View Full Version : Civil War Rifle: Help needed!

June 30, 2011, 01:50 PM
I hope I'm postin' this in the right area!!

I have an antique gun my Great Great Grandfather used in the Civil War. I'm trying to figure if it's worth anything from a resale to a collector, or someone of the like, but also need to know exactly what it is to start with.

It's about 3 ft. long, VERY dark brown. On one side there is a small Eagle imprint with "U.S." under it, then near by, on the same metal plate near the hammer, the initials "U.A.C.O (or U.A.O.O) of New York" (I'm 90% sure it's "C.O", however.

Again, it's in excellent condition. You can still cock it, pull the trigger, and the hammer strikes.

Anyone familiar with this? Once my camera starts working properly I'd be happy to take shots, but for now I was just hoping someone would have a broad idea!

Thanks in advance!


June 30, 2011, 02:36 PM
The length is very off for a civil war rifle. Typically you had Springfield 1861 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Model_1861) rifles with a length of over 4 ft. The UACO stamp is known for that model (http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/item.aspx?ItemId=57717).
A picture is in order to clear up if it's something completely different or an 1861 that's been drastically shortened.

June 30, 2011, 02:40 PM
Probably an artillery musket. Depending on condition probably around 700-800.

Harley Nolden
July 1, 2011, 11:58 AM
A photo would help

4V50 Gary
July 1, 2011, 12:50 PM
From the lock marking, we know it's some sort of 1861 or 1863 Springfield rifle musket. Like Harley said, an image would be helpful.

James K
July 1, 2011, 02:42 PM
Hi, Hawg and guys,

I have a problem with those so-called "artillery models" of the rifle-musket, especially the Special Model 1861. I have seen three or four that were obviously cut down muskets, and didn't even have the same barrel length. The sellers insisted that they were "artillery" muskets, but when I asked about documentation, they were unable to provide any (one suggested I book a trip to a warm climate).

I have some backing in this from Flayderman who has several notes cautioning about so-called "artillery muskets."

It is my belief that there were no artillery muskets of those models, and that all the muskets called that were simply cut down standard muskets, many of which were made up after the war for military schools and the like, or for export to countries whose troops were of shorter stature than American soldiers.

FWIW, the standard small arm of the artillery in the Civil War was the saber or the short sword; these were not worn but carried on the ammunition chests.

The weapon of the artilleryman was his field gun. Some artillerymen carried personal pistols, but any such weapon would have been pointless, since a gun crew wasn't large enough to fight off even a small enemy cavalry or infantry detachment if their infantry support failed.


4V50 Gary
July 1, 2011, 03:29 PM
What Jim says about cut-downs is right. Many guns were modified post war by Bannerman Arms.

James K
July 1, 2011, 11:27 PM
I received an e-mail from a gentleman, asking what the artillery did if they were overrun if they were not armed with muskets. I responded directly but will also respond here, just FWIW.

The artillery in the Civil War (and AFAIK, just about every other war) depended primarily on the infantry for protection. It was a mutual support deal, as the artillery supported the infantry. If the infantry gave way, the red legs rode their horses or rode on the limbers to escape, or just plain ran. Abandoning the gun was a disgrace, but as many soldiers have said in one way or another, disgraced beats dead.

If the situation allowed, the gunners could hitch the gun to the limber using the prolonge, and continue firing in retreat. "Prolonge?", says you.

The prolonge was that rope you see in pictures wrapped around the hooks on the gun trail. If the gun was limbered up in the normal manner with its lunette (the ring on the end of the trail) over the limber pintle, the barrel was pointing downward and the gun was not usable. So the prolonge was hooked to the gun lunette and to the limber and the horses dragged the gun along the ground. That way it could be loaded and fired in a brief stop or even loaded while moving. I would imagine a pursuing cavalry unit would not like coming around a bend in the road to find a 12-pounder, double shotted with canister, waiting for them.


July 2, 2011, 02:10 PM
I'll bow to your greater expertise Jim.:cool:

July 5, 2011, 12:59 PM
Jim does provide valid points. The main defense for artillery was the infantry, and the infantry relied on the artillery to pound the opposing lines. large guns could be hitched to the horses or mules and still fired, but the field artillery like mountain howitzers and prairie guns could be moved by the crew alone. During long transportation the pieces could be completely disassembled and carried by a team of pack mules. These aren't the huge 10-12 lbs guns but relatively light 6 lbs guns. To the main point, artillery enlisted were some times equipped with short swords that resembled the roman gladiolus, but were easily thrown away because of their weight. Pistols were sometimes carried but were seriously discouraged because one spark could set off the powder charges in the cartridge box. Carbines were carried sometimes but the stranded crew were 5 people at minimum. a small element of mounted cavalry could wipe out batteries of artillery. There were a lot of weapons cut down and sold as surplus,to schools but mainly to other countries. I would very weary of a artillery carbine on the market.

July 5, 2011, 02:35 PM
If you look at pictures (http://humphrysfamilytree.com/Cashel/CW/2nd.artillery.2.full.jpg) of artillery (http://dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/artillery/2ndArtHvy/2ndArtHvyPhotoOrdnanceMillerV_125.htm) during the civil war there's either no rifles or full length rifles. What makes sense since as defense against cavalry the soldier relied on the bayonet, and a short musket wasn't going to cut it there.
Maybe someone can find a picture of the artillery musket in action somewhere in google.

James K
July 5, 2011, 06:34 PM
Heavy artillery units were armed with muskets because they were considered also to be part of the general defense of the fortification. And, of course, they didn't have to carry them around.

Field artillery just plain didn't have the room. The supply wagons didn't go "up front", and there was no room on the guns or limbers or ammo wagons for the 12 or so muskets the drivers and gun crew would have needed. The first picture shows a six-gun battery ready to move out. It was probably a late-war horse artillery battery, since the gun crew members are all mounted and the guns are 3" Ordnance Rifles. Not a musket or "artillery musket" in sight, just the sabers on the drivers, who rode the horses on the left side of the six-horse team. The drivers were not part of the gun crew; they held the horses in an engagement.

Everything was kept in its specific place and no space was wasted. Just an interesting aside - for a given gun, all the ammunition chests were packed the same, in a specific order, so that the number 6 or 7 could put his hands on the type of round called for with no fumbling even if he was new to the battery or was replacing a casualty. The Table of Fire for the gun was pasted inside the ammo chest cover.