This is a good example of a Confederate Tower Enfield musket imported through the blockade during the early part of the Civil War. This particular rifle is a Birmingham-made P53 Enfield pattern marked "Tower" on the lock and dated "1862". The general contractor on this rifle was Joseph Bourne of the Birmingham Small Arms Trade, or BSAT. Bourne's name is stamped on the bottom of the stock, under the barrel and inside the lockplate.
The bottom of the stock is marked with the JS Anchor symbol...the Confederate's viewer proof from England where the rifle was purchased by Confederate buyers, most notably Caleb Huse. The top tang of the buttplate also has the engraved blockade number in the 9,000 range with the A suffix...which stands for 10,000...or 19,000. Over the years, we've only had a couple of these in the A-block. Here is a link to another one we sold back in 2004, a London-made Parker Field: http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/confederate-enfield-rifle.htm
Another interesting aspect of this rifle is the 40" barrel with octagon breech marked with a cryptic letter "C" inside a diamond symbol with "24" and "25" bore proofs. There are several theories out there as to who made these barrels...one being Sam Colt. One common trait that many Diamond C barrels share is that they tend to turn up on Enfields with Confederate markings...most notably JS Anchor guns that were purchased by the state of South Carolina. This rifle has no visible "SC" for South Carolina on the stock although there is a 2" silver plaque of an eagle clutching an arrow that's right over the spot on the right side of the stock where the "SC" initials tend to show up. However, speaking personally, most SC-marked JS Anchor Enfields I've seen tend to have numbered buttplates in much lower serial ranges. A few years ago, another dealer sold an Enfield almost identical to this rifle with a Diamond C barrel, an 1862 dated Tower, and the number on the buttplate also in the 9,000 range of the "A" block. Both guns share the same "24" and "25" barrel proofs and have no supplier initial on the top of the stock. Upon request, I will be happy to provide a link to this rifle for serious buyers.
Was this rifle captured by the Union? This is also a question that's come up given the eagle on the right side of the stock. The plaque is round and measures almost 2" in circumference. The eagle is nicely engraved and is clutching an arrow with both feet. This form isn't exactly the classic American Eagle who clutches a brace of arrows in one foot and an olive branch in the other. Instead, both feet grabbing hold of one large arrow. I hardly paid any attention to this at first but Civil War dealer Dave Taylor mentioned that this could be indicative of the Union Army's 17th or XXVII Corps who used a single arrow on their Corps badges. While there is no concrete proof of this and it's just a wild theory, there is an account during the Civil War of the Union Army troops after the capture of Vicksburg...given orders to dispose of their outdated weapons and to rearm with captured Confederate Enfields. "After the surrender of Vicksburg the 101st Illinois along with about 20 regiments armed with "2nd Class" arms exchanged its weapons for captured Confederate rifle-muskets. Although Confederate records are incomplete it seems that some 50,000 shoulder weapons were surrendered at Vicksburg, most British-made Enfields." --pg. 32, Staff Ride Handbook for Vicksburg Campaign Dec. 1862-July 1863. That said, the 17th Corps did participate in the siege of Vicksburg and the rifle's date of manufacture is 1862...which could very well have made it into the Confederate Army before 1863. Also, there is a small number "4 3" stamped on the buttplate tang just ahead of the blockade number. Again, we do not have firm proof this rifle was captured by the Union Army at Vicksburg but the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit...and could be an interesting project for someone willing to do some research. We can't help but wonder if there are other Enfields out there with similar badges.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Good+. The metal has generally good markings and has turned to a dark patina that's fairly smooth with very little pitting. Just some minor spots around the bolster. Lock and hammer retain all their borderline engraving which is still good and sharp. Original rear sight is complete with original ladder...good and straight with no damage. The bore still has all of its original 3-groove rifling present with some pitting...Fair+ to Good Overall. It's nice to see a Confederate rifle that hasn't been bored out for use as a shotgun as so many were after the War. The action is in good working order with good half and full cock notches. The wood is in Good+ condition with most of its original varnish intact. Plenty of small nicks and dings...but has a good look to it and the English walnut still retains a nice reddish hue. The "JS" and Anchor symbol has some wear and patina but still visible. See photos. In addition to the eagle badge on the right side of the stock, there is a small oval inlay in the top of the wood behind the breech plug. Nice brass furniture throughout. All in all, this is a nice example of a JS Anchor Confederate Enfield with a rare Diamond C barrel and perhaps even an interesting story to tell if more research could be done.