Original U.S. Civil War Service Worn Smith's Patent 1857 Saddle Ring Carbine Named to Cavalry Trooper C.J. Kelly - Serial 11581

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Smith Carbine was a 0.50 caliber breech-loading rifle patented by Gilbert Smith on June 23, 1857 and successfully completed the Military Trials of the late 1850s. It was used by various cavalry units during the American Civil War. It was unique in that it broke apart in the middle for loading, and that it used rubber cartridges which sealed the gases in the breech. The downside was that these cartridges were difficult to remove. It was one of the many "capping breech loader" firearms that bridged the gap between percussion and cartridge firearms.

The carbines were built by three companies: Massachusetts Arms Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; the American Machine Works in Springfield, Massachusetts; or the American Arms Company in Chicopee Falls. The name of the distributor for the manufacturer, Poultney & Trimble of Baltimore, Maryland, is often stamped on the carbine's receivers, as is the case with this example.

This is a rare Civil War era example: a complete and original Smith's Patent Carbine in "barn find" condition. It looks like it was stowed away after the war, and then left to sit and slowly develop rust on the metal components for decades. We acquired it and gave it a light cleaning to put it in it's best light. In spite of the rust however, the markings on the receiver are still relatively clear. The distributor information is marked on the left upper receiver:


Below this, under the saddle ring bar, is the manufacture's abbreviated address marking:


There is also the correct SMITH'S PATENT / JUNE. 23. 1857 marking to the left of this vertically under the saddle ring bar. The carbine carries a five digit serial number of 11581 stamped on the underside of the barrel hinge on both the receiver and barrel side. Mechanically, this carbine is sound with a tight action, strong springs, and all original components (in our opinion). The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full. The bore on this example still shows the three groove rifling, but shows oxidation like the exterior, indicating it was exposed to the elements for a long period of time.

The stock wood is in very good condition, with a lovely worn look, and no major cracking or other issues. There is a bit of staining next to the rusted hardware, but that is to be expected. The left side of the butt stock has TWO legible cartouches, something we rarely see! The first is a LFR in a rectangle, for Lafayette F. Rogers, and the second is JH in an oval, for John Hannis. Both are known inspectors of American Machine Works produced Smith carbines during the Civil war. On the other side of the wrist, it is stamped twice with the name C.J. KELLY, though one time was mis-struck. We have not been able to identify which unit this trooper was with, and leave this as an excellent research opportunity.

The saddle ring is still intact, retained by the saddle bar on the right hand side, though as with the rest of the metalwork it shows overall oxidation and pitting. The front sight is intact, though the nickel silver blade is quite loose, and the rear sight is also still present, but it is missing the sight slider, which probably rusted to pieces.

Here is an important piece of American firearm history from the time of the American Civil War, and it is available to one person only; the collector enthusiast who appreciates rare and hard to find! Ready to research and display!


Year of Manufacture: c.1863
Caliber: .50"
Cartridge Type: Rubber Cartridge with Percussion Cap
Barrel Length: 21 1/2 Inches

Overall Length: 39 Inches
Action type: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Single Shot Breech Loading

The Smith's Patent Carbine, a single shot, breech loading, percussion .50 caliber, was one of the most important Federal Cavalry carbines of the Civil War. Production of these carbines was almost entirely consumed by government contracts. A total of approximately 30,362 Smith Carbines were purchased by the United States during the Civil War.

The part octagonal and part round barrel is 21 5/8 inches long, with blued finish. The barrel is fitted with a blade front sight and a folding ladder rear sight. The "octagonal" portion of the barrel is 6 1/8 inches long and consists of 5 flats over the top 180 degrees of the barrel and a round surface for the lower 180 degrees (the portion under the hand guard). The front 14 inch section of the barrel is round. The butt stock has a steel two-screw curved carbine butt plate. All smith carbines were originally chambered in .50, utilizing a "Capping Breech Loader" system.

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