Tower Enfield Musket

by
posted on March 11, 2014
qanda2015_fs.jpg

Q. Enclosed are photos of a firearm that I inherited from my late father-in-law. It is a muzzleloader that is 4½ ft. long, weighs 10 lbs., and just above the trigger on the sideplate is stamped a crown and “TOWER 1860.” Perhaps you can tell me the make and background of this rifle.

A. Judging from this material, your rifle is a British Enfield 1853 pattern rifle-musket that was made or assembled at the Tower of London, England, in 1860. The crown denotes British government ownership. This pattern firearm had the distinction of being the second most widely used infantry arm of the American Civil War. Enfields were imported in large quantities by both the North and the South and saw service in every major battle from Shiloh in April 1862 to the final engagements in 1865. It was well made and deadly accurate.

An important consideration from an American standpoint was its .577 caliber that allowed the use of the same ammunition made for the .58-cal. arms that were standard in both the United States and Confederate States armies. It is estimated that 900,000 P’ 53 Enfields were brought to this continent between 1861 and 1865. Most were expressly made for the American market, though few, if any, of those imported were actually made at Enfield.

For further information on your firearm, I suggest you refer to the publications An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms by Earl J. Coates and Dean S. Thomas, and Civil War Guns by William B. Edwards. These publications should be available through your local interlibrary loan system.

-Harry Hunter

(Originally published in February, 2006)

Latest

Jo.Lo.Ar Pistol
Jo.Lo.Ar Pistol

I Have This Old Gun: Jo.Lo.Ar Pistol

It was in 1919 when José de Lopez Arnaiz cleverly devised a unique single-action pistol with a moveable lever (palanca) of which enabled shooters to single-handedly chamber and cock the gun using only the index and middle fingers.

The Armed Citizen® May 27, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Preview: Camp Chef 9 Piece Professional Knife Set

In order to make the most out of harvested game, you need a set of quality food-prep tools like Camp Chef offers in its 9 Piece Professional Knife Set.

New For 2024: Mossberg Silver Reserve Eventide HS12

After introducing its Silver Reserve Eventide series of over-under shotguns earlier in 2024, Mossberg expanded the line yet again mid-year with the HS12 variant designed for defensive use.

Preview: Arming The World | American Gunmakers In The Gilded Age

In an incredible tour through the American experience during what is arguably the golden age of firearm development, author Geoffrey Stewart highlights the 25-year period between the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London and the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 from the perspective of the American arms industry.

Favorite Firearms: A Mystery Colt Single Action Army

Perusing an expired paper-edition Gun List several years ago, I came across an ad for this old 1880-1881 Colt Single Action Army. Can’t remember what I paid, but at that time, it was too cheap to believe it was still for sale.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.