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Brunswick Rifle - Confederate Purcahsed

Brunswick Rifle - Confederate Purcahsed

  • Product Code: FLA-3200-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

In 1836 the British military officially adopted the percussion cap to replace flint as the ignition system for small arms, although it would be 1839 before a new infantry musket using the percussion system would be officially approved and start to be issued in any quantity. With the theoretical acceptance of the new ignition system, George Lovell, inspector of small arms at Enfield (the British government armory), proceeded to start the process of designing a new percussion musket and rifle. His initial success was in a back-action percussion lock that was utilized on his short-lived Pattern 1838 musket, but saw significant service with the newly designed P-1837 Brunswick Rifle. The Brunswick was a significant technological improvement over the Baker Rifle that had seen use in the British rifle brigades and battalions for the previous three decades. The Baker was a flintlock rifle with a slow twist 7-groove barrel. The rifling design had been selected not so much for accuracy, but for its ability to see significant use without becoming too fouled to load. In fact the accuracy (or rather inaccuracy) of the rifle was such that during the last years of production the multi-leaf rear sight was abandoned for a fixed sight, with the Board of Ordnance feeling that the adjustable sight was unnecessary for the rifle or the rifleman! Lovell experimented with a variety of rifling systems for what would become the new Brunswick rifle, and finally settled upon a 2-groove bore of .704 caliber that used a belted ball to insure a tight mechanical fit between the ball and rifling. The new rifle resembled the older Baker in that it did not employ barrel bands, but rather had a key fastened stock and had a heavy bar on the right side of the barrel for the mounting of a saber bayonet. The first version of the Brunswick, the Pattern 1837 had Lovell’s back action lock, a fixed sight with additional leaves for longer range shooting, and a hook breech. The gun went into production in 1838, with the first rifles reaching troops in the field around 1840. In 1841 an improved version was adopted with a conventional side lock and the hooked breech was eliminated. These P-1841 rifles went into production around 1844 and were in the field the following year, and most collectors refer to the improved Brunswick as the Pattern 1844. The final change came in 1847, when Lacy & Reynolds, a London arms contractor, introduced an improvement to the bayonet mounting bar. Once the new improvement was officially adopted, the final version, the Pattern 1848 came into being. The Brunswick Rifle remained a standard issue long arm for rifle troops until about 1853, when sufficient quantities of the new Pattern 1851 Mini” Rifles had been produced and could be issued, effectively turning all British infantrymen into “riflemen”. Even after the adoption of the small-bore .577 caliber P-1853 “Enfield”, the Brunswick remained in a secondary issue roll, particularly among native and colonial troops, through the mid-1860s.

With the adoption of the Pattern 1853 Enfield, the Brunswick rifle, along with the Pattern 1839 and 1842 muskets and the Pattern 1851 Mini” Rifle all became obsolete and essentially worthless arms in British military inventories. Some of these arms were sold off to the fledgling Confederacy during 1861 and 1862, as southern purchasing agents were looking to obtain small arms of any type to equip the newly formed Confederate armies that were then taking the field against the US military. According to the Gorgas Summary of Small Arms Purchases made by Caleb Huse, some 2,020 “Brunswick Rifles” were purchased by the south at a cost of 54 schillings each. This summary report was dated February 3, 1863, and most likely covered the purchases made by Huse between the time he arrived in England during the summer of 1861 and the end of 1862. Huse acquired all of the Brunswick Rifles from S. Isaac, Campbell & Company, who purchased the guns from J.E. Barnett & Son of London. The guns were acquired in 8 lots between October 31, 1861 and March 27, 1862. To date nine examples of these Confederate purchased Brunswick Rifles are known, all bearing the CH/1 inspection mark Curtis & Hughes, who acted as viewers for Confederate arms purchases in England, usually of guns sold by Barnett. These nine examples vary in features and caliber, with some being .704 2-groove military rifles (both 1837 and 1844 patterns) and some being smaller bore volunteer models. In all cases, even the surplus military guns have been upgraded with the addition Pattern 1856 short rifle rear sights. The Volunteer pattern, smaller bore guns have stamped inventory numbers, and the extant examples range from #207 through #1065. This suggests that Barnett may have produced these guns, or built them from a variety of scavenged military parts and newly made parts, as Pattern 1853 type locks and newly made .63 barrels have been encountered on some of these guns. The Brunswick rifles documented in the Gorgas summary were shipped to the south in the cargos of the blockade runners Gladiator, Southwick, Stephen Hart, Ella Warley, and Melita. The rifles were shipped in crates of 20 each, each rifle accompanied by the appropriate brass handled saber bayonet. A pair of cone wrenches and a single bullet mold were also include in each case. These cases were marked in three lines B / WD / H within a rhomboid, indicating “Brunswick”, “War Department” (Confederate Ordnance Department) and “Huse”. One extant Confederate ordnance document dated August 27, 1862 records the transfer of “260 British rifles (two-groove)” from the Charleston Arsenal to General Sterling Price at Tupelo, MS. This description as “2-groove” rifles indicates that these were the .704 caliber British military pattern 1837 and 1844 Brunswick Rifles. 13,000 rounds of ammunition and 13 bullet molds also accompanied the rifles to Tupelo. With only 50 rounds of ammunition sent with each gun, the bullet molds probably became rather important very quickly, if the guns were to remain in service very long! These Brunswick Rifles almost certainly saw combat less than a month later at the Battle of Iuka, MS (September 19, 1862) and again soon after at the second Battle of Corinth, MS (October 3-4, 1862). One of the finest examples of a carved Confederate rifle is a .63 caliber Volunteer pattern Brunswick rifle identified by its exquisite period inscription to John C. Gillespie of Company K, 18th Arkansas Infantry. The 18th Arkansas fought at both Iuka and Corinth, and suffered staggering causalities at the second battle with losses approaching 85% of the regiment. As the Gillespie gun is a numbered (#1065) “Volunteer” pattern, .63 caliber gun, it must have been part of a different shipment of Brunswick rifles to Price’s troops that we have not found the ordnance records for, as the record mentioned above clearly describes .704 caliber Brunswicks. Not all of the 2,020 Brunswick Rifles purchased by Huse during 1861-62 successfully arrived in the Confederacy. The Stephan Hart was captured by the Federal Blockading Squadron and its cargo was subsequently sold at auction on May 22, 1862. Among its cargo were some 16 cases of Brunswick Rifles, 320 in total, which were sold for $10.00 each at the auction. The Blockade Runner Ella Warley suffered a similar fate, and the September 30, 1863 auction of its cargo included 15 cases of Brunswick Rifles (noted as “small caliber, 7-groove”) which were sold for $12.00 each including their saber bayonets. This means that at least 620 of the 2,020 rifles never made it to southern ports, so a maximum of 1,400 documentable Brunswick Rifles were delivered to the Confederacy.

Offered here is what I believe to be the 10th known example of a Confederate Purchased P-1844 Brunswick Rifle. The gun is a British military marked Pattern 1844 Brunswick rifle, with the original 1837 style bayonet bar, forward action lock of the Pattern 1841/44 rifle, a 30 3/16” 2-groove .704 caliber barrel and the usual large brass patchbox. The gun has the distinguishing characteristic of a 1,100-yard Enfield “short rifle” pattern sight having been added to it, replacing the original British military sight. While this pattern sight is found on the Volunteer pattern Brunswick Rifles (especially the so called .577 “Brunswick-Enfield” rifle), it is not found on British military pattern Brunswick rifles, with the exception of those sold to the Confederacy via Barnett and S. Isaac, Campbell & Company. The gun also appears to retain the traces of the CH / 1 inspection mark in the wood of the stock comb, forward of the buttplate tang. Unfortunately a hole in that location has mostly obliterated the mark. It look as if a collection tag was in this location at some point in time, as the dent from the circular metal tag is still visible in the wood, along with the hole from the pin that held it in place. Careful examination with good light and magnification shows the traces of the CH / 1 mark, which was mostly destroyed by the collection tag. Another typically Confederate identifier is the presence of carved initials in the stock. The initials G and H are nicely crosshatched on the reverse of the stock and the number 10 is less artfully carved there as well. While there is no way to be sure, I do know that obsolete Confederate purchased P-1851 Mini” Rifles and Brunswick Rifles were among the arms captured at Port Hudson, LA. The only Confederate regiment numbered with a “10” at Port Hudson was the 10th Arkansas, and 4 men with the initials “GH” served with that regiment. As it appears most of the Brunswicks were sent west to serve with units like the 18th Arkansas (documented by the carved rifle), it could be that this Brunswick served with Arkansas troops as well. The gun is in about VERY GOOD condition overall. The gun remains in complete and original condition throughout and has an attractive, untouched appearance. The lock has scattered light to moderate pitting, which has obscured the (CROWN) / VR in front of the hammer, as well as the lock marking TOWER 1846, which is very difficult to read. The small British military (CROWN) “ (BROAD ARROW) on the lock remains quite legible. The breech retains mostly legible British military proof marks, and a mostly legible B O / (BROAD ARROW), Board of Ordnance Storekeeper’s mark is still visible in the obverse stock, forward of the patchbox. The interior of the lock is marked with an M over the mainspring, and J DAVIS near the mainspring stud. Davis was the lock maker. The interior of the lock is inspected with a (CROWN) / 12, and the hammer neck is inspected (CROWN) / 5. The neck is also marked with 2 punch dots (really squares) and an 18. The interior of the lock plate has a single punch “dot”. The top edge of the lock plate bears the assembly mating mark \ \ |, which is found throughout the balance of the gun and is the master assembly mating mark. The underside of the barrel is also marked with the same \ \ | assembly mark, and also bears the names John Clive and J Cook. The Clive mark is that of Birmingham barrel maker who worked from 1814-1832, becoming Clive & Son in 1832 and remaining in business through 1869. During most of the firm’s life it was on Newtown Row (later Newtown Road) in the gunmaking district of Birmingham. The name J. Cook almost certainly refers to John Thomas Cook who would later be the principle in Cook & Son, an important Birmingham gunmaker that supplied many arms to the Confederacy during the course of the Civil War. The bottom of the barrel also bears the initials JM, which match the “M” in the lock and the same initials in the stock behind the triggerguard. This suggests that “JM” was the “setter up”, the workman who actually assembled the gun. The rest of the gun shows the same \ \ | mating marks, and they are found on the edges of the barrel keys (wedges), both side lock screws, and the in the rammer channel. The tang screw shows no mating mark and the top of the patch box shows a mismatched mating mark of \ \ / /, suggesting it was replaced during the Barnett refurbishment of the gun for sale to Confederacy. A secondary mating mark of a single file slash is also found on the top edge of the lock and under the barrel, again suggesting disassembly, refurbishment and reassembly. The gun has a nice, untouched and uncleaned look to it. The barrel has a mostly smooth, dark brown patina on its surface, while it retains traces of what appears to be a period rust blued finish underneath. The barrel shows some lightly scattered pinpricking along its length, with slightly more pinpricking around the breech and bolster area along with a few patches of light pitting as well. The bore is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition with very strong and deep 2-groove rifling its entire length along with light pitting scattered along the entire bore. The bore is very dark and dirty would probably be much improved by a good scrubbing. There are also some small patches of more moderate pitting present in the bore, and the rifling is slightly thinner near the muzzle, suggesting at least moderate use during its working life. The lock has a mottled gray appearance with a pewter base patina and some areas of darker discoloration. As noted above the lock is somewhat evenly pitted with light to moderate oxidation present, partially obscuring the markings. The lock is mechanically excellent and functions perfectly on all positions. The rifle retains both sling swivels, which appear to be original, and its period applied rear sight. The rear sight is the Enfield short rifle pattern, with a 1,100-yard ladder. This pattern of sight was never mounted on British military Brunswick rifles and to my knowledge is only found on British military Brunswicks with Confederate purchase provenance. The original bayonet mounting bar is present on the right side of the barrel as well. An original Brunswick pattern rammer is in the channel under the barrel, and it is full length with good female threads on the end, like those found on the P-1856 cavalry carbine rammer. The brass furniture is in very nice condition with a golden patina that is very attractive, but that suggests it may have been cleaned some time ago. The stock is NEAR VERY GOOD overall condition, and shows significant wear, especially around the hardware mounting pins and barrel wedges. There is some moderate wood loss around most of the pins and wedges, with the loss around the two rearmost pins on the reverse of the stock being the most objectionable. There is a small area of old wood filler on the reverse, below the rearmost wedge, and some tiny areas of filler are present it the same general area. The stock has a few old, fine grain cracks, mostly along the upper edges of the stock to barrel joint. For the most part they are only visible with the barrel removed, and are all tightly glued with very old repairs. These are stable, mostly invisible and mentioned for total accuracy. A tight old grain crack also runs through the area of wood filler under the rear barrel wedge. A couple of minor chips of wood are missing as well, one to the rear of the barrel tang and one to the rear of the lock mortise. Both of these areas of minor damage are very old and worn quite smooth from handling and use. The stock also shows the numerous bumps and dings expected from a military rifle stock that probably did service during the Crimean War before being sold to the Confederacy almost a decade later. Amazingly, despite the wear and minor damage to the stock it remains solid and full length with no major repairs or significant structural issues. The stock does not appear to have been sanded and still retains relatively good lines and edges, with any rounding or softening of the edges being the result of real world use, not modern abuse.

Overall this is a very nice, if well used example of a scarce Confederate Purchased Brunswick Rifle. While the CH / 1 is nearly obliterated by the hole from the old collection tag, I am quite sure that I can make out its remnants. However, even if the mark were completely obscured, the configuration of the gun being a British military Brunswick rifle with an Enfield short rifle long-range sight added makes it almost definitively Confederate. The addition of the period carved initials and the wear of the gun all suggest that this gun was most certainly part of the 2,020 Brunswick rifles purchased by the Confederacy, and the apparent wear, use and initials suggest further that this gun was one of the 1,400 that actually made it through the Blockage to be used by Southern troops. Only a handful of these Confederate Brunswicks are known, and fine examples with great markings sell in the low 5-figure price range. If this one had a great CH / 1 mark it would be priced at least 50% higher. As it sits, it is priced much more reasonably. A Confederate Brunswick in the identical configuration is pictured on page 127 of The English Connection, with the only difference being that it has a more legible CH / 1 mark. Here is your chance to own an extremely scarce Confederate import for a very fair price, and add a gun to your collection that you might not see available for sale again for a decade.


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Tags: Brunswick, Rifle, Confederate, Purcahsed