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 attn: Eugene West

5 thoughts on “Joslyn Carbine, Model 1864

  1. Attention of Mister Eugene West
    I am Philippe from Normandy, France.
    I have just bought a Joslyn carbine model 1864.
    I intend to fire it. I have read that the Joslyn carbine can fire the Spencer cartridges. I already have one Spencer rifle and one Spencer carbine both with centerfire conversion block. I use to fire them at the shooting stand. I have Spencer cases, dies and bullet mould.
    My questions :
    – what are the dimensions of the original Joslyn cartridge (I understand that it is a bit longer than the Spencer ones),
    – what was the amount in grain of black powder of the Joslyn cartridge,
    – what were the dimensions, shape and weight of the Joslyn bullet,
    – is there an existing conversion block for the Joslyn carbine model 1864 and if yes where can I afford one,
    – if there is no conversion block available, how were converted to centerfire the Joslyn carbine,
    – and last, is there some documentation, book, etc. specific to the Joslyn carbine including drawing, sketches and where can I buy it?
    Best regards,

  2. Eugene,

    I was doing some research when I ran across an article that you published on the Joslyn 1864 Carbine. My reason for reaching out to you is to inquire whether you have any knowledge as to where one might be able to get parts for one of these.

    About 4 months ago I ran across a beautiful model listed on GunBroker. In the listing it mentioned that the gun was missing the barrel band. Prior to getting serious about bidding on it I did research and found a number of barrel bands available on the Lodgewood Mfg. website. Given that the replacement part was available, along with options on available patina finish, I watched the carbine and was the successful bidder.

    I know you can see this one coming. After I bought the carbine I went back to Lodgewood only to find out that all the available barrel bands had been sold and there were none available. Now I am unable, at least to this point, to find one.

    Might you be in a position to give me any direction as to where one might be found. I am also willing, if I can find the right person, to hire a craftsman to make one.

    Any direction you might be able to offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Take care!

    • Ron,
      Don’t become discouraged if you’re not able to find the parts your looking for, patience is the key…….Here are a few other websites that may have the part your looking for, I wouldn’t rely on the website I would call the and ask…..maybe just maybe they have the part and it’s not online. and
      Another option is the many interest groups on Facebook, “Civil war smoothbore Rifled muskets and Carbines” this group has many members that have been collecting for many years, they are knowledgeable on parts. If you join the group and ask for help they will be more then happy to help…’s there passion.
      But as I said earlier, be patient……eventually the part would become available…..

      Good luck with your search, Gene West

  3. I have a Joslyn Fire Arm Co. 1864 Carbine for sale, made in Stonington, Conn. This is a .54 or .52 Carbine I believe. The story on the gun is that it is an actual Civil War used Gun and I was told used by a calvary officer but I have no documentation just the stories handed down through the family. If you are interested in the gun please let me know at:

    • Unfortunately the Joslyn you own has been modified at sometime. It is not a carbine barrel….if it were it would be 22 1/2” long and that does not seem to be the length of the Joslyn in the pictures….and there no sling ring on the left flat side (opposite the lock plate).
      They did make some 3 band Joslyn rifles but your stock is not long enough to allow for 3 bands.
      It’s my opinion your Joslyn has been modified as a sporting shooter at sometime……many Joslyn rifles were converted and sold as shotguns after the war.
      See the attachment below for further information.

      Regards, Gene West

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