Welcome to College Hill Arsenal
Confederate Marked Barnett Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket

Confederate Marked Barnett Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket

  • Product Code: FLA-3706-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

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 appears to have been marked with a SLwithin 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 a viewer like 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. 


This Confederate Purchased SL Marked Barnett Pattern 1853 Rifle Musket is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERYcondition and shows the moderate wear typical of Confederate arms that saw significant service. The gun is clearly marked on the lock in two lines BARNETT / LONDON forward of the hammer, with an English {CROWN} / TOWERat the tail of the lock. I have always found this the most interesting and potentially desirable Barnett lock marking variation. This may be because this variant is shown the iconic text Civil War Guns by William B. Edwards as a “Confederate” lock mark. However, I think it is more indicative of the way the English gun contractors looked down upon the American buyers, whether for the north or the south. Barnett knew that the buyers on both sides associated the mark “TOWER” with British government owned or made firearms, so Barnett just added the mark under the crown at the rear of the lock, even though the gun had nothing to do with the British military.


Like so many Barnett guns, this one shows at least some contract provided parts that were assembled by Barnett. The interior of the lock is marked BARNETT over the mainspring and has  two assembly mating marks on the upper edge of the lock plate. These mating marks are \ \ / and \ / | | |. The \ \ / marking is found on the necks of the lock mounting and breech plug tang screws as well as on the bottom of the barrel, which also shows the secondary \ / | | | assembly mark. 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. Interestingly they are stamped over a Liège (Belgium) E/LG/* in an oval proof. This indicates that the barrel originally originated in Belgium. The underside of the barrel is marked with a variety of names, numbers and marks. The numerical marks include the number 5981 as well as an intertwined EL Belgian mark, the initials JJ and the name BARNETT. This all suggests that Barnett simply sourced the barrel from the Liège gun trade, a very common occurrence with English makers during the Civil War period, when British domestic production could not come close to keeping up with the orders for small arms, at least from 1861 to 1863.


As noted, the gun is well used and worn which is typical of Confederate arms. The gun remains in overall GOOD to VERY GOOD condition; or nearly Confederate “FINE” condition. The gun appears to be 100% original to the period and correct in every way. The gun has no finish and was cleaned to bright at some point in time. The gun now has an attractive dove gray patina over most of the metal surfaces. The metal has moderate amounts of scattered surface oxidation and discoloration along with some minor crust and roughness here and there on its surfaces. There is  some moderate pitting around the breech and bolster area from percussion cap flash, along with some lightly scattered distributed over the balance of the iron surfaces. The lock of the gun has a slightly mottled gray patina with some darker age discoloration. It matches the balance of the gun very nicely. The markings on the lock remain very 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 P.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 upper swivel may be an original that was added at a later time. 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 all missing from the gun, small parts that are often missing from Enfields today. The brass furniture has a moderately oxidized bronze patina that is uncleaned in recent times. The bore of the gun rates about GOOD at best. The bore is also moderately oxidized and has a frosted pewter patina like the exterior of the gun. It shows some even light  pitting along its length and the rifling is worn. There is practically no visible rifling near the muzzle, with the lands and grooves only clearly evident for about two-thirds of the barrel length, from the breech to almost the upper band, with the last few inches of the progressively rifled bore essentially smooth.  The stock is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition as well and shows wear and use commensurate with the metal of the gun. The stock appears to have been lightly sanded, with the wood showing wear and some rounding to the sharp edges. The stock is full-length, solid and free of any breaks or major repairs. There is about a 3” grain crack running from above the top edge of the lock towards the rear sight. There is an old glue repair to stabilize this crack inside the barrel channel and the crack is tight and solid. It is not particularly visible from the exterior. There is also the usual 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 scattered bumps, dings, dents and mars 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. The SL inspection mark on the comb of the stock is quite soft and difficult to read due to wear and age.


Overall, is an attractive example of a Civil War era Barnett produced Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket that almost certainly bears a yet to be fully identified Confederate inspection mark. The gun has nice eye appeal and displays well. It is a well-used and solid example of a southern purchased Civil War musket. 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.


Write a review

Please login or register to review

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