This is ONE fantastic find! This London-Made Barnett Enfield was discovered last month by an antique picker at a yard sale in Fairfax County, VA. This is as close as we can humanly witness to what a Civil War gun that's seen combat truly looks like...the dirt, dried sweat, nicks, scratches, burn wear to the original wood finish around the bolster are all right there on the surface of this rifle...it has never been cleaned or touched in any way. You won't find a more pure untouched example of a 3 Band Enfield than this!
90% of London-made Enfields are believed to have gone South during the Civil War. This is especially true of Barnett Enfields. I've read the London-based firm of Barnett had a contract with the Confederate Government early in the war according to the book, "Confederate Longarms & Pistols by Hill & Anthony." There is also a faint letter "H" stamped below triggerguard which has been speculated as possibly being the partial remnants of Sinclair Hamilton's or Caleb Huse's markings, both of whom purchased for the Confederacy. Sinclair Hamilton was both the Superintendent of the London Armoury Co. and the man Caleb Huse turned to for securing quantities of Enfields with private makers in the London area as well as Birmingham. Hamilton was so effective in tying up Enfield production for the Confederates that the "US Consul in London, F.H. Morse, was highly distressed to report in Oct. 1861 that "of Enfield rifles they (Confederates) have thousands now ready for shipment, and have all the armories here at work for them. With these (London makers) and what they are getting at Birmingham they must be receiving not far from 1500 per week."" Page 12, "The Confederate Enfield by Wiley Sword" The less familiar Union buyers were no match for Sinclair Hamilton's connections in the early stages of the war and they got very few London made Enfields as a result. Given where this rifle was found last month and its London markings, it seems plausible this rifle would have seen action in the hands of a Confederate soldier in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
When I first saw this rifle at the Baltimore show last week, it wasn't actually for sale, just display. Nonetheless I stopped to look at it probably a dozen or more times in the course of 3 days to look at it...it was my favorite out of dozens there in the show. When Sunday arrived, the proud owner of this rifle quite reluctantly allowed me to purchase it with the instructions, "DON'T YOU DARE CLEAN IT!" He was absolutely right, once its cleaned, its history is gone forever! We're going to let this one tell its story and pray this goes to the right home! I could stare for hours upon hours at this gun....it gives you a sense of the chaos and violence that surrounded the soldier who carried this 140+ years ago. I love nice rifles but this is infintely more interesting than a mint or clean-looking example. You can see paint specks on the wood from where it sat in a closet and haze and dirt from decades of quietly sitting in the dark. The original shellac has turned a deep dark amber red tone with incredible patina...its nicks and scratches are still raw and never touched up with oil or finish. The metal has turned to a wonderful patina with only minor pitting around the bolster area from percussion ignition. The hammer and lock are borderline engraved. The markings are all good and legible which include the Barnett London marking on the front of the lock with the royal cypher over "TOWER" behind the hammer. The side of the barrel bears its original London Proofs...NOTE: Normally, unlike most Towers, the many of the London firms including Barnett did not stamp the bore sizes "25" (.577 caliber) on the left side of the barrel...this rifle is no exception...these were stamped underneath the wood on the bottom of the barrels. Both swivels, rear sight, and chained nipple protector are intact. The nipple has been broken off at the base of the bolster. Lock works perfectly. Original 3 groove rifling is still intact. The ramrod is that of an 1855, 1861, or 1863 Springfield as it has a tulip head and swelled shank. This looks to have been with this rifle forever...the patina matches the rest of the gun perfectly...ramrods were commonly lost on the battlefield. The brass furniture consisting of the triggerguard, forend cap, and buttplate has turned a very deep dark uncleaned patina, nearly black. This is as pure and as fresh as attic condition Enfields come!