This is one of the most unusual Confederate-marked Enfields we have ever come across. Over the years, we've heard so many stories about where Confederate weapons ended up following the War. While some stayed here in the South, others went West, North as trophies, still many more of these captured weapons were sold off to places like Mexico and South America. We've even heard about a few taken to Brazil by non-repentant Rebels who chose to exile themselves from the United States rather than surrender. To a collector, its fascinating to think that in some other corner of the globe, there are orphaned Confederate guns still in use. This is just such a gun!
For starters, this would be just an ordinary Confederate Enfield cavalry carbine if it wasn't for the lockplate which is a Flintlock! Yes, you heard it right! We'll get to that part soon. The top of the stock just in front of the buttplate has a somewhat faint but complete Confederate Inspector Anchor symbol over the letter "S". For those of you who really know these, the other (2nd symbol) is below but only a shadow of its former self. Barrel is Birmingham-proofed with double "25" gauge stamps indicating .577 Caliber. The stock has a portion of its original Birmingham Small Arms Trade Cartouche located on the right side. Like most Anchor S marked Enfields, this would have been run through the blockade into a Confederate port around 1863 or 1864. Given the Birmingham proof, it would have had a Tower lockplate with a similar date. However, at some point, it was converted to a flintlock. At first glance, you'd think, "Hey, this is an old Enfield Percussion Cavalry Carbine that someone in Hollywood turned into for a film Prop....perhaps they were shooting an old Pirate Movie but the prop house was short on Flintlocks. We were told this came from a family near Placerville, CALIF so it only seemed logical. After all, how many old movies have we seen with 18th century battles being fought with Trapdoor Springfields with those ridiculous Flintlock contraptions mounted to the sides of those guns. Personally, I still haven't gotten over Jimmy Stewart using a Model 1892 Winchester rifle dressed up like a Henry Rifle in the Civil War era movie "Shenandoah".
The part we didn't pick up on (as I'm a bit slow) was this really is a true flintlock...its not a mock-up like most Hollywood props. The lock appears to be from an old French Charleville Musket...perhaps a 1774 Pattern...but trimmed down off the ends to fit this Enfield. The stock inlet has had some armorer's splices placed at the front and top to accommodate the odd squared-off plate. Its secured to the wood by a centrally-mounted screw...located right under the saddle bar with a large brass escutcheon. The entire percussion bolster on the barrel was removed leaving only a touch hole above the pan of the flintlock. So why on Earth would anybody have a reason to convert a percussion rifle back to a more primitive form of weapon like a flintlock? Well, a couple of days ago I was talking with a friend who knows a good deal more about the Civil War and Enfields and he knew exactly what this was! He said, "Oh, what you have there is much better made than some Hollywood Prop House...you have an African Trade Rifle! He explained that Colonial powers, particularly the French who had quite a territory carved out for itself in Western Africa sold and traded these with African Tribes. The reason these were converted to Flint were two-fold....First, flint was plentiful and lasted longer...whereas percussion caps were not always available and only lasted for one shot. On a continent like Africa where supplies were only available near towns with ports...percussion caps would have been more of a hindrance than technological advancement. Secondly, the Colonials were a bit wary about arming people it wished to control with weapons of equal technology to their own. Suddenly, the pieces all started to fall into place....especially the old French Charleville lockplate. My friend went on to explain that France had initially purchased huge quantities of weapons from the United States in 1870 for the Franco-Prussian War. A new book out on American Arms Dealer Schuyler, Hartley & Graham revealed the following:
"The North American arms market was to remain over-supplied until 1870 when the Franco-Prussian War broke out. Then, after the defeat of Napoleaon III at Sedan in early September, agents acting on behalf of the new Provisional Government of France scoured the United States in search of any arms that were even remotely useable. Over the next four months more than three quarters of a million arms were to be exported to France, and; as might be expected, the firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham was to play a significant role in many of the transactions. While some of these weapons were of the most modern design.....the majority dated from the Civil War. HOwever, the French military authorities were not overly concerned with the age of weapons, only their serviceability." Arming the American West" by Herbert Houze 2008 P. IX
With the War over, France must have found itself with an abundance of old weapons from America. From there, it sold these obsolete weapons to their African Colonies for use as hunting rifles.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Good with the aforementioned modifications from this weapon's original period of usage. Metal is grey mixing with brown patina...lots of small handling marks but very little pitting...even around the bolster. Brass Triggerguard is from a 3 band Enfield musket and not in good shape. The wood looks pretty good...as mentioned earlier, you can still see the Anchor S symbol, the BSAT cartouche, and there is very little, if any burnout around the lockplate. The bore still has all of its 3 groove rifling intact...so fortunately, this one was never bored out. Best of all, the two components that are commonly missing from these Confederate-used P-56 Cavalry Carbines are still present. One is the original captive ramrod. The concept of the captive rod was to facilitate the loading of a muzzle-loader on horseback. The Confederates despised these rods and not only that, they were dangerous if inadvertently left in the barrel and fired during the heat of battle. The Confederates seemed to prefer removing the captive arms from the rod....which is the case here...however, the original rod has managed to survive with the gun...a rare occurrence from our experience. The other is the rear sight...leaves are missing but the block is there....these were only secured by silver solder and usually got knocked off or were simply removed. Still has its original saddle bar and ring. All in all, a very unique Confederate carbine that physically reveals its post-war use in another part of the world and the only one we've ever seen to date!