern made.

Most Richmond Armory made weapons were assembled with at least some parts from battlefield pickups and or parts that were confiscated during the 1861 raid of the Harper’s Ferry Armory.

As we inspect the cavity under the lock plate we can clearly see that there is no primer cut finger feeds that would be in place if the stock was manufactured at the Harper’s Ferry Armory. The C.S. Armory, Richmond would eliminate unnecessary machining operations from the stock leaving lock plates cavity central element in the shape of a “mules foot”.

The date on the Richmond lock plate has a “die break in the lower left portion of the 8” which is thought to be a stress flaw in the stamping process during the month of October 1863. During that month the Richmond Armory assembled 300 Carbines.

I love the look of the dark “blackened” wood and hardware especially with the brass butt plate and nose cap. Unlike most Confederate weapons you’ll see these days with missing and damaged parts, probably because most of the better quality weapons are in museums and private collections, this carbine is complete in every way.

This makes 7 Richmond Carbines I currently own. I can’t say any one is my favorite, since there all my favorites for different reasons. But I do tend to favor the newest members of my collection until I purchase the next one, lol….

Hope you enjoy the photos and if you have any questions about this Richmond or any of the other weapons in the Civil War Arsenal please contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West

Joslyn Carbine, Model 1864

The Northern Industrial machine was ramping up in 1862. With one loss after another the Union Army was in need of not just better foot soldiers but better weapons to arm them. Procurements were being made with dozens of Northern businessmen to make as many carbines and rifles regardless of the weapons performance. Much of this changed as the war went on but in the early days of the war it was a Mecca of opportunity for anyone who had the know how and ability to make guns.

The inventor of the Joslyn was Benjamin F. Joslyn of Worcester, Massachusetts but in late 1859 William C. Freeman acquired the rights to the weapon and with the help of Senator J.L. Williams received his first Government contract. The early Joslyn carbines were percussion rifles but by October 1861 Benjamin received a patent for a rim fire design that he would implement with the Joslyn 1862 Model.

As the war raced on and there being a urgent need for as many Calvary weapons as the Union Army could purchase, Benjamin received many contracts from the U.S. Government, Ordinance Department, but he could never fill the orders as quickly as promised but it didn’t stop the Government from making contractual commitments with him.

Finally in November 1863, Benjamin after many alterations and patent changes to the Joslyn carbine received his biggest contract from the U.S. Ordnance Department. He was to furnish 15,000 Carbines at a price of $23.50 each. The order stated that the first 1000 would be delivered within 60 days and then 3000 a month until the contract was filled, however patent changes to the breech block delayed this fulfillment. Not until July of 1864 were the first carbines delivered.

The Joslyn Carbine, Model 1864 was a flawed weapon by most officers standards. It had gone through a bunch of improvements since the start of the war but still didn’t meet most evaluators expectations. Nine Officers reported test firing the Joslyn during the 1863-64 Ordnance Department survey. Only one considered it good while the others considered it either poor or worthless. The complaints on the carbine were the breechblock had a tendency to blow open while firing the weapon and there was a problem chambering the Spencer Ammunition. It seems as though the ammunition problem was faulty ammo and improper chamber tolerances for some of the Spencer ammunition.

During the coarse of the war a total of 11,261 Joslyn carbines were purchased by the U.S. Ordinance Department as well as 515,416 cartridges at a cost of $12,935. As the war came to a close there wasn’t much need for carbines, especially carbines that weren’t very good so the Joslyn Firearms Company closed its doors in 1866 and disposed of its equipment at a Sheriffs sale in June 1868.

Calvary regiments which were issued Joslyn carbines were: 4th and 8th Indiana, 1st New York Dragoons, 19th New York, 13th Tennessee, 9th Pennsylvania, 3rd West Virginia, 1st Wisconsin, 1st Nebraska, 1st Nevada and the 11th Ohio.

So that brings me to the next example in the Civil War Arsenal. This 1864 Model Joslyn has a Serial # 6620 and is in relatively good condition. With a crisp trigger mechanism and a clean stock this Josyln probably never saw much service. It has two cartouches on the left side of the stock suggesting that it was issued and likely stored in an armory after the war.

I’d like to thank John D. McAulay for his historical research and devotion. His book “Carbines of the Civil War” is a must for anyone collecting Union Carbines. This book is an easy read and great reference for Civil War weapons collectors, if you don’t own it, buy it now.

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

Richmond Lock Plates

Richmond Lock Plates come in a number of different types.

Type1: Would be the high hump lock plates that were stamped 1861 to the left of the hammer and Richmond, Va to the right side. These Richmonds were made before the Armory was transferred to the Confederate Government and were not stamped with the C.S. over the Richmond, Va. Unfortunately I do not have an example of this type of lock plate.

Type 2: Were similar too type 1( high humps) except they would be stamped with C.S. over Richmond, Va. indicating they were weapons that were made after the Armory was transferred to the Confederate Government.

Type 3: Lock plates were lock plates (high humps) that the hump on the plate was either cut or grinded down to allow the user to quickly insert and remove the primer, since the hump usually got in the way, slowing down the loading time of even the best foot soldier.

Type 4: Lock plates that used retooled dies and reconfigured the high hump design lock plate to what most call a low hump. These plates measure approximately 1 5/8″  from the top of the hump area of the lock plate to the bottom of the plate. This alteration was the design of William Wentzel, starting in about April of 1862 throughout the course of the war.

Richmond Rifle Musket, Lock Cavity

Civil War Guns

Sitting around the house today not knowing what to do, outside the snow is coming down and there calling this the storm of the century with up to 2 feet of snow and 50 MPH winds expected, sounds cold to me….

Anyway I decided to take some photos of my history room, a.k.a. the “Civil War Arsenal”. As you can see many of my antique weapons are displayed throughout the room. I recently had a carpenter build the racks that the rifles are mounted on, all in all I think the racks came out pretty nice and compliment the rifles and corresponding bayonets.

You’ll also notice some D-Handle, Side Knives, Pikes and Artillery Swords displayed as well. Its my opinion that these weapons should be displayed so friends and family can see and handle them. I don’t quite get the fun in collecting antique guns and swords then putting them in the safe or some out of the way place where no one can appreciate them. But thats just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.

Also scattered throughout the room are a number of paintings, historical photos, bronze castings and dozens of other historical items. You’ll notice that I am a big “John Paul Strain” fan he is perhaps one of the best artist in his field I have a bunch of his paintings. I also have some of “Karl Anderson’s” sculptures, he’s a less know artist then John however just as good and I believe the best in his field, especially when it comes to historical accuracy.

Well there you have it, another story that no one will read. Just Kidding…. If you have any questions about this post or any of the weapons in the “Civil War Arsenal” feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West

Kerr Patent, .44 Caliber, Percussion Revolver

Imported by the Confederate Government, the Kerr Revolver was made by the London Armory Company in London England, approximately 7,500 were imported by the South with a serial number range from about 3000 – 10000, interestingly enough the U.S. Government imported 16 revolvers in 1861.

The revolver was made in both .36 and .44 calibers with a double action version released in 1863, however the Confederacy only purchased single action .44 caliber revolvers. The overall length is 10 ¾” with a 5 ½” barrel that has London proof marks. The lock plate is marked London Armory as well as the left side of the frame. The serial number is located on the cylinder and the bottom right side of the frame under the cylinder compartment.

Many, but not all of the Confederate Kerr Revolvers are marked with the C/S import proof/inspection stamp of John Southgate, Chief CS viewer/proofer for the Confederacy in England, with the JS/Anchor demarcation.

Which brings me to the next example in the Civil War Arsenal. This relic condition revolver is a true Southern classic. I consider it relic condition due to the pitting on the lock plate, hammer that doesn’t stay in the cocked position all the time and the poor condition of the wood hand. It seems to me at one time or another it must have been dropped or crushed causing a crack to the wood handle, some damage to the checking on the handle and the worst part of the damage is a small portion of wood is missing from the area of the handle where the JS/anchor demarcation is located. It’s still clearly visible but the top portion of the JS is missing, it’s still a bummer (the damage that is).

This Revolver has a serial number of 6605 on the cylinder as well as the frame which puts it in the range of confederate purchases. Along with the JS/Anchor demarcation assures us this is a Southern Imported Revolver.

I first saw this weapon a couple of years ago on a web site of one of the more prominent Civil War dealers, I called him up and negotiated a price. The photos that he used to advertise the revolver were not the best quality and did not show the damage to the handle. I trusted his reputation and that he would alert me to any condition issues (he didn’t). So I probably paid more then I should have for this weapon due to the damage on the handle but I guess it’s all part of the learning experience. I’ll be certain to be more careful in the future and not trust the reputations of dealers.

So there you have it another Confederate beauty and another addition to the Civil War Arsenal. If you have any questions about this Revolver or any of the weapons in my Arsenal fell free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn Gene West.

1863 Dickson, Nelson & Co. Rifle

With the outbreak of the war in 1861, William Dickson (a planter from Alabama), Owen Nelson (an attorney from Tuscumbia) and Lewis Sadler (a physician) started the Shakanoosa Arms Company. Operations began at there first plant in Buzzard Roost, Colbert County, Alabama. A $7000.00 advance for funding to manufacture U.S. Model 1841 “Mississippi” type rifles for the state of Alabama was received.

In the summer of 1862 the Shakanoosa Arms Company was forced to move its operation to Rome Georgia in fear of the nearing Union forces, after a while at this location the armory again suffered a setback when there building was destroyed by fire. Again they were forced to move to Adairsville, Georgia under the name Dickson, Nelson & Company and in August 1863, Union advances forced them have to move further south to Macon, Georgia. Finally in February of 1864 the company moved to its final home in Dawson, Georgia.

Rifles under the supervision of inspecting officer, Captain B.J. McCormick were to conform to the U.S. Model 1841 Mississippi pattern, having 33” barrels of .58 caliber and stocks 48” in length. Brass hardware on these rifles included a straight butt plate, two piece trigger guard, barrel bands and nose cap with many of these parts having casting flaws throughout and some having reddish color indicating high copper content.

It’s estimated that about 3600 rifles were manufactured from 1862 thru 1865, but there’s no documentation to prove that. It’s the authors opinion that this number is way to high for the number of surviving rifles. Most of the surviving specimens are dated 1864 and 1865.

“Flaydermans Guide to Antique American Firearms” states that there are only 3 recorded 1863 dated lockplates. Two of these lockplates are not attached and the other is on a two-band rifle.

Which brings me to the newest member in the “Civil War Arsenals” ever growing collection. This 1863 Dickson, Nelson Rifle is truly a rare Southern Beauty. Based on Flaydermans Guide, this new addition is the rarest example of any weapon the Arsenal has to offer, making it the forth known 63 lockplate and only the second one attached to a stock.

I first saw this rifle a couple years ago at a gun show in Gettysburg, the fellow that was selling it had a large collection of Southern Weapons. I purchased another from him at the time (63 Fayetteville) that is one of the nicest examples in my collection. I had made him an offer on this rifle but he wasn’t willing to negotiate off his price. Fast forward two years and I ran into him at another Civil War Show and it turned out he still had the rifle. So after a little bit of haggling we settled on a price and I became the new owner of this 1863 Dickson, Nelson Rifle.

This rifle is in very good condition considering its history. The lock plate is dated 1863 ALA. behind the hammer which means the rifle was manufactured through contract for the state of Alabama. Forward the hammer is stamped DICKSON, NELSON & CO. and C.S. on the bottom line. The upper left surface of the barrel is date stamped ALA. 1863/65 (can’t really tell due to pitting)and the under surface of the barrel is stamped with a “windmill” or “Maltese Cross”armorers mark, attributed to Nathaniel D. Cross an inspector at the Selma Arsenal. The rear sight is fixed and located 3 1/8” forward the barrels breech. All of the brass hardware has casting flaws and lots of great patina. The barrel shows three broad lands and grooves and the ram rod appears to be original with some pitting but still showing its thread. The stock is in extremely good condition with the exception of what appears to be bug/termite damage on the left side by the butt plate, but it’s my opinion that this damage was original to the weapon when manufactured and not after the war while in storage, but it’s only my opinion. Included with the purchase of this weapon was an original confederate linen sling which compliments the rifle well based on its condition. I’m not certain it’s original to the rifle but based on the sling folds it’s been on the rifle for a long time.

So there you have it, yet another addition to the Civil War Arsenal. I hope you enjoy the photos, if you have any questions or thoughts on this rifle feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Eugene West, hope to hear from you soon