Alabama Infantry Shotgun


Description and Photograph





     This single barreled shotgun was originally manufactured in London and was typical of the type of sporting arms imported by firearm retailers in America.  The top flat of the thirty-three inch barrel is stamped “LONDON”, and the name of a Birmingham, England gunmaker, “Cooper” is stamped into the back action lock.  The checkered stock is made of walnut.  The escutcheons and nose cap are made of German silver.

     This shotgun has been altered to an infantry arm by adding a brass bayonet lug and attaching a saber bayonet, both of which were manufactured especially for these alterations.  This work is believed to have been done at the Mobile, Alabama State Depot.  The alterations done at the Mobile Depot were done specifically to arm the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Alabama Infantry.  These arms had been collected from Alabama’s citizens and consisted primarily of sporting rifles and shotguns.  Once the bayonet had been added to this .64 caliber shotgun, it was as serviceable for infantry as any smoothbore musket in the Confederate Army.

     A burst barrel that has a Mobile alteration lug was excavated at the Shiloh Battlefield so there is no doubt that these alterations were done early in the War and that they were issued.  Of the four Alabama units that could have been issued this shotgun, only the 21st and 22nd were at Shiloh.

     The cross guard of the saber bayonet is stamped with the number 154 and the lug is stamped with the number 307.  Normally one would expect that these two numbers should match, but since the stock number, 383, does not match either the lug or bayonet and since the lug, barrel and stock unquestionably belong together, it may be that these were production numbers and were not intended to match.  This particular shotgun and bayonet were donated together more than a century ago so there is little doubt that they are original to each other.  I am aware of a double barrel shotgun with this same adaptation and the same markings and none of its numbers match.  There are also two surviving Mississippi rifles with the Mobile alteration lugs.

     The gun is in very good, untouched condition and the action functions well.  The bayonet and scabbard are also in very good condition.  The locking mechanism works smoothly.  There is some surface rust on the blade.

     This captured gun and bayonet were originally donated to a historical society near Boston, Massachusetts by a Union veteran in the latter half of the nineteenth century and it was purchased in the early 1960’s by well known collector and author Norm Flayderman.  It remained in his personal collection until 2004.  The gun comes with Mr. Flayderman's documentation testifying to the guns history.  The following is a quote from his documentation, “I have always felt that this fowling piece and its matching Confederate bayonet to be among the very greatest rarities of antique Civil War weapons, especially those of Confederate usage.  It is the only specimen of its type I ever had the opportunity to come across and own in my fifty years of collecting and dealing in this field.”

     This particular weapon was published in Life Magazine in March of 1961 during the Civil War centennial.  It was also published on page 496 of Confederate Rifles and Muskets by Murphy and Madaus because of its completeness, condition and originality.

     This is a truly extraordinary Confederate infantry longarm.  Flawless!



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