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Confederate Numbered Pattern 1856 Enfield Saber Bayonet - Relic Condition

Confederate Numbered Pattern 1856 Enfield Saber Bayonet - Relic Condition

  • Product Code: EWB-2546-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a scare example of a Confederate Imported British Pattern 1856 Type II Saber Bayonet. The bayonet has an engraved Confederate inventory number on the reverse of the pommel cap, forward of the latch release button. The number is 1828. These numbered saber bayonets were imported by the Confederacy for use with the early purchases of English Pattern 1856 Short Rifles, which are some of the least often encountered of the English long arms to be purchased by the Confederacy. Early production British military Pattern 1856 Rifles incorporated a saber bayonet lug with a short (about 1” long) guide or “lead” forward of the actual bayonet-mounting stud. This helped to guide the bayonet onto the lug and provided a minimal amount of stabilization. The extended lug was eliminated fairly early in production of the rifles, and by 1858 was no longer standard on military rifles. A newer, second variation of the bayonet was adopted without the short guide mortise and is sometimes referred to by collectors as the Pattern 1856/58 (or P1856 Type II) Saber Bayonet. The other significant change that took place in 1858 was the elimination of a rivet to secure the locking spring to the bayonet and replacing it with a screw. This allowed a broken spring to be replaced in the field, rather the requiring the attention of armorers and machinery to drill out and replace the rivet when the spring was changed. 


The numbered bayonets and rifles were part of any early Confederate contract for 30,000 “Long Enfields” (rifle muskets) and 10,000  Enfield “Short Rifles”. These were the guns that were marked with the well-known Confederate JS / {ANCHOR} viewers mark and were also marked with an engraved inventory number in the buttplate tang of the brass mounted weapons, and a stamped inventory number in the wood behind the triggerguard in the case of iron mounted rifles. The rifle contract include all patterns of Enfield “short rifles” in production at that time, including both iron and brass mounted Pattern 1856 rifles, brass mounted Pattern 1858 Naval Rifles, and Pattern 1858 (P1856 No 2) “Bar On Band” rifles, in both iron and brass mountings, and a handful of the newly adopted Pattern 1860 and Pattern 1861 rifles. This bayonet would have been imported with the Pattern 1856 rifle with the matching inventory number, without an extended guide on the bayonet lug. The process of marking the weapons with inventory (really accounting) numbers came to an end by the spring of 1862. As a result, we can be relatively sure that this bayonet was imported between the fall of 1861 and mid-1862 and was more than likely in the Confederacy prior to the battle of Shiloh in the West and the Peninsula Campaign in the East. The inventory numbers were additionally applied to the bayonets and ramrods, as the bayonets were hand fit to the guns and were not interchangeable. The numbering of the ramrods appears to a holdover from the numbering of British military ramrods for accounting purposes, although ramrods did not always interchange either.


This Confederate Numbered Pattern 1856 Saber Bayonet has the hand engraved Confederate inventory number 1828 on the reverse of the pommel cap. The bayonet is in about GOOD RELIC condition and is completely untouched. The bayonet may be a battlefield pick up, as the leather grips remain in place, but the metal is so heavily oxidized and evenly pitted that that is had an almost “dug” appearance. The pitting has obscured any makers marks that might have been on the ricasso of the bayonet, and has also made it difficult to read the engraved inventory number on the pommel cap. Despite the heavily oxidized and relic condition of the metal, the blade retains its full length and has not been shortened or altered. The locking bayonet spring catch is in place on the obverse pommel cap but is frozen due to pitting and oxidation and is no longer functional. The pressed leather grip panels are in about GOOD condition and show moderate wear and distortion appropriate for leather grip panels exposed to the elements, especially moisture. Amazingly, the grips retain much of their original finish and the majority of their press checkered pattern.  As is often the case with these grips, they exhibit shrinkage and distortion due to age and exposure to moisture, and most of the finish loss is due to flaking. All of this is quite common, and the grips are prone to severe damage when exposed to harsh environment of constant campaigning in weather extremes. Water in particular is quite rough on these grip panels. Considering that this is likely an early battlefield pickup, the grips are actually in pretty good shape.


Overall this is a very nice display, relic condition and likely battlefield picked up example of a scarce Confederate Numbered Pattern 1856 Enfield Short Rifle Saber Bayonet. Only 10,000 numbered saber bayonets of all patterns were imported by the Confederacy, and their survival rate is quite low. In fact, based upon the best currently available research (from a data base of Confederate import numbered rifles and bayonets that has been collected over about 25 years) less than 60 of these numbered Confederate saber bayonets survive today. The closest known example to this one is #1822, which would have shipped in the same case of twenty bayonets and rifles that this bayonet would have shipped in. The closest known Confederate numbered short rifle to this bayonet is a brass mounted pattern 1856 Rifle that was formerly in the George Wray collection and which is now in the collection of the Atlanta History Center. That is the only Confederate numbered short rifle that we know of in the 1,8XX range. If you have a numbered Confederate Enfield short rifle, this is the ultimate accessory to go with it and will be a fantastic addition to display with your rifle or to add to any Confederate collection. I cannot overstate the rarity of these Confederate numbered bayonets, and it this is an item that you will be very glad that you added to your collection of Confederate arms.


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Tags: Confederate, Numbered, Pattern, 1856, Enfield, Saber, Bayonet, Relic, Condition