REMARKABLE CONFEDERATE “CAPTURED AND COLLECTED” ID’D OHIO SHARPSHOOTERS SPENCER RIFLE

$6,500.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1164-06

This Spencer Model 1860 Rifle has a lot going for it: not only is it identified by serial number as belonging to Morgan Riggle, 6th Independent Company Ohio Sharpshooters, it was captured or collected by Confederate Ordnance and passed through their Cleaning and Repair system, where it was marked by one of their inspectors with his “Z” letter code, known from other captured and collected weapons.

Serial numbered 2834, this Spencer rifle falls in the middle of the third purchase lot of 1,200 Spencer rifles with serial numbers estimated by Sword as running from 2201/51 to 3401/51. Two hundred of these were drawn off to complete the allotment to Michigan cavalry and the remaining 1,000 were shipped to Columbus, Ohio, on January 19, 1863, for the First Battalion of Ohio Sharpshooters, the 5th through 8th Independent Companies of Ohio Sharpshooters, who then composed the First Battalion of Ohio Sharpshooters. This rifle is recorded in 1863 records found by the Springfield Research Service as issued to Morgan Riggle of the 6th Company OVSS.

Ohio organized ten independent companies of sharpshooters during the war. The Sixth Company was organized at Camp Zanesville in Fall 1862 and was able to draw from recruits also at Camp Cleveland, where it mustered into service on December 20. According to one county history, “the men were all picked with reference to their physical ability, and before being mustered each was required to make a “string” of not exceeding twenty-five inches in five shots, at one hundred yards off-hand or at two hundred yards at a rest.”  The company remained at Camp Cleveland “drilling as infantry and also practicing at the target,” until ordered to Murfreesboro, Tenn., on March 1, 1863. There it became part of General Rosecrans’s headquarters guard, “being detailed to special duty whenever necessary.” After Rosecrans was relieved in the wake of Chickamauga, the company served as headquarters guard for Thomas to the end of the war, acquiring the nickname of “Thomas’s Bodyguard.”

Riggle is listed in the 1860 census as a blacksmith, age 27, in Crawford Township, Coshocton County, Ohio. He had a wife and at least three children when he enlisted at age 28 on October 17, 1862, mustering into the Sixth Company as a private on December 30. He was promoted to Corporal on Feb. 20, 1863, likely being older and more mature than many in the company, but died of disease at Nashville on June 26, 1863, at which point his rifle would have been turned in for reissue, and fell into Confederate hands from another soldier.

The belly of the buttstock, just behind the lower wrist tang, bears the stamped “Z” mark that is among the recognized letter codes used by Confederate Ordnance inspectors working in their cleaning and repair shops to place back in service captured arms and arms collected from battlefields. The essential book on the subject is by Knott, who estimates some 200,000 firearms captured or collected by CS Ordnance teams and civilians went through the system, along with perhaps another 50,000 turned in by CS units. Initial speculation was that the letter codes used by the CS inspectors corresponded to initials of names, but it now seems clear, with the cataloging of an ampersand mark, that it may have been a more arbitrary distribution of dies. Most of this work took place near eastern battlefields, where Confederate victories left more battlefields and arms in Confederate hands, but Spencers certainly fell into Confederate hands in the western theatre as well- Chickamauga comes certainly to mind- though Riggle’s rifle could have ended up reissued in a unit serving in the east. The special ammunition required for the Spencer posed an obstacle to their large-scale adoption by Confederate forces, but some units, like Mosby’s forces, had little trouble supplying themselves from Federal supply depots.

Most early Spencer rifles, being advanced arms and eagerly sought after, saw hard service and reissue. This one is complete, all original, and a very good example compared to most. The sights, bands, springs, swivels and magazine tube are in place. The barrel shows smooth metal with faded blue shading into brown down to the rear sight with some crustiness and light pitting on the rear sight and barrel near the receiver. The receiver shows a silver gray mixed with darker gray areas, some crusty brown spots on the left and shallow pitting. The Spencer markings on top of the receiver are rubbed on the top line and left of the middle, but legible. The serial number is sharp. The lower tang has some blue color and upper part of the hammer shows the mottled grays of faded case hardening. The mechanics are good. The wood shows a good fit to the metal, but the marks of field service with some rounding to the edges of the forestock, numerous small dings and handling marks but only one larger divot on the left, forward of the middle band, and a slight chip on the left upper rear at the receiver. The buttstock likewise has a good fit, and good color, but numerous small handling dings, two short hairlines at the left wrist, no visible cartouches, a shallow chip on the right, and a few deep scratches on the left butt flat.

This is a good example of Spencer Model 1860 Army Rifle, and a very good example of an early production, identified Spencer, issued to a well-known unit, with wear commensurate to being carried in the field, ultimately being captured by the enemy, and perhaps used against its former owners. [sr]  [ph:L]

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.

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

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 About REMARKABLE CONFEDERATE “CAPTURED AND COLLECTED” ID’D OHIO SHARPSHOOTERS SPENCER RIFLE

should be empty

featured item

EXCELLENT LARGE, ORIGINAL FRAMED OIL PAINTING OF 20TH MAINE’S JOSHUA LAWRENCE CHAMBERLAIN BY MICHAEL GNATEK

This is an original oil on canvas portrait of Major General Joshua L. Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Infantry done by the late Michael Gnatek. Mr. Gnatek received his art training at Yale University and in the Marine Corps, where he was a combat… (10-1968). Learn More »

Upcoming Events

21
May

June 25-26th: 49TH ANNUAL GETTYSBURG CIVIL WAR COLLECTORS' SHOW Learn More »

Instagram