Confederate Numbered P1853 Enfield Socket Bayonet
- Product Code: EWB-2428
- Availability: Out Of Stock
During the course of the American Civil War, the Confederacy imported hundreds of thousands of British Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Muskets, with some estimates placing the total Confederate purchases between 300,000 and 400,000 guns. Each of these rifle muskets was ordered as a “stand of arms” and as such a socket bayonet was included with each musket. This makes the Pattern 1853 Enfield socket bayonet one of the most commonly used bayonets by the average Confederate infantryman. Much like the guns themselves, it is often difficult to know for sure if a given British “Enfield” socket bayonet was used during the American Civil War, let alone whether it saw US or CS use. While it is generally accepted and known that British military marks on either a gun or bayonet typically exempts that item from possible Civil War service, the lack of these markings in no way guarantees use during the conflict. Only a small percentage of Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle muskets were marked in any way that identifies them as being Confederate purchases, based upon my observations and known contract markings, probably less than 30%. The best known of these Confederate guns are the ones marked with the J S / (ANCHOR) inspection stamp of John Southgate, as well as with an engraved inventory number on the upper tang of the brass butt plate, or a number stamped in the toe of the stock of the iron mounted rifles. The rifle muskets that were so numbered were shipped with a matching numbered ramrod, and a similarly engraved numbered socket bayonet. The rifles also had numbered rods, and mounted engraved number saber bayonets. A group of the most knowledgeable researchers into Confederate arms imported from England have been assembling a database of Confederate numbered rifles and rifle muskets for over 25 years. During that time, they have assembled a database of slightly more than 300 Confederate central government purchased numbered P1853 Enfields (not counting the numbered state purchased guns). During that same time, they have assembled a list of less than 70 Confederate numbered socket bayonets! That means that Confederate marked English socket bayonets are more than four times less common than the numbered Confederate long arms! Moreover, many of these numbered bayonets are in institutional collections, meaning they will not likely to ever be available to the collector market.
The Confederate imported P1853 Enfield Socket Bayonet offered here is engraved on the top rear of the socket with the Confederate inventory number 7203 on the socket. This number places it within the first of three groups of 10,000 numbered arms that were delivered to the Confederacy under the 2nd Sinclair, Hamilton & Company contract. The initial group was numbered from 1-9999, and the two subsequent groups were numbered in the same range, with the suffix “A” added to the second 10,000 and “B” added to the third 10,000. It is likely that this bayonet (and its accompanying rifle musket) were part of the initial deliveries of arms to the Confederacy during late 1861 or the first few months of 1862. This means that this bayonet was more than likely in use by Confederacy in time to see service at the battle of Shiloh in the Western Theater, or the Peninsula Campaign in the Eastern Theater.
The bayonet is in about FINE overall condition and is a substantially nicer example than most surviving Confederate numbered socket bayonets. As noted previously, the engraved Confederate inventory number 7203 is present at the upper rear of the socket, perpendicular to the blade. According to our data base, the Confederate central government P1853 Enfields that are known to survive today that are closest to this number are #7201, #7214, #7237 and #7239. According to our notes these are all London contractor delivered guns, primarily from E.P. Bond. No state contract guns were numbered this high, so the bayonet was clearly delivered with a Central Government contract P1853 rifle musket. The ricasso of the bayonet is marked with two small punch dots, likely “proof” marks to indicate hardness. There appear to be traces of additional marks on the ricasso, which seem to have been intentionally removed, as some light file marks are visible there. This suggests that the bayonet may have had British military markings that were removed prior to the bayonet being sold to the Confederacy. A handful of examples of obsolete Type I and Type II British military marked P1853 Enfield rifle muskets are known with Confederate inspection marks, suggesting that some of the dealers in the supply chain, particularly Sinclair, Hamilton & Company, were occasionally able to secure British military arms, remark them and sell them to the Confederacy.
The blade of the bayonet has medium pewter patina with a salt and pepper appearance, the result of an evenly distributed oxidized patina over most of the blade. The blade shows hints of the original bright polish finished but has dulled with age and shows scattered patches of discoloration and light oxidation along its length. The metal is mostly smooth, with only some small areas of lightly scattered pinpricking and very minor pitting here and there. The socket retains about 50%+ original thinning blue, which has mixed with plum patina and some scattered oxidation. The bayonet is complete with a full-length blade, measuring 17 7/8” and the bayonet has an overall length of about 20 ¾”. The tip of the blade remains extremely crisp and sharp, with an almost needle like tip. The bayonet does show some scattered nicks and dings, mostly along the spine on the rear of the blade, as well as a few minor dings along the blade edge. The socket has a bore diameter of .791”, an important measurement if you want to try to fit this handmade and hand-fit bayonet to your numbered Confederate P1853 Enfield. The bayonet has clearly seen use during its service life, and the relatively early inventory number confirms it was a bayonet that likely saw field use during the majority of the war. The original locking ring and tension screw are in place on the socket and remain fully functional.
Confederate numbered Enfield socket bayonets are significantly rarer than Confederate numbered Enfield guns, and every CS imported Enfield rifle musket is worthy of being displayed with a Confederate numbered socket bayonet. No collection of Confederate purchased English imports is complete without one of these bayonets. These bayonets have an extremely low survival rate. Based upon the database of known Confederate imported numbered arms, roughly 1% of the numbered guns that were imported have survived, roughly 1 out 100. However, the survival rate of the socket bayonets is only .2%, or about 1 in 500! Most advanced Confederate collections do not have a CS imported and inventory numbered socket bayonet in them, and this is a nice opportunity to own a fine and rare piece of Civil War history in much better condition than they are usually encountered in, and at a reasonable price for a Confederate edged weapon. This is a newly discovered Confederate numbered bayonet out of an old collection, which has not been offered on the market over the last few decades, so it is a fresh, unknown example that pre-dates the era of internet relic web sites.