Anchor S Marked P1853 Rifle-Musket
Confederate viewer marked Enfields are among some of the most iconic imported arms of the American Civil War. A monumental amount of research has been done on them in the last decade, which fortunately for us has been published in the phenomenal book "The English Connection" by Pritchard and Huey.
The chronology of Confederate viewers marks is well covered in the text and can help explain the enigmatic Anchor over S mark seen on this rifle-musket. The earliest known Confederate viewers mark is the JS over Anchor mark found on numbered Enfield pattern arms delivered as part of the 2nd Sinclair, Hamilton and Company Contract. This stamp remained in use on unnumbered guns until some point in mid-1862 when it was replaced by variants of the Sinclair, Hamilton and Company SHC arrow stamp, which would be used throughout the firm's third contract. At that point the company switched to the Anchor over S mark found exclusively on 1863 and 1864 dated Pattern 1853 Rifle-Muskets as well as on London produced Pattern 1856 Carbines dated 1863 and 1864.
The Anchor over S mark is always encountered struck once into the top of the comb of the stock, just forward of the buttplate tang. The vast majority of arms marked in this manner are 1863 dated, with 1864 marked examples being quite scarce. The deduction here being that the 4th Sinclair, Hamilton and Company contract which these marks are thought to denote, was essentially an 1863 contract that may have been pushed beyond the usual 6 month delivery frame due to slow payment on the part of the Confederate Government.
The Pattern 1853 Rifle-Musket offered here is a decent representative of an Anchor over S marked P1853. The gun has been hard used, and it shows. All of the iron components have a heavy coat of dark patina and are thoroughly pitted. Fortunately the markings are still plainly visible. The rear sight was knocked off at some point in the distant past, which is not unusual for Enfield pattern arms, as the rear sights were simply soldered on. There is quite a bit of solder remaining on the barrel. The front sight and forward sling swivel are both intact. The brass components are in generally good condition with an attractive patina. The front of the trigger guard has a slight bend that makes it sit proud of the stock.
The biggest detractor on this rifle is the lock, which is 1862 dated, and therefore a replacement. The mainspring seems to be broken, as there is no tension in the lock. The hammer screw is gone, and the hammer has been held in place with a large square head nut. This style of repair has been noted on a number of Confederate arms, and I feel that the lock replacement is probably from the muskets original period of use.
Both of the lock screws have been "boogered" by what I can only assume was an attempt to remove the lock. The front lock screw sits flush with the washer and is probably a replacement. Both screws are frozen in place, so they have been with the rifle for a long time.
The stock is solid and in generally good condition with no major issues. A small grain crack runs from the rear of the barrel channel towards the rear lock screw. There are a few worm holes, but they are not a major detractor to the look of the gun. As one would expect on a Confederate used weapon, there is a large amount of burnout behind the lock. The stock has a fair number of bumps and bruises.
The markings on the stock are light, but still visible, much more so in person than the pictures show. The right side of the stock has a Birmingham Small Arms Trade roundel, and further BSAT stamps are found just behind the rear projection of the trigger guard. The belly of the stock is marked with the furnisher's name, Joseph Wilson. In front of the buttplate tang the Anchor over S mark struck once.
Although this rifle is a long way from perfect it is still a good representative of a Confederate Enfield, and is priced so that it is a god fit for almost any budget.