During the Civil War, the Confederacy was perpetually in serious need of armaments, as the South did not have the amount of industrial infrastructure that the North did. This led to many attempts at arms production by various entrepreneurs, of quite varied result. One of the more successful enterprises was the Robinson Arms Manufactory, founded in Richmond VA in December of 1862. Samuel Robinson was a transplanted Connecticut industrialist who proved himself capable and reliable for the CSA government with a series of contracts to convert flintlock muskets to percussion ignition. Probably because of this, it was he that the CSA’s Colonel Burton turned to to set up production of a copy of the Sharps carbine for Confederate cavalry use.
Robinson produced about 1900 of these carbines between December 1862 and March of 1863. His work was impressive enough that in March of 1863 the Confederate government decided to buy out his operation and make it into a government run arsenal. They continued to make Sharps carbines there until the end of the war, producing an additional 3500 or so. These later Confederate production guns have serial numbers between about 1900 and about 5500, along with unmarked lock plates – Robinson’s guns have his company name and the date 1862 marked on the lock plates, along with serial numbers up to about 1900.
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Hey guys thanks for tuning in another Video on forgotten weapons calm imean McCallum and I’m here today at the James Giulia auction house taking a look at Some of the guns that they are going to Be selling in their upcoming spring of 2018 firearms auction today we have Another cool example of Confederate arms Manufactured during the Civil War I find All these stories really interesting Because the Confederacy really had to Struggle to manufacture its own small Arms having lacked a lot of the basic Industry that the North had the Union Had during the Civil War now what we Have here specifically is an SC Robinson Copy of the sharps carbine the Confederacy one of the things that they Were in particular need of armament for Was the cavalry early in the war these Guys didn’t have enough carbines and so You’d see cavalry with pistols this is Also by the way one of the reasons that The Confederacy was trying to Manufacture pistols was not so that they Could have guys running around with a Rifle and a pistol but so that they Could armed cavalry pistols made a great Weapon for cavalry at this time because You got multiple shots without having to Try and reload a black-powder rifle or Black powder carbine while on a horse Anyway they decided to try and copy the Sharps carbine because well it was one
Of the best breech loading carbines out There it was still a black-powder Firearm and it used a paper cartridge so A basically a wrapped paper package that Contained the bullet at the front and The powder charge at the back You’d stuff that into the action put a Percussion cap on and that took the Place of your primer and presto you have A firearm the story of where this Particular version of the sharps came From is based on two different players We have a Colonel Burton who worked for Confederate ordnance and we have a guy Named Samuel Robinson who was actually Originally a Connecticut industrialist But he had substantial property and Business ties to Virginia and allied Himself with the Confederacy when the War broke out now he was an Industrialist he knew his way around a Factory and he was definitely interested In making money and pretty quickly after The war began he got a contract to Convert flintlock muskets into Percussion muskets for the Confederate Military and did quite a large So that something like $75,000 worth Over the course of a couple years in the Early part of the war that was a lot of Money back then so he was a known Product and he did good work at the same Time Burton was trying to set up Machinery to make firearms for the
Cavalry so he was doing you know doing Several projects simultaneously he Actually worked on setting up revolver Tooling with Robinson they ended up that Was successful but they ended up not Robinson ended up not producing it Himself instead he sold all of that Machinery and production infrastructure To Spiller and burr who would use it to Manufacture revolvers of that name for The Confederacy Now Burton worked with a group of other Industrialists including a guy named McNeill to try and set up production of The sharps those guys seemed good to go They got the money and then they weren’t Actually able to deliver and so Burton Looking around for a way to salvage this Product project got in touch with Robinson whom he knew both from there Revolver work and from Robinson’s work Converting flintlocks to percussion so He knew Robinson was a reliable Character and the two of them got Together Robinson in December of 1862 Founded the Robinson arms manufacturing In Richmond Virginia and started Producing sharps carbines and actually Was pretty good at it at the peak of Their production he was making something Like five hundred a month in total over A course of about thirteen months well December of 62 until March of 63 he Manufactured about 1900 of these
Carbines and they were pretty good Quality not as good as a pre-war actual Sharps but not bad either so there are a Couple little differences between this And a regular sharps so let me show you Those probably the easiest way to Identify our Robinson sharps copy is Well by the name Robinson right there on The lock plate so SC Robinson arms Manufactory Richmond VA 1862 there is Then a serial number on the back of the Lock plate this one’s pretty hard to Read but it’s 960 so it’s right about in The middle of production wisely I think Robinson and the Confederacy issued the Idea of Really complex long-range sight knowing That if you’re if you’ve got cavalry Shooting this thing from horseback They’re not going to be shooting Particularly great distances so they Fitted them out with fixed rear sights And of course a plain simple front sight To go with it These carbines were manufactured with Sling bars and rings this is for a Single point sling to allow the gun to Hang at your side you can just drop it If you have to to deal with the horse And not lose the gun this was a pretty Typical system for cavalry on both sides Of the war and u.s. cavalry after the War original sharps carbines are Actually designed to use Maynard tape
Primers that’s basically a long strip of Paper with little pellets of primer Compound at regular intervals and on the Original carbines you had a little wheel Mechanism that every time you [ __ ] the Hammer it would advance the tape primer Up and in theory this was a good system For cavalry carbines because it meant That a cavalry men didn’t have to deal With trying to place individual loose Primers on that little percussion nipple Which of course would be difficult when You’re getting bounced around on a horse However the South didn’t have the Infrastructure to be manufacturing and Supplying primer tape and so they Basically eliminated that from the gun And instead went with just a percussion Nipple on the breech block which you Would manually prime with a standard Copper cap primer operation of the Sharps is really quite simple you have a Little safety lever down here that you Can engage to prevent the lever from Opening as long as that’s disengaged Pulling down the lever drops the breech Block you would then insert a paper Cartridge and when you close the breech Block it would actually shear off the Back of the paper cartridge which Exposes the base of the powder charge Put on a cap if I [ __ ] the hammer all The way fire it and of course it fires Now there are a couple issues with these
Guns One of them is sealing the breech this Is not usually this isn’t a really good System for getting a gas tight seal There were a couple ways that they tried To fix that there’s a moving primer ring In Back which you can sort of see there Which in theory gets pressed back into The breech block when the pressure when You have pressure from firing and that Would seal the gun when they got dirty That didn’t tend to work all that well And that’s true of both the Confederate Guns and the proper original black Powder or a paper cartridge sharps Rifles there was also an interesting Issue that if you had misfires which Happened periodically especially if you Didn’t keep the flash hole clean when You opened the cartridge or when you Open the breech block to try and deal With the malfunction to you know push The the projectile out you’d get a Little bit of powder that would dribble Down into the bottom here and that would Actually accumulate in the little gap Right at the bottom of the breech block Where it kind of goes into the handguard Here and over time you could get powder Accumulating there and then at some Point flashover from firing without a Perfect gas seal could come down through This crack and ignite that built-up
Powder which would cause the fore-end to Well explode and throw wood splinters Into the shooters hand or arm this was Often reported as the gun blowing up for Obvious reasons it would certainly seem Like it was exploding although that’s Not actually a mechanical problem with The barrel it was loose powder down here Causing a separate issue so that was Something that was recorded with these Guns but in general Robinson’s sharps Carbines were really pretty darn good Guns should you want to disassemble one It’s a pretty easy process you push in This button and rotate this lever around And then this is a pin which can be Removed like and then the breech block Slides out the bottom of the gun so you Have a little toggle link right there Which is what causes it to slide up and Down when you move the lever there is The other end of the flash hole so you Have a primer there or a cushion cap There and the fire from it comes Straight through into here to ignite the Powder charge in the barrel I think I Forgot to mention these are 52 caliber All of them and that is about it after The war sharps rifles were often Converted to use metallic cartridges but That’s not something that would have Really happened to the Confederate ones Certainly not something that would have Been done during the war and one last
Thing to point out we don’t have any Records of who this carbine was actually Issued to but at some point someone Carved their initials into the stock LSK And if you look closely below it’s a Little hard to see there’s also the word Mobile so that could have been the the Actual trooper who carried it but can’t Prove it the reason that production of These ended in March of 1863 which seems Rather early the Confederacy certainly Still needed guns at that point was in Fact because the Confederacy needed guns Badly enough that they decided to buy Out the Robinson arms manufacturing and It was turned into a government-run Operation in March of 63 they would Continue making these guns for the Remainder of the war they weren’t quite As efficient at it as Robinson had been But they still produced another thirty Five hundred or so of these guns mostly Indistinguishable from the Robinson ones Except that where the lock plate on Robinson’s guns is marked with his name The the guns made under CSA ownership Have basically just a blank lock plate With a serial number so this is I think Another interesting and cool example of Arms made under duress by the Confederacy if you’d like to add it to Your own collection take a look at the Link in the description text below that Will take you to Julia’s catalog page on
This carbine where you can take a look At their pictures provenance description Value estimate all that good stuff and If you’re interested you can either Place a bid online or come down to up to Maine and participate in the auction Live thanks for watching