Original British Pattern 1856 Short Rifle with Yataghan Saber Bayonet
Original Item: Only One Available. A very common weapon used in the U.S. Civil War, the Pattern 1856 Short Rifle was the standard British military rifle of the era, and had a 33 barrel, with a .577 caliber bore which was rifled with 3-groove, progressive depth rifling. The rear sight was graduated to 1,100 yards (rifle musket sights were graduated to 1,000 yards), and was set just behind the rear barrel band; further forward on the barrel than the sights used on the rifle musket.
The rifle was equipped with a bayonet lug on the right side of the barrel, near the muzzle, to accommodate a Yataghan blade saber bayonet. The earliest production rifles had a short key or lead forward of the actual lug, but this feature was quickly eliminated and the majority of P-1856 rifles have lugs without that short guide. The rifle had a rear sling swivel attached to a lug, screwed into the rear of the extended iron trigger guard tang, and the upper swivel attached to the upper barrel band. As with the P-1853 rifle muskets, the iron mounted rifles had blued barrels and color case hardened locks and hammers. The furniture (trigger guard, butt plate, stock escutcheons, nose cap, etc) of the iron mounted rifles was made of iron rather than brass, and was color casehardened as well. Due to the difficulty of engraving a numbers in the case hardened butt plate tang, the iron mounted rifles that were inventory numbered were stamp-marked with their numbers in the wood of the stock belly.
Short rifles were lighter and handier than rifle muskets and were preferred for use not only by Confederate infantry that functioned as skirmishers and sharpshooters, but by Confederate cavalry that tended to operate as mounted infantry, rather than as traditional heavy cavalry. Confederate cavalry commanders J.E.B. Stuart and Nathan Bedford Forrest were both proponents of issuing short rifles to their cavalry troopers. Short rifles with saber bayonets are known to have been issued to Confederate infantry regiments serving in Kershaw’s South Carolina Brigade, the 10th, 16th, 18th & 51st Georgia, the 13th, 17th, 18th & 51st Mississippi, the 41st Tennessee, the 1st Battalion of Texas Sharpshooters, and the 5th Texas. Mounted Confederate units that are known to have been issued the short Enfield rifle were Cobb’s & Phillip’s Legions of Georgia, the 18th & 19th Mississippi cavalry (McCulloch’s Brigade of Forrest’s 2nd Cavalry), the 2nd North Carolina cavalry, the 3rd, 6th, 9th & 27th Texas cavalry (Ross’ brigade) and the 7th Virginia cavalry.
Today, a multi-decade survey of extant surviving Confederate marked and inventory numbered Enfield short rifles reveals that less than 100 of these guns have survived (about 1% of the total purchased). While some are in private collections, many others reside in museum or other public collections where they can be viewed, but never owned by a collector.
The nice condition short rifle lock shows slight engraving marked on the exterior only with a CROWN. This indicates that this weapon was not intended for a British military contract but was aimed at the overseas market most specifically the United States who were about to embark on its most terrible Civil War. British proof marks on the barrel and on the underside of the barrel the maker name appears; W. & C.S. for William and Charles Scott who much later merged with P. Webley & Sons creating the famous Webley and Scott Company. The interior of the lock bears its marker markings of R. & W. ASTON. Scattered minor surface pitting on metal surfaces, but wood stock in excellent shape and bears a blank oval silver escutcheon plate.
The Saber bayonet with yataghan blade is marked with the German contractor's logo of a Knight's Head for Weyersberg and Kirshbaum.
A lovely short rifle that may very well have seen service in the American Civil War!
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