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Thread: 1863 Remington "Zouave" Rifle History

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    75

    Default 1863 Remington "Zouave" Rifle History

    I'm looking to buy a rifle musket that I can use for reenacting and shooting with my locate N-SSA group. They have recommend an 1863 Remington "Zouave" Rifle to get me started.

    They also recommend I also look into an 1841 Mississippi Rifle.

    However, it does take too much searching to find that the Remington is disrespected in the reenacting community. I just can seem to find out why. It seems to be a upgrade of the M1841 Mississippi ... but that is merely my opinion.

    Thanks, in advance, for any information you can share.
    142nd PVI - Dull, Samuel Sgt Maj, Daniel 1st Lt, Romanus Sgt, Walter Pvt, George Pvt
    6th PA Heavy Artillery, Dull, Uriah Pvt, Jacob Pvt, William Pvt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Hi Terry,

    The "zouave" rifle is not recommended due to a lack of documented use during the war. It is generally accepted that use of the 1863 Rifle was almost non-existant. The Mississippi Rifle however has sort of a cult following among reenactors. They were issued early in the war across all theaters, albeit in limited numbers. You can find documentation for various companies and regiments being issued the Miss, unlike the 1863 Rifle.

    I would recommend you research the unit you intent to portray to determine what they were issued. To cover a broader range I would recommend an Enfield, they work for darn near the entire war. If you are set on a short rifle instead of a rifled-musket I would get the Mississippi. I have one that I am defarbing into an arsenal conversion, but you can easily leave them as issued.

  3. #3

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    Hallo!

    A long and Hobby Historical discussion made short...

    The Remington Model 1863 Contract Rifle was the fist mass produced commercially available CW longarm that came out circa 1957/58ish, and quickly became popular in the N-SSA among lads not shooting originals or rebarrelled originals.

    Shortly after the senior Remington's deat on July 15, 1861 the son was in Washington, DC, and came away with a contract ostensibly to make a batch of M1841 Rifles as they had done before.

    It was supposed to be a July 30, 1861 contract with Remington for 10,000 stands of arms at "20.00 each "...similar to those of the Harpers Ferry rifle model of 1855, in other respects of the pattern of the rifles without bayonets, heretofore made by you for the department" which referred to revamped M1841 Rifle (since the mid 1850's altered to be more like the first line
    M1855 Rifle).

    Although they kicked in $100,000 for new plant equipment, Remington was tied up with their contract for M1861 revolvers, and never fulfilled it. Plus there was political wrangling going on over contracts flying left and right, and Congress put a halt on all 1861 contract pending review. Remington appeared before Congress in April of 1862, and agreed to lower the price to $17.00 If he were to be give a M1861 rifle-musket contract for 40,000 stands at $16.00 each. it was approved in August calling for 500 a month starting in September an dincreasing in 500 increments trough November until hitting 2,000 a month and the contract technically ending in March of 1863.
    The contract was reissued On August 11, 1862, followed by a second on December 13, 1863 for 2500 more. The three contracts are somewhat mysterious, and believed by some to be a "reward" to Remington for haivng undercut the revovler prices of Colt. Plus, the rifle Remington decided to make, although kinda/sorta in some ways like a Model 1841 Rifle, conformed to neither the M1841 or the M1855 Rifle.

    As a result of the revolvers, Remington was not able to make the first batch of 500 until April 1863. And then up to 1,000 a month, bu tonly getting 7301 delivered. Worried that they had failed the contract, Remington sought a revised contract on December 13, 1863 for 2500 at $17.00 per stand with final delivery to be January 8, 1864. With the M1861 revolvers done, Remington was able to complete the first contract of 10,000 with 1,000 delivered in December of 1863 and 1500 in January of 1864.

    As the M1863 Contract Rifle ended, Remington switched over to start on the 40,000 M1861 rifle-muskets getting a revised new contract for $18.000 each to start in January 1864. But, because of the lateness, Remington set up for the M1863 (Type 1) RM. Remingotn did rush production, and the arms were suspect, their often being reduced in payment amounts from 10 cents to $2.00 each for minor flaws annoying but not important enough to cause rejection.

    With the M1863 Contract Rifle beign something of a reward to Remington and not really needed by teh government, it appears that the entire delivery was crated and warehoused, and sold after the War as surplus.

    There is Hobby lore of a a Zouave regiment getting them tha ti have ne3ver (yet) seen documented. Hence the hobby and collector nickname of "Zouave" rifle.

    Back to the Hobby...

    The so-called "Zouave Rifle" and soon after the repro M1841 Rifle using some of the same machinery, were a common longarm in the early daze of Reenacting in the 1960's and early 1970's. But with the arrival of the so-called "Three Banders" in the mid and late 1970's, it fell from favor.
    And due to the combination of its history and non War use... and perceived and/or real "safety' issues of a "Two Bander" in the rise of Reenacting in the 1980's... it was NUG banned from events with "standards" of any kind and relegated to so-called "Farb" use status..

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
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    Well, that was quite a story.

    Never been proven to be issued to troops in the field is a good reason not to use an 1863 Remington in reenacting. However, they are a beautiful rifle musket and very inexpensive, in todays dollars.

    Thanks for all you insight. I'll keep looking for a 1841 Mississippi or possibly an 1858 Enfield Rifle (as was issued to two (2) Ohio Rgt).
    142nd PVI - Dull, Samuel Sgt Maj, Daniel 1st Lt, Romanus Sgt, Walter Pvt, George Pvt
    6th PA Heavy Artillery, Dull, Uriah Pvt, Jacob Pvt, William Pvt

  5. #5

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    Hallo!

    Well, being picky...

    If you are looking for a gun that will serve Doble Duty between N-SSA competition and CW Reenacting, then IMHO the M1841 Rifle is the better choice overall. Just be aware that "Two Banders" are not welcome at many reenactments.

    The so-called "1858 Enfield Rifle" is perhaps more "problematical" that the "Zouave" rifle because at least the M1863 Contract Rifle existed even if not used.

    The so-called '1858 Enfield Rifle" is a beast first made up by Parker-Hale likely because the already had most of the parts covered by the P1853 4th Model and created a fiction out of them. Which was them cloned by the Italian makers.
    The most common imported Enfield Rifle was the P1856 Short Rifle. About 2,000 P1858 Naval Rifles were imported. But, as with the incorrect 4th Model RM, one would need some
    "de-farb" work to get the "1858 Enfield Rifle" to look like the rarer actual P1858 Naval Rifle such as swapping the Baddeley barrel bands for Palmer, and the 4th Model escutcheons for 3rd, to name a few. Or not...

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    228

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    We actually carry several of the Remingtons in our Color Guard for parades and such where the spectators know little of correct CW arms.. They like the giant bayonets!! and the smaller rifles are a bit easier on the younger fellows and Ladies to carry.. Just sayin" Paul Lopes

  7. #7

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    I have found that if you respond to the question "What kind of gun is that?" with the answer "1863 Remington Contract" people go "Ohhh. Nice." A response of "Zouave" to the same question gets "Farb." My feeling about it is conflicted. We have this repro rifle that is an accurate reproduction, sturdy and available, but seems to have never been issued. There were dozens of rifles produced and used at the time of the war which are not reproduced now. The 1863 is nearly a dead ringer for several of them. I think the gun deserves a rehabilitation. Perhaps not at the history-heavy end of the spectrum, but somewhere along the line, I think they should be acceptable for use.
    My understanding of the name "Zouave" is that it was a marketing tool in the late 50s when the repro became available. It has no real association with the gun ever being used , or intended for use, by zouave regiments.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  8. #8

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    Hallo!

    My brother-in-law used one as young lad new to the N-SSA, and still uses it thirty years later as his blackpowder hunting season gun. He bought it new for $85.
    They are indeed a handsome martial firearm.

    This may be Flame Bait, but not intended as so. The "Hobby" cerates its own Rules, Culture, and Traditions both valid and questionable. The whole "Two Bander Ban" thing being one.

    But "we" tend to be a bit "hypocratic" and "cannibalistic" at times. We reject the Remington M1863 Contract Rifle for not having been used in the CW, but we accept the P1853 4th Model Enfield which was not. Or the M1865 Spencer carbine. Or the the Rogers & Spencer revolver.

    Tis "complicated."

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    25

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    If funds permit, a two-gun solution will work best.

    Skirmishers favor the two-band rifles (of whatever type) because they load faster and balance better for offhand shooting. Reenactors favor the three-band rifle-muskets (and smoothbores) for greater authenticity and safer firing in ranks.

    Also, most N-SSA units want a new member to have something for the musket matches. Which eliminates the smoothbores.

    If I were in this situation and had the funds, I'd buy a 2-band rifle for Skirmishing, a 3-band musket for reenacting. The latter would be a smoothbore if at all possible, you can use it in the N-SSA smoothbore matches as well. If you are coming to the N-SSA Nationals this May, that's an excellent place to buy guns that are used but still competitive.

    One rifle? I'd look for either a Parker-Hale 1853 Enfield, or a Pedersoli Enfield or Springfield.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
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    I'd really like to thank Rob, Curt, & Mike ... there is much sage advice in the above 3 replies .... It is also a good discussion ... the point about artificial rules, being conflicted by the so-called "standards" and the advice about getting a two bander and a smoothie! Love that!!!

    Since I am on the short side of 5'6" I'm always in the front rank ... so, no problem there ... Maybe I should work on getting a musketoon!!! LOL
    142nd PVI - Dull, Samuel Sgt Maj, Daniel 1st Lt, Romanus Sgt, Walter Pvt, George Pvt
    6th PA Heavy Artillery, Dull, Uriah Pvt, Jacob Pvt, William Pvt

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