GETTYSBURG PICK-UP “SPANISH CONTRACT” ENFIELD FROM G.W. MOWERS

$4,250.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: G3991

Shipping: Determined by Method & Location of buyer

To Order:
Call 717-334-0347,
Fax 717-334-5016, or E-mail

This Enfield rifle was possibly Confederate-used and is certainly a Gettysburg pick-up. The rifle comes from the large group of material gathered by George W. Mowers that we recently purchased directly from the family. Mowers (1844-1895) lived his entire life in Fayetteville, Pa., just northwest of Gettysburg. He served for sixth months in the 21st Pa. Cavalry and four months in the 87th Pa. Infantry, neither of whom carried Enfields. Mowers’ farm and wagon shop, however, was situated along the Chambersburg Pike, between Chambersburg and Gettysburg. Greenwood, right next to Fayetteville, was the campground of Early’s division on June 25, and the area was directly in the path of the Confederate advance to Gettysburg that precipitated the fighting on July 1 and the entire battle. The same area was also the point at which Lee’s wagon train of wounded turned south during the miserable retreat late on July 4.

Mowers may have picked up the gun near his own property or on the first day’s field, which was nearest, though he lived close enough to have wandered over the whole battlefield for some days after the battle, at least until his enlistment in the 21st Pa. Cavalry on July 11. And, even then he may have had the opportunity since the regiment trained in Chambersburg until mid-August. Mowers returned home the following February, remained there until early 1865, when he did his short stint in the 87th Pa. Infantry, and then came back for good, eventually passing away there in 1895, and his family preserved the items intact for the next 124 years.

This rifle has some Confederate associations and attributes. It is a recognized variation on the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle-musket. The most significant difference is the length of the barrel, 40-inches rather than 39, and the use of a 2-inch rectangular section at barrel breech, reminiscent of the Spanish 1857 pattern rifle, which was itself a copy of the British Enfield. Madaus identified these arms as made by various Birmingham gunmakers on contract for the Spanish government, but diverted to the more profitable American market. A number of them are recorded with Confederate “JS/anchor” marks, and others with both that mark and buttplates engraved with Confederate control or inventory numbers, the range of which indicates at least a thousand were imported through blockade. At least another thousand seem to have been purchased and imported by mid-1862 by South Carolina, judging from the “S.C” stamps on the stocks and the range of numbers observed on their buttplate tangs. (See The English Connection for details on both counts.) Needless to say, there were likely many more, since these are only the marked examples. Madaus, did know of three examples with U.S. associations, though it is not possible to know if these were captured weapons, blockade intercepts, or U.S. imports.

The significant burnout near the nipple, however, might well be attributable to Confederate use. Percussion caps create some pitting to the breech of a rifle from spatter in firing, but the discoloration and burnout of wood at that point is usually limited: few soldiers or farmers would have the opportunity to fire a rifle enough to damage the wood very much, but Confederate associated rifles are sometimes seen with this characteristic, not because of excessive use or careless cleaning, but likely because of the particular percussion caps. The Confederacy imported huge quantities of British caps, the new versions of which contained a larger detonating charge of more powerful composition than the old. Introduced in April 1861, these new “High Pressure” caps provided a more powerful flash to better penetrate the paper of combustible cartridges, but tended to fly apart when detonated, in part because the, “top of the nipple of the Service Enfield was too small to accommodate the increased force of the detonating flash” (Roads, The British Soldier’s Firearm, p. 150: thanks to Bill Adams for this reference.) The situation provoked so many complaints among British volunteer troops that in August 1864 use of a different chemical composition was instituted.

Other than the corrosion to the nipple and bolster, and wood under the hammer, the gun is in very good shape. Mowers lightly carving his initials, “GWM” on the left side flat between the lock screws, and may have used it on the farm, but the gun is untouched and complete, with all bands, swivels, rod and sights in place. The brass has a very nice, aged patina. The metal, except near the breech, is smooth in general. The barrel and bands show a lot of original blue that has oxidized to brown, showing some light crustiness along with a bit of gray metal along the lower edges. The lock and hammer show some light, standing brown rust, but are generally smooth and the plate shows some of the gray and blue of old case underneath and has very legible Tower/1862 markings. The left breech shows Birmingham proofs and 25-bore measurement stamps. It is tough to make out whether there is a diamond/C stamp, which shows up on these rifles. The rear sight is the conventional Type-3 Enfield sight rather than the variant known on some, but not all, of this pattern. The mechanics are good. The buttplate tang has a small stamped “C” and an upside down “V.”

The wood has nice medium brown color and good finish, for the most part just minor handling dings and light scratches, with one old, small gouge just forward of the middle band on the right, but good edges to the lock platform. The top of the wrist at rear of the breechplug tang has a stamped rack number, “85,” surrounded by a few dings or small pressure dents. The left side is equally good, though it has “G.W.M.” lightly carved on the left flat and there are slightly more scratches and handling marks on the butt flat. Interestingly, though there are three light, intersecting lines form forming a six-pointed star, possibly done by a bored soldier, or an addition by Mowers.

This is a very interesting Enfield rifle musket with good Gettysburg connections. Please take a look at some of the other items we acquired from the family. Substantial troves of material like this do not come out much anymore. [sr]

Accompanied by military & pension records.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THIS ITEM, AS WITH ALL OTHER ITEMS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB SITE,

MAY BE PURCHASED THROUGH OUR LAYAWAY PROGRAM.

FOR OUR POLICIES AND TERMS,

CLICK ON ‘CONTACT US’ AT THE TOP OF ANY PAGE ON THE SITE,

THEN ON ‘LAYAWAY POLICY’.

THANK YOU!

Inquire »

Inquire About GETTYSBURG PICK-UP “SPANISH CONTRACT” ENFIELD FROM G.W. MOWERS

should be empty

featured item

WINCHESTER MODEL 1866 RIFLE MADE IN 1876

Winchester made about 170,000 .44 caliber Model ‘66s in various configurations starting in 1866, when they overlapped with the last Henry rifles. Production ceased in 1884, but parts remained on hand and the last left the factory only in 1898. This… (169-479). Learn More »

Upcoming Events

28
Mar