R.T. Pritchett Rifle Musket, Enfield

Over the last week or so I’ve been struggling with what I was going to write about this week, then I remembered that Greg posted a comment on my article about the 1862 Enfield SH&G #3 Musket, so I thought what better time to write about yet another weapon in my Civil War Arsenal.

The R.T. Pritchett Enfield Rifle Musket, Sinclair & Hamilton Company, (Crown/ SH/C/ Arrow). I think this mark is referred to as Type #2. The mark is on the bottom of the stock close to the trigger guard. The mark is faint but under the right light it is clearly there. I will be using the macro setting on my camera to photo the mark I hope it is clear enough to be seen.

Pritchett was a well known contractor who supplied many Enfield Rifle Muskets and parts to Confederate brokerage houses. Two of the more famous ones were S. Isaac & Campbell and Sinclair, Hamilton & Company.
Pritchett the inventor of the improved bullet for the 1853 Enfield, firing one of his own rifles on a windy, rainy day, shot 98 out of 100 shots in a 7 foot circle at 600 yards. Pretty good shooting especially at that range.

Aside from inventing and building guns Pritchett was also a business man who like so many others took advantage of the financial opportunities the American Civil War had to offer. Another one of those opportunists were Archibald Hamilton. Archibald was the Director of the London Armoury Company; they were a major gun making company in London. The quality of the London Armoury Guns was superior to other London Contractors since the L.A.CO’s parts were interchangeable and the others were not.

Archibald was a major player in the English arms industry, Director of the L.A.Co and was partners in a brokerage firm, this would create the perfect storm for the Confederacy to purchase, ship and receive the much needed weapons.

It wasn’t long before the South became the London Armoury Company’s principal client and it manufactured and shipped more than 70,000 rifles and about 7,000 revolvers (out of a total production run of about 10,000) to the South. However these weapons had to pass through the Union blockades and the number that actually reached the Confederate army is unknown. Confederates acclaimed the Armoury’s guns as the best weapons made in Britain.

Towards the end of the war the London Armoury Company was almost completely dependent on sales to the Confederacy and survived for only a year after the end of the war, dissolving in the Spring of 1866.

So back to the Pritchett Rifle Musket, this gun is in fair condition with a wonderful mocha color stock. The barrel and hardware have a brownish color throughout but no rust. This is one of the first Civil War guns I purchased and I probably paid a little more then I should have but all and all it’s a very nice example of a Confederate Import with the crown/ SH/C/arrow mark.
Your thoughts are welcome, contact Gene West at civilwararsenal@yahoo.com

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