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Confederate Numbered P-1853 Enfield ID'd to the 13th Alabama Infantry

Confederate Numbered P-1853 Enfield ID'd to the 13th Alabama Infantry

  • Product Code: FLA-2874-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

The most iconic of the imported arms to see service with the Confederacy during the American Civil War is the British P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket, marked with the Confederate J S / Anchor viewer’s mark of John Southgate, combined with an engraved Confederate inventory control number on the tang of the brass buttplate. If a collector were to have only one true Confederate imported weapon in their collection, one of these Confederate marked Enfields would be the perfect addition. There is no more striking image than that of the ragged Confederate infantryman with a P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket in his hands, doggedly defending his belief in states rights and defending his boarders from the perceived Northern invasion. The only feature more desirable in a P-1853 Enfield than the Confederate inspection and inventory markings are a an identification to a specific Confederate soldier.

During the early days of the American Civil War, Confederate purchasing agents did a splendid job of tying up contracts for the British P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket, which was truly one of the most advanced and well made long arms of the day. According to Confederate Chief of Ordnance, Josiah Gorgas’s February 3, 1863 summary of imported arms, some 70,980 “Long Enfield Rifles” were purchased from the beginning of the war through the end of 1862. These numbers only account for Confederate central government purchases, and do not include those P-1853s purchased by the individual Confederate states or by speculators seeking to sell them within the Confederacy. The majority of these arms were purchased from the firms of S. Isaac, Campbell & Company (who relied on John Edward Barnett & Sons to deliver many of those guns) or Sinclair, Hamilton & Company, who often routed their sales through S. Isaac, Campbell & Co as well. Additional P-1853s were purchased from William Grazebrook of Liverpool, who made his first sales to Confederate purchasing agent Caleb Huse within 30 days of the opening of the war. Sinclair, Hamilton & Company entered into several large contracts with the Confederacy to deliver P-1853 Enfield Rifle Muskets, with the typical contract terms requiring 30,000 stands of arms to be delivered over a six month period. During the course of the war, Sinclair, Hamilton & Company appear to have received as many at least five of these Confederate central government contracts for P-1853 Enfield Rifle Muskets. The second of these contracts for 30,000 P-1853 “Long Enfields’ is the one represented by the guns with the JS / (ANCHOR) inspection mark, along with the engraved buttplate tang inventory control numbers. These inventory numbers ran from 1-10,000 in three series (to date no gun with a 10,000 number is known, although theoretically they existed). The first series had no suffix after the number, while the second series of 10,000 had an “A” suffix under the inventory number and the third series of 10,000 had a “B” suffix. These numbered guns represent the October 1861 contract with Sinclair, Hamilton & Company that is referred to in Confederate documents as the “Second Contract”. This contract required the 30,000 Enfields to be delivered between October of 1861 and April of 1862. At least two identified “B” suffix numbered guns have been determined to have been issued in Corinth, MS immediately prior to the battle of Shiloh on April 6-7 of 1862. Thus is it clear that the contract time line for production and delivery was closely followed. Sinclair, Hamilton & Company acquired their arms through “Five Furnishers”. These companies were able to fill the large Sinclair, Hamilton & Company orders in a reasonable period of time. The “five furnishers’ were three London firms and two from Birmingham. The London furnishers were the longtime gunmakers EP Bond and Parker, Field & Co, with James Kerr apparently receiving a tiny portion of the contract (only 500 guns) due to his position at the London Armoury Company, which was managed by Archibald Hamilton of Sinclair, Hamilton & Company. The balance of the guns were delivered by the Birmingham based firms of CW James and W.C. Scott & Son. The furnishers often marked the guns that were delivered under the contract with a large single letter on the upper comb of the stock. The guns were marked with a B for Bond, an F for Parker, Field & Co, a J for James, a K for Kerr and an S for Scott & Son. An October 31, 1861 dated letter from Sinclair, Hamilton & Co. notes that the contract was divided between the furnishers as follows:

CW James: 10,000
Scott & Sons: 8,000 guns
E.P. Bond: 6,000 guns
Parker, Field & Co: 5,500 guns
James Kerr: 500 guns

This indicates that the guns delivered by CW James represented 1/3 of the total delivery under this contract, while those delivered by Kerr represent slightly less than 2% of the total deliveries. An extensive database comprised of more than two decades of collected information related to Confederate purchased Enfields contains approximately 250 numbered P-1853 Enfield rifle muskets (not counting state purchased guns). Of those guns, the large majority (well more than half) are numbered guns with no suffix, representing about 74% of the recorded samples. A-suffix guns represent about 19% of the recorded examples, while B-suffix guns represent about 7% of surviving examples that are recorded. To date, less than 50 A-suffix and less than 20 B-suffix P-1853 Enfields are known to exist. The reason for the paucity of these arms is not clear, but it may simply be the result of attrition and the arms having been used up. With B-suffix guns, the lack of extant examples appears to be an indication of the early successes experienced by the Union’s Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Recorded numbers show a good distribution of engraved numbers from two digits through the mid 2XXX range. Then there is then a nearly 4,000 number gap in the database that seems to indicate that a large number of the “B-guns’ in the 25XX to 62XX range may well be on the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. “A suffix” guns, although uncommon and with few examples to study, shows a nice even distribution through the entire numbering sequence. This suggests that their scarcity today is the result of them having seen hard use, rather than having been dumped overboard while a Confederate blockade runner tried to elude a pursuing US Naval vessel. To date only 5 of the 500 P-1853s delivered by James Kerr under this contract have been noted. As Kerr was employed full time as the manager of the London Armoury Company, and had no available means to produce Enfield rifle muskets, he apparently acquired his guns on the open market and then delivered them to Sinclair, Hamilton & Company for viewing and delivery to the Confederacy. Of the 5 known specimens, 2 are marked CARR / LONDON on the lock, two have blank, unmarked locks and one is marked 1861 / TOWER. Two of the guns are the obsolete “Type II” P-1853 Enfield rifle musket with solid barrel bands retained by springs. The other three are the typical “Type III” guns that predominated the Enfield pattern arms that were imported by both sides. It appears likely that the guns Kerr purchased for resale were of questionable quality and condition, and the presence of “Type II” guns suggests that at least some may have been used. Due to the very small delivery total and extremely low survival rate, James Kerr furnished, second contract P-1853 Enfields are the hardest examples of a Confederate import marked P-1853 Enfield to locate, and are missing from even the most advanced collections of Confederate imported Enfields.

The P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket offered here is one of the five known surviving James Kerr furnished rifle muskets. If the rarity of the Kerr furnishers’ mark were not enough to make the gun extremely desirable, it is also identified to Otis Smith Owens, who served in Company K of the 13th Alabama Infantry. Owens carved his initials, O S O on the reverse of the butt of the musket, and what appears to be a “K” is lightly carved on the obverse of the butt. Both sets of marks are somewhat faint due to an old sanding of the stock, but they are still legible. Otis Smith Owens was born sometime around 1843, with one genealogical database and a church burial directory providing a birth date of August 25, 1843, but at least one source suggesting 1844. Owens was born in Troup County Georgia, in the town of LaGrange. LaGrange is about 40 miles due north of Columbus, GA. Troup County boarders the state of Alabama, and is only about 90 miles north west of Montgomery, AL and about 35 miles south west of Wedowee, AL (Randolph County), where Owens would live after the war, until his death on May 20, 1917. According to the US Census of 1860, Otis Smith Owens was 16 years of age when the enumeration took place, and lived with his parents J.J. Owens (father, age 47) and F.E. Owens (mother, age 36). His father was listed as a Drayman (a carter or deliveryman), with real estate valued at $1,500.00 and a personal estate valued at $1,600.00. Otis was the oldest of five children, with two sisters (12 years & 14 years) and two brothers (1 year & 7 years) living at home as well. A 51 year old man named C.M. Wilson lived with the family as well, and may have been an employee working for Otis’s father in his delivery and carting business. Mr. Wilson is not listed as “colored”, so he was not a slave. With the coming of the Civil War young Otis struck out to the nearest large city, Montgomery, AL. There he enlisted in the Confederate Army, on July 26, 1861. He was mustered into Captain Smith’s company of the 13th Alabama Infantry, which was eventually designated as Company K. The men of company K were mostly from Montgomery County, AL and were known as the “Tom Watts Rebels”. The 13th Alabama Infantry could well be the poster child for the Confederate infantry regiment that saw continuous service during the Civil War from the very beginning to the very end. On July 22, 1861 the regiment was ordered to Richmond, VA. Upon its arrival it was assigned to the 5th Brigade of the Army of the Peninsula, and remained with the Army of the Peninsula in and around Yorktown, where it participated in the siege and battles around that city in April and early May of 1862. The Army of the Peninsula was subsequently absorbed into the Army of Northern Virginia, and at that time the 13th Alabama was assigned to Rains’ Brigade. Over the next 3 years the 13th would serve in a variety of Army of Northern Virginia commands, with their most illustrious days spent in Archer’s Brigade of Heth’s Division, during the summer campaign of 1863. The battle honors of the 13th Alabama read like a list of the most famous battles in the Eastern Theater of the Civil War. After the evacuation of Yorktown, the 13th Alabama fought at Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, the Seven Days Battles, Malvern Hill, the Maryland Campaign, including South Mountain, Antietam and Shepherdstown. The regiment lost its flag at Antietam, and ended the year 1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The regiment opened the 1863 campaign season with the Chancellorsville campaign, where the regiment is noted to have lost roughly half of the 460 men engaged that day killed, wounded or missing. The regiment followed that up by being in the thick of the fight at Gettysburg during the Pennsylvania Campaign. The 13th Alabama was in the leading elements of Archer’s Brigade of Heth’s Corp, marching from Cashtown towards Gettysburg, when they encountered the lead elements of Buford’s cavalry. The 13th Alabama was there for the opening shots of the battle of Gettysburg and was heavily engaged in the fighting on July 1st, nearly losing its flag during their withdrawal from McPherson’s Ridge. On July 3rd the regiment took part in Pickett’s Charge and reached the high water mark of the assault on Cemetery Ridge, only to be beaten back and have their colors captured by the men of Company C, 1st Delaware Infantry. It is recorded that 3 flag bearers were “shot down” during Pickett’s Charge, and the last man was “shot down at the works” just prior to the colors being lost. The 13th Alabama received no respite and after retreating to Virginia, participated in the Bristoe Campaign in the fall of 1863, the Battle of Bristoe Station, the Mine Run Campaign during the winter of 1863 with fighting along Mine Run and at new Hope Church. The spring of 1864 saw a renewed campaign season with more action for the 13th Alabama, including the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and White Oak Swamp. By June of 1864 the regiment was in the trenches of Petersburg, where they fought at the battles of Weldon Railroad, Ream’s Station, Hatcher’s Run and Peeble’s Farm. After the loss of the Petersburg defensive lines in April of 1865, the remnants of the regiment participated in the Appomattox Campaign and officially surrendered on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House. Of the 1,245 men that served with the regiment during the course of the war, approximately 150 were killed in battle, 275 died of disease, many more were wounded, captured or missing, and only 85 were surrendered at Appomattox. Otis Smith Owens appears to have spent the entire war with his regiment, with the exception of the typical short stints in the hospital for various ailments. The personnel records for the 13th Alabama Infantry are very incomplete from the end of June 1863 until the fall of 1864. One of the last muster roll notations for Company K notes “Near Cashtown, Penn” and is dated June 30, 1863. The next entry is for September & October 1864 and simply reads “Near Petersburg, VA”. The 13 months between June 30, 1863 and September of 1864 had to have been hell on earth for the regiment. Owens records note that sometime between July 26 and October 31, 1861, he spent time in a hospital in Williamsburg, VA, but the reason and time of stay is not noted. His muster roll notes him “present” in November and December of that year. He is noted “present” in all muster rolls from his return to the regiment in October of 1861 through June of 1863, indicating that he took part in the entire peninsula Campaign, Maryland Campaign, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and the march into Pennsylvania. As noted, there are no Company K records (nor practically any 13th Alabama records) from the entry into Pennsylvania until the regiment was well situated in the trenches of Petersburg in the fall of 1864. Owens is noted to have visited Chimborazo Hospital #2 in Richmond on April 30, 1862 for pneumonia, but there is no indication that he was admitted or stayed there for any length of time. He was admitted to the Receiving and Wayside General Hospital #9 in Richmond, VA on May 7, 1864 and transferred to the Chimborazo Hospital #1 on May 8, 1864. He was subsequently transferred out on May 19, 1864 to the Huguenot Springs Hospital in Midlothian. However, the cause for the hospitalization is unclear, as the register card only notes the disease as “V. S.”. It appears that Owens returned to his regiment in the trenches of Petersburg at some point in time, but was apparently cut off from the regiment during the frantic evacuation and retreat from the trenches and the subsequent Appomattox Campaign. Ownes’ name is not on the list of Confederate soldiers paroled at Appomattox, but is listed along with the names of 1,614 Confederate soldiers who were captured and subsequently paroled between April 14th and April 17th, 1865 at Burkesville Junction, VA. where the Richmond & Danville and Southside Railroads come together. This suggests that Owens may have been one of the many ANV soldiers captured at the Battle of Sayler’s Creek on April 6. After the war, Otis Smith Owens moved to Wedowee, AL in Randolph County, about 35 miles North West of his birthplace in Georgia and spent the rest of his days as farmer. As many of the men in 13th Alabama hailed from Randolph County, it is likely he chose that place to settle to be among his comrades that he had served with through the entire war. Otis Owens lived to the ripe of old age of 73 and died on May 20, 1917. He is buried at the Rock Springs Congregational Christian Church Cemetery in Randolph County, AL.

Otis Smith Owens’ P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket is a classic example of a Confederate imported musket that clearly saw use in the field. The gun is in about NEAR VERY GOOD condition. The buttplate tang is engraved with the inventory number 5996, indicating that this gun was in the first group of 10,000 muskets to be delivered under the 2nd Sinclair, Hamilton & Company contract. A very faint J S / (ANCHOR) inspection mark is present behind the triggerguard, but the sanding of the stock has made this very weak, with only the shadow of the anchor being easily seen. The gun is marked with a large K on the upper comb of the stock, indicating that James Kerr of London was the furnisher of the gun. As noted earlier, Kerr was the manager of the London Armoury Company at the time and was in no position to manufacture arms to fill his small part of the contract, so he apparently purchased the guns from commercial sources. The lock of the gun is unmarked, and one other known example of a Kerr furnished P-1853 is known that is also unmarked. The interior of the lock provides very few additionally clues, but is marked with a large capital B over the mainspring, suggesting that is may have been produced by either Barnett or EP Bond, both major gunmaking firms in London. The top edge of the lock bears the assembly mating marl \ / | | |, and this mark is found throughout the musket, indicating that the major components (lock, stock and barrel) were all originally assembled together and belong together. The gun bears no British military marks at all, which is typical of English commercial guns of the era. The upper left of the breech is marked with the London commercial View, Proof and Definitive Proof marks, and with a single 25 gauge mark, indicating .577 caliber. The top of the breech is marked with a pair of crowns connected by lines. This mark is present across the breech and the breech plug, and also across the breech and breech plug joint. I have seen this mark before on muskets assembled by EP Bond, but crowns usually include the letters “EB” with them. The bottom of the barrel retains about 10%-20% of its original blued finish, where it has been protected by the stock. The bottom of the barrel also bears the matching mating mark \ / | | |, as found on the top edge of the lock, a single capital B as found inside the lock and the mark: ROSE’s, indicating the barrel was manufactured by Rose Brothers of Birmingham. The Rose Brothers were one of the preeminent barrel makers in Birmingham from 1860 to 1870, manufacturing their “Patent Twist Gun, Rifle and Pistol Barrels”. They operated at 13 Newton Street, and produced very high quality cast steel barrels under their patented process.

As previously noted, the overall condition of the gun is about NEAR VERY GOOD, and for a Confederate used and carried rifle musket that probably arrived in the south sometime prior to the spring of 1862, it is really in very nice shape. The exposed metal of the gun has a mostly smooth chocolate brown patina with some areas of mottled gray undertones. Much of the metal is smooth, with some light to moderate surface oxidation, and some scattered peppering and minor pinpricking forward of the rear sight. As would be expected, the breech and bolster area do show light to moderate flash pitting, which is expected from a combat used percussion rifle musket. There is also some light to moderate pitting around the muzzle of the musket. The bore of the gun is in about GOOD condition. It is very dark and dirty with barely visible rifling and moderate pitting along its entire length. The action of the gun is mechanically fine and functions crisply on all positions. The brass furniture has a dark, uncleaned ochre patina, which is quite attractive. The original long-range rear sight is present, and is complete and fully functional. The front sight/bayonet lug is present near the muzzle as well. Both original sling swivels remain with the gun as well. The three original Palmer pattern clamping barrel bands all retain their tension screws, but only the upper band retains the original doughnut-like keeper at the screw end. The original ramrod, which was numbered to the gun, is missing in action. This is typical with numbered Enfields, as less than 10% of extant examples retain a numbered ramrod (let alone the original matching one). The gun does not have any ramrod present at this time. The stock is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition. The stock is quite interesting in that it has round-eared lock screw escutcheons. This may seem like a minor feature, but only those Enfields made on the process of interchangeable parts with machine made stocks received the round-eared washers. All other Enfields received square-eared lock escutcheons. Only the guns manufactured by the Royal Small Arms Manufactory (RSAF) at Enfield Lock and those produced by the London Armory Company had these round-eared escutcheons. This suggests that somehow Kerr managed to obtain some stocks from the London Armoury Company to fulfill his small part of the 2nd Sinclair, Hamilton & Company contract. The stock has a knot in the forend, on the reverse, forward of the lower band, and this has resulted in a small crack and tiny void in the wood in that location. That may be why the stock was discarded by LAC and Kerr could use it in the building of his guns. The stock appears to have been lightly cleaned and somewhat coarsely sanded. The sanding seems to have been mostly confined to the buttstock and the areas to the rear of the lower barrel band. Thankfully, the edges and lines of the musket remain fairly crisp throughout. As noted the J S / (ANCHOR) mark remains in the wood behind the triggerguard, but is quite light due to the sanding. The K mark on the top of the stock comb is slightly blurred, as a result of the sanding s well, but is still quite visible. The mating mark \ / | | | is barely visible in the rammer channel, and it matched the marks on the lock and barrel of the musket. The initials OSO are carved in the lower portion of the revers buttstock, and the remains of a K are carved in obverse buttstock. The stock remains solid and complete, and other than the old cleaning and sanding noted above, shows no significant abuse. The stock does show the numerous bumps and dings from field service, as would be expected. The stock is full length, with no breaks, or repairs noted.

Overall, this is good, solid example of a completely authentic Confederate imported and used Enfield Rifle Musket that not only saw field service, but is identified to a soldier in one of the most storied regiments to serve in the Army of Northern Virginia. Additionally, it is one of only 5 Kerr furnished P-1853 numbered guns known to exist today. The gun has the very desirable Confederate engraved inventory numbers on the buttstock, and a weak, but visible JS / (ANCHOR) mark behind the triggerguard. This gun was clearly a fairly early arrival in the Confederacy that was likely on the field before the beginning of the 1862 spring campaign seasons. The condition clearly shows that this gun saw service and fought hard for Southern independence during the course of the war. Somehow, through all of that use and combat, the gun managed to survive in fairly nice, relatively complete condition. This was not a gun that went home as a war trophy during the early days, or that was captured on a blockade-runner and later sold as surplus. This gun fought the war for the Confederate cause and is one of those weapons that you wish could tell you its story, as it was likely at both the opening and closing shots of the Battle of Gettysburg, not to mention all of the significant actions before and after that bloody battle. To my knowledge this only the 2nd James Kerr furnished gun to be available on the market over the last few years, and with only 2 other examples in private hands (the fifth gun is in a museum), it seems unlikely that any others will appear for sale in the near future. If you are an advanced collector of Confederate imported Enfields, it is almost certain that you do not have a James Kerr furnished gun. If your collection is to include a marked example from each of the five furnishers, this gun is simply a “must have”, and the chance to buy one may not appear again for many, many years. Add to the that the fact that this gun is identified to a famous Alabama regiment that lost its flag during Pickett’s charge, and you have a really wonderful Confederate musket that you will be very proud to display. A binder accompanies this gun with copies of Otis Owens’ Confederate service records and information regarding the 13th Alabama Regiment.


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Tags: Confederate, Numbered, P, 1853, Enfield, IDd, to, the, 13th, Alabama, Infantry