Old and mistreated shotgun


February 18, 2003, 12:01 PM
First some history, then my questions.

The attached pictures are of an old shotgun that belongs to my future mother-in-law. It was incredibly mistreated for many years, and was recently dug out of her father’s attic (at my request). We don’t really know how old it is, but it has been passed through her family since the War Between the States. Since we know the approximate life span of the original owner we can guess when the gun was manufactured within about 40 years, we put it at somewhere between about 1840 and 1880. There is also the distinct possibility that the shotgun was actually used during this mans tenure in the confederate army. This is a separate research issue and while I would appreciate any info that can be provided, the use of the gun during the war is not really the thrust of this thread. What if anything can y’all tell me about this shotgun? Is there any place y’all can suggest I go to do a little research?

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February 18, 2003, 12:02 PM
Here are some additional pictures

February 18, 2003, 12:03 PM
Here is the stock

February 18, 2003, 12:06 PM

February 18, 2003, 12:07 PM
And the last one. Any help at all will be greatly appreciated.

Grrr! IT stole my attachment. The next post is the last one.

February 18, 2003, 12:08 PM
Real last one.

February 18, 2003, 01:56 PM
If you could clean it up (not restore, just clean), and while you have the barrel off check to see if there are any marking or identifying characteristics on the underside of the barrel.
The Confederate firearms industry was mostly a cottage industry, though there were some states and Confederate government owned arsenals and armories. Also many Confederate soldiers supplied their own armaments, esp. state militias.
Perhaps someone else (4VGary) could identify the lock and that may help in identifying the maker of the firearm. Though many gunsmiths and several armories used ready-made lockworks to build firearms with.
In any case a good book on Confederate firearms is/wasFirearms of the Confederacy by Claud E. Fuller & Richard D. Steuart

Jim K
February 18, 2003, 11:13 PM
WARNING! THAT SHOTGUN MIGHT BE LOADED! See comment at end of the post.

The pics are not what one would wish, but there is enough to say that it is (or rather was) a double barrel sporting shotgun, percussion lock of the "back-action" type. I would think that it is probably foreign, but cannot say for sure. There is nothing I can see that would preclude it from dating to the 1860-65 period, and many Confederate soldiers, especially militia and irregulars, used their civilian shotguns for lack of anything better.

I doubt very much that it would have been used by a Confederate regular, especially in the East, as they were mostly pretty well equipped with Enfields and captured U.S. muskets.

But AFAIK no shotguns of the type were specially made for C.S. forces; if it was used in the war at all, it was probably just taken from the wall by someone going off to fight.

Unfortunately, it is in very bad shape. The left lock is missing, and it looks like a large part of the stock went with it. The rest of the gun is badly rusted and it may have been a "henhouse gun" at one time. Its value is about nil except as a family heirloom, complete with story. It would be impossible to "restore" to anything like good condition, and I recommend not wasting time or money trying. Even if you could get it in condtion for firing, it would be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS to do shoot it. Scrub the worst of the rust off with steel wool and oil and hang it on the wall.

NOTE that in the old days, it was common to place a loaded shotgun beside the door closest to the henhouse, or even in the henhouse, in order to deal with the occasional marauding fox. (Guns kept in the henhouse became covered with you know what and that gun has some of the signs.)

The caps were kept separate, generally on top of a cupboard where the kids could not get at them. As the years passed, and civilization eliminated both the henhouse and the fox, the shotgun was stored away, its original owner gone to his reward or just forgetting that the gun was loaded.

Many of these guns are still loaded, and should be checked by use of a ramrod or long dowel. Insert the rod into the barrel and measure the distance it goes down inside against the outside of the barrel. If the difference is over an inch, the gun either has junk in the barrel (marbles were a common "load" when playing cowboys and Indians) or is loaded. Handle accordingly.


February 19, 2003, 08:06 AM
Fal308 has the right idea for identifying the gun. In my search I found the one attached that may or may not fall into your catagory.


February 19, 2003, 10:29 AM
I think I inadvertently mislead y’all. I was saying that the original owner of this gun fought in the War Between the States in the confederacy. Since the confederacy had so many people that brought their own guns, its very possible this was one he took with him (shotguns were used more often than you might think). I didn’t mean to suggest that this was manufactured in Tredegar Iron Works or anything (did they even manufacture small arms?).

I tend to agree with Jim Keenen that this is probably an unrestorable gun but I need to determine that for sure before I suggest they have it restored/rebuilt. I don’t have the gun, and in fact, have never even been able to hold it so I can’t give you much more info than what’s in the pictures you see here. I like that picture Jagermeister it looks similar. Too bad I can’t compare closely. Would anybody know of "an expert" that I could contact?

Jim K
February 19, 2003, 10:59 PM
The old gun may well be English, but the Bryce gun shown is a cartridge breechloader, while the subject of ahenry's query is a percussion muzzle loader.


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