• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

1853 British Enfield

1853 British Enfield
NPS Photo

1853 British Enfield

Caliber .58

Barrel length: 39"

During the Civil War both the Union and Confederate Armies were in desperate need of good weapons to arm its men. The Springfield Armory was making good rifled muskets at this time but was not able to keep up with the demand. Therefore, the two governments had to look to other countries to obtain more weapons. The British Enfield was an excellent choice and the north and south utilized them throughout the conflict. This weapon used a percussion cap for ignition so it was similar to previous percussion rifles. However, the weapon could be loaded as fast as the earlier smoothbore muskets and more accuracy than earlier rifles due the invention of the minnie ball.

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Did You Know?

Portrait of Anna Dawes

A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.