It's not very often that we get the opportunity to offer a Civil War era carbine that has as much obvious battle-usage and time-in-the-saddle as this one. This M1863 Sharps carbine is a very early production. It's low serial number places its year of manufacture in early 1863. The stock is in good shape with some minor dings and dents and no chips or cracks. The stock's most interesting feature is the tell-tale rub-marks on the left side that are made from spending countless hours attached to a Cavalry Sling Hook while slung over the shoulder of a mounted cavalryman. These distinct stock markings are one of the only sure-fire way to differentiate between a carbine was actually issued to a combat unit, and one that spent most of the war in a crate at some storage depot. Just one glance at the stock of this carbine reveals it to be a faithful battle rifle to some Union cavalryman. It's the very definition of what is meant by the phrase, "if this gun could talk..."
Another interesting historical feature can be found on the gun's forestock - a large "S" stamped on the bottom of the forend. These large single letter stamps have been identified by noted historian Steven W. Knott to be inspector's marks belonging to Confederate repair shops. The practice of collecting, repairing and re-issuing battlefield-collected weapons is described in thorough detail in Knott's book, "Captured & Collected" Confederate Reissued Firearms. The Confederate Army's desperation for modern weaponry lead to the creation of special ordnance teams to salvage usable arms from battlefields after the fighting had ended. By 1864, the Confederate government had also begun to pay civilians for weapons that were collected from battlefields. Special premiums were even paid for cavalry carbines; so it's no surprise that this Sharps appears to have been obtained in this way. Captured arms were sent to one of four repair shops; Richmond being the largest. The weapons were repaired and approved for reissue with the application of single initial stamped on the stock. This inspector's stamp corresponded to the name of shop's head Ordnance officer. Knott's book identifies five different Confederate inspector stamps: A, F, Q, T, and Z. While an "S" stamp is not mentioned as a known Confederate "Captured and Reissued" marking, the S marking on this Sharps is identical in both dimension and font to the five known inspector stamps, and Knott's book also discusses the likelihood of additional inspector initials which have not yet been identified by historians. We are confident that this enigmatic initial is a yet-to-be-discovered Confederate repair shop inspector, and additional research my prove fruitful. However, without solid documentation to back this claim, we are selling this Sharps as a Union-owned weapon without the inflated price typically associated with Confederate "C&R" weapons. Still the "S" bears mentioning as further scholarship will likely prove it to belong to a Confederate inspector; its likely only a matter of time!
This Sharps is one of the few surviving guns that was left in its original percussion configuration and not converted after the war like most M1863's were. This further reinforces the fact that the wear pattern on the butt stock resulted from Civil War usage as it was not re-issued after the war as evidenced by the fact that it was never arsenal-converted.
The metal components of this carbine are also in great shape with clean and legible stamps throughout. The lock fuctions flawlessly on both full and half cock. The lock plate stamps are all crisp and legible.
The block locks up nice and tight with no slop or play in the breech. The barrel and bore are both in good shape. Both front and rear sights are original and functional. The maker's stamps on the barrel are still present and legible. The bore is very good with strong rifling and only minor "frost pitting" near the breech.
All the hardware is original and matching with a great light patina and no rust. No military rifle collection is complete without a Sharps and this carbine has such a great history. Its sure to spark many a conversation among your collecting friends.