Common Guns in the Civil War
The Smith carbine was the fourth most popular
carbine during the Civil War but was surpassed by the development of the Sharps
and the Spencer
The Smith was the fourth most purchased carbine during the Civil War. It was
only made during the Civil War from 1861 into 1865. Almost the entire production
of 30,000+ was bought by the Federal Government.
The Smith carbine was fifty caliber. It opened by depressing the latch ahead
of the trigger to release the barrel. The barrel pivots downward on the frame to
a right angle and far beyond the opening angle of the typical break open
The Smith carbine was purchased in quantity because it was available at the
onset of the Civil War. 7,000 Smith carbines were delivered during the year
1862. It had been invented just before the creation of self-contained metallic
ammunition by Smith & Wesson and Henry. Constrained by its ammunition, the Smith
carbine was surpassed by other developments, principally the Sharps and the
Special ammunition in an india rubber tube was issued for the Smith carbine.
It could also be loaded with loose
powder and bullet and was so used when
captured by the Confederates. Loaded and fired without a seal the leakage is
significant to the shooter's hand and arm and can be frightening to the face and
Alternate attempts to make ammunition were made with a rubber sealing ring,
rolled paper, gutta percha, or rolled metal. Many different bullet weights and
powder charges were used as arsenals and suppliers struggled with the task of
making suitable ammunition. The bullet and powder weights and energies cited
below are a composite to estimate typically issued ammunition.
The Smith Carbine was produced under three company names. All were made in
the same general area in Massachusetts around Chicopee Falls and Springfield.
The Smith carbine is available as a modern made replica with modern
components making better ammunition for it.