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MODEL 1868 SHARPS CARBINE – 3RD CAVALRY REGIMENT MARKED:  A very historic, Indian War period conversion of a Civil War Sharps Carbine, modified to chamber the .50/70 cartridge, this carbine features unit applied stampings on the butt stock identifying it as once having been in the inventory of the 3rd Regiment of Cavalry during its service life.   

Boldly stamped on the left hand side of the butt stock is “F 3 Co” surmounted by “20”, indicating this carbine was assigned number 20 in the unit’s inventory and was issued to Company F of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.  These unit applied marks are well documented through an exchange of information in the US ORDNANCE DISPATCH column in several issues of The Gun Report magazine, and further bona fides was provided through the presence of a second Sharps Carbine bearing an identical set of stampings save for having the individual carbine number of “21”. 

As indicated in the summaries of Ordnance Returns provided on pages 23-27 in Arming and Equipping the U.S. Cavalry by Dusan Farrington, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment was armed exclusively with the Sharps Carbine.  In 1867, Company F was stationed in Cimarron, New Mexico Territory likely guarding the Santa Fe Trail, however during the late 1860’s the company is listed as participating in actions as far north as the Red River in the Indian Territories, south in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas and as late as 1871, the company was involved in actions against the Apache in the mountains of Arizona.  By the fourth quarter of 1872 the company had moved to Ft. McPherson, Nebraska, patrolling the land of the Arapaho, Cheyenne and the Sioux.  While it is quite certain that this carbine was in the hands of a 3rd Cavalry trooper during the late sixties and early seventies, a collector is tempted to consider that this carbine may have remained in the company’s inventory after the issue of the Model 1873 Springfield Carbines.  It is well known that Sharps carbines were carried in the unit's inventory long after they were replaced by the M1873 Carbines for issue  to the packers, teamsters, scouts while in the field, and for use by the soldiers for hunting and foraging, and such may have been the case when Company F found itself engaged against the hostiles on the Rosebud River on June 17th, 1876, and again later that same year on September 9th, at the battle of Slim Buttes. 

While this carbine shows evidence of issue and use, it has survived the untold miles of campaigning in remarkable condition.  The metal is overall smooth with a pleasing even plumb brown color, with the original bright blue finish still present under the forearm.  The bore is clean and generally bright with a couple of scattered dark patches, and distinct clear rifling throughout.  There is no serial number on the upper receiver tang, but the absence of the serial number is a recognized and commonly encounter feature of these refurbished Civil War Sharps, the number having been eradicated during the refinishing process.  All of the other Sharps manufacturing stamps and patent information is present and legible on the lock and receiver.      

The rear sight has been replaced during the period of the carbine’s use with a custom or hand made three-leaf sight that incorporates “peep” apertures in each leaf.  The two moveable leafs are marked “300” and “500” respectively, and the base leaf is marked “100”, all indicating the sighted distance.  The sight has the look of being made by a frontier gun smith, but is well executed and finished.  The sight was designed to provide a quicker adjustment for longer range shooting without having to cope with the finer and more time consuming adjustments necessary with the standard Sharps sight.  The threaded hole immediately forward of the sight dovetail that mated with the screw hole in the original Sharps sight base has been filled, indicating this sight replacement was more than just a field expedient repair, but rather a modification made to suit a particular shooter.  The lock and breech block both operate properly, with a crisp, tight action and with no loose play in either. 

The forearm is full form, with no splits or chips from the barrel channel edges.  There is a minor amount of wear around the forearm screw washer, evidence of the desirable “pommel wear” caused by the carbine being carried across the pommel of the saddle over many miles on campaign.  The butt stock is likewise in full form with no cracks or splits, and the toe is still intact, an area often split away or damaged.  The wood surface of the butt has a wonderfully patinated feel and appearance with a deep, rich color only obtained through years of handling.  The left side of the stock immediately adjacent to the carbine sling bar base shows wear caused by the sling snap hook.  Further up the stock on the left side, between the wrist and the butt plate, the stock shows a darkened arc worn in the surface of the wood by the sling snap hook roller bar as the carbine was suspended from the soldier’s sling.  As mentioned above, the unit identification stampings are clear and completely legible. 

The unit identification on this Sharps and through that identification, the close association with a very historic period of the American West and a well established record of frontier service will make this carbine a star addition to almost any collection.  It is worthy of note that in addition to the coverage in the Gun Report issues cited above, this carbine is featured on page 333 of Charles Worman’s most recent publication, GUNSMOKE AND SADDLE LEATHER.  These firearms that are identified to the frontier army units, particularly the cavalry regiments, are significantly rare enough to be highly desirable, well worth the investment, and as a result seldom appear on the market.   SOLD


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