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.

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

1863 Richmond Virginia Short Rifle

1863 was a tuff year for the Confederacy, their dwindling resources left them dependant on using their know how with making weapons for the war effort. Most able men were on the front lines fighting the Northern aggressors or doing whatever was needed to keep them from ravaging their homes, communities and Country.

The job of harvesting trees to make gun stocks, limber carriages and wagons was hard. These jobs were done by experienced lumber jacks, most of which had learned from their fathers. Unfortunately for the South most of these men were fighting the Yankees in one way or the other. I

When Stonewall Jackson raided the arsenal in Harpers Ferry in April of 1861 he managed to confiscate 1000’s of rifle stocks, most were 1st quality stocks that the Richmond Armory used to assemble rifles, however many were 2nd quality stocks that had defects of some sort and wouldn’t pass the quality inspection that qualified them to be issued.

Fast forward to 1863 when all the confiscated 1st quality rifle stocks had been used and the Richmond Armory could not get any black walnut wood from their suppliers, mostly in and around the Macon Georgia area. This created a big problem for the Confederacy, with no quality wood to make rifle stocks how would they continue to fight a war?

As mentioned earlier, Stonewall Jackson’s raid on the Arsenal in Harpers Ferry he confiscated 1000’s of rifle stocks which were used to make Richmond rifle muskets. But the 2nd quality stocks were not used due to their defects. Now the South was in a real jam, they were in desperate need of arms but they had no black walnut to make them with.

So they turned their attention to the 2nd quality stocks that were not perfect but better than nothing. Many of these stocks were splintered and cracked. Southern cavalry troops were in desperate need of carbines and short rifles. By this time the Northern cavalry was armed with breech loading carbines that could be loaded quickly and shoot accurately some were issued Spencer carbines that could hold up to 7 brass cartridges which made them great assets for Cavalrymen.

The Richmond Armory with their master mechanics were forced to make rifles from damaged and broken stocks. Many of these weapons will be assembled using hardware from Union weapons that were found on battlefields.

That brings us to the next example in the Civil War Arsenal. This 1863 Richmond Virginia Short Rifle is made from a mix of old Union parts and Southern parts. Categorized in Paul J. Davies book, “C.S. Armory Richmond” as a Richmond Short Rifle (Old Parts) a total of 461 were made. In June of 1864, 261 short rifles were pieced together and in July of 1864, 200 short rifles were made. There were another 850 of these Short Rifles made categorized in Mr. Davies book as (New Parts) made with 1864 lock plates and brass/copper butt plates.

This Short Rifle has a split stock under the barrel band closest to the breech plug held together with an iron U shaped staple. Removing the lock plate shows the elimination of the primer feed for the Maynard Primer System this proves that this section of the stock is Southern made, or as I like to say “Southern Wood”. However the forward portion of the stock, beyond the stapled barrel band is from a Union Rifle with an iron stock tip and iron screw. The butt plate is iron without the U.S. stamp and the barrel bands do not have the usual U on them. The barrel measures 33” long with a pinched front sight and has the VP and eagle on the left side by the breech plug.

All in all this is a fine example of the resourcefulness of the South and a great piece of American history; I hope you enjoy the photos.

I buy Richmond carbines, short rifles, and rifled muskets as well as any and all parts regardless of condition. If you have any Richmond weapons or parts for sale please contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com thanks for stopping by, Gene West

1863 Fayetteville Rifle, Type IV and Bayonet


My story starts in the spring of 2013 at the Gettysburg Civil War show; I was there to purchase a Southern weapon specifically a Richmond short rifle but I never found the one that worked for my collection so I wound up buying a wonderful Confederate D handle Bowie knife that was made from a rasp/file, which I will write about in the near future.

While I was walking around looking at all the neat Civil War artifacts on what must have been 200 tables I came across a gentlemen who was selling off his collection of Confederate Weapons. He is a gun collector whose interest has changed from Confederate to WWII German items. He must have had about 6 or 7 Confederate rifles but the one that stood out to me was a 1863 Fayetteville Type IV rifle with a Fayetteville Bayonet and linen sling that was priced at $14.500.00.

Unlike the dealers that you meet at the shows who are generally willing to talk and negotiate as much as possible to secure the sale this gentlemen was there to sell his collection but wasn’t very willing to negotiate. He knew what the items were worth and he was going to sell them for that price.

After passing his table 3 or 4 times I approached him to inquire about the Fayetteville we exchanged some small talk and then I made him a fair cash offer on the Fayetteville. My offer was lower the then asking price which he did not except but he made me a counter offer which I didn’t except. In the end he was firm at $11,000.00 which I wasn’t willing to do.

Over the next 5 or 6 months I struggled with my decision not to except his counter offer of $11,000.00 for the rifle and worst of all I didn’t get his contact information (so I didn’t have a name, email, or phone # to negotiate after the show was over). All my research suggested the gun was indeed worth the asking price especially with the Bayonet and sling, so needless to say I was disappointed with myself that I didn’t seize the opportunity and close the deal. I thought I would never have that chance again to purchase a complete stand of rifle at that price.

So fast forward to the Fall of 2013 at the Gettysburg show and all I can think about is the Fayetteville that I’d seen 6 months before. I walked up and down the aisles looking at all the neat Southern pieces, and there were some really nice items for sale so I was certain I was coming home with a new piece for my collection. I had almost completed my first pass of all the tables, disappointed that I hadn’t come across the gentleman with the Fayetteville then low and behold there it is the Fayetteville in all its glory.

I scurry over to the table and introduce myself as the guy who made the cash offer for the rifle at the last Gettysburg show, he remembers my offer and immediately engages with me. After talking with him for a while it seems as though we both want to strike a deal. However the deal that is to be struck is a cash deal and I don’t have the cash with me. So we exchange info. and meet each other a week after the show and the deal was done.

My new Fayetteville is an 1863 Type IV model that is in very good condition unfortunately someone over the years removed the brown finish on the barrel and polished the brass hardware but it must have been done decades ago because the patina is coming back. The stock is in extremely good condition and the action on the lock plate and trigger mechanism is crisp. The left side of the rifle has old world script initials J.E.W. I believe that these rifles were only issued to North Carolinians from certain Co. I will try and research the soldier who carried this weapon during the Civil War.

The Fayetteville Armory, in Fayetteville, North Carolina Altered many seized captured flintlock pistols and long arms. After Stonewall Jacksons raid of the Harpers Ferry Arsenal in 1861 many of the machines to manufacture rifles were taken to Fayetteville North Carolina, which was one Confederate States Arsenals during the war, another being the Richmond Armory.

Many of the experienced workers from Harpers Ferry went to Fayetteville to help set up the machines and to make the rifles that were so needed for the Southern cause. This didn’t stand well with the Government of Virginia who felt by default that the experienced workers from Harpers Ferry should build rifles for the state of Virginia since after all Harpers Ferry was in Virginia at the time.

Anyway I can drone on but you probably won’t listen, haha.

There were 4 types of Fayetteville Rifle made throughout the war.

1. Type I; Early production 1861-1862 was made from captured Harpers Ferry parts. The Lock plate has a high hump (like the early Richmond’s) shape. Lock marks are C.S.A. Fayetteville, N.C. some have brass patch box most do not have C.S.A. on the butt plate.

2. Type II; Low hump and marked with eagle motif, C.S.A. Fayetteville, forward of the hammer. Date of 1862 behind the hammer. Many of the parts are captures Harpers Ferry parts, most brass butt plates are stamped C.S.A.

3. Type III; Lock plate redesign to the contour of the U.S. Model 1861 musket. Markings on rifle are like Type II; however the hammer has a distinctive S contour that is recognizable from across the room and there is a lug for a saber bayonet added to the right side of the muzzle.

4. Type IV; Similar to type III with the exception of slight variance in the eagle die stamp. Accepts a socket bayonet with the front sight acting as a bayonet lug. Lock markings are 1863, 64, 65.

Between 8000 and 9000 rifles of all types were made throughout the war, but most about 5000 were of Type IV. The Barrel is 33”long secured by 2 barrel bands and the hardware on the rifle is brass, many consider this to be the finest quality rifle the South made and it may be the prettiest.

The Bayonet has an overall length of 22 ½” with the blade being 20 ¼” from behind the neck to the end of the blade. The socket is stamped A.19, probably having to do with the Co. and infantry #.