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Attic Confederate Marked Barnett Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket

Attic Confederate Marked Barnett Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket

  • Product Code: FLA-3704
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $2,250.00


There is no English gun maker who could more appropriately be called the “Gun Maker to the Confederacy than the London firm of John Edward Barnett & Sons. During the course of the American Civil War, Barnett delivered thousands of Pattern 1853 “Enfield” rifle muskets, as well as Pattern 1853 Artillery and Pattern 1856 Cavalry carbines to the Confederacy. Barnett also delivered large numbers of obsolete arms like Brunswick rifles and Pattern 1851 Minié Rifles to Confederate buyers. Barnett not only filled Confederate central government contracts, but also filled orders for the Confederates states of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

 

The Barnett family traced their gunmaking heritage to Thomas Barnett who operated in London as early as 1796. In 1811, the firm became Thomas Barnett & Sons, with John Edward Barnett subsequently succeeding to the business in 1833. In 1842, the firm was renamed JE Barnett & Sons and operated under that name until 1901 when they became JE Barnett & Sons LTD, finally going out of business in 1908 after more than a century in the gun making trade. 

 

During the Civil War years, the Barnetts operated at both their 134 Minories address, which had been established in 1833, and at Brewhouse Lane, Wapping, where they operated from approximately 1860 to 1874. In the typical fashion of the old time gunmakers in England, Barnett relied heavily on a variety of contractors to produce piecework parts, which were subsequently assembled into complete arms in the Barnett shop. While Barnett could clearly manufacture entire guns in house, and often did, it was sometimes more expedient and cost effective to sub-contract for major components when large contracts were received and had to be filled quickly. Many of the orders received from the Confederacy during the course of the American Civil War were just these types of orders, which had to be completed as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon to disassemble a Pattern 1853 rifle musket with a Barnett marked lock, only to discover that the gun may have been assembled by Barnett but that few, if any, of the components were actually produced by Barnett. These guns often bear Confederate viewers marks such as the small CH/1 in circle, or one of the lesser known Confederate inspection marks found on Barnet arms like a small script or block JS in a circle or a small SL in a circle. All of these marks are found on the comb of the stock, forward of the buttplate tang, and are approximately the same size. The CH/1 mark has been documented through the papers of Confederate General Colin J. McRae as being that of the arms “viewers” Isaac Curtis & Charles Hughes, who inspected Confederate purchased arms for Barnett. It is logical to believe that these other marks are also Confederate inspection marks, with the “JS” marks likely being John Southgate’s mark, and the “SL” being the initials of a yet to be identified Confederate inspector. I have come to the conclusion that because the marks used by the “viewers” of those arms purchased by the Confederate central and state governments are relatively well documented within the McRae Papers, these marks that have yet to be fully identified may represent speculative southern purchases. Speculative purchases were those items that were acquired “on speculation” that they would find a ready market when they were offered for sale in the Confederacy. Every blockade runner reserved part of its cargo space for such purchases that ranged from the European luxuries that were selling for exorbitant prices in the south during the war like high end fabrics and perfume, to much more mundane items like pins, needles and shovels; all items that were difficult to obtain in the south during the war. These items were easily obtainable in England for reasonable prices and could be sold for huge profits in the Confederacy. These profits made the risks and expenses of operating as a blockade runner much more attractive then it would be if the ship owners and captains were simply delivering items for the Confederate government. Due to the wide variety of yet to be fully understood inspection marks on the combs of Enfield stocks that typically involve initials, I feel that it is as likely that some of the marks may reference the buyer or speculative investor as often as they refer to the inspector who viewed the arms. Further research may finally reveal more of the secret of these enigmatic Confederate markings.

 

Even those Barnett arms devoid of documented Confederate inspection marks are often Confederate related arms. Barnett delivered a number of guns, presumably to the Confederacy, that were assembled by other makers, but are marked BARNETT / LONDON in the wood; either on the stock flat opposite the lock or along the toe of the stock. These were clearly guns purchased by Barnett to get a nearly finished order “out the door” as expeditiously as possible. Sometimes the presence of a previously undocumented mark on a Barnett Enfield suggests Confederate use as well, as noted above, these marks may refer to speculative arms purchases.

This Confederate Purchased Barnett Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket is marked with a JS within a circle on the top of the stock comb, forward of the buttplate tang. This is the location that the “furnishers mark” is typically found on guns that were part of the Sinclair, Hamilton & Company “2nd Contract” with the Confederate central government which were the engraved inventory numbered, JS/Anchor marked guns. It is also where other CS inspection marks like the CH/1 of inspectors Curtis & Hughes is found. Occasionally other Confederate inspection marks such as the JS / {ANCHOR} and the {ANCHOR} / S inspection mark are found in this location as well. While this mark is officially “unidentified” it is quite probably another mark used by the inspection teams under the direction of John Southgate, the man whose “JS” initials are found in conjunction with the famous JS / {ANCHOR} Confederate viewing mark. This mark is pictured and discussed in our book on Confederate imports from England, The English Connection and similar markings can be found in the chapter on gun marks in that book. The buttplate tang is additionally marked with the letter D, the meaning of which is not known but may indicate some sort of rack number or possibly a company letter. 

 

This Confederate Purchased JS Marked Barnett Pattern 1853 Rifle Musket is in about GOOD condition and shows the heavy wear typical of Confederate arms that saw significant service. The gun is clearly marked on the lock BARNETT / LONDON forward of the hammer, with no additional marks on the lock to the rear of the hammer. The gun was apparently assembled by Barnett, although it is not completely clear. The interior of the lock is unmarked and only the assembly mating mark \ \ \ / | is present on the edge of the lock plate. This same marking is found on the necks of the lock mounting and breech plug tang screws as well as on the bottom of the barrel. The exterior of the barrel is marked at the breech with the three usual London commercial proofs; a Provisional Proof, a Definitive Proof and a Definitive View mark. These marks are weak due to flash pitting. The underside of the barrel is marked with both names and numbers. The numerical marks include the number 320P as well as with a 25 gauge marks, indicating .577 caliber. The bottom of the barrel is additionally marked with the names EZRA MILLWARD and PRITCHETT.

 

The name Pritchett refers to the London based firm of R.E. (Richard Ellis) Pritchett & Son and may indicate that Pritchett was the actual maker of the gun, or maybe the firm acted as the “setter up” and assembled the gun from the parts provided by Barnett. It was not uncommon for Barnett to sub-contract for finished arms, which often bore locks with his name on them. Ezra Millward was a very successful Birmingham based barrel maker working in the Aston Junction Mills, and his mark is regularly encountered on Enfields from the Civil War era, so that mark is clearly that of the barrel maker.

 

As noted, the gun is well worn and used, typical of Confederate arms and overall the gun remains in about GOODcondition; or Confederate “Very Good” condition. The gun appears to be 100% original to the period and correct in every way. The gun no finish and has a thickly oxidized brown patina over most of the metal surfaces. The metal has moderate amounts of surface crust and roughness over its surfaces, with at least some pitting distributed over all of the iron surfaces, and significant deep pitting around the breech and bolster area from percussion cap flash. The erosion in the metal and accompanying wood loss from “burn out” at the bolster suggests that the gun was fired thousands of times, likely both in battle and potentially in the post-war south helping to keep food on the table. The lock of the gun has a moderately oxidized plum brown with a slightly mottled appearance. It matches the balance of the gun perfectly. The markings on the lock remain clear and crisp. The lock remains mechanically functional and works well on all positions. The gun retains its complete original rear sight, which is marked W&S for the famous Birmingham maker Philip Webley & Son. Webley produced large numbers of Enfield pattern rear sights during the Civil War period. The original combination musket front sight and socket bayonet lug is present as well. The gun retains both sling swivels as well, and both appear to be original, although the lower swivel is cracked. An original full-length ramrod is in the channel under the barrel and retains threads at the end, however they are damaged. The original screw retention “doughnuts” are present on all three of the barrel band tension screws, small parts that are often missing from Enfields today. The brass furniture has a thickly oxidized patina that is uncleaned and is nearly black in some areas. The percussion cone (nipple) is a period of use replacement that is long and narrow and is typical in form to “southern” cones often found in Confederate firearms. Many similar cones are pictured in the bolsters of guns in the standard reference book on Confederate long arms, Confederate Rifles & Muskets by Murphy & Madaus. The bore of the gun rates about FAIR at best. The bore is also heavily oxidized, like the exterior of the gun, and shows even moderate to heavy pitting along its length and no visible rifling is present. The stock is in about NEAR VERY GOOD condition and shows wear and use commensurate with the metal of the gun. The stock does not appear to have been sanded, but the wood shows wear and rounding to the sharp edges, most likely due to heavy use. The stock is full-length, solid and free of any breaks or repairs. There is a minor grain crack running from the rear lock mounting screw to the barrel channel, an often encountered issue that results from overtightening the screws. The stock shows numerous bumps, dings and dents in the wood, as would be expected from a well-used 150-year-old military musket. A couple of longer scrapes and scratches are also present, as is some old black gunk that has dripped on the stock and dried in place. An old set of  initials, JB, are crudely carved into the reverse of the buttstock. The JS inspection mark on the comb of the stock is soft and somewhat difficult to read due to wear and age.

 

Overall, is an attractive, attic condition, essentially untouched example of a Civil War era Barnett produced Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket that almost certainly bears the Confederate inspection mark of John Southgate (or his inspection team), in a yet to be confirmed stamp. The gun has the great eye appeal of a well-used southern purchased Civil War musket. Other than wiping the gun down with an oily rag to keep the metal from further oxidation or deterioration and taking the gun apart to confirm mating and maker marks, it remains in the same condition as it has likely been in for decades. For a collector looking for a classic example of a Confederate Enfield for their Civil War collection this is a nice opportunity to obtain a solid southern gun that is complete and correct and is very affordably priced.


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Tags: Attic, Confederate, Marked, Barnett, Pattern, 1853, Enfield, Rifle, Musket