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Confederate Imported P-1860 Enfield Short Rifle

Confederate Imported P-1860 Enfield Short Rifle

  • Product Code: FLA-3151-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This about a VERY GOOD condition example of a very rarely encountered Confederate imported P-1860 Iron Mounted “Short Rifle”. The gun bears the highly desirable Confederate J S / (ANCHOR) viewer’s mark behind the triggerguard, and has the Confederate inventory control number 550 stamped in the wood of the belly of the stock. During 1861 and 1862, the Confederacy entered into a several contracts for the delivery of “Enfield” pattern percussion long arms of all varieties. Many of these contracts are well documented in the papers of Confederate General Colin McRae, which now reside in the collection of the South Carolina Relic Room & Military Museum, in Columbia, SC. While the purchases concentrated on P-1853 Enfield rifle muskets for use by Confederate the infantry, a number of Enfield pattern “short rifles’ and carbines (both artillery and cavalry) were obtained as well. Confederate documents reveal that one of the early orders included 30,000 P-1853 “Long Enfields’ (obtained from Sinclair, Hamilton & Company), as well as 10,000 “short rifles’ of varying patterns. The 40,000 guns from these two contracts (along with some state contracts that were entered into about the same time) are the ones that are found with the both the J S / (ANCHOR) viewer’s mark and Confederate inventory number markings. The “Long Enfields’ were serialized in three series, from 1-10,000, 1-10,000 with an “A” suffix and 1-10,000 with a “B” suffix (although no gun bearing “10,000” has ever been encountered). The short rifles were simply numbered in their own series from 1-10,000 without any letter suffixes. The short rifles were a mixture of standard P-1856 and P-1856 Type II (also known as the P-1858 or “Bar on Band”) iron mounted rifles, as well as non-standard brass mounted P-1856 and P-1856 Type II rifles. A handful of the brass mounted P-1858 Naval Rifles, and iron mounted P-1860 and P-1861 rifles were also purchased. Many of the earliest Confederate short rifle purchases took the form of “Volunteer Rifles”, which were enhanced and embellished commercial versions of the standard military rifles. These guns were intended for sale to the local British “Volunteer” units that were essentially the local militias that were as much shooting clubs and social organizations as they were quasi-military units. Several “short rifles’ with checkered stocks, engraved metal and other upgraded features are known with Confederate importation marks on them. It appears that the very first deliveries of Enfield pattern “short rifles’ were from William Joshua Grazebrook. Grazebrook made his first sales of “short rifles’ to Caleb Huse on May 1, 1861 and these sales continued through the end of December of that year. Fraser, Trenholm & Company paid for all of Grazebrook’s transactions with Huse. Grazebrook’s invoices list an array of both long and short Enfields, as well as artillery carbines. Many of Grazebrook’s entries note that the short rifles were either iron or brass mounted, and some are described as “Best” and some as “Second Hand”. This supports the theory that many of Grazebrook’s arms were acquired on the open market and from gun shops, with Grazebrook literally buying them where he could find them. The meaning of “second hand” is quite clear, suggesting the guns were used, but the meaning of “best” is somewhat more murky, but almost certainly refers to the Volunteer pattern guns that were manufactured to a higher grade of fit and finish. His first delivery on May 1, 1861 was for seven cases of “short rifles’ with each case containing 20 guns. These were the very first short rifles obtained by the Confederacy and almost certainly would have been the guns numbered from 1 to 140. If these very first deliveries were not inspected, marked and numbered, then we know for a fact that the Grazebrook delivered rifles were being inspected by August of 1861. In a his diary, dated August 2 1861, Major Edward C Anderson (CS purchasing agent for the state of Georgia in England during 1861) noted:

“wrote to S.H. & Co. (Sinclair, Hamilton & Company) that (Caleb) Huse had agreed to receive 550 of Graysbrook’s (sic) short Enfield Rifles & directed them to send down our “Viewer”, prior to their being accepted.”

In all, Grazebrook would deliver a total of 2,295 of the approximately 10,000 Enfield short rifles delivered to the Confederate central government. All of those rifles were delivered between May 1, 1861 and December 27, 1861, when the purchasing relationship came to an end due to apparent financial malfeasance on the part of Grazebrook. Not to be deterred, Grazebrook continued to speculate in arms and Confederate sales, and even helped to secure and finance the cargos of the ill fated blockade-runners Dolphin and Nicholai I, as well as the Adler and Alliance. Grazebrook partnered with at least two prominent English businessmen (Jean Baptiste Bouville and Horace Chavasse) in order to continue in his speculative commerce with the Confederacy, but in the end was financially ruined by the war, and drug Chavasse down with him in the process.

The Pattern 1860 Short Rifle was the standard British military rifle that had been adopted only a year before the outbreak of the Civil War. The gun was an improved version of the earlier P-1856 Short Rifle and retained the 33” barrel, with a .577 caliber bore which typified the “Enfield” family of long arms at the time. The Pattern 1860 Short Rifle included an upgrade that had been adopted from the Pattern 1858 Naval Short Rifle, a bore that was rifled with 5-groove, progressive depth rifling. The earlier rifles had bore rifled with 3 grooves, as did the rifle muskets. The new 5-groove rifling was found to been more accurate than the 3-groove rifling. The Pattern 1860 rifle also had a slightly thicker barrel than the earlier P-1856 rifle, which reduced the effects of heat on the point of impact to point of aim relationship of the barrel, sights and bullet, making it a better rifle in a “fire fight”. The rear sight was graduated to 1,100 yards (rifle musket sights were graduated to 900 and later 1,000 yards), and was set just behind the rear barrel band; further forward on the barrel than the sights used on the rifle musket. The Pattern 1861 Short Rifle that would supplant the P-1860 in the British military would include a rear sight graduated to 1,250 yards, a nod to the long-range accuracy of the new barrel and rifling system. The rifle was equipped with a bayonet lug on the right side of the barrel, near the muzzle, to accommodate a Yataghan blade saber bayonet. The rifle had a rear sling swivel attached to a lug, screwed into the rear of the extended iron triggerguard tang, and the upper swivel attached to the upper barrel band. As with the P-1853 rifle muskets, the iron mounted rifles had blued barrels and color case hardened locks and hammers. The furniture (triggerguard, butt plate, stock escutcheons, nose cap etc.) of the “iron mounted” rifles was made of iron rather than brass, and was color casehardened (with the exception of the nose cap) as well. Due to the difficulty of engraving numbers in the case hardened iron buttplate tang, the iron mounted rifles that were inventory numbered were stamp-marked with their numbers in the wood of the stock belly, between the rear of the triggerguard tang and the buttplate. Short rifles were lighter and handier than rifle muskets and were preferred for use not only by Confederate infantry that functioned as skirmishers and sharpshooters, but by Confederate cavalry that tended to operate as mounted infantry, rather than as traditional heavy cavalry. Confederate cavalry commanders J.E.B. Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest were both proponents of issuing Enfield short rifles to their cavalry troopers. Short rifles with saber bayonets are known to have been issued to Confederate infantry regiments serving in Kershaw’s South Carolina Brigade, the 10th, 16th, 18th & 51st Georgia, the 13th, 17th, 18th & 51st Mississippi, the 41st Tennessee, the 1st Battalion of Texas Sharpshooters, and the 5th Texas. Mounted Confederate units that are known to have been issued the “short Enfield rifle” were Cobb’s & Phillip’s Legions of Georgia, the 18th & 19th Mississippi cavalry (McCulloch’s Brigade of Forrest’s 2nd Cavalry), the 2nd North Carolina cavalry, the 3rd, 6th, 9th & 27th Texas cavalry (Ross’ brigade) and the 7th Virginia cavalry. Today, a multi-decade survey of extant surviving Confederate marked and inventory numbered Enfield short rifles reveals that less than 100 of these guns have survived (about 1% of the total purchased). While some are in private collections, many others reside in museum or other public collections where they can be viewed, but never owned by a collector.

This Confederate purchased P-1860 Iron Mounted Rifle is in about VERY GOOD condition and has a wonderful overall look to it. Based upon the collected numbers and characteristics of Confederate short rifles in our database, only 5 examples of iron mounted, P-1860 short rifles are known to exist at this point in time. The gun has clearly seen service in the field, but remains amazingly complete and in reasonably good condition for a Confederate used long arm that likely served for almost the entire war. The gun has the appearance that it may have been near a fire at some point in time, as the stock shows the darkening to the wood typical of scorching. The gun is marked with the name of the master contractor who made the gun in the toe of the stock, between the Confederate inspection mark and the Confederate inventory number, but I cannot make it out. A visible JS / (ANCHOR) inspection mark is present in the stock belly, behind the triggerguard and the Confederate inventory number 550 is stamped further back in the stock, slightly over-stamping the maker’s name. The metal of the rifle rates about VERY GOOD overall. The lock of the rifle is clearly marked with the usual English Crown to the rear of the hammer, without a “VR” underneath it. Forward of the hammer, the lock is marked 1861 / TOWER, indicating it was a Birmingham (or The Regions) produced short rifle, manufactured in 1861. The interior of the lock is marked with the initials WL and TH and the number 8. The interior of the hammer neck is also marked TH. That would suggest that “TH” was the lock maker, but in this case I think it might be the “setter up” (the actual workman who assembled the gun), as these initials are present under the barrel as well. The initials “WL” are likely either that of the lock maker or possibly represent the company who built the rifle. The exterior of the case hardened lock has a mottled patina of brown over medium pewter gray, that suggests the original case hardened finish. The interior of the lock retains strong traces of case coloring. The lock shows some very lightly scattered pitting and pinpricking on the exterior. Despite the indications of real field use and combat, the lock remains mechanically excellent and functions well on all positions. The top edge of the lock plate bears the assembly mating mark |, lightly cut along the edge. This same mark appears on many other components of the rifle as well. The left breech of the barrel is marked with the usual Birmingham commercial provisional proof, provisional view and definitive proof marks, as well as a pair of 25 gauge marks, indicating .577 caliber. The marks are crisply and clearly stamped and remain extremely legible. The barrel shows some pinpricking around the breech and bolster area, with the balance of the barrel being quite smooth and showing only some lightly scattered pinpricking here and there. The barrel has a medium gray pewter patina with a streaky thin brown patina over it, which is quite attractive. The bottom of the barrel is marked with the matching mating mark | and the alphanumeric code BW 6. The barrel is additionally marked by its maker, BEASLEY BROS., a major barrel making partnership located on Rolfe Street in Smethwick from 1859-1863. The company had originated as Beasley & Farmer in 1834, and in 1852 received a patent for “barrel rolling machinery”, in 1854 they received a patent for “improved barrel making” and in 1856 for “improved rifling cutters”. Beasley & Farmer also demonstrated their proprietary barrel-rolling machine for the US Ordnance Department in 1856. The bore of the rifle rates about VERY GOOD and is somewhat dirty with light pitting along its entire length. The bore does retain strong and very visible 5-groove rifling along its entire length, confirming that this is a P-1860 and not a P-1856 rifle. A good scrubbing might improve the condition of the bore a good degree. The original saber bayonet lug is present at the end of the barrel near the muzzle, and is marked with the bayonet mating number 1, which coincidentally appears to match the single file slash mating marks found inside the gun. The original 1,100-yard rifle pattern rear sight is in place on the top of the barrel, immediately behind the rear most barrel band. It is complete and remains completely functional. The upper barrel band retains its original tension screw and screw protecting doughnut, along with the original sling swivel. The lower band is missing the small doughnut shaped screw protector. The sling swivel in the toe of the stock is original to the rifle as well. The small stud, forward of the triggerguard, which secured the snap cap (cone or nipple protector), is present. Amazingly an original snap cap is secured to the lug and is essentially complete, showing only some heavy wear and minor loss to the leather pad on top of the iron cap protecting base. The original teardrop shaped chain is in place and complete as well. The original rifle ramrod that was numbered to this rifle is missing in action. The ramrod is an original, period of use replacement and is a shortened P-1853 Enfield rifle musket ramrod, modified for use with this rifle. The rod was shortened appropriately and rethreaded to accept implements on the end. The rod bears a mostly legible T&CG mark, indicating that it was produced by the Birmingham firm of Thomas & Charles Gilbert, who were “small work” makers. The firm produced small items like barrel bands, other gun furniture, ramrods and gun tools. In fact the ramrod spoon in this rifle is marked T&CG as well. The firm went out of business sometime during 1862 and was not listed in period directories after that year. As a Confederate purchase, the gun bears the expected the J S / (ANCHOR) viewer’s mark behind the triggerguard and has the Confederate inventory number 550 stamped near the toe of the stock. This makes the rifle one of the earliest, low-numbered Confederate short rifles delivered, and makes it likely to be one of the Grazebrook rifles delivered in the summer of 1861. The stock is carved with a large set of period letters on the obverse butt, “upside down”, as would be expected if the carving was done with the rifle lying in the carver’s lap. The letters read P H I L and it is not clear if they are meant to be the name “PHIL” or are the initials “P-H-I-L”. What is clear that they are very old, done in a period hand, and in my opinion are from the period of use. A set of small initials that may read "TH" are also stamped in the stock flat opposite the lock. They are not really legible, and are likely the mark of the "setter up" or the stocker. The stock of the rifle rates about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY, and if it were in better condition would allow the entire gun to rate better overall. The stock remains solid, stable, full length. The stock appears to have escaped any sanding or cleaning, and retains relatively crisp edges and lines, with any rounding being the result of the service life it lead in Confederate service. As would be expected, the stock does show a significant number of bumps, dings and impact marks from actual use and service in the field. The stock shows some very minor burnout behind the bolster, the result of being fired hundreds, if not thousands of times. The stock shows discoloration and other signs of being near a fire and scorched, probably during the period of use. I say this as the stock also shows some drawknife type marks along its major axis, suggesting that it went through a period refurbishment in a Confederate arsenal. These types of marks in a stock are commonly encountered on Confederate Enfields, which often had to be refurbished as soon as they arrived in the south due to the harsh conditions they were exposed to during their trans-Atlantic voyage, often in cases on the deck of a ship, not in the hold. Considering that the gun almost certainly arrived in the Confederacy no later than the end of 1861, and clearly fought a significant amount of time, the stock remains in amazingly good condition, and the metal is really in great shape for a Confederate used short rifle.

Overall this is a very attractive example of a very scarce Confederate marked and numbered P-18560 Short Rifle. The gun is 100% authentic, correct and complete (with the exception of the missing original numbered rod). With only 10,000 numbered short rifles having been purchased by the Confederacy for the Army (the CS Navy purchased 1,000 numbered Naval Rifles as well), these guns are hardly common and are not often found for sale. In fact, a database that has recorded extant Confederate numbered rifles that have been inspected over the last 2-3 decades reveals that less than 100 of those 10,000 guns have survived, a survival rate of only 1%. On top of that, this is one of only 5, Confederate marked, P-1860 short rifles that are known to have survived to be included in private and public collections today. This gun is a very early purchase, and such a low inventory number; the gun was almost certainly in the Confederacy no later than the end of 1861 and subsequently fought the majority of the war. It is actually amazing that it has survived at all. With outstanding examples of Confederate marked short rifles regularly selling in the low 5-figures, this is an amazingly complete numbered short rifle that displays quite nicely with a very nice, attic appearance and signs of significant Confederate field use. The fact that this is a very low numbered rifle suggests that it was almost certainly one of the guns delivered by William Joshua Grazebrook, making its history even more interesting and intriguing. Any collection of CS imported long arms needs at least one numbered short rifle to complete it, and this is a good opportunity to obtain a very nice displaying, completely correct and guaranteed example that will never be questioned as to its authenticity of service.


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Tags: Confederate, Imported, P, 1860, Enfield, Short, Rifle