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I recently purchased two Civil War era rifles. The focus was on a Burnside Carbine that while missing a couple replaceable period parts was a numbers matching gun. The other rifle that was kind of a throw in was an 1863 Springfield rifle that, while a largely original shooter, had a cut down stock and a barrel that had been "cleaned up" with emery cloth or sandpaper. Not pretty. This is a stock photo of a complete rifle.

1863springfield.png
I've been fortunate enough to put a number of rounds down range with stock '63's. Besides being cool, a couple things stand out to me with them. They are heavy. They are long. And they feel very heavy up front at the muzzle. Here is my gun reconstructed after I forgot to take pics before I started. The barrel was stock at 40". The forearm had been cut back 8-10 inches. There was no ramrod or forearm cap(as shown in pic) when I got it. It was also missing the 3rd barrel band. You can see the wood piece I cut off and I took off 10" of the barrel. The muzzle was faced true on my lathe.

1863-1.jpg 1863-2.jpg

The barrel probably would have been fine, but as you can see here at the breech, it was sanded profusely. All identifying stamps are gone. Basically, other than shooting, the barrel was ruined.

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While doing some research I came across a few Springfield "carbines". These were generally as I understand it mostly after war home brews. But I did find one where stock Springfields were taken from the factory, shortened to carbines professionally, and issued to a Massachusetts regiment during the Civil War. And that is the direction I'm heading. A 2 band carbine with some period upgrades added. No original parts will modified, only those that already have. It will be a shooter. And it has to be done by 3/22 as I have a show I'd like to bring it to.

This is the new footprint. The barrel was cut back 10" to a new length of 30". Also, I took another 3" off the forearm wood.

1863-5.jpg

Got a couple parts on the way, but have stuff I can do on it for now. I'll post more pics as I go.
 

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Ahhhh, Mr. Burnside, his gun didn’t catch on but his “Sideburns” will live forever! Lol


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Nice job on that rifle, Ellis, it’s a beauty! I bet it’ll be a lot of fun to shoot. Let us know how it goes.?
 

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Excellent cut, Ellis. It looks better, and more balanced with the shortened barrel.
Thanks Dave. It would have been great if the poor girl hadn't been altered. And the two main components, no less. But, it is the perfect opportunity to put my twist on it, while preserving what is still original. The difference in the way it shoulders is incredible. Very balanced as you said, and noticeably lighter. Now, taking into account that this was the preeminent rifle in the Civil War and the average soldier was 5'-8" and 143 lbs., who at times had to load, shoulder and fire it for long periods under tremendous duress, after at times having marched double digit miles for days beforehand........pretty amazing.

Ahhhh, Mr. Burnside, his gun didn’t catch on but his “Sideburns” will live forever! Lol

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Nice job on that rifle, Ellis, it’s a beauty! I bet it’ll be a lot of fun to shoot. Let us know how it goes.?
Thanks Mike! Very much looking forward to launching a few spirals with it. Funny thing with Burnside. He invented an effective, mass produced, breech sealing conical rifle cartridge with his Burnside carbine before the Civil War, a General in the Civil War, US Senator, Governor of Rhode Island, just to name a few..........and he gets more credit for sideburns. Go figure.

Cool build. Wonder what the guy had planned with he ground the breach area all up?
Lord knows, Paul..........but I wish I was there to stop him :)
 

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Nice weapon Ellis, amazed at how proficient they were with those "long guns" and shortening it to carbine length should make it easier to hold and fire.
Thanks Tim. Yeah, hopefully it turns into a nice little 50-100 yarder that's fun to shoot.

Couple things done last night/this morning. There are a couple basic barrel band designs with these. One has the screw like the one that came with the gun. It has a sling ring. Put it in position, tighten the screw, done. Others had band keepers or band springs. That's what mine had. When I got the gun, it only had the sling band w/screw. Someone had filled in the old keeper slot with wood. Looks to be an old repair, and not a bad one. Since there will be only two bands now and I have the screw type. I'm leaving well enough alone.

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The rear band was missing, as was the keeper.

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I did find a pair of period keepers on ePay for 85 big ones, but did a bit more searching and found an 11 piece lot of generic "band springs". I thought there might be one or two for a Springfield included. Took a chance on $30 for the lot.
1863-6.jpg

Got one that worked although I have to add a little dutchman. Fit/works really well. And I got 10 extra keepers to put in stock. The band I got in a lot that also included a forearm cap that was the next project.
1863-9.jpg 1863-10.jpg
 

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As said earlier, the muzzle end of the stock had been cut back, probably a good 8". The steel cap was gone. I needed to shorten the wood a bit more to suit the shortening of the barrel. This was the what came off. I'll be keeping this scrap as it could come in handy for some future fixes.

1863-1.jpg

I scored an original cap in a group lot on ePay. In general, I usually save a good bit of change scouring group lots of parts. It's more time and a bit tedious, but the rewards are there. Plus, you usually score a few doodads for future projects. To accept the cap the stock end would have to be shaped to accept it. Used a fine small hobby backsaw and a couple chisels. Just a lot of shaving, then fit, shave some more, fit.

1863-2.jpg

Wood still needs some finishing, but the cap is a decent fit.

1863-3.jpg
 

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Nice job on that project.

I have my great grandfather's 1863 Tower Hill that I used to fire. Lots of fun but hard to imagine carrying that thing from Altanta to Savanah.
 

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Nice job on that project.

I have my great grandfather's 1863 Tower Hill that I used to fire. Lots of fun but hard to imagine carrying that thing from Altanta to Savanah.
Is it a Tower marked Enfield by chance, Brad? They were .577 cal. Brit rifles used by the Confederacy as I understand.
 

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That is probably what it is Ellis. Family history has it that it was being shipped from England to the Confederacy and the ship was captured by the Union forces. Then, waste not want not, they were put into service for the Union forces after being liberated from the ship. I also have his leather bullet pouch which is pretty dry shape at this point, the bayonet, and a bullet mold which is more on the order of a 40 caliber 450 caliber rather than the caliber for the musket. Family history also has it that they were camping at grandfather mountain and they would mold their bullets and toss them down into a creek to cool and then gather them up and off they went on a southward track.

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That is probably what it is Ellis. Family history has it that it was being shipped from England to the Confederacy and the ship was captured by the Union forces. Then, waste not want not, they were put into service for the Union forces after being liberated from the ship. I also have his leather bullet pouch which is pretty dry shape at this point, the bayonet, and a bullet mold which is more on the order of a 40 caliber 450 caliber rather than the caliber for the musket. Family history also has it that they were camping at grandfather mountain and they would mold their bullets and toss them down into a creek to cool and then gather them up and off they went on a southward track.

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That's some pretty cool family history, Brad! From your previous post are you saying he was part of Sherman's March to the Sea?
 

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Yes. He was enlisted out of Pontiac IL. 136th or something, forget now. Was wounded in the knee. Should do some research on him. Corporal rank. The musket has 3 distinct notches.


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Yes. He was enlisted out of Pontiac IL. 136th or something, forget now. Was wounded in the knee. Should do some research on him. Corporal rank. The musket has 3 distinct notches.


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Wow, he marched under Uncle Billy(the nickname given to Wlliam Tecumseh Sherman by his men). That's incredible stuff, Brad.
 

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That is probably what it is Ellis. Family history has it that it was being shipped from England to the Confederacy and the ship was captured by the Union forces. Then, waste not want not, they were put into service for the Union forces after being liberated from the ship. I also have his leather bullet pouch which is pretty dry shape at this point, the bayonet, and a bullet mold which is more on the order of a 40 caliber 450 caliber rather than the caliber for the musket. Family history also has it that they were camping at grandfather mountain and they would mold their bullets and toss them down into a creek to cool and then gather them up and off they went on a southward track.

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The creak water would be to harden them a little bit. Helps with fouling issues using soft lead bullets. Some bullet casters still quench after casting.
 

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Boy--you guys know all kinds of stuff...Following your original post here-Ellis...

glenn
 

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Boy--you guys know all kinds of stuff...Following your original post here-Ellis...

glenn
Welcome aboard, Glenn!

As previously spoken of, non-Springfield carbine muzzle loading rifles certainly weren't a rarity during the Civil War. But it seems short of sniper rifles, which are extremely rare, open iron sights were prevalent and pretty rudimentary. This is an area I wanted to improve on. My choices were a Lyman peep sight for the rear, and a ramp front sight. I chose to install the peep sight first. What you won't see in the pics is what seemed like days(in reality a couple hours) of noodling, positioning, measuring, sighting, re-measuring, before finally drilling into the stock to accept the two mounting screws.

1863-14.jpg

The sight is a vintage Lyman peep I had in stock. It was originally on an 1894 Winchester rifle that I was given that had been the victim of a basement flooding. I really like the look. Tons of height adjustment. I altered two 18th century butt plate screws to fasten it down. Those old screws are crude but the have an absolute ton of holding power.
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