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Common Guns in the Civil War

Civil War Carbines

CIVIL WAR CARBINES

Over fifty different types of carbines were made for the Civil War. The carbine was made for the cavalry. The Civil War carbine was the testing ground for many different inventions for breech loading firearms.

Two carbines came to predominate by the middle of the Civil War. The Sharps fired a paper combustible cartridge or could be loaded with a bullet and loose powder. The Spencer fired a metallic cartridge. Including both carbines and rifles, approximately 150,000 of both makes were made during the Civil War.

The Burnside was the third most manufactured carbine of the Civil War, and the Smith was the fourth most manufactured carbine of the Civil War.

The Henry was underpowered for military use--about 14,000 were made during the Civil War. The Henry was modified after the War to become the first Winchester. A few single shot carbines fired the Henry 44 rimfire cartridge.

The Southern cavalry fought mainly with single shot muzzle loading carbines. The Robinson factory in Richmond made about 5,000 breech loading carbines like the Sharps. The South cut down infantry muskets or salvaged musket parts to make carbines. A more traditional muzzle loading carbine was made in the South by Cook and Brothers of Columbus, Georgia.

The Southern cavalry also used single barrel and double barrel shotguns. A good fit of a patched bullet in a smooth bore can be accurate out to at least 100 yards. But only with a clean barrel bore.

The many varieties of Civil War carbines has attracted collecting interest for many years--at least since the 1920s. The Confederacy used far more captured carbines then the South made. This list summarizes the carbines used or made in the Civil War.

Name Where Made North or South Loaded Caliber Quanity 
Ballard Worcester, MA North Breech 44 & 52 Rimfire 8,400
Burnside Providence, RI North Breech 54 Percussion 54,000
C Chapman Nashville, TN South Muzzle 54 Percussion Less then 100
Colt Hartford, CT PW/N Revolver 36,44,56 Revolver 4,435
Columbus Columbus, GA South Muzzle 58 Percussion 183
Cook & Brother New Orleans, LA; Athens, GA South Muzzle 58 Percussion Thousand or so
Cosmopolitan Hamilton, Ohio North Breech 52 Percussion 1,140
Davis &Bozeman Elmore, AL South Muzzle 58 Percussion 90
Dickson, Nelson Adairsville, Macon, & Dawson, GA South Muzzle 58 Percussion 3,600 total for all carbines & rifles
Gallagher Philadelphia, PA North Breech 50 Percussion 18,000
Gallagher Philadelphia, PA North Breech 56-52 Rimfire 5,000
Gibbs New York City North Breech 52 Percussion 1,052
Greene Chicope Falls, MA North Breech 54 Percussion 300
Gwen&Campbell Hamilton, Ohio North Breech 52 Percussion 8,200
British, French, German, Austrian, and Other Foreign Imported - North   Bought to keep from the South N/A Muzzle 50 through 75  
Hodgkins also Bilharz, Hall Macon, GA, Pittsylvania, VA South Breech 58 Percussion 400 to 700
Jenks Pre-War 1839-60 PreWar Breech 54 to 64 7,900 all models
Joslyn 1862 Milbury, MA North Breech 52 Percussion 3,500
Joslyn 1864 Milbury, MA North Breech 52 Rimfire 13,000
LeMat France South Revolv 42 Rev& 63 Cntr Very Few
H.C. Lamb Jamestown, NC South Breech 50 & 58 Perc 532
Lee Milwaukee, WI North Breech 44 Henry Rimfire 255
Lindner Manchester, NH North Breech 58 Percussion 6,500
Maynard Chicopee Falls, MA North Breech 35 & 50 Perc. 25,000
Maynard or Perry by Keen, Walker Danville, VA South Breech 54 Percussion 280
Merrill Baltimore, MD North Breech 54 Percussion 14,495
Merrill, Latrobe Illion, NY c 1855 PreWar Breech 58 Percussion 170
Mont Storm British via NY North Breech 58 Percussion 2,500
Morse Greenville, SC South Breech 50 Hybrid 1,000
J P Murray Columbus, GA South Muzzle 58 Percussion Est 1000
Palmer Windsor, VT North Breech 50 Rimfire 1,001
Peabody Providence, RI North Breech 50 Rimfire Few during War
Perry Newark, NJ 1857 North Breech 54 Percussion 275
Remington Ilion, NY North Breech 46 & 50 Rimfire 2,500 during War
Richmond Richmond, VA South Muzzle 58 Percussion More than all other Confederate combined
Robinson/CSA Duplicate Sharps Richmond, VA South Breech 52 Percussion 5,000-
Schroeder Bloomington, IL PreWar Breech 53 Needle Fire 10 in year 1857
Sharps Hartford, CT PW / N Breech 54 Percussion 95,000+
Smith Springfield, MA North Breech 50 Percussion 30,000+
Spencer MA & RI North  Breech 56-56 Rimfire 80,000-
Starr Yonkers, NY North Breech 54 Percussion 20,601
Starr Yonkers, NY North Breech 52 Rimfire 5,002
Symmes Worchester, MA PreWar Breech 54 Percussion 20 in year 1857
Tallassee Tallassee, AL South Muzzle 58 Percussion 500
Tarpley Greensboro, NC South Breech 52 Percussion Few Hundred
Triplett & Scott Meridan, CT North Breech 50 Rimfire 5,000
US 1833, 36, 40, 42, 43 Hall Harpers Ferry, VA, & Middletown, CT PreWar Breech 52, 58, 64 Percussion 31,666
US 1847 Musketoon Springfield, MA PreWar Muzzle 69 Percussion 9,300
US 1855 Carbine Springfield, MA PreWar Muzzle 54 Percussion 1,020
US 1855 Pistol - Carbine Springfield, MA PreWar Muzzle 58 Percussion 4,021
Warner Springfield, MA North Breech 50 & 56-50 RF 4,000
Wesson Worcester, MA North Breech 44 Henry Rimfire 5,600

For more information, see Carbines of the U.S. Cavalry by Ayre and Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms.

 

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