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Massachusetts Arms Greene Carbine


Breech-Loaded Percussion Carbine (1854)


Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

Jump-to: Specifications

The Greene Carbine became another limited-production weapon to see service in the American Civil War of the 1860s.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/13/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The American Civil War (1861-1865) saw a mix of gun technologies in play but there was a clear movement towards percussion-based, full cartridge, rifled breech-loaders which succeeded the older flintlock, ball ammunition, smoothbore muzzle-loaders. Some rifled breechloaders managed to see widespread production and service while others languished through limited numbers and appropriately restricted reaches. The Greene Carbine was one of the latter, a breech-loaded percussion-based carbine weapon of .54 caliber developed prior to the war during the early-1850s. When the carbine failed to impress U.S. Army authorities, it was sold to the British government though it is thought that some managed their way back to the United States through resale by other parties. The guns were known to be fielded by the 6th Ohio Cavalry of the Union Army but its numbers in the war were nonetheless limited.

The Greene action was patented and developed by one Lieutenant Colonel James D. Greene of Cambridge, Massachusetts (it is not known if the rank was an official military title or self-imposed). A hinged breech system was used which was locked by a twin-lugged rotating barrel. Two triggers were featured in the arrangement - the first functioned in the normal way (firing the weapon) with the second, forward-most trigger, used to retract the locking pin of the breech. This allowed access to the breech as the barrel could be moved to the right at a 90-degree angle for the purposes of reloading the weapon. The carbine used the Maynard mechanical priming system adopted by other firearms of the period which gave the operator a tactical advantage when reloading.

The gun was trialed before the U.S. military in December of 1854 and proved sufficient enough to warrant an order coming in May of 1855 for 200 carbines. Evaluations continued into 1858 but arising deficiencies, an better competing types now available, soon led to waning interest in the design. This led Greene to market the carbine to foreign parties and secured the British government contract for 2,000 units (as Britain was faced with its own war in Crimea at the time). The guns were not exported until the end of the war, however, which defeated their original purpose. Deliveries occurred in 1858 but the stock languished in storage for some time as the British attempted to find a more suitable cartridge to use in them.

It is believed that some of this number made their way back to the United States during the Civil War and a few were noted to be used in the conflict - most likely acquired through middlemen companies selling to the American government and possible as part of mixed orders.

British versions were identified by their 18" barrel lengths and repositioned slings which were mounted halfway down the stock underside. Original American patterns used a 22" barrel length.

Specifications



Service Year
1854

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Classification


Breech-Loaded Percussion Carbine


Massachusetts Arms Company - USA
National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States United Kingdom; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)


Overall Length
762 mm
30.00 in
Barrel Length
558 mm
21.97 in
Sights


Iron Front and Rear


Action


Percussion Cap; Breech-Loaded; Single-Shot

Percussion Cap
Utilizes the percussion cap system of operation to actuate ignition of propellant; much like a child's cap gun, small explosive caps are set upon nipples and these are actuated by a falling hammer previously cocked.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


Caliber(s)*


.54

Rounds / Feed


Single-Shot
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Rate-of-Fire
3
rds/min


Greene Carbine - Base Series Name; 22" barrel length
British Type Carbine - 18" barrel length


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