Civil War 5th Model Burnside Carbine


Civil War 5th Model Burnside Carbine – Designed by Ambrose Burnside who would serve, during the Civil War, as a general, later as the Governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. Senator, the Burnside, percussion, breechloading carbine was ultimately produced in five iterations or models, starting in 1857 then through the end of the Civil War, in 1865. This carbine has the distinction of being the first American, metallic cartridge firearm, utilizing a .54 caliber, unique, tapered, brass cartridge that achieved ignition through a small hole in the base of the brass case. Burnside would ultimately divest himself from the production of the carbines, due to monetary issues incurred during the production of the 1st Model, inducing him to sell the patent rights. The pre-war production of the first, second and third models was relatively limited, thereby making extant examples somewhat rare; only a few thousand of these first three models of the Burnside carbine were ultimately produced. With the outbreak of hostilities, in 1861, the demand by the Federal government for weapons vastly increased, resulting in the production of about 7,000 4th Model Burnside carbines and over 40,000 5th Models. The 4th Model would be the first Burnside with a hinged breech block, enhancing the loading of the cartridge; as a 5th Model, this example exhibits the central, frame screw and a breech block channel to regulate the movement of the breech block. The top of the barrel is stamped: “CAST STEEL 1862″. The top of the frame, immediately next to the barrel is stamped with the serial number: “18113”; on the top of the breech block is a matching “18113”; the Burnside patent information and date are not visible, beneath the serial number on the breech block. The lock plate is stamped: “BURNSIDE RIFLE CO./PROVIDENCE=R.I.” The round barrel has a front blade sight and folding-leaf, rear sight. The walnut butt stock has a sling swivel; there are no inspector’s cartouches visible on the stock. The separate fore end stock is attached to the barrel with a single screw and barrel band with a spring. There is a saddle ring and bar on left side of the frame. The carbine is in overall good condition with peppered pitting around the breech block, firing area with the rest of the gun exhibiting an overall, smooth, brown finish; the top of the breech block has several short indentations that may have obscured the patent stamping here. The firing mechanics are fine and operational; the bore is clean with strong rifling. The First Model and the ensuing transitional type were not used in the Civil War, but the other four models were, in particular, the Fifth Model. The Burnside maintained a solid reputation, on the battlefield; as a result, the company received many orders during the Civil War. Union soldiers were armed with 55,567 Burnsides throughout the Civil War.

Overall length: 39 1/4”; barrel length: 20 1/8”