CONFEDERATE CAPTURED AND COLLECTED, LOW NUMBER, NEW MODEL 1859 SHARPS RIFLE

$4,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1117-83

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This is a early war, or even pre-war, Sharps rifle, serial number 37019, with a characteristically Confederate stock marking indicating it was among those “captured and collected” arms that made their way through the Confederate ordnance cleaning and repair system for reissue to Confederate troops. These arms have only recently been discussed and identified, principally by Steven W. Knott in “’Captured and Collected’- Confederate Reissued Firearms.” As many as 200,000 firearms gathered by CS Ordnance teams and some civilians, and another 50,000 turned in by CS army units, are estimated to have passed through the system. Most were from eastern battlefields that remained in Confederate hands and included weapons of all sorts. Longarms and carbines of various types have been identified. The list is still growing, as is the catalog of inspector’s initials or letter identification stamps. Sharps rifles were nowhere near as common in Confederate hands as carbines, but they are known. McAulay (1987/91) lists three Confederate cavalry units partially armed with them: he 5th Virginia, 12th Tennessee, and 13th Texas, and there were likely others.

This New Model 1859 Sharps Rifle, one of the new straight breech patterns, was made very early in 1861, in fact likely before fighting started. The 600 36-inch barrel rifles ordered by Egypt and diverted to U.S. ordnance fall in the 36000 to 40000 serial number range and had all been inspected by February 1861 (Marcot et al. 324.) This one is the standard configuration with a 30-inch barrel set up for a socket bayonet and for a Confederate used arm would rate very good, near fine, or better.

The wood to metal fit is tight. The wood shows handling marks and scratches, and one or two paint drops indicating it sat for years untouched. The barrel is generally smooth metal, though with a spot of roughness on left side about two inches below the middle band and corresponding slight pressure dents to the wood on either side that may indicate it fell against something at some point. Nevertheless, the barrel shows very good coverage of blue-turned-plum brown with just some wear around the muzzle. The bands have good color. Both sights are in place and the rear sight is complete with ladder and bar. The markings are generally sharp and fully legible: SHARPS RIFLE / MANUFG. CO / HARTFORD, CONN. barrel address forward of the rear sight; Lawrence markings on the sight base; and “New Model 1859” on barrel near breech. The lock plate is clearly marked SHARPS PAT. / OCT 5th 1852 and the right side of the receiver S. LAWRENCE PAT. / APRIL 12th 1859 behind the hammer. The Conant patent marking on rear of the breechblock is mostly gone. The SHARPS PAT. / SEPT 12 1848 stamp on the left receiver is rubbed on the left side of the stamp but visible on the right.

The receiver shows silvery gray and brown sections, some of the brown showing a thin crustiness. The hammer has good color. The mechanics are good. The loading mechanism shows gray and brown when lowered. The tang shows thin brown and the loading channel a mix of brown and dull silver. The patchbox is good, tightly fitting and dark in color, but not scarred and the screw slots are crisp. The forward sling swivel is present on the middle barrel band. The rear swivel is missing, but the base is in place on the bottom of the buttstock.

The forestock has a good fit to the barrel and receiver. It shows handling dings and scratches from field use and some shallow pressure dents but no large cracks or divots. The buttstock matches and has a similar tight fit, showing more surface handling marks and wear. There is a little wear and chipping along the right side of the triggerplate near the hammer, a natural place for wear from a triggerfinger. The buttstock shows dings and scratches to both side flats and some wear along the bottom near the buttplate. The left wrist, however, still shows the outlines of two inspector’s initials and overall the wood has good deep brown color.

The underside of the forestock bears a stamped “S” on its flat base, adjacent to the receiver. This position corresponds to the other CS single-letter inspector’s stamps on reissued longarms, which appear just forward of the triggerguard tang on rifle muskets. Knott had found A, F, Q, T, and Z by the time of his publication and the “Z” has been connected with Louis Zimmer of the Richmond Arsenal/ Artillery Workshop, but there is no firm evidence linking other letters with specific inspectors. It is possible we are looking at an inspector with a last name starting with “S,” but also possible that letters were less systematically assigned.

This is a nice, untouched and as-found Sharps rifle that is scarce on its own merits, dates early in the production run, and is even scarcer as a Confederate reissued arm. Sharps rifles and carbines offered the opportunity to Southern troops for an advanced breechloading weapon without the inherent ammunition problems of a Spencer or Henry repeater. Whoever received it probably considered himself very lucky.

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire.

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