This is a really interesting Confederate marked Enfield. Its not very often we come across Enfields inspected by the Confederate's enigmatic viewer, "JS" of any kind, but almost never ones with post 1862 manufacture dates. This is one of them...a Caliber .577 Tower Enfield Pattern 1853 musket manufactured in Birmingham, England in 1863. We've only seen a few of these over the years and thus far, all have been Birmingham-made Towers dated 1863. Unlike the early JS Anchor-marked Enfields, these have no blockade numbers engraved on the buttplate tang or ramrod nor do they have a contractor's initial in front of the buttplate. Based on what we've observed, the JS Anchor symbol on these late guns can be located either just in front of the buttplate on the comb of the stock or just below the the trigger guard tang along the bellly of the wood (same as the early 1861-62 JS Anchors). This particular rifle has its Confederate viewer's mark located on the bottom of the stock (see photos). Sorry, we don't have any history but were told this walked into a gun show near Mobile, Alabama. That's all we know about it. However, when we acquired this rifle, the ramrod was protruding past the barrel by about an inch. This is pretty common on Civil War muskets and its from dirt that has built up inside the ramrod channel. Fortunately, Enfields have a place under the trigger guard where this type of build-up can be removed. We carefully picked out the soil so the ramrod would seat properly under the barrel. Afterwards, we were able to save most of the debris. Perhaps, with some analysis, it could lend a clue as to where it was used.
As you can see from the photos, this one shows extremely hard use that is so typical of many Confederate Enfields run through the blockade. In the 1-2 years saw service, it really got put through the ringer and its NO cream puff! For example, there is significant pitting around the bolster, breech from fulminate and/or powder residue. The wood around the lockplate also shows some pretty significant spark-erosion. I don't know if it was a particular type percussion cap, black powder made at a certain laboratory, or just extensive firing that does this (probably all three), but its interesting how many Confederate-used muzzleloaders we've seen with this pattern of corrosion around the breech area. The stock has the letter "M" lightly scratched in several places by the soldier who carried it. He also attempted a little bit of artwork...you have to look closely...but there are a couple of light designs on the stock...not very extensive and only partially complete. In spite of the wear, this rifle is remarkably complete as it still has both its original sling swivels and its original ramrod. Only the rear sight is missing and given the age and patina formed around where it once stood, it seems likely this was removed on purpose. To front-line infantrymen, some Regiments preferred to remove the sights, as they often worked at closer ranges and found adjustable sights a hindrance. One account of Rebels over-running a Union comes to mind. They found several abandoned Union Enfields with sights adjusted for several hundred yards further out than the foe's position resulting in their barrages landing up in the trees over the heads of the rebels. Before re-issuing to their new Confederate owners, the sights were removed.
Overall, the metal is an uncleaned heavy dark brown patina with good markings on lock plate and border-line engraving. Pitting around bolster area...deep in places. Birmingham proof and double "25" gauge markings are partially visible on left side of barrel opposite the bolster. Good JS Anchor marking located below the trigger guard (see photos). Wood is in good overall condition with a 3" crack at the buttplate (looks Civil War period) and a couple of minor ones near the lock. The wood behind the bolster and just in front has some burn-out and a piece of wood above the lock plate has been chipped out and placed back into place with old iron tacks from many years ago... possibly a Civil War era repair. Another small chip missing on left side (opposite the lock). Hammer still works on both full and half cock positions. Bore hasn't been cleaned in many years...so full of dirt and rust but it appears the 3 groove rifling is intact under the dust. Brass furniture is in good shape. Original ramrod. Barrel bands are intact with no modifications...and 2 of the 3 still have their original washers present on the tension screws. A good representative of a Confederate Enfield with a rare late-war JS Anchor marking for an affordable price!