Rare Tarpley Carbine    


Description and Photograph



     The carbine shown here is one of only approximately four hundred and twenty one (421 being the highest known number) carbines manufactured under Jeremiah H. Tarpley’s Confederate patent of February 14, 1863.  Tarpley’s swing out breech loading design was unique and required some modifications to meet inspector’s standards.  The state of North Carolina purchased 200 of these carbines between April and September of 1863.  Of the 78 deliveries made to the state in April, 33 were rejected, and in May, out of 45 delivered, 7 were rejected.  So you can see that changes were rapidly made to correct the deficiencies. While the state did not record the reasons for rejection, this early number (the earliest known to exist) 24 shows at least one of the early design flaws and is the only surviving specimen of this design.  The flaw was in the breech locking mechanism; number 24 has no provision to limit the extension of the locking mechanism, which, not being limited would have easily over extended and damaged during the excitement of combat.  It is unknown at what number this addition of a stop was added to the side of the brass frame because so few of these weapons survive.

     Another 150-200 went to the Army of Mississippi and some were offered for civilian purchase during the same period, but there is no record of sales.  However, it can be assumed that it was very few since it was not at all practical as a civilian arm and was relatively expensive.

     Very few of these carbines remain.  I quote from Dr. John Murphy and Howard Madaus’ Confederate Carbines and Musketoons,“the authors know of only twenty complete specimens, eleven of which are in museum collections” and this example is the only known early model without the latch stop.

     This particular example is completely original with the exception of the very finest quality restoration of the latch and trigger guard; both made exactly as the originals, and two small chips in the stock.  The gun is well marked having J.H. TARPLEY’S-  PAT.FEB. 14- 1863 along the frame tang in three lines, the P proof and number 24 on the barrel, 24 on the breech.  The bore is good and the rifling strong.  The carbines brass retains a beautiful rich patina.  This particular gun is from the Ben Michel collection and is illustrated in Confederate Carbines & Musketoons on page 283.



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