Civil War B. KITTREDGE Marked Frank Wesson CARBINE
Used by the Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas State Militias
Here we present a Rare “B. KITTREDGE & CO./CINCINNATI O.” Marked Frank Wesson First Model Two-Trigger Military Carbine, made circa 1861 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Frank Wesson was the younger brother of Daniel B. Wesson, of Smith & Wesson, as well as Edwin Wesson, who was also a highly-esteemed gunsmith in the mid-to-late-1800s. The fame of his family’s name was not lost on Frank as he was, in fact, a prolific firearms designer and maker in his own right. He was granted patents in 1859 and began producing rifles of this two-trigger configuration. The Civil War was a fantastic opportunity for many different inventors and over 20 different carbines were used during the conflict on the Union side. Frank Wesson made a version of his rifle in a .44 caliber rimfire carbine format that was specifically geared for Cavalry troops. While it is unclear whether or not Federal troops used these carbines, it is known that Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, and Ohio purchased these for their state militias. As William B. Edwards puts it in his book, “they were more popular with the guerrillas and irregular troops in the border fighting.” It is truly amazing the diversity of carbines that were used during the American Civil War.
This carbine is particularly slim, light and handy. It has the early style frame with the slotted link on the right side near the breech. The two-trigger design is perhaps the most eye-catching part of this carbine. The front trigger is pulled to open the breech after the hammer has been placed in half-cock. The slotted tab on the right side of the barrel is a stop that limits the travel of the barrel when pivoting. The trigger guard is a separate iron piece that can act somewhat like a pistol grip. The top of the barrel is marked “F. WESSON’S PATENT/OCT 25” as well as “B. KITTREDGE & CO./CINCINNATI O.” The Kittredge Company was a large firearms dealer based in Cincinnati, Ohio, through which many state militias acquired firearms for their men. Only about 2,000 of these are thought to be so marked.
This is an interesting example for the reasons above, but also for several unique characteristics. The sideplate on the left side of the frame has been replaced with one of wood. It is very well made. It also bears a 6-pointed star on the right side of the butt stock. The rear of the butt plate and the side of the barrel is marked with several “A”s. Though the significance is unknown, they certainly pique interest. This carbine has just as much character as history, making it one of a kind in its own way. Somebody made this one their own!
The overall condition is very good. The steel surfaces have a gray patina. The markings are legible. The stock shows appropriate handling from the period and remains solid. The bore is in great shape, clean with strong rifling. The action is excellent. Here is a really neat, scarce and interesting Civil War guerilla carbine!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 24 inch octagon.
Caliber: .44 Rimfire
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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