Confederate Inventory Numbered P1853 Rifle-Musket by E.P. Bond
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 buttplates 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 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 musket was furnished by the London firm of E.P. Bond. Typical of most London manufacturers, the lock is marked with the manufacturer’s name. A large “B” furnisher’s mark is present on the top of the stock’s comb, just forward of the buttplate tang. Based on surviving records we know that Bond delivered 6,000 of the 30,000 long Enfield’s delivered by Sinclair Hamilton and Company under their second contract.
This musket is in generally very good to very near fine condition for a Confederate inventory numbered Enfield. Usually when these guns are encountered, they show evidence of hard usage. This example was apparently spared such a fate. The inventory number of this muskets places it in a batch of Enfields captured by the US Navy and subsequently used in ordnance trails in December of 1862. A number of guns in this general range, roughly 6800 to 7060, were altered to the Berdan system after the war. Fortunately, our example was not modified as such.
The metal parts of the musket are generally smooth, with only very light pitting around the bolster. The rear sight is missing, and based on the patina on the barrel, has been for some time. The original numbered ramrod is also gone, and a crude homemade replacement is filling in. The barrel shows sharp London commercial proofs that have been cleaned lightly. The sharp markings on the lock were also cleaned, which has improved their visibility, though it has disturbed the patina. The brass components have taken on an attractive ochre patina. The bore is rough, with faint traces of rifling visible. It would no doubt be improved by a good scrubbing.
The stock is in generally very good shape and is free from and repairs or sanding. There are some scuffs to the forearm in front of the middle barrel band. This appears to be from rough installation or removal of the middle barrel band. The coloration of the wood in this area is consistent with the rest of the stock. There is a tight grain crack running from the barrel channel to the rear lock escutcheon. A small cross or “X” was carved in front of the trigger guard. The JS over anchor mark is in good shape and readily visible.
Overall, this is a fine example of a Confederate inventory numbered Pattern 1853 Rifle-Musket. In truth, this is the best example I have offered to date and would make a lovely addition to a collection of Confederate weapons.