Confederate & Southern Agent Marked Shotguns


There was a time when Civil War lore taught that the standard Rebel soldier was ragged and barefoot and armed with a shotgun or a squirrel rifle. Those myths were debunked when data emerged that proved that Southern troops were far better uniformed and armed than the lore claimed. Most collectors accepted the revised image of Johnny Red, despite the occasional uncomfortable appearance of something like a double-barrel shotgun bayonet or a handed-down shotgun that a family swore saw Civil War service.

The new, enlightened collector wisdom didn't allow much room for questioning the new vision of well-equipped and well-clad Southern forces, so many sought easy explanations for those uncomfortable contradictions---the family must be confused, or perhaps someone was just trying to improve the history of a piece.

A few advanced collectors, however, didn't entirely accept the new view. Men such as Norm Flayderman, Howie Madaus, R.E. Neville, Dr. Sutherland, John Murphy, and the authors of the work reviewed here-in had seen too many anomalies to disbelieve that the truth probably lay somewhere in between.

Russ Pritchard, Jr., and his close friend, John Ashworth began searching faded records, including soldiers' diaries, letters, and postwar first-person accounts, in forgotten and neglected archives. They quizzed other collectors and gradually assembled proof to support their theory; Not only did recruits enlist toting old shotguns from home, but the Confederate government bought, imported, contracted for, and issued shotguns throughout the war.

The McRae Papers, discovered in 2004, revealed important data providing government importation of European shotguns and shotgun percussion caps. Dean Thomas's investigation of Southern arsenal and laboratories proved that no fewer than ten different Confederate ordnance installations produced shotgun cartridges throughout the war. This startling revelation was supported by monthly ordnance returns confirming the issue of shotgun ammunition to all branches of service in the field.
Confederate & Southern Agent Marked Shotguns presents all this data and much more in its nearly 400 pages. Hundreds of full-color photos illustrate the weapons, ammunition, bayonets, cartridge tins, and cap tins with close-up shots of markings and details. More, the authors count among the prominent contributors to the book such note worthies in the field as Tim Prince and W.C. Smith III. The field in general benefits from teamsmanship in evidence.

I found the section on shotguns altered for mounted use of special interest. These weapons reveal different methods of attaching a shoulder sling, either using a sling ring mounted on the obverse stock or barrel, or fore and aft sling swivels on stock belly and forearm. Most of these examples were cut down for carbine approximation, but some were issued at full length.

The quantity of records confirming shotgun use is surprising. Ordnance reports, requisitions, purchase orders, receipts, and advertisements from across the South are sprinkled throughout the work, augmenting the rich text.
This study is not only groundbreaking; it is thoroughly researched and well-written. No American weapons collector should be without it.        

Steve W. Sylvia
North South Trader Civil War
Volume 40, Number 5 (2018)

Confederate Shotguns and Southern Agent Marked Shotguns, By Russ A Prichard, Jr. and John W. Ashworth, Jr., College Hill Arsenal, Collierville, Tennessee, 2012, 384 Pages. Even Those with the most peripheral interest in Civil War arms are generally aware of the fact that the material-strapped Confederacy turned to a number of sources to equip its soldiers, including pre-war sporting arms- particularly shotguns. This fascinating bit of history has largely been neglected until now.

Confederate Shotguns and Southern Agent Marked Shotguns is a handsome, extremely informative work that is a must-have for any Civil War firearms library. Mainly composed of a dual- page, full-color illustrations of many fascinating firearms, along with detailed descriptions, it is simply an informative, entertaining work. There are sections composed of original photographs of rebels wielding shotguns and chapters of ammunition, proof marks, bayonets, accoutrements, as well as living history and reproduction shotguns. This fine book is available from College Hill Arsenal (, 615-972-2418). $100

Guns & Ammo (April issue)

This is the first comprehensive and reliable reference book on shotguns in Confederate military service. For too long this critical aspect of the Southern war effort has been overlooked. Now, using beautiful color photographs, original documents and characteristically thorough analysis, the authors have filled that gap, and filled it exquisitely.

  Gordon L. Jones, Ph. D.
  Senior Military Historian & Curator
Atlanta History Center

I must admit that during my many years of interest and involvement in the history of the Birmingham Gun Trade, very little time has been spent researching the sporting gun side of it's business. My long association with Russ Pritchard found me, possibly for the first time in my life, taking an increasingly keen interest in English manufactured shotguns, their connections with Liege and their surprisingly extensive use during the American Civil War. Russ, with his experienced and very knowledgeable co authors have addressed this subject in a beautifully illustrated work which covers a difficult and sometimes complex story, superbly. It will prove to be the standard reference work on the subject.

Mike Nicholls
Worcestershire, England

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