Original U.S. Civil War Fifth Model 1864 Burnside Saddle Ring Cavalry Carbine Issued to Co. D 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry - Serial 13072
Original Item: Only One Available. This Burnside Cavalry Carbine in .54 caliber is offered in very nice condition, with a great "salty" service worn look! It is marked on the frame and breech block with serial number 13072, which is about a quarter of the way through of wartime production. Springfield Research Services records indicate that this serial number was ISSUED in 1863 to Company "D" of the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, also known as the 159th Pennsylvania Volunteers. The records also confirm delivery, so this is a TRUE issued example of a Civil War Carbine!
Th 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry regiment fought mainly in West Virginia and Virginia, often as part of a brigade or division commanded by Brigadier General William W. Averell and later Brigadier General William Powell. Most of its fighting happened in the last half of 1863 and full year 1864, which means that this carbine stands a very good chance of having been in on lots of the action! Major engagements include: 1863: Battle of White Sulphur Springs, Battle of Droop Mountain 1864: Battle of Cove Mountain, Battle of Lynchburg, Second Battle of Kernstown, Battle of Moorefield, Third Battle of Winchester, Battle of Fisher's Hill, Battle of Cedar Creek. There is a very nice chronicle of the actions the regiment took part in on Wikipedia: 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment
This example, known as the "Fifth Model" or model of 1864, is in very good service used condition, with very nice wood stocks and an intact saddle ring. This definitely looks to be a carbine that saw real use out in the field during the war. The Burnside was one of several "capping breech loader" designs utilized by the Union Army during the war. The top of the frame is correctly marked:
MODEL OF 1864
The marking on the lock plate is partly worn away, but originally would have read:
[BURNSIDE RI]FLE CO
The [CA]ST-STEEL 1864 marking in front of the sight is present but slightly mis-struck as they usually were, so the marking is only partially legible. The metalwork shows an overall peppered gray patina, caused by light surface oxidation and subsequent cleaning. There is no sigh of any major rust on the exterior, but there are definitely dent, dings, and other wear from service to the metalwork.
The stocks show wear and tear consistent with service during a war. There are dents and dings as well as wear from cleaning and abrasion. There are however no major cracks or other catastrophic damage, so this looks to have survived the war just fine. The saddle bar and ring are in good shape, with no bents or cracks visible. There is also still the original rear sling swivel present on the bottom of the butt stock.
The action still cycles correctly, with a functional lock and tight mechanics. The small "guide screw" on the right side of the frame that allows the breech block more easily stay in place for reloading is still present on this example as well. We checked the bore, and it is in very good condition, showing a mostly bright finish with strong lands and grooves. There is a bit of fouling and oxidation in the grooves, but overall this bore looks to have been well taken care of during its service life.
A very good example of a Firth Model Burnside Carbine, issued to the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment! We very seldom gets examples of Civil War firearms that can definitely be traced to a specific unit, so this is a real treat! Definitely some great research potential here! Ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: c.1863
Cartridge Type: Copper Casing or Tapered Foil Cartridge with Cap
Barrel Length: 21 Inches
Overall Length: 39 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Breech Loading Falling Hinged Block
History of the Burnside Carbine
The Burnside, one of the best carbines of the Civil War, was designed by one of its worst generals. Actually, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Everett Burnside had sold the interest in his breechloader well before the war started, so he was unencumbered with the need to further its development or, sadly, to reap the proceeds that would have resulted from its success as the conflict’s third most widely produced Federal carbine, after the Sharps and Spencer.
Burnside’s invention employed a rotating block, released by a loading lever that was activated by a hinged, clamping catch. It chambered a unique .54-cal. cone-shaped brass cartridge with a thick, rounded belt (there were also some earlier, coiled cases, sans belt) at its mouth and a small hole in the base that allowed ignition from a separate percussion cap. The round was loaded, base down, into the chamber. Next, the lever was closed and the block locked in place with the belt halfway between the chamber and barrel, providing an excellent seal.
After the carbine was fired, the lever was again lowered and the spent case easily removed from the block with one’s fingers. If extraction became difficult, it was possible to pull it out with the base of the next cartridge. After the soldier got the hang of it, a Burnside could easily be fired in excess of a dozen rounds a minute.
The Burnside Carbine (there were rifles, too) went through a considerable evolutionary process and provides a fertile area for the collector. About 300 First Models were produced by the Bristol Firearm Co. in Bristol, R.I., a manufacturer founded by Burnside himself. It was a .54 caliber with an overall length of 40 inches. First Models had no fore-stock and incorporated a unique side lever, which operated a tape primer and also locked the breech block in the open position. The carbine’s frame was case-hardened, and the barrel was blued.
Second Models did away with the side lever and tape primer, though they still had no fore-stock. Premier Second Models were made by the Bristol Firearm Co., though later ones were produced by the reorganized Burnside Rifle Co., in Providence, R.I. The Third Model, fitted with a fore-stock, was introduced in 1861 at the request of the U.S. Ordnance Dept.
A Fourth, and final, variant appeared toward the end of the Civil War. It had a double pivoting breech block to make the gun easier to open and close. Later on, a second type of Fourth Model (sometimes called “Fifth Model”) appeared with a screw in the right side of the action to prevent the block from dropping out of the action, thus speeding up loading. These guns will be seen with both blued and case-hardened frames. Markings on most Fourth Models are, “BURNSIDE’S PATENT/MODEL OF 1864,” though there are some examples with the earlier 1856 date. Also, deliveries of this model started in 1863, even though they had the 1864 markings.
Because they were made in large quantities and appeared toward the end of the Civil War, Fourth/Fifth Model Burnside Carbines are the least valuable of the various versions. Not too steep a price for one of the most important cavalry arms of one of America’s most important conflicts.
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