Original U.S. Civil War Era 3rd Model P-1853 Enfield Three Band Percussion Export Rifle marked Tower 1861

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Offered here is a nice example of the 3rd Model Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket, as produced in England with brass butt plate, trigger guard and nose cap. The three steel barrel bands are held on with screw pressure, as typical of the 3rd model. The lock is marked TOWER / 1861 below the cap bolster, and it is marked with a QUEEN'S CROWN to the rear of the hammer. However, there is no V.R. under the 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 embroiled in its most terrible Civil War.

As a Confederate destined weapon it should have the right hand side of the butt stamped with a roundel stating BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS TRADE, however this marking is now GONE due to wear. The barrel bears British Proof Marks, though they are somewhat faded. They are the correct Birmingham proof marks, with the Crown over Crossed Scepters "Viewed" and "Proved" markings, and the often seen 25 marking. There is also the CROWN / BP marking, usually seen during this time.

This example also has some wonderful personalization markings, with the initials and date J D H / 1864 marked in front of the trigger guard, and KDK on the left fore stock between the middle and lower barrel bands. It was very common for Confederate soldiers to personalize their weapons in this way. There are additional scratched in markings on both sides of the butt stock, and there is also a nice cheek rest carved into the left side.

The original rear sight was removed long ago, and the lower barrel band has had a sight groove added. Most likely this example saw use after the war, probably as a hunting gun. Most interestingly, under the middle barrel band is a "duffle cut" through the stock, which would have made it shorter to be brought back home in luggage, usually after WWI. But there would be no reason for an Enfield of this age to be in Europe after WWI, so possibly it was brought back in a clandestine manner by a returning Civil War Soldier. The possibilities are limited only by one's imagination!

A similar Short Rifle edition of this same weapon, dated 1861, appears on the Cover of THE CONFEDERATE ENFIELD by Captain Steven W. Knott, U.S.N. (Ret). with a write up on pages 44 and 45. In addition there is a photograph of the proof marks of this known Confederate Soldier's Rifle on the Title page of the book which are completely identical to those on this weapon. This excellent book states that the Confederate Buying Agents, Josiah Gorgas and Caleb Huse purchased over 350,000 European Rifles between 1861 and 1865, over 250,000 of these were the Percussion Enfield Rifled Muskets and 100,000 were Austrian Percussion arms.

The Union also imported Enfields which were highly prized by Federal soldiers more so than the Union made arms apparently. The Confederacy however contracted for the greater number which in most cases were transported by "BLOCKADE RUNNERS" based in Bermuda. Well documented in the THE CONFEDERATE ENFIELD book.

We found no specific STATE Markings on our rifle, however after 1863 conditions were such that little time was available for such niceties upon importation. Also with the amount of service this rifle has seen, all markings on the wood stock have long since been worn away. We speculate it probably arrived in 1861-62, having been produced in 1861.

The gun is in very good condition, with a nice stock and metalwork with a lovely oxidized patina. It does show signs of past pitting and powder burn, especially near the cap bolster. The rifle still has both sling swivels, though the cleaning rod was replaced with a simplified version with no cleaning jag on the end. The bore is clear, but there is little trace of the original rifling left, probably due to wear. The lock is fully functional, holding at half cock and firing at full.

A very nice example of a personalized P-1853 three band percussion rifle with a possible CSA connection. Ready to display and research!


Year of Manufacture: 1861
Caliber: .58 inches
Ammunition Type: .577 Lead Ball & Powder with Percussion Cap
Barrel Length: 39 inches 
Overall Length: 55 inches

Action: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded

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