This is an early example of a single shot, breech loading, .50 caliber, percussion model Gallagher carbine issued to the Federal cavalry during the Civil War. Mahlon J. Gallagher, a South Carolina native, developed the weapon while he resided in Savannah, Georgia in July 1860. From its factory location at 12th and Thompson St in Philadelphia, the firm produced almost 18,000 of these carbines for the Federal government from 1861 to 1865.
These carbines saw extended service with Union cavalry during the War but the weapon was not well liked by the troopers due to the difficulty in extracting the spent cartridge casings from the breech. The Gallager featured a breech loading mechanism which consisted of a lever / trigger guard combination that when pushed down, allowed the barrel to slide forward and tilt up and away from the barrel. Though Gallager boasted that his design would facilitate the easy removal of the spent casing from the breech, this extraction action was the major defect of his weapon.
This specimen bears serial # 1218 and features a 22¼” long round barrel, no wooden forestock and has a total length of 39½”. Fitted with a sling bar with saddle ring on the left side of the breech frame, the carbine also has a two-leaf rear sight, iron blade front sight and a slightly curved butt plate. The round barrel exhibits a light gray colored patina and exhibits minimal scattered light pinprick oxidation overall. The bore is very strong with sharp rifling.
The weapon is iron mounted with a receiver and barrel that appear to have been very lightly cleaned decades ago. It bears a vivid, crisp stamping of “GALLAGER / PATENTED JULY 17TH 1860” on the lock plate. The walnut stock retains its original iron patchbox. The stock has a number of very minor dings, dents, and scratches from actual use in the field of battle. The carbine exhibits very crisp mechanical functions overall.
This is a very solid, early original and basically unmolested Gallager cavalry carbine from the American Civil War.