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General Burnside’s Little Carbine

General Burnside’s Little Carbine

This Odd Breechloader Saw Widespread Use During Our Civil War

It’s the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of American Civil War this year—a war marked by radical innovations in small arms and, in the war’s aftermath, the first great market in military surplus arms. This month we’ll take a look at one of the Civil War’s classic carbines.

He was a Civil War general, the first president of the National Rifle Association, the Governor and later a US Senator from Rhode Island and a successful businessman; but it was his invention, the .54-caliber Burnside carbine, for which Ambrose Everett Burnside will forever be remembered. By the end of the war, approximately 55,000 Burnside carbines had been placed into service. It was judged by the Union cavalry to be one of the best designs fielded. Yet, with the conclusion of the war and the appearance of the self-contained metallic cartridge, the production of the carbine abruptly ceased, and the Burnside Rifle Co. transformed itself into the Rhode Island Locomotive Works.

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