Author Topic: Canada calling: Tracing the history of a Spencer Carbine #23029 * Photo Added *  (Read 576 times)

Offline Danzakreski

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Dan Zakreski here. I've never joined a group like this so I'm blundering around a bit with the mechanics of posting.

I've attached some photos of a Spencer Repeating Carbine that my Dad acquired when he worked in northern Saskatchewan, Canada in 1958. He taught at an Indian day school in this remote community, and the priests at the school used it to shoot caribou when they crossed the lake in the winter.

My Dad died long before I had a chance to have an adult conversation with him about the carbine ... but the story I heard growing up is that it had crossed the US-Canadian border with Sitting Bull, when he came to Canada for sanctuary after Little Big Horn.

The Sioux traded with the Plains Cree in Saskatchewan and then the carbine somehow made its way north and into our possession.

I'd like to find out what I can about this gun; Two Flints already checked with his database and offered some intriguing possibilities. I can be reached at danzakreski@hotmail.com if anyone has any solid leads.

Thanks.



Offline El Supremo

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Hello, Dan:

Welcome to our Forum, and thanks for sharing your fascinating account.
It will be interesting to see more photo's, especially close-up's; please.  Thanks.

All the best,
El Supremo/Kevin Tinny
Pay attention to that soft voice in your head.

Offline Sir Charles deMouton-Black

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Danzakreski; Welcome to cascity. As  Canadian, I invite you to check in with our board CHINOOK COUNTRY. Spencers are not uncommon in Canadian service. Surplus Spencers were traded up from St Paul to the Metis colonies and found there way into military service and equipped the Boundary Commission.
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Offline Arizona Trooper

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The nearest number to yours that shows up in Springfield Research Service is 23002, which was reported in Co. M of the 12th Ill. Cav in March of 1864. Most of the 23-24000 number Spencers are 3 band rifles that were made on a Mass. contract. Yours must be one of the last carbines made before they switched to rifles.

Offline DJ

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It looks like the nose of the hammer on your carbine is beveled, which would be consistent with an 1865 model.  Those guns have a different set of serial numbers from the 1860 model.  Although it is possible that someone modified or swapped the hammer.

On the 1860 models the top sides of the mortise for the breech block have a sharp edge--on the 1865 models the top edge of the mortise is rounded where it meets the sides of the breech block.  I know it may be hard to follow that description, but a photo of the top of the receiver that shows the opening for the breech block would allow for definite identification. 

Welcome to the forum.

--DJ

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Offline Arizona Trooper

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I think DJ is on to something. It does look like an M-1865. The in addition to the rounded sides of the breechblock mortise, M-1865s have the beveled hammer nose and the sides of the lever are rounded instead of having more or less squared off side flats, and the barrel is 20" instead of 22". Also, your rear sight is flipped over backwards, it should fold toward the muzzle. If you look under the sight ladder, you should find an M-1865 marking on top of the barrel.

Offline Danzakreski

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Hey -- you're both correct!
There's an M 1865 stamped on the barrel just by the sight. All these years and I never noticed it.
Thanks very much for the insights.

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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As a Model 1865 Spencer located in Canada, there is a more than passing chance this carbine might be one of the Spencers acquired for militia service by the United Province of Upper & Lower Canada (i.e. pre-Confederation Canada), along with other metallic-cartridge breechloaders, in response to the Fenian Raids of 1866-70.

In 1866, the Province of Canada bought 1,300 M'1865 Spencer carbines, while the British War Department bought 1,000 M'1865 Spencer carbines and 2,000 M'1865 Spencer rifles, which were loaned (and eventually transferred outright) to Canada.(Other breechloading acquisitions were 3,000 Peabody rifles and 1,000 Starr carbines, both of which were single-shot.

A Company of the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto, armed with Spencer rifles and carbines -


In October of 1870, 100 Spencer carbines (along with 250 Peabody rifles) were shipped by the Dominion Militia Department to the Fort Garry Stores for service in "the North West Territories" (i.e what became Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.) Apparently, it was from these Stores that Spencer carbines were issued to the thirty Métis men hired as armed escort and scouts for the British contingent of the Boundary Commission surveying and marking the 49th Parallel west to the Continental Divide in 1872 and 1873.  These men were permitted to retain their carbines following their service.
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

 

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