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 Post subject: Early1859 Sharps'
PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:35 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 10:01 am
Posts: 2
I have an 1859 Sharps rifle in the 398XX range. It has the single trigger and no visible cartouche. Are there any records indicating which government contract this range of guns are attributed to. I have checked the serial number and it is not identified by regiment or soldier.

I wasn't sure if this information even existed. Of the serial numbers I have found identified to a particular regiment, they all seem to start in the low to mid 40's range. Any assistance would be appreciated.


 Post subject: Re: Early1859 Sharps'
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 253
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)

The serial range of your rifle falls within that of NM1859 Sharps rifles issued to Co. 'K' and 'I' of the 5th Michigan Veteran Volunteer Infantry in December 1864. The 'Fighting Fifth' by that time had absorbed the old 4th Michigan and the remaining veterans and recruits of Co.'s 'I' and 'K' of the 1st USSS (the later companies were mustered in March 1862, so still had time remaining to serve out their enlistment). The Veteran 5th MI was designated the skirmisher and sharpshooter regiment for the brigade, and continued to perform this duty until the War ended.

Earl Coates and John McCauley's book: Civil War Sharps Rifles and Carbines, on page 73 lists serial numbers and names of men assigned the weapons. Serial numbers of these previously issued Sharps range from 30900 to 54590. Likely all these rifles were the 'Infantry Model' with the lug welded beneath the barrel to accommodate the saber bayonet. Pertaining to your inquiry, there are two rifles close to the same range as your prefix 398XX.

39904 Jordan, F (I)
39904 Lawrence, G (I)-wonder if the last digit is '9'?

Neither man's name is found in the Michigan USSS companys muster rolls.

Your rifle could have been reissued to a Veteran Volunteer regiment after having previously served with another early War unit. The largest State purchaser of Sharps for it's troops was Connecticut-1422-the majority 'Infantry Model' NM1859's (600 were detined for Egyptian; these had 36 inch barrels were issued to the 2nd CONN Infantry). The remaining stock appear to be the weapons we are more familiar with: 30 inch barrels, Improved Lawrence rear sights (800 yd), saber bayonet lug, etc.

Unfortunately, there was no standing order or forms for regimental commanders or Divison Ordnance offices to record serials numbers of weapons and the names of the men they were issued to. In Caspar Trepp's papers, I discovered 3 names of men he had recorded along with the serial numbers of their weapons.

At the close of the War, veterans were allowed to buy their service weapon and take them home.

Bill Skillman
Randolf Mess-USSS

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