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  1. #1
    Member lawrence_n's Avatar
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    Grand Army of the Republic rifle

    I attended an auction and picked up some very nice and unusual pieces. I'm in the process of researching and gathering information, but I thought I'd share one of them with my fellow military antiques enthusiasts.
    From the information I've gathered thus far, this rifle was one of the ones purchased from Englandicon by the government to arm union troops. After the great unpleasantness, many of the foreign service arms were reworked for parade/re-enactment purposes and given back to the GAR men who had actually carried them. So, for your consideration, a 2 band Enfield which has had the bayonet lug ground off and polished, bored out to smooth bore, and had the barrel and bands tinned. I figured this would generate more interest with my southern neighbours. If any of you fine gentlemen have an idea as to value, I'd appreciate a PM. Enjoy!

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    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    Converted to shorgun and "prettified" ?

    I apologize if this sounds cynical, but what is the evidence for a GAR connection? In a country proud of its "freedom to bear arms", there is not and never was any regulatory reason to bore out the barrel of an ex-service rifle to turn it into a smoothbore, i.e. effectively converting it into a shotgun. That would be totally irrelevant for parade and/or reenactment purposes. Likewise no reason to remove the bayonet lug in either case.

    However, there were 2 situations where this was done to significant numbers of muzzle-loading Enfields.
    1) Rifles intended for use by native troops in India were supplied without rifling, or had it removed, in order that the native troops were less effective in the event of a mutiny.
    2) Ex-service rifles with clapped-out bores were reamed out and used privately as shotguns. In this case, the bayonet lug would often be removed as being unnecessary hindrance

    I therefore, with the very greatest respect, suggest that your Enfield fits one of the above categories, most likely 2), both of which are plentiful over here in Mauserland, indeed much more common than "un-Bubbaed" examples, and that Bubba has, to use a quaint old English expression, "tarted it up".

    Sorry if this hurts, but could it be that you bought the story?
    I would be happy to be proved wrong.

    Patrick

    P.S: Original Enfields always have an excellent match of the "snail" boss to the curve of the lockplate. In this case, the noticeable mismatch indicates that the barrel is not original to the rifle. It could well be that the original barrel was ruined and that Bubba put in a barrel from somewhere, maybe from a beaten-up "shotgunified" example. The lock seems to be excellent, the barrel definitely less so.
    Last edited by Patrick Chadwick; 12-15-2017 at 01:43 PM.

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    Really Senior Member Frederick303's Avatar
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    A few points here, as My Great-Great-Grandfather was a member of a GAR post in Philadelphia, PA. There was no reason to remove rifling from arms, in fact the soldiers when demobilized in June of 1865 were allowed to purchase their arms. Not all that many did, but the figures were recorded and yoiyu can find them on some civil war sites. I think it was less than 200,000 arms in a demobilized strength of 1.5 million but do not recall the exact figure which does exist.

    There were a lot of muzzle loading .58 cal arms that were unwanted in the general shift to breech loading arms post war. A lot of the rifles muskets, which had no real sporting use on cal .577, were converted to shotguns of around 20 gauge. The sales of these arms was pretty big in the 1869 to 1872 time period and ended up as kind of a scandal due to the sales for US surplus to Franceicon during the Franco-Prussian war, which effectively ended the large bulk sales for a period of time.

    A reference was made to this in the congressional 1904 debates, which dealt with what to do with the US surplus from the Indian and Spanish American surplus arms, as well as the remaining civil war arms still in stock. It was aid by one of the proponents of allowing bulk sales, that "rifles muskets, smooth-bored are still doing yeomanry service in the fields surrounding the capital to this day" (1904).

    No mention is made anywhere of special arms supplied to the GAR.


    When researching Irish arms I found a description for the 1880s in parliamentary debate that one of the most commonly allowed permitted arms to Irish farmers was a smooth bore Enfield musket. These arms however, did have their stocks cut down.

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    Member lawrence_n's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    [QUOTE=Patrick Chadwick;419463]I apologize if this sounds cynical, but what is the evidence for a GAR connection? In a country proud of its "freedom to bear arms", there is not and never was any regulatory reason to bore out the barrel of an ex-service rifle to turn it into a smoothbore, i.e. effectively converting it into a shotgun. That would be totally irrelevant for parade and/or reenactment purposes. Likewise no reason to remove the bayonet lug in either case.
    Thank you Patrick, and no, you don't sound cynical. The gentleman from Virginia who gave me the information seemed pretty sure of his facts and as this whole field is uncharted territory for me, his explanation seemed to cover all the bases. You didn't comment on the fact that the metal work, barring the butt plate and trigger guard are tinned, and the man with whom I corresponded mentioned that specifically. I too had postulated that it could have been a native levy rifle, but you will note the absence of a royal cypher denoting military acceptance.

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    Advisory Panel Patrick Chadwick's Avatar
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    Take a look at the 3rd foto in this thread to see how well the curve of the "snail" nipple boss fits the curve of the lockplate. Bad fit = non-original.

    Finally...a P'53... - British Militaria Forums

    P.S "You didn't comment on the fact that the metal work, barring the butt plate and trigger guard are tinned..." - because I have no specific knowledge of this procedure, and cannot therefore make a judgement as to the origin.

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    Member lawrence_n's Avatar
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    Okay, though I sold the rifle at local gun show and this thread is now moot, I thought I'd share what I've learned in my research. Tinning was a U.S. military method of protecting arms from corrosion as well as a way to tart them up for ceremonial and/or dress occasions. The rifle I had was period correct to the civil war and very likely was purchased by the union to make up for the short fall in domestic arms. It was a civilian rifle as evidenced by the lack of the royal cypher under the crown and the lack of WD marks. At some point in it's life, it was re-stocked with Snider Enfield wood, but given the patina, this was a very old re-stocking job. Did the old stock break or get damaged? Unless one could actually go back into the past and question the owner or gunsmith, we'll never know. If only some of these old pieces could talk and tell their stories!


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