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  • Gettysburg Museum

Original British Tower-Marked Saddle Ring Percussion Cavalry Carbine dated 1860, probably CS


Product Description

This is another great piece being offered and is one of the firearms I mentioned in the last newsletter. It is an original British Victorian Tower-Marked Saddle Ring Percussion Cavalry Carbine dated “1860” that was part of a Civil War collection I acquired. It also has the British crown over VR. Although purchased by both sides from England during the war, these carbines are considered a Confederate secondary weapon. A similar English carbine is in the Gettysburg Museum (see pictures).

The US Government purchased only 250 of these carbines while the Confederacy (by most researchers accounts) purchased about 10,000 of the guns. The majority of the Confederate purchased carbines appear to have been acquired and delivered during the second half of the war. Confederate imports through Wilmington, NC notes that some 4,700 English cavalry carbines were landed there between July of 1863 and November of 1864.

While 10,000 cavalry carbines may seem like a significant number to have been imported, it is quite low when compared to the fact that most researchers put the total of all “Enfield” pattern English arms imported by the Confederacy at somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000. Even by the most lenient standards, that puts the importation of cavalry carbines at between 3%-4% of all Enfield pattern arms obtained by the Confederacy. Their absolute paucity on the collectors market underscores the fact that these guns saw hard use during the war and were used up in the field.

One reason for their lack of survival comes from the Report of William H.H. Terrell, Adjutant General for the State of Indiana. The report dated December 1865 concerning the Seventh Indiana Cavalry states in part "On the 21st of December (1864) the Seventh Cavalry moved from Memphis with a cavalry expedition under General Grierson. On the 28th Forrest's dismounted camp at Vernon, Mississippi, was surprised and captured, and a large quantity of rebel stores destroyed, including sixteen railroad cars, loaded with pontoons for Hood's army, and four thousand new English carbines."

This clearly indicates one clear reason for the scarcity of these guns. When the Federal troops captured them, they destroyed them. Since nearly all US cavalry regiments were armed with some form of breech loading carbine by 1864, a muzzle-loading carbine was of no real value.

The swivel ramrod is missing from the carbine. These carbines, especially Confederate used ones, are often found with the swivel ramrod missing. These somewhat delicate and very cumbersome rammers were often “lost” in the field during use, although it is difficult to know if the losses were accidental or intentional.

Confederate Cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart specifically requested P-1856 Artillery carbines instead of the Towers for his troops, as those guns did not have the awkward captive rammer. In a letter to General Robert E. Lee, Stuart specifically complained about these awkward, permanently attached rammers.

This gun is just as I received it – only wiping it down with a little oil. I have no history on the gun, but it makes more sense as being Confederate rather than Union. The carbine measures 37” overall and has several markings on both the wood and the barrel. As seen in the photos, the carbine does have its flaws and obviously seen hard use. However, it is operational, and for the most part complete, except for the rammer as I mentioned. Near the muzzle there is a screw and what appears to be a little glue, but it is solid. With this carbine, it is the rarity over the condition. This is a great Civil War weapon and obviously seen quite a bit of action.

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$20.00 (Fixed shipping cost)