The carbine epic of the northerners and southerners

Oh, how many such barrels with a front sight at the end people saw at that time for the last time in their lives! A point-blank shot from such a 12.7 mm carbine will fire, and that’s it, it won’t leave you any chance!
With a rifle, but without knowledge – there are no victories, only you can do all sorts of misfortunes with weapons!
V. Mayakovsky, 1920

Military affairs at the turn of the eras. In the previous article about the Burnside carbine, it was said that it just so happened that at the turn of times, when the old weapon was replaced by a new one literally in one or two years, it was the cavalry carbine in the United States that played a particularly important role. They tried to make and release everyone and everyone, and engineers, and generals, and even dentists. As a result, the belligerent armies received a variety of samples of these weapons, and even life itself showed what was good and what was bad. And there were so many of them that it is just right to talk about a kind of “carbine epic” that took place during the war between the North and the South. And today we will tell you about it.

So, in the first place in terms of distribution in the cavalry, especially at the beginning of the war, were percussion, that is, capsule, muzzle-loaded, Springfield and Enfield carbines. Then came the more comfortable models “Starr”, “Jocelyn”, “Ballard” and, of course, the famous “Sharps”. These carbines were reloaded using a bolt action. At the same time, breakaway carbines appeared: “Smith” (which we already talked about last time), “Gallagher”, “Maynard” and “Wesson”. The popularity of the new weapon was immense. So, Burnside sold 55,000 of his carbines, and Sharps more than 80,000, but with all this, they were not the most common. The same Spencer carbines were purchased more than 94,000 copies, Henry rifles – 12,000, however, these were not cavalrymen, but infantrymen. But there were also samples that were purchased in quantities of even 1000 copies and, by the way, speaking, they are also very remarkable from the point of view of the history of military affairs.

The carbine epic of the northerners and southerners
Well, to get to know them closely, we, perhaps, begin with the “rubber cartridge” for the aforementioned Smith carbine. This is how he and the bullet to him looked in section. But there was also a paper, cheaper version of this ammunition. Nevertheless, with all the positive aspects of the design of this cartridge, its combat life was short-lived, and this carbine itself was widespread, despite all its elegance, did not receive

The carbine of the design of Ebeneres Starr, who had created a good revolver before this, appeared in 1858. He presented it to the Washington Armory for evaluation, where the model was tested and it was found that the weapon does not misfire, the accuracy was recognized as better than average. But testers also noted that if the gas seal were more advanced, this carbine would be better than its competitor, the Sharps carbine.


Carbine “Starr”. View from the left

However, between 1861 and 1864, the Starr Arms Company in Yonkers, New York managed to produce more than 20,000 pieces of this rifle. Moreover, the 1858 model was developed for firing paper or linen cartridges. But in 1865, the government ordered 3,000 Starr carbines for cartridges with metal cartridges. They turned out to be quite successful, and then another 2,000 pieces were ordered. However, although the Starr carbine proved to be effective during the Civil War, it was unsuccessful during the 1865 tests conducted by the US Army Testing Commission, and no additional orders followed after the war. Although during the war, the Starr Arms Company was the fifth largest supplier of carbines and the third largest supplier of single-shot pistols in .44 caliber. But after the end of the war and the absence of new government contracts, Starr could no longer compete with larger manufacturers such as Winchester, Sharps and Colt, and his company ceased to exist in 1867.


Carbine “Starr”. Type of device

The Starr carbine was similar in design to the Sharps carbine, but had a longer receiver. Barrel caliber 0.54 (13.7 mm), length 21 inches. The weapon had a total length of 37.65 inches and a weight of 7.4 pounds. The carbine had a three-position rear sight, which consisted of a rack and two flaps. The bolt, when the lever moved down, also cut off the bottom of the cartridge, after which the lever was returned back, and the bolt locked the barrel. The remains of the old cartridge after the shot from the barrel were not removed, but pushed forward with a new cartridge. The weapon fired reliably as long as the long channel for the transmission of the torch of fire from the primer to the cartridge remained clean.


Carbine “Li”. Left view

James Paris Lee is known today as the inventor of the detachable box magazine in the Lee-Enfield rifle system, that is, as a person who made a significant contribution to the development of firearms. However, his first experience in the development and production of weapons turned into a shameful failure.


Carbine “Li”. Right view

Lee patented the oscillating barrel system in 1862 and hoped to get an army contract for it. In February 1864, he presented his model of the rifle to the army, but he was rejected – the army was not interested in such a weapon. Then Lee offered her a carbine in April 1864, and it was accepted for testing, since the army of carbines was still in short supply. However, it was not until April 1865 that Lee received a contract for 1,000 carbines at $ 18 each. Lee found investors, raised capital, and set up Lee Fire Arms in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to manufacture them. The first two examples were introduced in January 1866, chambered for .42 rimfire cartridges.


Receiver of the “Lee” carbine and on it a bracket with a ring for a running belt

And then a scandal erupted. The government stated that the contract specified caliber .44 (11.3 mm) rimfire and that the supply of caliber .42 (9.6 mm) was unacceptable. A lawsuit was started, but with the termination of the contract, the company had to quickly look for a backup option for selling ready-made carbines. And in March 1867, newspaper ads were placed in Milwaukee for the Lee sporting rifles and carbines. By 1868, production ceased and Lee Fire Arms ceased to exist.


The barrel of the “Li” carbine, retracted to the right for reloading

James Lee himself returned to his former profession of watchmaker, but he did not forget the experience of developing weapons and in 1872 returned to work with Remington. And in the end, he created the store known to everyone today. Well, there is only one conclusion from this story: the creation of firearms is a risky business and not for the faint of heart. However, sometimes you can do better with bad experiences the next time.


Sights of the carbine “Lee”

The carbines had a two-position rear sight, a cavalry ring rail mounted on the left side of the receiver, blued steel parts, and an elegant wooden stock. The hand extractor was located on the right side. In his patent for an earlier pistol on which the carbine was based, Lee explained that the bolt locked when the trigger was pulled or fully cocked. When the trigger was half cocked, the bolt could be pulled aside for reloading.


Example of a carbine “Lee”


Lee’s patent for a single-shot pistol of his own design, which, however, was never produced …

Benjamin Franklin Jocelyn was known as one of the most famous weapon designers of the American Civil War era, although his fame was most likely created by constant litigation with subcontractors and the federal government, rather than the quality of his weapons, especially since his proceedings with the government then lasted for many years. after the end of the war.


Carbine “Jocelyn” 1862. Right view

Jocelyn designed his breech breech carbine back in 1855. After successful trials, the US Army ordered 50 of these rifles in .54 (13.7 mm) to him in 1857, but after trying them, she quickly lost interest in his rifle. But the US Navy in 1858 ordered him 500 of these rifles in .58 caliber (14.7 mm). However, due to technical problems in 1861, he managed to produce only 150 to 200 of these rifles and deliver them to the customer.


Carbine “Jocelyn” 1862. Left view

In 1861 he developed an improved version for a metal rimfire cartridge. The Federal Armaments Directorate ordered him to test 860 of these carbines, which were supplied to them in 1862. Received their units from Ohio. The reviews were good, so everyone in the same 1862 gave Jocelyn an order for 20,000 of their carbines. The delivery of their army began in 1863, but by the time the war ended, it had received only half of its order.


Carbine “Jocelyn” 1862. The shutter is open

In 1865, Jocelyn presented two more carbines for testing based on the 1864 model. The US government ordered 5,000 new carbines, the Springfield Arsenal produced about 3,000 before the end of hostilities, but then all contracts were canceled as the hostilities ended.

In 1871, 6,600 Joslin carbines, as well as 1,600 of his own rifles, converted for .50-70 caliber central battle cartridges, were sold by the Americans to France, which was at that time in the Franco-Prussian war and was in great need of weapons. Many of them became German trophies, were sold to her in Belgium, where they were converted into shotguns (!) And then sent to Africa.

The first model of the Joslin carbine in 1855 used burning paper cartridges ignited by shock capsules. The rifle had a 30 “barrel and an overall length of 45”. The carbine had a 22 “barrel and a total length of 38”. The carbines purchased by the US Army were .54 caliber, but the carbines ordered by the Navy, for some reason, were .58 caliber. It was possible to attach a “sword” bayonet to the barrel.

The 1861 model used metal rimfire cartridges and a side-hinged breech bolt that opened to the left for loading. This design was then improved upon in 1862 with the addition of an extractor. The 1861 model used the .56 (14.2 mm) rimfire Spencer cartridge, while the 1862 carbine used its own improved cartridge. The barrels were not designed for bayonet installation.

The 1864 model had many small improvements and could use both .56-52 Spencer rimfire cartridges and .54 caliber rimfire cartridges from the Joslyn carbine.


Jocelyn M1865 rifle with bayonet. The 1865 model of the year produced by the Springfield Arsenal was essentially the same musket as the Springfield M1863 rifle, except that it had a Jocelyn bolt instead of the old M1863 capsule bolt.

To be continued…

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *