1861 Richmond Rifle Musket

September of 1861 saw the birth of the Richmond Rifle Musket, the Richmond Armory (Old State Armoury) located at the foot of 7th Street along the banks of the James River in Richmond Virginia. The river would supply the Armory the water it needed to turn the machinery to manufacture small arms.

Approximately 2200, 61 Richmond High Humps were manufactured during the last 3 months of the year, all of these weapons lockplates were without the C.S. markings. Most all the parts used to assemble the 61 Richmond’s were ones confiscated from Harper’s Ferry during the raid by Captain Turner Ashby and his men on the 18th of April 1861.

Recently I had the opportunity to acquire a great condition 1861 Richmond Rifle Musket, it had been on my wish list for sometime. I didn’t want a representative model, I wanted the real deal with as many authentic characteristics I could find.

The stock of my new Richmond has the Maynard Primer Feed Cut and a faint but clear cartouche – SA – Salmon Adams (the Master Armoror) at Harper’s Ferry as well as the Richmond Armory, butt plate has no U.S. stamp on it, brass nose cap is screwed on and has a red hue with casting flaws, barrel has clear VP and eagle (viewed & proof) as well as the cut for the steady pin for the rear sight, the forward and middle barrel bands have no U stamped on them however the bottom band is stamped with an offset U.

With the exception of the barrel, lockplate and hammer all of the metal parts seem as though they were never polished to the standard you would expect, my best guess is the polishing machines were not set up yet, which wouldn’t prevent the weapon from functioning…..so out the door it went.

Still on my wish list is an 1864 Richmond Rifle Musket in good condition, I recently committed to another 64 Richmond Carbine which I haven’t received yet………. but should before long.

I would like to thank Paul J. Davies for his book “C.S. Armory Richmond”, his book (especially when I first started collecting Richmond’s) has helped me to be a better collector. The much sought after and often misunderstood Richmond made weapons aren’t the easiest CW weapons to collect due to all the forgeries………these days I see more fakes then authentic……..I find myself thumbing thru the pages day after day hoping to discover what I missed the day before.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions about this 1861 Richmond Rifle Musket or any of the other weapons in the Civil War Arsenal feel free to contact me at www.civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West

Confederate Wooden Drum Canteen

Wartime necessity revived an old school design of using carved wood, (generally cherrywood or cedar wood) for carrying water. Secured by two riveted metal bands and three tin strap loops to hold the canteens sling in place. Using the barrel and wheel making technology had changed little from the days of the 1700’s and the South would use any means necessary to supply there troops with the necessities they needed to survive.

Most surviving drum canteens are missing there original slings, which were made of both coarse woven linen or leather and my example is no different. Originally made of leather there is still a small portion of the original sling in place however most is gone. I believe the canteen to be made of cherrywood but that’s just an educated guess on my part.

No longer able to hold water due to shrinkage of the wooden slats around the face plates, however it still has its original mouth piece which is generally lost on most existing examples.

What I love most about my new drum canteen is the script carving on the face which reads “J. J. Marshall, 33 rd”. Checking the Historical Data Base leads me to believe that this Drum Canteen was carried by Jesse J. Marshall.

Jesse enlisted 7-1-1861 in Forsyth County, North Carolina as a Corporal. He mustered into Co. I, NC 33rd Infantry. He was promoted to Sergeant 2-1-1862 and then 1st Sergeant 4-1-1863. He was wounded twice, the first was 5-5-1864 at the battle of the Wilderness and the second was 11-15-1864 it doesn’t give the place of the wounding but I’m guessing it was at the siege of Petersburg.

Well, that’s all for now……thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions about the canteen or any of the others items in my arsenal contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attn: Gene West.

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.

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.

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.

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