Ultra Rare Excavated Confederate Brunswick Rifle Barrel
Ultra Rare Excavated Confederate Brunswick Rifle Barrel – This barrel was excavated in the late 1960s in Amelia County, Virginia on the battlefield of the Battle of Sayler’s Creek. There were some 1400 Brunswick Rifles that made it through the blockade into the South; it is possible that this particular rifle was once owned by one of the Confederate Naval or CS Marine personnel evacuated out of Richmond, on April 2, 1863. Indeed, there were a number of such Confederate personnel at Sayler’s Creek, many of whom would be captured there by Union troops. Features that are indicative of this being a Brunswick Rifle are: the long range Enfield sight, the slots beneath the short barrel for pinning the stock, the block type front sight and the distinctive long, heavy bayonet lug near the muzzle of the barrel. The barrel, the only one known to have ever been excavated, is in very good, dug condition, with little to no flaking; it evidences obvious surface rust, but is quite stable. The barrel is obviously bent, and the rear sight’s two back elements are bent as well – it appears that the barrel was heavily struck during the course of combat by some significant force, perhaps an artillery shell.
The Brunswick rifle was one of several designs submitted to replace the Baker rifle. The Baker rifle (officially known as the Pattern 1800 Infantry Rifle) was a flintlock rifle used by the rifle regiments of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first standard-issue, British-made rifle accepted by the British armed forces. Unlike the Baker rifle, the Brunswick rifle used a special round ball with raised ribs that fit into two spiraling grooves in the barrel.
During its evaluation, it was noted that the Brunswick’s unique round meant that the Brunswick rifle could not fire the standard British paper cartridges in use at the time. In December 1836, trials were conducted to compare the Brunswick rifle against the Baker rifle. The Brunswick rifle proved to be equally accurate at shorter ranges, and more accurate at longer ranges. The Brunswick rifle also proved to require less cleaning than the Baker rifle. Evaluators also noted that the simplified two groove design of the Brunswick was likely to have a longer service life than the barrel of the Baker, and the Brunswick rifle was noted as being very rugged overall. In January 1837, the rifle was approved for production.
The Brunswick was also manufactured in Belgium. Limited numbers of Brunswick rifles were imported to the United States during the Civil War. Some of those ended up in the hands of units like the 26th Louisiana Infantry, which was partly equipped with Brunswicks during the Siege of Vicksburg. The rifle takes its name from the German state of Brunswick.
The pattern 1837 & 1844 Brunswick rifles in .704 cal with 2 groove rifling having a 1 in 30 twist. Barrels were made with Damascus twist steel – not iron. The guns had walnut stocks with a brass patch box. All furniture was brass and the barrel was affixed with keys. These guns saw use in the Crimean War and other spots in the Victorian empire but were ultimately replaced by the new pattern 53 Enfield. At the start of the Civil War, companies like J.E. Barnett bought over 30,000 obsolete firearms to refurbish and sell to southern agents, for the war effort; the Brunswicks were among these. Records show 2,020 were purchased and shipped to the Confederacy, while some 600 were captured by the Federal blockade fleet, 1,420 made it and were apparently issued. Over 1,000,000 Brunswick cartridges were sent, over a 2 year period, to the South, with some additional cartridges manufactured in the Confederacy. The projectile for the 2-groove Brunswick was originally a belted ball, with the belt fitting the rifling grooves. During the Crimean War, the Russians using the Liege made Brunswick that fired a winged conical bullet; both types of these Brunswick bullets were used in the Southern guns, as well as a .70 cal hollow base Minie type projectile. Use of the Brunswick rifle by Confederate troops is evidenced by the field recovery of bullets of all 3 types. During the early refurbishing process in England, for sale to the Confederacy, the guns were fitted with P53 short rifle, long range rear sights and a new matching front sight.. The lengthy and hefty bayonet lug, quite distinctive in configuration, accepted a brass-hilted, flat bladed bayonet.