Object Title

Percussion breech-loading cavalry carbine - Burnside's Patent

Percussion breech-loading cavalry carbine - Burnside's Patent



Object Number



Old Tower Collection

Physical Description

Rifled with 5 rectangular grooves. The backaction lock is unmarked and the cock is of a non-typical design
The rectangular receiver has slightly rounded sides, with a sling ring bar mounted along the lower left side. The flat top of the receiver ring is stamped U S BURNSIDE'S PATENT MARCH 25th 1856. 173 and the front of the breechblock is stamped 173E. The locking mechanism is of the lever-release type patented by G.P.Foster, April 10th 1860, but from the markings and number of the carbine this must be a later alteration.
Buttstock only, the barrel having no fore-end fitted. Brass butt-plate with trap (found to contain two never-loaded Burnside cartridge cases,transferred to ammunition inventory).
The foresight is a German silver blade mounted in a baseplate which is dovetailed into the barrel. The backsight is mounted just ahead of the breech, and is a model 1853 Sharps leaf sight mounted in reverse with the leaf lying forward. The leaf is not graduated and there is no slide.
The fully round tapered barrel is browned, and has a round collar as it enters the receiver. The left side of the breech is stamped PV. F. US


OverallLength1019 mm
BarrelLength559 mm


Serial Number 173E


.53 in


Places America


A.E.Burnside's U.S. Patent No.14,491 of March 25th 1856 refers.
From the serial number and markings, it seems highly probable that this is one of the original order from the U.S. War Department for 200 carbines, dated April 21st 1856.
The construction is, according to the examples shown and described in Fuller's 'The Breech Loader in the Service' and Gluckman, non-standard, and the modification of the earlier form of locking device to the Foster system may be taken as an example of this, along with the small trap in the buttplate.