Enfield 3-Band Musket Rifle. Workhorse of the American Civil War, and the end of the Percussion Weapons Era.
In the mid 19th Century, military long
arms were transitioning from smoothbore muskets to the future of
firearms that would shape the way warfare was conducted.
Neither smoothbore musket, nor modern rifle, the Pattern 1853 was a
link, bridging the gap between the two. Using paper
"cartridges" filled with black powder, and topped off with a lead ball,
the 1853 had a rifled bore and was equipped with sights, signaling the
end of the old way of performing combat, which was giving way to new
techniques of using firearms. Unlike earlier flintlocks, the
1853 used percussion caps to ignite the charge in the barrel.
Shortly after the serviceable military tenure of the 1853 Enfield, the
age of metal cartridges would soon arrive and change
everything. Although bayonets were a throwback to an age
where combat was performed by hand-to-hand fighting with swords and
sabers, they continued to be used clear up into World War II, including
the Pattern 1853. Often referred to as the "three band"
rifle, (it's a rifled musket) the Pattern 1853 Enfield was carried into
conflicts around the world, making its mark, advancing the
traditions of the RSAF, the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield,
UK. Like the Brown Bess musket before it, the 1853 was used
on American soil
The British were using the Pattern 1853 Enfield in the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of nations including the declining Ottoman Empire, Britain, France and others. Like other parts of the world who were delayed in technological advancements due to their cultural and historical circumstances, many combatants in this conflict were catching up with modern advances, including weapons. The Enfield was also present in the British Empire's 1857 conflict with India, involving the East India Company, a sort of trading bloc set up in Asia for the British. It is interesting to note that the Enfield played a part in this conflict not only as a weapon, but as a source of antagonism that helped to set it off. Among the conflicting parties, there were religious implications. As you may know, Hindus are averse to beef, as they hold bovines as sacred. Muslims abhor pigs and pork. The paper cartridges containing the powder had to be broken open at the top, which was usually done by biting it off. Ruminations began to spread that these cartridges were lubricated with either pig grease or beef fat. This led to the refusal of Muslims and Hindus refusing to touch these cartridges to their mouths. Given the contentious history between Muslims and Hindus, it's reasonable to consider that the rumors could have been started by each, to discourage the other in order to reduce their capacity to fight. The British, who brought the expatriate rifles to the colony, eventually settled the issue by instructing users of the Enfield to tear the tops off the cartridges by hand. The British were thought to be indifferent to the religious preferences of the Muslims and the Hindus, which added discord to the situation, which ended in a rebellion.
The Pattern 1853 was
also used in New Zealand Wars, a series of skirmishes lasting from 1845
to 1872, mostly over white settlers moving in on lands occupied by the
indigenous Maori tribes. To most stateside readers of this
website or article, the most famous use of the Pattern 1853 Enfield
3-Band took place during the American Civil War which ran from 1861 to
1865. They were sold to both sides in the conflict by the
British, and used extensively, especially by infantry in the South.
There are estimated to have been some 900,000 of the rifles involved in
To most stateside readers of this website or article, the most famous use of the Pattern 1853 Enfield 3-Band took place during the American Civil War which ran from 1861 to 1865. They were sold to both sides in the conflict by the British, and used extensively, especially by infantry in the South. The Confederacy had a difficult time getting things brought in by sea, due to Union naval blockades. There are estimated to have been some 900,000 of the rifles involved in the conflict. The second most-used small arm in the American Civil War, it was second only to the P60--another Enfield. The 1853 was used by both Union and Confederate forces. Since the Pattern 1853 used a .577 ball bullet, the same as the Pattern 1861 and P60 Enfield, it assured the continued use of the former. The stateside version of the .577 bullet was the .58 caliber minie ball. Towards the end of the Civil War, the British stopped exporting the weapons to the Confederacy because it was apparent that they were not going to prevail, and did not wish to damage their neutral standing. There had been some tension remaining since the American War for Independence some 100 years previously, and things were still not quite settled between the two continents, though by this time, they were cooling down.
Not surprisingly, the 1853 was succeeded by the Pattern 1861 Snider-Enfield. A great many of the 1853s were reworked and upgraded by RSAF into the Snider-Enfield rifle, which used a metal-cased cartridge called the Boxer. Today there are reproductions of the various Civil War Enfield 1853 and 1861 rifles, and are in high demand due to the popu larity of Civil War history and re-enactment.
Nation Of Manufacture: Britain
Military Service Dates : 1853-1867
Variations: Rifle, Carbine, 1853, 1861 Snider-Enfield Conversion
Ammunition: .577, .58 Caliber Minie Ball
Wars: US Civil War, Crimean War, New Zealand Land Wars, India Rebellion, others
Recent Prices at Auction for Originals: US $500-$3,000
Interested in an authentic replica an Enfield
Pattern 1853 Rifled Musket?
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