Sunday, July 23, 2017

Over 30,000 Smith Carbines saw service during the American Civil War.

The Smith Carbine was patented by Dr. Gilbert Smith on June 23, 1857 and successfully completed the Military Trials of the late 1850s. The carbines were built by Massachusetts Arms Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; the American Machine Works in Springfield, Massachusetts; or the American Arms Company in Chicopee Falls. The name of the distributor for the manufacturer, Poultney & Trimble of Baltimore, Maryland, is often stamped on the carbine's receivers. 

The carbine was the first breech-loading firearm that was compact enough for cavalry use and available in significant numbers at the onset of the Civil War. Though it remained in service throughout the conflict and was the fourth most-purchased firearm of its kind, the arrival of easier-loading, better-performing Spencer and Sharps carbines caused the Smith's production to cease in 1865. 

Over 30,000 plus carbines were consumed by U.S. government contracts, with limited numbers going to the civilian market. It was second to the Sharps as the most issued carbine during the Civil War.

Early versions are often known to modern collectors as Artillery models, but all Smiths were issued to cavalry units.

The carbines were considered to be accurate and reliable weapons. It was unique in that it used rubber cartridges which sealed the gases in the breech. The downside was that these cartridges were sometimes difficult to remove.

The .50 caliber carbine was loaded by opening the breech with a depression latch located forward of the trigger inside the trigger guard. Pressing the latch released the breech lock causing the barrel and forend to drop forward, exposing the breech.

Latch extension

It measures 39½” long overall and weighs seven pounds and eight ounces. Two-piece black walnut stock is made up of a 9” forearm held by a single barrel band. 

Units known to have received the Smith carbine include:
3rd West Virginia Volunteer Regiment, 7th Illinois, 11th Illinois, 1st Connecticut, 7th Pennsylvania, 17th Pennsylvania, 6th Ohio, 9th Ohio, 1st Massachusetts and 10th New York Volunteer. 

Reproductions are made by Pietta and sold by Dixie Gun Works.

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