Confederate Georgia G Marked Enfield by Barnett
- Product Code: FLA-3023-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
While Confederate marked and imported P-1853 Enfield rifle muskets are very scarce and always desirable collectibles, the rarest and most desirable of these guns are the ones purchased by individual southern states and marked with their state ownership marks. It is well known that early in the war the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana all acquired arms directly from England, functioning proactively to supply their troops that were rallying to the protect their states from the “Northern Invasion”. These guns had state ownership marks applied to them prior to their shipment to the Confederacy, in an attempt to keep the guns segregated from Confederate central government purchases, and to insure that the guns reached the troops of that specific state. The guns purchased by the state of Georgia are rarely encountered for sale, but they are some of the best documented of the Confederate state purchased arms.
In 1861, Major Edward C Anderson was sent to England to act as a Confederate central government purchasing agent of small arms and munitions. As Anderson was a Georgian, Georgia Governor Joseph E Brown relied upon Anderson to work as a purchasing agent for that state as well. During September of 1861 Anderson arranged the purchase of 5,500 “Enfield” pattern small arms through the firm of Sinclair, Hamilton & Company. Of these guns, 4,700 were P-1853 “long” Enfields, and 800 were P-1856 “short” Enfields, which were apparently P-1856 Sergeant’s Fusils for India Service. These were “short rifles’ that were similar to the standard British P-1856 rifle, but designed to accept a “shank” (socket) bayonet, instead of a saber bayonet. Anderson returned to the Confederacy aboard the Confederate Blockade Runner Fingal on October 8, 1861. In addition to Anderson, the Fingal brought the first 1,100 guns of his purchase for the state of Georgia, as well as 1,000 that had been purchased by Louisiana and 7,520 that had been purchased by the Confederate central government. Among these guns that were on Fingal were the Georgia purchased “long” Enfields that were mostly marked with the JS / (ANCHOR) viewer’s stamp, a 5/8” tall capital letter G on the obverse buttstock, and have inventory numbers engraved on their brass buttplate tangs. The majority of the Enfields that were shipped on the Fingal were marked with the engraved numbers 1-1000. It is possible that a crate or two of Barnett delivered arms, with slightly different markings, were contained in the Fingal cargo as well, although only one example has been reported. These guns, like all English long arms shipped to the Confederacy, were shipped in crates of 20, complete with socket bayonets for each gun, a bullet mold and two nipple keys (cone wrenches). Based upon an analysis of the Gladiator cargo manifest it is probable that Fingal also carried the Georgia purchased “long” Enfield’s numbered 1121-1220. The crates that contained these Georgia purchased arms were marked with the initials
Based upon examination of the limited number of Georgia “G” marked P-1853 Enfield rifle muskets known to exist, it has been determined that #1-2000 and #3700-4700 were guns marked in the manner discussed above, with the JS / (ANCHOR) viewer’s (inspector’s) mark, an engraved inventory number on the buttplate tang, and a G on the obverse buttstock that is approximately 5/8” tall. Collectors tend to refer to these as the “medium G” Enfields, as a smaller “G” mark is also noted in extant examples. However, it appears that approximately 1,700 guns (likely the guns numbered between 2000-3700) were delivered by the London gunmaker Barnett, and these guns have their numbers stamped on the toe of the buttplate, rather than being engraved on the top. These guns also bear a G mark on the obverse buttstock, but of a slightly larger size. Leading collectors to call them “big G” Enfields. The guns are marked with a CH / 1, within a circle, inspection stamp in the wood, in front of the buttplate tang, instead of a JS / (ANCHOR). The CH / 1 mark is that of a team of arms inspectors lead by Isaac Curtis and Charles Hughes. Curtis & Hughes were experienced arms makers with work history at RSAF Enfield, thus they were particularly qualified to inspect military small arms. A receipt from S. Isaac, Campbell & Company dated November 6, 1861 for “2 Stamps Initials CH 1” gives definitive period evidence that this mark is from marking dies ordered on behalf of the Confederacy. Additional confirmation of this is provided lower on the receipt, where Caleb Huse has written in red ink (in reference to the stamps), “For viewers of Rifles”. This pattern of stamp is noted on Confederate import arms provided by Barnett, including such obsolete British military longarms P-1851 Mini” Rifles and Brunswick Rifles, which Barnett apparently refurbished, inspected and then sold to Caleb Huse for the south. The stamp receipt noted above must have been for additional or replacement die stamps, as receipts exist for the Isaac Curtis inspection of Barnett provided P-1851 Mini” Rifles as early as September of 1861. When looking at the process of inspection and numbering of Confederate imported arms, it is interesting to note that Barnett alone seems to have completed all of this work “in house”. In all other cases, it appears the contracted arms were delivered to a central location (likely a dockside warehouse), where the teams of arms inspectors and engravers unpacked each crated, inspected and numbered the guns, bayonets & ramrods and then repacked them. Only Barnett appears to have delivered arms that were already inspected, and numbered if required. It is also interesting to note that it does not appear that Barnett applied numbers to bayonets and ramrods, as to date no numbered Barnett gun has been encountered with either matching numbered accessory. To date slightly more than 60 “G” marked P-1853 Enfields of all types are known to have survived, with slightly more than 40 of the engraved number guns being known and about 20 of the Barnett guns with stamped numbers being known. This observation is based upon some 20 years of surveying extant examples by several noted arms historians, and maintaining a very extensive research database.
The Georgia “G” marked P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket offered here is one of the “large G” guns delivered by the firm of J.E. Barnett & Sons, and arrived in mid-March of 1862 on board the blockade runner Economist. 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 P-1853 “Enfield” rifle muskets, as well as P-1853 artillery and P-1856 cavalry carbines to the Confederacy. Barnett not only filled Confederate central government contracts, but also orders for the Confederates states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana. 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, and John Edward Barnett subsequently succeeded 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, going out of business in 1908. 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 1860-1874. 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 often more expedient and cost effective to sub-contract for major components when large contracts were received and had to be delivered 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 P-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. The gun is clearly marked on the lock in two lines, forward of the hammer: BARNETT / LONDON. There is no “crown” to the rear of the hammer. The interior of the lock is marked with the name BARNETT, stamped over the mainspring, along with the initials JB. The initials JC and the number 43 are stamped near the mainspring boss, and the lock maker’s name, which appears to read STEATHAM, is stamped in an arc around the mainspring boss. Joseph Steatham was a gunlock maker located in King’s Hill, Wednesbury, Staffordshire who was listed as a “contractor to H.M. Board of Ordnance” from 1854 through 1868. The firm operated from 1854 to 1880. The left breech of the barrel is marked with the usual London commercial Provisional Proof, View, and Definitive Proof marks. The bottom of the barrel bears the intertwined script EL, indicating that the rough barrel originated in Li’ge, Belgium, and was finished in England. The barrel is also marked HOLLAND which was probably the London or Birmingham jobber who finished the barrel for Barnett. Holland was a common name in the English gun trade during the 19th century, and without a first name or initial, I can’t begin to guess which “Holland” the name represents. The bottom of the barrel is additionally marked with a 25 gauge mark, indicating .577 caliber, and with the initials HN, K and WS, which probably represent barrel filers, finishers and maybe even the “setter up” who assembled the gun. The gun has a crisp and clear 7/8” tall “big” Georgia G on the obverse buttstock, a relatively clear and legible CH / 1 in a circle on the top of the stock comb, forward of the buttplate tang. As is typical of Confederate numbered arms delivered by Barnett, the gun is stamp numbered in the toe of the buttplate, in this case the number is 3131. The initials JC are visible at the tail of the stock flat, opposite the lock. This could be the mark of London gun stocker J. Crockett, but since the mark is found inside the lock as well, it is probably the mark of the “setter up” who did the final assembly of the gun.
The gun is in about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition overall. The metal was probably cleaned a long time ago, leaving the proof marks at the left breech a little thin. The barrel has a very attractive, slightly mottled, gray and plum-brown patina, mixed with scattered areas of lightly oxidized age discoloration. The metal of the gun barrel is mostly smooth with some evenly scattered peppering and pinpricking present, and some light pitting around the breech and bolster area, along with a few minor patches of light surface oxidation. The lock has a mostly smooth plum brown patina with some light surface oxidation and freckling present. The lock functions crisply and is mechanically excellent, working perfectly on all positions. The hammer appears to be a very old, completely original and correct period replacement P-1853 hammer. Broken hammers were not at all uncommon on rifle muskets that saw extensive combat use, and huge supplies of spare Enfield parts were imported by the Confederacy during the course of the war. Just a sampling of the gun parts that arrived in Wilmington, NC between mid-July 1863 and January of 1865 are listed in the Payne Papers, and include at least 6 cases of “gun fittings”, as well as several hundred sets of “screw bands for Enfield Rifles” and at least several hundred “39” Enfield Ramrods”. The majority of the spare parts were shipped to Augusta Arsenal, Richmond Arsenal and Columbia, SC. While most of the parts are listed generally in the shipments, on December 22, 1864, two different parts shipments were sent to Major J.T. Trezevant of the Columbia Arsenal, and included “360 Spare Enfield Cocks” in one and “210 Spare Enfield Cocks” in the other, not to mention all of the various internal parts, including tumblers, sears, screws and springs. This hammer has been replaced during the period of use, and was then heated and hammered to adjust the shape of its neck to make the hammer hit the cone (nipple) squarely. This adjustment to the hammer geometry while crude, is clearly the work of a professional in an arsenal setting. The hammer nose shows wear indicative of hundreds of rounds being fired from the gun after the repair. This is a great example of a Confederate arsenal repair to a Confederate gun to keep it in service. The bore of the gun rates about VERY GOOD+ as well, and was clearly well cared for during its service life. The bore is mostly bright, with strong rifling and shows only lightly scattered pitting along its length, with a couple of small patches of more moderate pitting. The gun retains the original long-range rear sight, which is complete and fully functional. The barrel bands all retain their original screw keepers at the ends, small items that are almost always missing. The gun also retains both of its sling swivels, which appear to be original to the gun. An original, period P-1853 ramrod is in place in the channel under the barrel. It is full length and retains threads at the end. The rod is old an shows good age and correct construction techniques for an Enfield rod of the mid-19th century (an iron tip hammer welded to a steel shaft), but is cruder than typical English work and may be a Confederate blacksmith or arsenal produced rod. The brass furniture is very attractive and has a lovely, uncleaned ochre patina. The stock of the gun rates about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE as well. All of the stock markings remain crisp, without any smearing or blurring and the stock shows no signs of having been sanded. The edges remain strong, and any rounding appears to be from actual use, wear and tear. The stock has a beautiful hand rubbed look like a 100+ year-old banister, and is truly gorgeous. The stock is solid and full-length, with no breaks or repairs. There is a minor surface grain crack emanating from the butt on the obverse buttstock, but this is quite minor and very tight and stable. There are also some slivers of wood missing from the edges of the ramrod channel, damage that was no doubt done in a line of battle during the period of use. The slivering is minor and quite old, as the areas have worn smooth with handling and age. The wood to metal fit is wonderful, and very tight throughout. The stock does show scattered light to moderate handling marks, bumps and dings, but clearly was never abused or treated severely. A large, crude X is lightly carved in the reverse of the buttstock, as is a smaller, but also crude letter J.
Overall, this is a really great example of an incredibly scarce Georgia “G” marked P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket, which we know was shipped from England on board the Economist. These early-war Georgia purchased guns were some of the first Enfields to arrive in the south, and their early delivery insured that they saw significant service during the course of the war, and this one arrived just in time to see combat at Shiloh in the west or to see service during the Peninsula Campaign in the east. High quality Confederate Enfields are difficult to find for sale, but state marked guns are particularly difficult to locate. This is a wonderful and well marked Georgia gun that is 100% original and correct (with the minor exceptions of the period replaced hammer and possibly the ramrod) and would certainly make a fantastic centerpiece to any advanced collection of Confederate long arms, especially a collection that emphasizes Confederate imports or the state of Georgia in the Civil War.SOLD