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

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.

1864 Gywn & Campbell Carbine, Type II

I’ve been tardy in posting photo’s of weapons I’ve written about, but I’ve been so busy at work and home that it’s not allowing me to write, photo and document as much as I’d like to so I apologize for that. The next weapon in the Civil War Arsenal that I’ll be writing about is the 1864 Type II Gwyn and Campbell Carbine. One of the more interesting looking weapons of the Civil War. There were actually 3 versions of this carbine. The first was the 1862 Cosmopolitan of which 1140 carbines were manufactured, next was the 1863 Gwyn and Campbell Type I, 4200 of these carbines were manufactured and finally the 1864 Type II Gwyn and Campbell of which 4002 carbines were manufactured. A total of 9342 carbines were purchase by the Ordnance Dept. for the sum of $197,320.00 as well as 6,300,000 linen cartridges for $132,007.27. The Cosmopolitan (Gwyn and Campbell) gets its name from the manufacturer, Cosmopolitan Arms Company of Hamilton, Ohio. It is also known as the ‘’Gwyn and Campbell” for the owners of the Cosmopolitan Arms Co. “Grapevine” because of the snake like curves in the trigger guard lever and long hammer; “Union Rifle” for the markings on the frame; “Ohio” for the state in which it was manufactured; and “Gross” for the inventor. The inventor, Henry Gross received U.S. Patent #25,259 on August 30, 1859 for the Cosmopolitan carbine. In 1860 the carbine was tested by Erskine Allin, the Master Armourer at the Springfield Armory, and again on June 9, 1860 by the Navy at the Naval Yard Washington with overall success. The actual manufacturing of the carbine was in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio at the Cosmopolitan Arms Company which had been established in 1860. The firm’s owners were Edward Gwyn and Abner C. Campbell. The first wartime order for the Cosmopolitan carbine was requested by Illinois Governor Richard Yates through his State Quartermaster General’s headquarters at Springfield, Ill. Quartermaster General John Wood in a letter to Major Hagner dated December 12, 1861, requisitioned the Cosmopolitan Carbines for the Governor’s Legion. This letter introduced Edward Gwyn to Major Hagner so that Gwyn could obtain the order to furnish the Cosmopolitan for the Governors troops. Major Hagner in turn contacted General Ripley asking approval to give the order to Mr. Gwyn for 1,140 carbines plus appendages at $27.00 each with delivery in 60 days. The linen cartridge used a .52 caliber bullet weighting 390 grains and using 40 grains of powder, the overall length of the cartridge was 1.63 inches. The overall length of the carbine was 39 inches and it weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces. It does not have a fore stock and all carbines are marked UNION/RIFLE on the right side of the frame. The 19 inch blue barrel has a 3 ½ inch octagon section at the breech; with an iron blade front sight and a folding leaf rear sight graduated to 900 yards (type II versions have a 600 yard graduated rear sight). All major parts are serial numbered and also have an assembly number. The delivery on December 31, 1864 closed out the Gwyn and Campbell contracts during the Civil War. Many Calvary Regiments were issued the Gwyn and Campbell with a few being the 2nd and 3rd Arkansas; 5th, 6th and 16th Illinois; 3rd and 4th Indiana’s; 4th and 8th Iowa; 2nd, 6th and 14th Kansas; 10th, 12th, 14th and 40th Kentucky; 4th and 8th Missouri; 5th and 8th Ohio; 7th Tennessee; and the 3rd Wisconsin. In response to the 1863-1864 Ordnance Dept. survey of officers in the field using the various carbines, 37 officers commented on the Cosmopolitan with 23 considering it fully satisfactory and 14 considering it worthless. The major problem was found to be in the action of the breech mechanism. So that brings me to my 1864 Gwyn and Campbell Type II, which is in good condition. It does have a repair to the stock which is hardly noticeable, aside from that everything else is fine. The bluing on the barrel has worn off over the years but that just adds to the character of the weapon. All of the markings are legible and the action is perfect. The rear sight is the 600 yard graduated style and it has a sling ring on the left side. The serial # is in the 3500 range and the assembly number is 42. I’d like to thank John D. McAulay for all the great research he’s done. Without his book “Carbines of the Civil War” I would not be able to write this article in such detail.