The Maynard Carbine was one of the many rifles and carbines used during the American Civil war. Despite being originally designed in 1851 by Edward Maynard, the Maynard Carbine did not enter full production until the Civil War began, as the need for firearms grew.
The Maynard Carbine was designed around the use a lever action mechanism, becoming one of the first breechloading carbines of the conflict. This lever, as with many lever-action designs of that era, effectively formed the trigger guard. When the lever was pulled down the breech was opened as the barrel was unlocked to swing open on a hinge, to allow the metallic cartridge (which itself was a relatively new concept) to be loaded. When the lever was in its upper position, the barrel would be locked back into its correct position.
The Maynard also used a modified percussion lock system which, (instead of the conventional design of the hammer striking a percussion cap) had the hammer strike a firing pin. Otherwise the Maynard appeared to be fairly standard compared to other rifles of the era, with a typically shaped stock with iron fittings. The barrel, however, had its own quirks. The area around the breech was octagonal in shape, while there was a rather subtle three groove rifling pattern on the inside.
The Maynard Carbine was originally chambered for a .52in (13.2mm) metallic cartridge, specifically designed to be used with the Maynard. This was unusual as most firearms at the time used paper cartridges using a fairly standard calibre size. From 1863 a newer version of the Maynard was introduced, using a slightly smaller .50in (12.7mm) diameter cartridge, which performed as well as the original.
The Maynard Carbine initially suffered as there was a lack of a market for it. This changed when America became divided during the American Civil War with the Maynard (along with the Sharps Rifle, Starr Carbine and others) entered full, and rather hasty, production. The Maynard was highly praised during its service, its reliability and high rate of fire meant it was suited to quick engagements (with or without cavalry).
One such commentator was Private Toby of the 1st Mississippi Infantry, whom stated that the Maynard was:
|“||Warranted to shoot twelve times a minute, and carry a ball effectually 1600 yards. Nothing to do with Maynard rifle but load her up, turn her North, and pull trigger; if twenty of them don't clean out all Yankeedom, then I'm a liar, that's all.||”|
–Private Toby, 1st Mississippi Infantry
Production figures for the first version of the Maynard are unknown, although the Model 1863 version of the Maynard had a production figure of 20,202. Like most of the small production firearms of the American Civil War, the Maynard was rather left to history, its role overshadowed by the Springfield Model 1861 and Pattern 1853 Enfield.
http://www.civilwararsenal.com/1863-maynard-carbine/ - Full colour image
http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/little_rock_weekly_arkansas_gazette.htm - Private Toby quote