1862 Enfield, P-1853 Type III Rifle Musket

Over the last bunch of weeks I’ve written about many of the domestic weapons in my Civil War Arsenal, but today I’m going to write about one of my imports muskets. The 1853 Type III Enfield was the most common imported weapon of the Civil War. Both the North and South imported this weapon to the tune of 900,000 from 1861 to 1865.

At the outbreak of the war the Enfield was considered the rifle of choice. The Enfield was the first production gun to use rifling in its barrel and it fired the .577 caliber Pritchett minie ball (which was innovative for its time) and considered by many the prettiest rifle made with its brass accents.

There were many private contractors manufacturing Enfield’s but the better quality Enfield’s were made by the Birmingham Small Arms Factory and the London Armory Arsenals. The reason for this was that these two companies made muskets that had interchangeable parts, the dozens of other gun making companies made muskets that looked the same but the parts would not interchange from one gun to the other. This did not fare well in battle, as one musket failed you could not take parts from another and fix it.

So that takes us to the 1862 Enfield in my Civil War Arsenal. I purchased this musket a few years back on Gun Brokers Auction Web Site. The fellow that was auctioning musket did not know much about it, other then it was old. He was selling off a collection of antique weapons for someone. When I first saw the gun I thought there was no way I’d win the auction, thinking that everyone interested would be jockeying for position. However I did have the winning bid and I think I got it for a great price.

This Enfield is super clean with hardly a mark on it. The stock is absolutely stunning with its tiger wood finish and the barrel and hardware are almost flawless. It has the Birmingham stamp on the right side of the stock with the maker’s name of Joseph Wilson. On the top of the stock by the tang of the butt plate is the stamp of Schuyler Hartley and Graham, or SH over G3. I think 3 and 5 are the most common numbers found on these imports with 1, 2, 4 being less common.

Schuyler Hartley and Graham had Military Goods, stores in N.Y.C. at 19 Maiden Lane and 22 John Street, and are considered by many to be the first store to sell Military accessories, kind of like a modern day Army Navy store.

Because they already had connections overseas as buyers of military accessories the U.S. Government and State Governments turned towards them to purchase weapons (rifles, pistols, swords, etc…). Most of the Enfield’s they purchased were bought for the State Militia’s of Massachusetts and New York.
However some of the weapons that S.H & G sold were sold over the counter to soldiers who wanted better equipment then the Government was issuing, and all officers were required to purchase their own uniforms and swords, so during the war S.H.& G. was the perfect tool for soldiers and officers alike to purchase quality weapons and accessories.

But we know this Musket wasn’t purchased by a soldier over the counter. First of all if a soldier wanted to upgrade his Government Issue weapon he would have bought a breech loading rifle or carbine. But the most telling sign is the Government cartouche on the left side of the stock, which tells us this was imported by S.H. & G for the U.S. Government, very neat stuff. I love it when the markings on the weapon tell the story.

This Enfield is a beauty I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Any questions about this posting or any of the other postings at the Civil War Arsenal feel free to contact me at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com attm: Gene West

Thomas Jonathan ”Stonewall” Jackson

Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson born January 21, 1824, was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. He graduated 17th of a class of 59 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, in time to fight in the Mexican War (1846-48).

Jackson began his United States Army career as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment. He served at the Siege of Veracruz and the battles of Contreras,Chapultece , and Mexico City, eventually earning two brevet promotions, and the regular Army rank of First Lieutenant. It was in Mexico that Thomas Jackson first met Robert E. Lee.

In the spring of 1851, Jackson accepted a newly created teaching position at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), in Lexington Virginia. He became Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy and Instructor of Artillery. Parts of Jackson’s curriculum are still taught at VMI, regarded as timeless military essentials: discipline, mobility, assessing the enemy’s strength and intentions while attempting to conceal your own, and the efficiency of artillery combined with an infantry assault.

After his home state of Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, Jackson joined the Confederate army and quickly forged his reputation for fearlessness and tenacity during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Jackson served only briefly as a colonel before receiving a promotion to brigadier general under General Joseph E. Johnston. Jackson earned his nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as Manassas) in July 1861 when he rushed his troops forward to close a gap in the line against a determined Union attack. Upon observing Jackson, one of his fellow generals reportedly said, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!”–a comment that spawned Jackson’s nickname. Jackson was commissioned a major general in October 1861.

By October 1862, Jackson was a lieutenant general and led a significant portion of Lee’s army. His widely publicized exploits had elevated him to legendary status among Southern soldiers and citizens alike. Jackson’s bravery and success inspired devotion from his soldiers, but to his officers, he was known as overly secretive and difficult to please. He frequently punished his officers for relatively minor violations of military discipline and rarely discussed his plans with them. Rather, they were expected to obey his orders without question.

Lee and Jackson’s most famous victory took place at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863. Facing a numerically superior Union force of 130,000 men to 60,000 of their own, Lee and Jackson devised and executed a plan to rout the army of Union General Joseph Hooker.

Historians call this battle one of Lee’s finest moments as a Confederate general, and his success owed much to Jackson’s participation. On May 2, Jackson stealthily and quickly took 28,000 troops on an approximately 15-mile forced march (Jackson’s Flank March) to Hooker’s exposed flank while Lee engaged in diversionary attacks on his front. Jackson’s attack on the Union right inflicted massive casualties on the superior force, and Hooker was forced to withdraw only days later.

But the victory was not without cost. Jackson’s brutal attack ended at sunset, when he took some men into the Wilderness to scout ahead. Troops from the 18th North Carolina regiment mistook them for enemy cavalry and opened fire, shooting Jackson 3 times, twice in the left arm and once in the right hand. Several of his Staff were killed, in addition to many horses. Darkness and confusion prevented Jackson from getting immediate care. He was dropped from the stretcher several times while being evacuated. He was taken from the field and General J. E. B. Stuart took over his command. Dr. Hunter McGuire determined that a bullet had shattered the bone just below his left shoulder, and quickly amputated Jackson’s left arm he was then moved to Thomas Chandlers Plantation.

Jackson appeared to be healing from his wounds, but he died in the plantation office building in Guinea Station, Virginia from pneumonia on May 10, 1863 at the age of 39. Lee dispatched a letter, writing, “Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country to be disabled in your stead.” Southerners mourned the death of their war hero, while Lee faced fighting the war without a highly valued general and comrade.

His body was moved to the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond Virginia for the public to mourn, and then he was moved to be buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia. However, the arm that was amputated on May 2nd was buried separately by Jackson’s Chaplin at the Horace Lacy House,’’ Ellwood” in the Wilderness near the field hospital.

1862 Sharps & Hankins Naval Carbine

First I must apologize for my spelling errors. It seems as though in my rush to enter content my grammar and spelling haven’t been as good as they should. I find myself wanting to add information as quickly as possible and in my haste I’m making errors, I’m sorry I’ll try to do better.

So on to the next weapon in my Civil War Arsenal. I’ve been of the fence as to which weapon I’d write about next, so I decided to write about the New Model 1862 Sharp & Hankins Naval Carbine.

Christian Sharps left the Sharps Rifle Company in 1853 and started his own company. He needed capital to expand his operation so he brought in partners Ira B. Ebby and Natan H. Bolles. The Companies name was C. Sharps & Company.

In 1860 William C. Hankins, a wood maker by trade joined the firm as superintendent of the rifle works. He brought additional capital to the business, which was greatly needed. In 1861 Ira and Nathan left the firm, the following year William became a full partner. In 1863 the Company’s name was changed to Sharps & Hankins.

The Sharps & Hankins Carbine contained a number of “firsts” in the military field.

1. The separate firing pin within the receiver.

2. Hammer safety mechanism, this kept the hammer face from contacting the firing pin.

3. Extractor system, a spring loaded catch in the frame extracts the cartridge and also prevents the forward movement of the cartridge case when the breech is open.

The Sharps & Hankins Carbine used a 52 – 56 rimfire cartridge with the later carbines chambered for Spencer rimfire cartridges. It had a 800 yard graduated rear sight with a walnut stock the overall length of the carbine is 38 5/8”long and the Barrel is 23 5/8”long. But perhaps the strangest thing about this weapon is that it has a leather sleeve that fits over the barrel and is fastened at the breech. Because this was designed for Naval use it was thought that the leather would prevent the barrel from rusting from exposure to salt water, however they found that when the leather got wet it held the water (like a sponge) and rusted the barrel, part of the learning curve of the industrial revolution I guess.

They actually made a Calvary version of this Carbine without the leather sleeve over the barrel. This carbine measured a total of 33 ½ “with the barrel length of 18 ¾”. It had a sling ring on the left side of the breech so the cavalrymen could attach it to there harness.

About 6200 of these were made throughout the war at a cost of $25.00 each. There were only a handful (600 I think) of the Calvary version made.

The one you see here is a 1900 serial # and is in good condition. Most of the bluing has worn off but it has no rust on it. The leather is in very good condition but may have been replaced at some time. On most of these Navy Carbines the leather sleeve is in poor condition or even missing

The Sharps & Hankins Co. closed its doors in 1867 and all guns were sold off by 1868. William Hankins left the firm early 1867 and the Company changed its name to C. Sharps & Co.

Christian Sharps (who by the way patented the breech mechanism on the Sharps Carbine) died of tuberculosis on March 12, 1874 his estate was valued at $341.25.

1864 Burnside Carbine, Fourth Model

The Burnside Carbine was invented by Ambrose Everett Burnside, born in Liberty Indiana May 23, 1824. He graduated Unites States Military West Point Academy in 1847 and became a Lieutenant of Artillery. He fought towards the end of the Mexican American War. He resigned from the Military in 1853 and organized the Bristol Fire Arms Co. in 1855. Burnside developed a breech loading idea and patented in 1856, U.S. Patent # 14,491.

In April 1856 he sold 200 Carbines to the Government. The following year it was rated the best breech loading weapons of the weapons tested. In September 1858 he sold another 709 Carbines to the Gov. for $35.00 each.

A further trail board was conducted in 1860 to test various breech loading carbines. The Board concluded that although the Burnside was capable of rendering good service, it does not consider it equal to Smiths and Maynard’s to Military Service.

At the outbreak of the war Everett Burnside was no longer associated with the Bristol Fire Arms Co. He had gone bankrupt and sold off the Patents to pay his creditors. He becomes Major General and leads the Army of the Potomac during the Fredericksburg campaign in the winter of 62, if your reading this article I’ll assume you know what happens, it wasn’t pretty.

So back to the Carbines, the U.S. Government purchased 53,031 Carbines and 21,819,200 cartridges throughout the the war. The earlier Models of the Burnside Carbines had a Walnut Stock, Breech Mechanism and a barrel with no wood forearm. However in 1864 the Forth Model was designed with a 14” wood forearm held to the barrel with a single barrel band. This allowed for better sighting and allowed the shooter to handle the barrel without getting burnt.

During the 1863-64 Ordinance Department survey of breech loading carbines, 185 officers were polled on the Burnside, with the following results. Best 17; Good 125; Fair; 12 Poor 28: and 3 considered it useless, far cry from the Maynard Survey. It makes me wonder why the Government purchased more Burnsides then Maynard’s. Go read my article on Maynard Carbines if you’re confused.

So that brings us to my next example of a Civil War Weapon. The Burnside that you see here is in excellent condition. I purchase this from a gun auction a couple years ago. It has a Government cartouche on the left side of the stock, some bluing still on the lever mechanism and a serial # in the 16,000’s. Overall this is a fine example of a Fourth Model Burnside Carbine.

Many thanks to John D. McAulay and his book Carbines of the Civil War. Thanks for the history, and the ones who are passionate enough to document it.
Any questions contact Eugene West at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com

Devils Den, Gettysburg Pennsylvania

This massive formation of rocks at the base of Little and Big Round Top were caused by glacial frost wedging of the igneous landform formed 200 million years ago when the “outcrop of the Gettysburg sill” intruded through the Triassic “Gettysburg plain”.

Fast forward 200 million years, the date is July 2nd 1863 around 4:30 Gen. John B. Hood’s Confederate division launched its much-anticipated assault. Spearheaded by Texans, Arkansans, and Alabamians, Hood’s men swept over Sickles’ men occupying the boulder-strewn Devil’s Den and made their way toward a rocky hill known as Little Round Top.

From there position (Devils Den) the 4th and 5th Texans and the 4th Alabamians attack the 16th Michigan, 44th New York and the 83rd Pennsylvania on Little Round Top 2 times but are repulsed. The 15th Alabama attacks the 20th Maine a number of times with little or no success, they attempt to flank the 20th Maine in hopes of turning them. But every time they charge up the hill the Union troops hold their ground and repulse the Southern attackers. The courage of Joshua Chamberlain and men of the 20th Maine may have been the difference.

Who knows what the outcome of Gettysburg would have been if the Southern troops could have secured Little Round Top. It may have been enough to turn the left flank of the Union Army so when Picket, Trimble and Pettigrew spear headed there famed Pickets Charge attack they may have broken thru the Union Lines. But I guess we’ll never know for sure, but it’s fun to speculate.

If you’ve never been to Gettysburg you MUST put it on your to do list. Whether you’re a Civil War Geek like me or just a history buff it’s a great weekend excursion for all. When you get to Gettysburg you must go to Devils Den and climb the rock formations (the kids will love it). Try to visualize how Union and Confederate Troops would have used the rocks to hold their positions, the Confederates used snipers to shoot at Union Soldiers on the hill. It’s hard to believe, (because of the distance) they would have been effective, it has to be 200 yards between Devils Den and Little Round Top.

William Brosius Company J 187thPennsylvania Vol. Infantry

For my birthday my friend Sam gave me a framed picture of what appears to be an old man giving you the finger with an American Flag behind him. Turns out it is a photo of William Brosius of Co. J 187th Regiment Pennsylvania Vol. Infantry. He was wounded July 30th 1864 in the left hand on Plank Road in Petersburg Virginia. With the photo came a copy of a Civil War Award giving by G.A.R. Post No. 17 saying that he was indeed wounded in the left hand at Petersburg Virginia . The G.A.R post was located in Harrisburg Pennsylvania; I assume he lived in or around Harrisburg.

The photo has William sitting in front of a 48 star flag (Arizona entered the Union Feb. 12th 1912), William looks to be about 70 years old in the photo. I believe the photo is of William on the 50th anniversary of being wounded, holding his war scared hand up to the camera.

The weird thing about the photo is that it is laminated on the glass and it almost looks like a negative, but when you hold it up to the light it has color in it, in fact the American Flag is RED, White and Blue. I think it may be a glass panel for a lantern light from the turn of the century.

Whatever reason it was made for, I don’t care. IT’S VERY COOL! I think eventually I will mount it in a frame that has a 2” deep reveal on the back side so I can put a light behind it and turn the color on and off.

1863 Maynard Carbine

Let’s talk Civil War Carbines, in particular the Second Model Maynard Carbine, a.k.a. Model 1863 Maynard Carbine. Manufactured c. 1863-65; total about 20,202 (I’ll talk about this number later), 50 Caliber, no patchbox, and has a thinner butt plate then the First Model. Manufactured by Mass. Arms Co. / Chicopee Falls. Unlike the First Models this Model is without the tape primer and tang sight. Thiers a sling ring and cartouche on the left side of the stock.

Many of these Carbines were issued to Union Calvary from the 9th and 11th Indiana and the 11th Tennessee. Many of these Carbines are seen in very good condition since most were issued late in the war and many saw little or no service. Many laid in arsenals until the government sold them off in the late 1860’s.

The Maynard Carbine’s are considered one of the best performing and most accurate carbines of the Civil War era. In John D. McAulay,s book “Carbines of the Civil War” he writes in October of 1859 the Navy conducted test firing on the Maynard Carbine at the Washington Navy Yard. Dr. Maynard personally fired a .50 caliber Maynard for the test. A 3×6 foot target was placed at 200 yards, and 237 rounds were fired without a miss. The rate of firing was at 12 rounds per minute. One Maynard was fired 562 times before cleaning. Two of the metallic cartridges were reloaded and fired 200 times and found to still be serviceable.

I would say that’s a Five Star Review of this weapon. With the exception of the Sharps and Spencer it’s my opinion this may have been the best and most reliable Carbine issued during the Civil War. I would have no objections to using this as my primary weapon, back in the day. How about you? The First Model Maynard carbines were manufactured in .35 and .50 Caliber and many of those weapons were purchased by Southern States at the outbreak of the war. So many were purchased that in the Confederate Arms Guide the Maynard was shown as a weapon.

So that brings us to yet another Weapon in my Civil War Arsenal. This 1863 Maynard has 2 government cartouches on the left side of the stock. Most of the bluing is worn off the barrel but no rust or cracks in the stock. This was the first CW weapon I purchased and even though I’ve made some bad purchases over the years, this was a good one considering it was my first, anyone collecting CW stuff knows what I mean.

I guess the most unusual thing about this Carbine is the serial no. is in the 22,000 range, it has government cartouches. Like I said earlier in John D. McAulay’s book “Carbines of the Civil War” 20,002 carbines were procured by the government and Norm Flayderman , documents 20,202 carbines manufactured in his book “Guide to Antique American Firearms” so that makes me question the facts or the lack of. Either way the US Government paid $24.20 for each Carbine and 2,157,000 Maynard Cartridges were bought at a cost of $72,207.50.
If you have any questions contact Eugene West at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com

Confederate and Union Artillery Swords

Some of the neatest edged weapons produced were made during the Civil War. The Artillery Sword which was obsolete at the outbreak of the war is arguably the neatest of all, even though most were made before and during the Mexican American War. Which leads me to my next example of Civil War Arsenal Weapons.

The first example is of the M-1832 Foot Artillery Short Sword. This is the most common U.S. example of the artillery sword. Manufactured by Ames in Springfield Mass. and stamped U.S, makers mark, date and inspector. These swords have a fish scale handle with an Eagle on each side of the pommel and have 3 fullers on each side of the blade. The overall length is 25″and the blade is 19”long. This sword would have been used by artillery men to swipe at the bodies of horses rushing them, but this was a very Napoleonic type of fighting and like I said earlier by the outbreak of the Civil War this was an obsolete way of warring. However obsolete I still love these swords.

My next example is of a Confederate Foot Artillery Sword (Maker Unknown). Because of the star in the pommel this sword was originally thought to be of Texas background and others claimed it was carried by the Louisiana Tigers the assumption was based on Lord knows what logic (William A. Albaugh III Quote). This sword is the most common of all Confederate Edged Weapons, yet its maker remains unknown. The hilt is brass, very poorly made cast, so much so that the C.S. in the cross guard can barely be identified and the Star in the pommel lacks the points. The blade is 18 ½ long, double edged with an unstopped fuller on each side. No makers mark appear. If you’re lucky enough to have a scabbard it would be made of wood with tin mounts, but I have also seen ones made completely of tin but I’m not sure if these were Civil War accurate. Most Civil War Historians believe these were made somewhere in Georgia or possible South Carolina, but we’ll probably never know for sure. William A. Ablaugh wrote in his Confederate Edged Weapons Book (The Bible of CW Edged Weapons) It is for sure that the Star in the pommel has no Texas connotation and I am sure that the Louisiana Tigers would have turned up their noses at such a weapon due to the lack of quality.

A side story about this Confederate Sword is that I bought it from a Rock Island Auction with 4 other swords. I paid about $1300.00 for all 5 pieces 2 of which were World War 2 era so I sold them on ebay for about $450.00 another sword is 1840 Persian which has an etched blade and a leather scabbard in good condition and yet another sword is Civil War Calvary S.K. Solingen with no scabbard. So I guess I did pretty good at that auction. You might say I got this Confederate Sword for little or no money, NOT BAD if I do say so my self

1858 Harpers Ferry Rifle Musket

The newest weapon in the Civil War Arsenal is an Harpers Ferry U.S. Model-1855 Rifle Musket. I’ve been looking for a 1855 Model Harpers Ferry in fine condition for some time now without and luck. Then recently Tim Prince from College Hill Arsenal listed this beauty. Within minutes I was on the phone with him negotiating a deal. The Springfield and Harpers Ferry Arsenals made 59,273 of these rifle-muskets, with the Harpers Ferry Arsenal making a total of 12,158. Because of the Confederates capturing of the Harper’s Ferry Armory in April of 1861 many of the standing weapons were captured and or destroyed by fire leaving us with few good (Harpers Ferry) examples to examine and study.

What makes this weapon so unique is the Maynard Tape Primer designed by “Edward Maynard” for more rapid firing of the weapon. Dr. Edward Maynard, a dentist with an interest in firearms, embedded tiny pellets of priming material in thin strips of paper, then glued a second strip of paper on top of the first, creating a “tape” of primer (similar to a cap gun you would have played with as a child). The tape could be manufactured quickly and cheaply, since paper was much less expensive than copper. Maynard also developed an automatic feeding system that would advance the tape when the musket’s hammer was cocked. The hammer not only detonated the primer, but would also automatically cut the paper, thus removing the spent portion of the primer tape. The system worked well under controlled circumstances but proved to be unreliable in the field. The tape was delicate and would tear but the biggest problem was the paper strips were susceptible to adverse weather and even humidity.

This model proved one of the staple arms of the Civil War, and was the first U.S. martial arm firing the Minie bullet in .58 caliber.

This example is an early model (Type 1) because of the long base adjustable rear sight, similar to the 1853 Enfield’s, brass nose cap and the lack of a patch box.

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

Little Round Top, Gettysburg Pennsylvania

These pictures were taken from Devils Den looking up at Little Round Top. It’s hard to believe that Texas and Alabama Troops attempted to flank the Union Left by storming Little Round Top. I’ve walked this many times and it’s hard to do with no one shooting at you, can’t imagine being shot at and keeping my nerve. But a handful of Union troops were in position (about 358, I think) the 20th Maine lead by Joshua Chamberlain and the 83rd Pennsylvania Regiments get most of the credit in preventing the collapse of the Union Left. General Warren (who was an engineer) is credited with understanding the venerability of the position and requesting more troops to hold the Hill.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor for his famous Bayonet Charge and General Warren has a life like Monument at the top of the Hill.