Civil War Photo Contest
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- Feb 23, 2013
- East Texas
Since I'd never owned one of these before, when I located a decent example at the shop of my favorite antique gun dealer, Jackson Armory in Dallas, Texas, I decided to go for it. The Springfield M.1863 was adopted to replace the familiar M.1861 Springfield that became the workhorse of Federal forces during the Civil War. It was similar in several respects to the so-called M.1861 Special Model rifles introduced under contract by the Colt Firearms Manufacturing Co. and copied by Ameoskeag and L.G.&Y. They differed from the standard M.1861 mainly in the design of the hammer and bolster; Enfield-style adjustable barrel bands without band springs; and ramrod and its method of securing, all copied into the new M.1863 Springfields. During field service it was discovered that the adjustable barrel bands became loose after repeated firings so a later Type II with band springs was introduced to help with this problem.
My example is nicely marked with two cartouches, one with the familiar initials ESA for Erskine S. Allen, superintendent of Springfield Armory. (I don't know what or who the other one is; maybe someone - @Jobe Holiday or @johan_steele - can help with this!)
The stock has been marked by a previous owner, possibly with an initial D or similar letter.
Markings include the inspector's V, P, (for Viewed and Proved) and eagle head on the barrel and faintly visible date 1864 on the tang, indicating manufacture sometime in that year despite the 1863 date on the lockplate..
I was especially glad when I found the number 5 on the edge of the butt because this rack number indicates it was likely at least issued and didn't just sit in storage. It may not have seen any field service during the war but at least may have been in a garrison or fort somewhere.
One reason this was more affordable than many in this condition was that a big chunk of wood had been broken out of the stock between the tang and the hammer and poorly and very obviously glued or epoxied back into place. Shop owner David Jackson suggested that his gun repair man could likely "fix" it to be almost undetectable, and I think he did an outstanding job using the original piece!
Other markings include the strong eagles on both lockplate and bolster face above and the US on the buttplate tang below.
Now I own examples of both standard models of Federal rifles that fought and won the war: