This weapon is a Civil War Model 1863 Sharps carbine made by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The carbine is a straight-breech, .52 caliber percussion, single shot breech loader fitted with iron furniture and patchbox. Carbine is serial #68881 and is identified by Springfield Research Service as in the range of those issued to the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. Overall the firearm measures 39” long and features a 22” long round barrel mated to a two-piece black walnut stock.
Barrel retains none of its original blue finish. Between the rear sight and the receiver the barrel is stamped with a slightly visible “NEW MODEL 1863” and just forward of the sight is a barely readable stamping of “SHARPS RIFLE MANUFG. CO. HARTFORD, CONN.” in three-lines. The rear sight is missing the flip-up leaf and sliding appeture. Iron blade front sight is present at muzzle. Bore is actually relatively clean and decent, although worn, overall.
The lock retains none of its original case colors but has strong maker and patent stampings back of the hammer and on left side above sling bar. Mechanics are excellent. Original nipple is present and mostly clean.
Wood surface shows signs of heavy use with scattered dings, dents and scratches and a wonderful lightly worn arc in the left side of the buttstock, showing the weapon was clearly used on a sling and on horseback. There are some minor chips of wood missing around the back edge of the lock but these are old and the exposed wood matches the rest of the wooden surfaces. The fore end stock is tightly secured to the barrel with one iron band. The original iron patchbox is present in the right side of the butt and functional. Screw heads show light to moderate wear and some surfaces of the weapon are pitted from exposure to the elements for an extended time. If you want a HARD CORE cavalry battle veteran, here it is!
The 1st Massachusetts Cavalry was organized at Camp Brigham in Readville, Massachusetts beginning September 3, 1861 and mustered in under the command of Colonel Robert Williams. The regiment was attached to the Department of the South in April 1862; 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Department of the South, to August 1862; Companies A through H moved to Fort Monroe August 19, 1862, then moved to Washington, D.C., and joined Pleasanton’s Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, at Tenallytown, September 3; Attached to Pleasanton’s Cavalry, Army of the Potomac, to October 1862; Averill’s Brigade, Cavalry Division, Army of the Potomac, to January 1863; 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April 1865. Four new companies (I, K, L, and M) were organized December 5. 1863 to January 14, 1864.; Provost Marshal’s Command, Army of the Potomac, to May 1865; and Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, to June 1865.
The 1st Massachusetts Cavalry mustered out of service on June 29, 1865 and was discharged at Readville on July 24, 1865 after engaging in some of the most important battles of the entire Civil War including 1st Battle of Pocotaglio; James Island; Secessionville; Antietam; Fredericksburg; Aldie; Chancellorsville; Gettysburg; Bristoe Station; Mine Run; Cedar Creek; Wilderness; Yellow Tavern (where Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was killed); Spotsylvania Court House; Cold Harbor; Petersburg; Deep Bottom; Battle of the Crater; Battle of Vaughan Road and many others!
The regiment lost a total of 239 men during service; 6 officers and 93 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 140 enlisted men died of disease.