Confederate Numbered SHC Marked Enfield
- Product Code: FLA-2040-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
The importance of the firm of Sinclair, Hamilton & Company cannot be overstated, when it comes to the supply of arms to the Confederacy during the course of the American Civil War. While it is not currently possible to be sure exactly how many arms were contracted for and delivered by that firm during the war, research indicates that a reasonable figure would be at least 150,000 arms, divided between as many as 5 contracts to supply guns to the Confederate central government. This figure does not include those arms sold by Sinclair, Hamilton & Company to individual Confederate States, nor those arms sold to Confederate speculators. What is clear is that the earliest purchases from SH&C were made in early June of 1861, and the first contract to deliver 30,000 “long Enfields’ (P-1853 Rifle Muskets) was entered into on July 4, 1861, with deliveries to be completed over 6 months. The best documented of the Sinclair Hamilton & Company contracts is the “2nd Contract”, which was entered into in October of 1861, with the 30,000 arms to be delivered between October 1861 and April of 1862. These were the guns that were marked with the JS / (ANCHOR) inspection mark of John Southgate, one of the most important of the viewers (arms inspectors) to work for the Confederacy during the course of the war. These arms were marked with engraved inventory numbers on the top of their brass buttplates, and were numbered sequentially in three series; 1-10,000, 1-10,000 over the letter “A”, and 1-10,000 over the letter “B”. Along with the buttplates, the ramrods and socket bayonets for each gun were also engraved with matching numbers. This system of numbering arms almost certainly created a major bottleneck in the shipping process as the guns had to be marked prior to being loaded upon the trans Atlantic blockade-runners. Based upon extant examples of Confederate marked and imported Enfields it has been assumed that the numbering process was only used for these 2nd contract guns, along with some smaller contracts by individual southern states and a few small, specialized contracts; like the 1,500 numbered P-1853 Artillery Carbines that were purchased. However, some new evidence may indicate that the numbering may have continued (at least for a very short time) into the 3rd contract. Based upon evidence extrapolated from a database of Enfield inventory numbers collected over the past 20+ years, some conclusions about the eventual abandonment of the numbering system can be drawn. We know that the system of numbering the gun, ramrod and bayonet continued through the end of the A-suffix numbers, as gun in the high 9XXX / A range survives with both its original numbered bayonet and ramrod. However, to date, there are no known B-suffix marked bayonets or ramrods. Until one of these items is located, I believe it is safe to argue that in order to speed the numbering process, the numbering of the accessories was abandoned at the beginning of the B-series numbers. This probably did not speed up the process enough, and the numbering system was eventually abandoned altogether, likely at the end of the 2nd contract or the beginning of the 3rd contract.
To date there still exists some confusion regarding the number of identified Sinclair, Hamilton & Company inspection marks noted on surviving arms. At least 3 styles of marks are known, and two of those styles have sub-variants. The primary theories suggest that these different marks may represent different teams of viewers inspecting the guns, but they may also indicate different contracts, much as the JS/Anchor mark was indicative of the 2nd contract deliveries. Another mark which has been debated for some time is the (CROWN) / SH / G# mark, which was for years attributed to Schuyler, Hartley and Graham of New York. Evidence now suggests that this mark is likely yet another Sinclair, Hamilton & Company inspection mark, with each of the numbers from 1-5 representing a different team of viewers. All of this background is necessary to discuss the unique markings found on the Sinclair, Hamilton & Company marked P-1853 Enfield offered here. This gun may be one of those “missing link” arms, that will eventually help us tie some of the loose ends in the SH&C story together. This gun is marked with a pair of Sinclair, Hamilton & Company Type III inspection marks. The Type III mark is simply the block letters S / HC within an oval boarder. The mark is probably the least often encountered of the SHC marks, and when it is found it is almost always located on the breech of the gun barrel, and is found in concert with a pair of SH&C marks behind the triggerguard. The Type III mark is only very rarely encountered in the wood of the gun. This P-1853 is marked twice with the Type III mark, once on the top of the stock comb, forward of the buttplate tang and once on the stock flat, opposite the lock. The most intriguing mark on the gun is the engraved inventory number 55 found on the top of the brass buttplate. There is no doubt the gun is a Confederate purchase, and the engraved number styling is like that of other Confederate numbered Enfields, although the numbers are slightly larger as only two are engraved, instead of the more common 3 or 4. This raises the question of whether this gun represents the beginning of the 3rd Sinclair, Hamilton & Company contract deliveries (with the numbering abandoned not long after the beginning of the contract), or if it represents a gun that was part of a special contract delivery, thus the unique use of the Type III SH&C mark in the wood. A valid argument for the 3rd contract theory is that the gun is dated 1862, which is when the 3rd contract arms would have been produced and delivered, as the 2nd contract ended in April of that year. Following the usual 6-moth contractual term, the 3rd contract guns would have been delivered between May and October of 1862. Another interesting mark found on the gun is the extra barrel proof S . W, found upside down at the breech. This mark is normally only found on Enfields that have the enigmatic (CROWN) / SH / G# on the stock comb. The presence of this barrel mark, in conjunction with known Sinclair, Hamilton & Co marks is clear evidence to me that the (CROWN) / SH / G# mark is actually another SH&C mark, with absolutely no affiliation with Schuyler, Hartley and Graham. Whether this numbered, SH&C marked gun is an early 3rd contract delivery or part of a special Confederate contract delivery cannot yet be determined, and as of this writing, this is the only known example to exhibit this combination of marks.
The P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket offered here is a classic example of a Confederate marked and imported musket that clearly saw some use in the field, but has managed to remain in FINE condition. The gun is 100% complete, correct and original in every respect and remains in a very high state of preservation. As previously noted, the gun is marked both on the stock comb and on the stock flat with a pair of Type III SH&C marks, which are the letters S / HC within an oval. The top of the buttplate is engraved with the Confederate inventory number 55. The lock of the gun is marked TOWER / 1862 forward of the lock, with the usual British (CROWN) to the rear of the hammer. The interior of the lock is marked I. MARSON (the “I” being an archaic “J”) upside-down over the mainspring, and the bottom edge of the lock bears the mating mark of two file slashes: | |. The interior of the lock retains about 50%+ vivid case coloring, and the internal lock parts retain much of the their original, brilliant fire blue. The gun bears no British military marks at all, which is typical of the majority of English guns imported by the Confederacy. The upper left of the breech is marked with the usual Birmingham commercial View, Proof and Definitive Proof marks, and with a pair of 25 gauge marks indicating .577 caliber. The additional proof mark S . W is also present to the rear of the regular marks. The bottom of the barrel is marked by the barrel maker BURR, and with a capital M. The same mating mark as found in the lock, | |, is found on the bottom of the barrel and on the bottom of the breech plug. The bottom of bolster is marked with a pair of punch dots, which are repeated in the ramrod channel. The ramrod channel and the barrel channel are also both marked with the two slash mating mark | |. The ramrod is marked T&CG near the jag head, which is the mark of the Birmingham small work makers Thomas & Charles Gilbert, who went out of business sometime towards the end of 1862 or early 1863. The toe of the stock is marked with the name of the Birmingham maker JOHN MARSON, who built the gun. Marson worked in Birmingham as a “Gun Rifle & Pistol Maker” from 1857 through 1900. During the Civil War years he was located at 55 Livery Street. In 1861 he was granted British Patent 646 (1861) for a percussion breechloading rifle. An 1862 add of Marson’s noted that he was a “Contractor for Home & Foreign Markets”. The gun shows signs of use in Confederate field service, but has remained in very crisp condition. The high condition of the lock interior has already been noted. The lock itself is mechanically excellent and functions crisply on all positions. The top side of the gun barrel retains some of its original blued finish, which has faded significantly and has blended with a mostly smooth plum brown patina. The original (but faded) rust blued finish remains under the barrel bands, and the bottom of the barrel (protected by the stock) retains about 90% of its original deep blue-black, rust blued finish. The barrel is quite smooth throughout, with only some minor pinpricking present around the breech and bolster area, as well as some lightly scattered patches of freckled surface oxidation along the barrel. The bore of the musket is in about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition. The bore of the gun is mostly bright and retains crisp rifling. There is scattered light pitting in the grooves along its length, as well as some dirt and residue. A good scrubbing will probably improve the bore to at least fine condition. The gun retains its original long-range rear sight, and it is complete and fully functional. The gun also retains both original sling swivels as well as all three doughnut shaped “screw keeper” at the end of the barrel band tension screws. The original ramrod is present, and is full length, although a tiny portion of the threads appears to have been broken off. Threads still remain at the end and the rod is completely functional. The brass furniture of the gun has lovely medium golden patina, which is very attractive. The stock is in about FINE condition as well, and shows no breaks or repairs. The wood to metal fit of the lock, stock, barrel and furniture is excellent throughout. The stock shows no signs of having ever been sanded in any way, and retains sharp lines and crisp edges throughout, with the only rounding due to actual service, use and normal wear. There is a very small grain crack running from the rear lock mounting screw to the barrel channel, the result of the lock screws being over tightened over the years. The crack is minor and appears stable. There is also a tiny, barely visible hairline crack running along the surface of the grain from tang to the wrist, but this appears to be only a surface drying crack, is completely stable and not structural, and is mentioned only for exactness.
Overall, this is really wonderful example of a completely authentic Confederate imported and used Enfield Rifle Musket. The gun bears some enigmatic marks that are worthy of additional research and may someday help to decipher some of the unknown meanings behind the various Sinclair, Hamilton & Company markings. Further research in the McRae Papers and other Confederate documents in various institutional archives may one day allow us to know concretely if this gun, #55 was in fact the beginning of the 3rd SH&C Confederate contract, or was part of another, small contract that stipulated numbered guns. Either way, the combination of the Type III SHC marks, the engrave number and the additional barrel proof normally associated with SHG# guns makes this a very intriguing Confederate Enfield. The overall condition of the gun is simply wonderful and hard to find. Rarely does a CS Enfield show up in such crisp, untouched and 100% complete condition and show actual service and use as well. This is a gun that will be an outstanding addition to an advanced collection of Confederate Enfield rifle muskets.SOLD