Here is one of the least common of all the variations of the Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket. This musket was built in the United States, under contract for the British Government, by the firm of Robbins & Lawrence of Windsor, Vermont. This gun is what collectors and researchers refer to as a Type II P-1853 rifle musket. The primary features that separate it from the much more common Type III P-1853 (which is the version primarily used during the Civil War), are solid barrel bands that are retained by band springs (instead of screw fastened clamping bands) and a rammer that is retained in the stock by a swell near the tip, similar to the US M-1855/61 rammer. Type III Enfields have their ramrods retained by a spring-loaded spoon in the stock. This gun is one of only about 16,000 produced by the Robbins & Lawrence company. In fact the production of these guns brought the company to bankruptcy. During the Crimean War, the British government could not produce arms quickly enough to arm their troops, as would be the case less than a decade later in the US during the Civil War. As a result, they looked to outside sources to build the standard issue arm at the time, the P-1853 rifle musket. They let contracts in Belgium, France and in the United States to have arms produced. They selected the firm of Robbins & Lawrence due to the ability of the company to produce guns with interchangeable parts. In fact much of the machinery and tooling that the British Government had bought for the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock had been purchased from Robbins & Lawrence and the American firm had helped set up the British production. Thus they were a natural choice to build excess arms when the British needed them. Expecting orders of between 30,000 and 60,000 arms, Robbins & Lawrence spent huge sums of money tooling up for production. However, the Crimean War ended more quickly than anticipated, and the remaining portion of the initial British contract was cancelled, as were any future contracts. The end result was a production run of approximately 16,000 arms, of which no more than 10,400 were ever delivered to the British. The rest were sold at auction when the business failed. Sold at the same time were the factory, machinery and many parts for as yet un-built guns. Many of these parts ended up in the possession of the Whitney Arms company and were used in the production of his very rare and odd good and serviceable arms.
This particular example of the Windsor Enfield is in FINE overall condition. The gun shows use, but no abuse. The gun is clearly marked on the lock with a Crown behind the hammer, and is marked 1856 over WINDSOR forward of the hammer. A small sideways Crown & Broad Arrow are also found on the lock, as they are on all Windsor produced guns that were accepted into British service (as well as many that were inspected and never delivered). This mark does not, however, assure British military use, as all of the guns made in Vermont bear the same mark, whether accepted by the British or sold at the auction. The barrel is proofed with a Crown / A / 2 and the same marks are found on a number of other components. The A was the mark required by the British to indicate the location of manufacture; in this case, America. Likewise on other arms a B indicated Birmingham, E the RSAF at Enfield Lock and L for Liege in Belgium. The breech also shows the and S marks (the opposed Broad Arrows & sold from service marks), indicating the gun was sold out of service as obsolete. The gun has a smooth, smoky gray patina over the majority of the iron parts, with some strong traces and even a few larger scattered patches of the original blue finish still remaining. The barrel bands and band springs retain about 80%+ of their original blued finish. The there is only some light scattered peppering and pinpricking confined mostly to the breech area. All marks on the metal are crisp and sharp and quite legible. The gun retains the original long-range rear site, as well as the front site, as well as both original sling swivels. The original full-length, swelled shank, jag-head ramrod is present in the channel under the barrel as well. The rod is engraved with the number 504, and this same rack number is engraved on the brass butt plate, over a 2 and the initials R. C. M., likely a reference to the original British or Canadian unit the gun was issued to. The brass furniture has a lovely mustard patina to it. The action of the musket functions crisply and correctly on all positions, and is in mechanically excellent condition. The wood of the gun is solid, in good condition, and shows the normal bumps and dings of an arm that saw military service. There is a tiny repaired sliver of wood at the juncture of the stock and the lowest barrel band, as well as two tiny filled holes that appear to have held a collection or identification tag at some point in time. The right side of the stock shows a retailers cartouche that is no longer legible, probably the mark of the retailer who sold the gun after it was removed from British service.
Each year I am luck to see only one of these rare guns available for sale. Even Flayderman comments that the Windsor Enfields are rarely encountered, and show up far less often than their production figures would indicate that they should. The apparent rarity is likely a result of the fact that these guns all saw combat of some sort. Those that were accepted by the British Government nearly all went to war in the Crimea where they saw heavy service, and the balance that were sold at auction went to northern state militia companies and were in use from day one of the American Civil War. When these guns are encountered today they are often in very rough condition an indication of their hard life either in British service or American Civil War service. This rare example of the Windsor Civil War Enfield is about the nicest one that I have seen available for sale over the last few years, and it is still priced reasonably. Dont miss your chance to obtain a truly scare Windsor Enfield, a gun that you may not see for sale again anywhere for a year or two. SOLD