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MODEL 1861 “OLD MODEL” MERRILL CARBINE – THE EARLY CIVIL WAR ISSUE BRASS MOUNTED 1ST MODEL:  The 1st Model Merrill Carbine was issued to cavalry units from almost every state in the Union, as well as supplied to units from the Confederate States of Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia from stocks purchased before the onset of the Civil War. 

Like many of the brass mounted Civil War Carbines introduced before and/or during the early days of the Civil War, these 1st Model Brass Mounted Merrill Carbines saw extensive service throughout the length of the conflict and hence they did not survive in significant numbers, and those that did survive often show considerable wear commensurate with their time in the field, and/or mismatched serial numbers on the lock and breech tang – evidence of damaged guns having been scavenged for parts to restore a serviceable carbine.   

One of the scarcer brass mounted models of the Civil War, this early production carbine is in excellent mechanical condition, with a well fitting levered breech block, a very crisp lock-trigger action, and it is fitted with the proper first pattern flat knurled lever latch that engages and locks against the rear edge of the rear sight base.  The original front and rear sights are present and both are intact.   

The surfaces of the lock, breech, barrel and sling swivel bar are overall very smooth, with a generally bright surface and an even naturally aged to plum brown color, with no significant pitting. 

The brass butt plate, patch box, trigger guard, and barrel band all retain a very pleasing deep mustard colored patina and the brass shows no evidence of polishing.   

The .54 caliber bore retains very strong rifling, yet shows its age and service with some scattered pitting.  The bore could benefit from an overall polishing if the new owner chose to do so.  All of the maker’s and patent information on the lock plate and across the top of the breech block is present and legible.   

The lock plate is serial numbered 4844, and the breech block receiver handle is serial numbered 1674.  Such a mixture of serial numbers is not uncommon due to field or arsenal repair work.  In this case, the color, finish and condition of the parts all match, indicating that the carbine has been together as it presents for a very long time, and most likely dating from its period of military service.  There are matching assembly numbers – 93 – present on patch box lid, barrel band, bolt handle and on one wing of the breech release, and its is possible that same number appears on other parts, but I have not dismounted those other parts to confirm the presence of that or other numbers.     

The stock is a rich red walnut color and it retains a nice finish overall.  Consistent with the early Merrill Carbine’s typical Achilles heel, the most significant evidence of wear on this carbine is centered around the wrist and the top edge of the lock plate mortise.  As can been seen in the photographs below, a section of the top edge of the lock mortise has split away and based on the wear on the exposed grain of the wood, this loss took place during the period of the carbine’s service life.  There are two cracks – one on each side of the wrist – running from the area of the trigger back to the comb of the stock.  These cracks were repaired – again, from all appearances during the service life of the carbine – and the wrist is solid without any movement or weakness.  These wrist cracks are very common to these early Merrills due to the elongated wrist and the amount of wood removed in this area during the inletting process.  Such cracks and breaks were the subject of regular reports from the field.  The stock is otherwise solid and has only the normal signs of handling and age.   

The 1st Model Brass Mounted Merrill Carbine is not one of the more commonly encountered early Civil War carbines.  While this one shows evidence of the hard use to which they were subjected to in the field, and the length of time they were in service, it still presents as a credible old veteran of the War, and in such condition that would have kept it in service, especially in the hands of a Confederate trooper.   This specimen will be a very nice and historic addition to any collection of Civil War cavalry carbines.  (0303)  $1650



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