Confederate Inventory Numbered P1853 Rifle-Musket
Of the various contractors to supply arms to the Confederacy the firm of Sinclair, Hamilton and Company was one of the most important to the Confederate war effort. No less than five contracts between Sinclair, Hamilton and Co and the Confederate Government are known to have been entered into, of which the second contract is the most well know.
The second Sinclair, Hamilton and Company contract was for 30,000 long Enfields, and 10,000 short Enfield rifles. This contract, which required the delivery of the arms between October of 1861 and April of 1862. The arms supplied in these shipments are easily identified by the inspector markings and serial numbers applied to them.
The 30,000 "long" Pattern 1853 Rifle-Muskets specified in this contract were marked with a JS over anchor viewer's mark behind the rear trigger guard extension, which is believed to be the mark of John Southgate. The buttlates on these examples are also serialized. These muskets were engraved with numbers ranging from 1 to 10,000 in three series. The first series of muskets are marked with the serial number only. The second and third series muskets are marked with an "A" or "B" prefix respectively. In addition to the numbers being engraved on the buttplates of the muskets, the numbers were also engraved onto the ramrods and bayonets.
Sinclair, Hamilton and Company relied on five furnishers to complete their contract, and the arms delivered by each contractor are marked on the top of the comb just forward of the buttplate tang with a single letter indicating the firm that delivered the arm. The firms that delivered arms to fill this order were Parker Field and Company (indicated by an F), C.W. James (indicated by a J), E.P. Bond (indicated by a B), James Kerr (indicated by a K), and W.C. Scott (indicated by a S).
The heavily used Pattern 1853 Rifle-Musket offered here is a textbook example of one of the 30,000 "long" Enfields delivered as part of Sinclair, Hamilton and Company's second contract. This particular example is a very early gun, numbered 73 on the buttplate. This would indicate that this gun was probably part of the cargo of the Bermuda, which successfully ran the blockade in September of 1861.
This musket was furnished by the Birmingham firm of C.W. James and as such is marked with a "J" furnisher's mark on the top of the stock's comb. The stock roundel also names James as the maker as well as on the belly of the stock. As per surviving correspondence from Sinclair, Hamilton and Company 10,000 of the 30,000 "long" Enfields delivered in their second contract were furnished by C.W. James.
This musket has no doubt seen quite a bit of hard use. It is immediately apparent that the gun suffered from a lock failure caused by a break in the stirrup that caused the mainspring to slam into the bottom of the lock mortise, breaking out a fairly large chunk of wood. A small piece of old wood filler is present at the rear of the gap, but no other work was done to repair the wood damage. The stirrup was replaced with a handmade replacement that is quite a bit longer than the original, and as such the mainspring hangs down into the void of missing wood. When this repair was done is unclear, but it did restore functionality to the lock. The wood above the lock suffered from some fairly severe burnout as a result of hundreds of corrosive percussion caps being fired throughout its service life. The stock has two other cracks; the first extending from the forward projection of the triggerguard, and the second running across the right side of the buttstock in line with the lower buttplate screw. The stock flat opposite the lock has a set of initials carved into it; they appear to read “HC” or “HG”.
The JS anchor viewers stamp is light, but unmolested and readily visible. There is also a C.W. James stamp near the toe of the stock that is somewhat defaced and difficult to photograph. Traces of the James roundel on the right side of the buttstock are also visible, though difficult to photograph.
The metal components have a dull gunmetal patina and are mostly smooth with scattered pinprick pitting. The area around the breech is fairly heavily pitted from heavy use, and the barrel proofs are somewhat obscured by it. The rear sight is missing the elevation slide, and has had a piece of the left wing broken off ages ago. The bore is roughly .58 caliber, though it appears to be completely shot out and is quite pitted.
The middle barrel band is missing the tightening screw, and the upper band has a brass replacement screw in it. Neither of the sling swivels are present.
As with most Confederate inventory numbered Enfields, this musket does not retain its original ramrod, which would have also been numbered 73. the barrel is significantly pitted. The lock of this musket is marked 1861 over Tower forward of the hammer, with a crown at the rear of the lock.
As with most Confederate inventory numbered Enfields, this example was subject to extensive usage and shows it. However, it is an honest survivor and has a great untouched look to it complete with a few antique drops of paint. Inventory numbered Enfields are among the most coveted of Confederate weapons, especially such an early import as this one.