Confederate JS Anchor marked P1856 Cavalry Carbine
Given the massive numbers of "Enfield" pattern arms imported by both sides during the Civil War the Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbine is a very rare piece. Surviving documents show only 250 purchased by the United States, while the Confederacy is believed to have purchased somewhere around 10,000 of the carbines. Although that figure is substantially larger than what is attributed to Federal agents, it still represents less than 4% of total Confederate purchases of British arms, even if one uses the more conservative estimate of 300,000 arms imported by Confederate agents.
Their scarcity on the collector's market today is no doubt due to their hard use in the hands of Confederate cavalry, who were chronically short of proper cavalry arms, as well as their capture and disposal by Federal troops who had no need for cumbersome muzzleloading carbines. The later factor can be perfectly illustrated by the following report from the 7th Indiana Cavalry which documents the destruction of a full 40% of Confederate imported Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbines!
"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."
Surviving documents show that imports of the P1856 Cavalry Carbine generally occurred in the second half of the war, with the majority of the guns (as many as 9,700) were delivered no earlier than July 1863. Currently all known imported Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbines have locks marked Barnett, E.P. Bond, or Tower, and in a very few cases Parker Field & Son. Relatively small numbers of P1856 Carbines show Confederate viewers marks, which is consistent with the marking process becoming less stringent as the war progressed. Confederate viewer marked examples show either JS/Anchor of Anchor/S marks forward of the buttplate tang.
The carbine offered here is a good example of a Confederate imported, and viewer marked Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbine. This gun was manufacture by John Edward Barnett & Sons of London; the most prolific of English manufacturers associated with the Confederacy. The carbine also shows a very crisp JS/Anchor stamp forward of the buttplate tang. This well known viewer's mark is believed to be the mark of John Southgate who was employed by Sinclair Hamilton & Company, one of the chief Confederate suppliers.
Based on other pattern arms exhibiting this stamp, and their known importation dates it is likely that P1856 Cavalry Carbines showing JS/Anchor viewers marks were among the earliest of Confederate imports and may be accounted for by in the 160 P1856 Carbines purchased by Caleb Huse in August of 1862. This explanation would account for the scarcity of JS/Anchor marked P1856 Carbines.
Generally surviving Confederate purchased P1856 Cavalry Carbines fall into two categories; very nice guns that were captured before they saw much, if any service, and really rough examples that were, as the saying goes, "rode hard and put up wet". Our carbines definitely falls into the latter category.
The iron components show heavy pitting and a thick chocolate colored patina. The lock has been spared from the heavy pitting, likely as a result of its case hardening, and as such still shows a plainly visible BARNETT / LONDON stamp forward of the hammer. The lock marking is the only well defined stamp on the metal still visible. The barrel proofs can barely be discerned, but do appear to be London commercial proofs which are of course correct for a Barnett gun. The fragile rear sight is in place, but the 200 and 300 yard leafs have been broken off. The swivel ramrod is likewise missing, although the swivel mount is still in place. The saddle bar is in place, but the sling ring has been removed. The bore is dark with poor rifling, which is consistent with the rest of the metal. The brass components have a similar heavy patina on them, with some areas where it has been worn off by more recent handling, mainly on the triggerguard.
The wood also shows a heavy patina and is in mostly good condition except for an area of old rot on the left side of the wrist as detailed in the pictures. Fortunately, the rot is not active and the wood is not spongy, although it will flake off in that area. There is a thin crack that runs through the stock in the middle of the sling bar, but it appears to be generally superficial. The left side of the buttstock has a couple of wood worm burrows as well, which leads me to think that the gun may have been tucked up into a rafter for decades.
The forearm has been cut under the rear barrel band in what can be described as a "duffle cut". As far as I can tell the forearm is original to the gun. The barrel under the forearm has been protected from the elements and is in much better condition than the exposed outer surface. I will be happy to provide additional pictures to illustrate this to interested parties. There has been no restoration or attempts to pin, peg, or glue the forearm back in place, and it is currently held in place by the barrel bands, and displays well enough as-is.
Other than the mentioned issues the stock is solid. The lock panels are still fairly crisp and do not show any signs of sanding or refinish. There is a set of initials on the left side of the buttstock, "TH", as well as what is may be an italic "I" or an "H" carved on the right side of the stock.
The saving grace of the carbine, other than it's scarcity, is the exceptionally nice JS/Anchor viewer's mark in front of the buttplate tang as pictured. Despite the condition issues, this gun is still a very rare Confederate cavalry arm, and one of the scarcest of Confederate "Enfield" pattern arms. Even with the damage, which I have taken in to account in the price, the gun still displays very well and would fill in nicely until a really good (and expensive) example comes along.