The need for viable small arms in the American Civil War (1861-1865) was such that many model types from a plethora of designers and manufacturers were eventually taken on in both great and small numbers. The Gibbs Carbine was one of the latter with just 1,052 units reportedly produced of the intended 10,000 for Union (Federal) forces. W.F. Brooks and W.W. Marsden owned the Phoenix Arms Factory in New York that manufactured the handy weapon but the destruction of the factory during the 1863 Draft Riots (July 13th - 16th, 1863, New York) severely limited the carbine's reach in the war - making it one of the rarest firearms of the Civil War period.
In the Gibbs design, the trigger guard acted as the lever to give access to the chamber for loading/reloading. The barrel was tilted upwards to provide access and a cartridged bullet (.52) inserted. The carbine was a single-shot design and a percussion cap was required to ignite the propellant charge contained in the cartridge. The cap was set atop a nipple along the right side of the body. The flintlock-style hammer was found nearby. Like other weapons of the period, the Gibbs Carbine used a single-piece wooden stock that incorporated the shoulder stock as well as a short forend. The barrel, of 22 inch length, protruded just a short distance ahead of the wood work.
Both early and late model patterns emerged during the war with slight variations between them. Carbine rifles found popularity in the war when it was found that true long guns were cumbersome and unwieldy by troopers - particularly scouts and those operating on horseback. Close quarters battles were better found with shorter guns that could be maneuvered into action in short order.