Massachusetts Gun on a Massachusetts-made Ship: The Story of a Maynard Carbine

by Erin McGough, Collections Manager

First Model Maynard Carbine. Manufactured by Massachusetts Arms Co. of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; produced and distributed by the Maynard Arms Co. of Washington, DC. 1857-1861; steel, wood, brass. Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Gift of Dunkin Adams, 1962.002.001

First Model Maynard Carbine. Manufactured by Massachusetts Arms Co. of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; produced and distributed by the Maynard Arms Co. of Washington, DC. 1857-1861; steel, wood, brass. Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Gift of Dunkin Adams, 1962.002.001

The rifle shown here (part of the collection of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society) is a breech-loading carbine commonly used by the Confederate cavalry during the Civil War. It is a First Model Maynard Carbine, named after Dr. Edward Maynard, a dental surgeon, who obtained a number of patents in the 1850s. The Maynard Carbine was loaded at the rear rather than the muzzle, and featured improved brass cartridges. It also used coiled, tape-like paper strips containing caps spaced at regular intervals – much like the ammunition for modern, toy pistols. When the hammer was cocked, one cap was detonated and the paper advanced to the next.[1] These advancements, combined with the carbine’s lighter, smaller body made the gun a popular choice for the military, particularly the cavalry, which prized portability.

Interestingly, this particular carbine in the collection of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society was made by a Massachusetts factory and was taken as a prize on a Massachusetts-made ship, yet it was a Confederate firearm.

Det. 1

Det. 1

The gun is stamped “Maynard Arms Co./ Washington [D.C]” and “Manufactured by/ Mass Arms Co./ Chicopee Falls.” The Maynard Arms Company was founded in 1856 to promote the sale and manufacture of the Maynard carbine. In August 1857, the Maynard Arms Co. entered into an agreement with the Massachusetts Arms Co. of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts to manufacture approximately 5,000 First Model carbines with Maynard’s design.

The initial sales of the gun were slow, until Lincoln’s election in November 1860. With the prospect of the Civil War looming, sales of the carbine increased and in the six months following the 1860 election, the Maynard Arms Company sold the entirety of their inventory, with over ninety percent being purchased by southern militia companies and the states of Mississippi, Florida and Georgia.[2] The Maynard Carbine became a standard issue weapon in the Confederate military, prized by Confederate sharpshooters for its accuracy and aim, and was valued because Maynard cartridges could be manufactured in the Confederate states – in contrast to the complex, internally primed cartridges of other rifles.[3]

Det. 2

Det. 2

The carbine has a silver plaque inscribed, “H.W. Loring,/ Trophy taken from Rebel Ram/ Manassas,/ at the capture of New Orleans,/ April 27th, 1862.” It was donated in 1962 to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society by Dunkin Adams, with the additional information that the gun was from the possessions of Capt. George Lamb. Some additional research has revealed that George Lamb and H.W. Loring [Henry Ward Loring] served together as Acting Ensigns aboard the ship Pequot, part of the Atlantic Squadron, in 1865.[4] The Pequot was only commissioned in 1863, after the battle of New Orleans in 1862, so it cannot be assumed the men served together in New Orleans, but their time on the Pequot indicates that they did have a record of Civil War service together. One can then surmise that Loring obtained the carbine as a prize from the Confederate ship Manassas during the Battle of New Orleans in 1862, and at some point (either during or after the war) gave the gun to his fellow naval officer, George Lamb.

The C.S.S. Manassas (1861-1862). Wash drawing by R.G. Skerrett, 1904. Source: U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #: NH 608. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

The C.S.S. Manassas (1861-1862). Wash drawing by R.G. Skerrett, 1904. Source: U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #: NH 608. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Interestingly for those of us in Duxbury, the C.S.S. Manassas was built in 1855 by James O. Curtis as a twin-screw towboat in Medford, Massachusetts. A New Orleans commission merchant acquired her for use as a privateer and she was then fitted out as Manassas, converting her to an iron-clad ram covered with 1 ¼” inch iron plating. Her hull projected only 4 ½ feet above the waterline, and her bow was fitted with a pointed iron ram to stave holes in Union vessels. She also carried a forward-firing cannon behind a single gun port with an armored shutter.[5] During the action in New Orleans, Manassas attacked the large Union warships Pensacola, Mississippi and Brooklyn. She was able to ram the last two, though not critically, before running aground. The U.S.S Mississippi then disabled her with cannon fire. Abandoned and afire, Manassas drifted downstream, exploded and sank.[6] You can see more period depictions of the C.S.S. Manassas and the U.S.S. Mississippi in battle here: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-us-cs/csa-sh/csash-mr/mansas-m.htm

The capture of New Orleans from April 25 to May 1, 1862 marked an important point in the war for the Union. New Orleans had a large population, wealth and industry, and a strategic port, making it an important strong hold in securing control in the South. The Union blockade, in its effort to control the Mississippi River, fought its way past Forts Jackson and St. Philip (70 miles south of New Orleans) and once they did so, they reached New Orleans with relatively little opposition because most artillery, ammunition, troops and vessels were committed to the Jackson/St. Philip position. All that remained in the city were 3,000 armed militia and some supplies. The Union vessels, once they reached port, were in a unique position for firing on the city, as they were in high water outside the city’s levees, elevating them above the city. The military forces left in New Orleans did not have the strength to hold the city and had no option but to evacuate. In addition, as Hurricane Katrina showed us in 2005, any break in the levees from battle would result in the city being flooded in a day.[7]

President Lincoln sent Major General Benjamin Butler on May 1, 1862 to occupy the city with 5,000 men. Butler’s past successes included preparing Massachusetts state militia regiments for war at the start of the conflict, as well as restoring order to Baltimore (done without any specific orders). Butler’s methods, including his stance on contraband slaves, were eventually adopted as Congressional procedure because of their effectiveness.[8] He was a controversial figure, and continued to be so in New Orleans, as many of his methods invited censure. One of the most offensive of his measures was General Order no. 28, which stated that any woman found to be insulting or showing contempt for a Union soldier would be treated as a woman of the town “plying her avocation” – meaning soliciting prostitution.[9] The order was meant to imply less about sexuality and more about “being a lady,” but it was met with a great deal of contempt.

New Orleans escaped the destruction of so many southern cities because Butler implemented political and civil measures rather than simply trying to hold the city by force. He revived commerce in the city by re-establishing trade with the north and internationally, and he improved the city’s sewer system, thereby avoiding the anticipated yellow fever epidemic and saving thousands of lives. His General Order no. 25 distributed captured Confederate food supplies to the poor and starving, and he employed many of the city’s residents in support of the Union army and in cleaning up the city. These efforts implemented a measure of order and peace to the city, and when the Confederate counter-attack came in August, the city did not rise up in revolt to support the Confederacy. Butler was able to hold the city for the Union.[10]

An 1890 Veteran’s schedule confirms that Henry W. Loring enlisted in September of 1862 and served aboard the Mississippi in New Orleans.[11] The inscription plaque on the carbine, therefore, appears accurate. Henry Ward Loring was born in 1839 in Pembroke, Mass. and at the time of the 1850 census he was living in Duxbury, in a household with his parents and his maternal grandfather, Samuel Loring (age 70, occupation: shipwright). Henry Loring, then, appears to be another example of a Duxbury boy with mariner experience, lending his knowledge to the navy during the Civil War.[12] His family would later move to Charlestown, and it is from there that he enlisted in the Navy in 1861. Loring survived the war, and returned to Plymouth, Massachusetts, only a stone’s throw from Duxbury. He married Sarah Loring, worked as a book keeper and commercial agent, and died in Plymouth sometime after 1890.

Ambrotype of Capt. George Lamb, age 24. Taken in Greenland, 1859. Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Drew Archives Library

Ambrotype of Capt. George Lamb, age 24. Taken in Greenland, 1859. Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Drew Archives Library

George Lamb was born around 1835 and appears in an 1890 Census for Civil War Veterans in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This document also reveals that he enlisted in March of 1863 and was discharged in September 1865, serving as an Acting Ensign on board the ships Ticontiroga [sic] and Pequot.[13]  Lamb married Emily B. Lamb in 1866, after being discharged from the Navy. They had one child living in 1900, a daughter named Caroline (Carrie) who was born in 1867 in Massachusetts. Her occupation is listed as an artist.[14] The family continues to appear in the Cambridge census records for 1880-1910, and sources indicate that he died in 1913. Although he was not a resident of Duxbury, Lamb spent 20-30 summers in “the grey house on Clark’s Island, the only house on [the] island facing Duxbury Bay.” He made many voyages around the world as the Captain of various vessels. A photograph of Lamb at age 24 is in the collection of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society; it shows him in Greenland in 1859, implying that he also was a sailor before the war. A looser piece of evidence is an 1852 Passenger List for the ship Mary Ann, arriving in Boston from Prince Edward’s Island – if this is the right George Lamb, the occupation listed for the 21 year old is “Seaman.”

[1] http://www.nramuseum.org/the-museum/the-galleries/a-nation-asunder/case-35-the-confederate-states-of-america/massachusetts-arms-co-maynard-first-model-carbine.aspx (Accessed 2/26/2013)
[2] http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/civil-war/Maynard-gun.pdf (Accessed 2/26/2013). Note: the NRA museum (cited in this blog) claims a lower Confederate purchase rate of 50% of the Maynard inventory. They also state that the larger-bore models saw service with Union troops in New Mexico, and some state troops and U.S. Marines were armed with these early in the Civil War. They also add that in addition to prewar purchases, the Confederacy also acquired Maynards through the capture of Federal armories located in southern states.
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Maynard (Accessed 2/26/2013)
[4] http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/cw/nasquad2.htm (Accessed 2/26/2013); Also, http://books.google.com/books?id=mpIAB_R7w5gC&pg=PA184&lpg=PA184&dq=George+Lamb+pequot&source=bl&ots=HAipc5Ep9E&sig=xceBcziQmJoLShhzWPMTxsgbY18&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rPAsUZXQDuy30gHw1oCIBg&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=George%20Lamb%20pequot&f=false (Accessed 2/26/2013)
[5] http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-us-cs/csa-sh/csash-mr/manassas.htm (Accessed 2/26/2013)
[6] http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-us-cs/csa-sh/csash-mr/manassas.htm (Accessed 2/26/2013)
[7] Hearn, Chester G. (1995). The Capture of New Orleans 1862. Louisiana State University Press.
[8] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_New_Orleans#cite_ref-marshall_14-0 (Accessed 2/27/2013)
[9] http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/the-beast-in-the-big-easy/; see also http://www.libraries.uc.edu/libraries/arb/exhibits/civil-war/butler.html (Accessed 2/27/2013)
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_New_Orleans (Accessed 2/27/2013)
[11] http://search.ancestry.com/iexec?htx=View&r=an&dbid=8667&iid=MAM123_11-0702&fn=Henry+W&ln=Loring&st=r&ssrc=&pid=64402 (Accessed 2/26/2013 – subscription required)
[12] See my blog from August 2012: https://duxburyinthecivilwar.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/lucius-waterman-a-civil-war-sailor/
[13] https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K8SV-QC9 (Accessed 2/27/2013)
[14] http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?rank=1&new=1&MSAV=1&msT=1&gss=angs-g&gsfn=George&gsfn_x=XO&gsln=Lamb&gsln_x=XO&msbdy=1835&msbpn__ftp=New+York&msddy=1913&msrpn__ftp=Cambridge%2c+Middlesex%2c+Massachusetts%2c+USA&msrpn=4514&msrpn_PInfo=8-%7c0%7c1652393%7c0%7c2%7c3242%7c24%7c0%7c2011%7c4514%7c0%7c&msidy=1863&cpxt=0&uidh=vw2&msbdp=1&msddp=1&cp=0&pcat=ROOT_CATEGORY&h=6120283&db=1900usfedcen&indiv=1 (Accessed 2/27/2013, subscription required)

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