The Tarpley Carbine was an American Civil War era carbine built by the Confederate States. The Tarpley was never built in great numbers (around 400) and was one of the lesser known firearms of the conflict.
The Tarpley Carbine was one of the few breechloading firearms used in the American Civil War. This was key to Jere H. Tarpley's design, as it meant that the Tarpley could be loaded and fired significantly faster than the more popular Springfield Model 1861 or Pattern 1853 Enfield rifled muskets could at the time.
The Tarpley's falling block mechanism operated via a lever, which effectively formed the trigger guard. When the lever was pulled down, the block (which moved along grooves cut into the breech) would be in a position to allow the cartridge to be loaded. When the lever was in its uppermost position the block, which had been moved up by the lever to seal the chamber, is locked in position, enabling the Tarpley to be fired. Although this is not a particularly unique design, Jere Tarpley's concept was the only design recognised by the CSA.
Otherwise the Tarpley was much like the standard rifles and muskets of the day. A straight stock with a slightly shaped hand hold, an iron rifled barrel and a shaped trigger. The barrel was fitted with basic iron sights which included an adjustable rear sight. The 40in overall length of the Tarpley meant that it was perfectly suited to cavalry combat.
The Tarpley Carbine was chambered in a .52in (13.2mm) calibre bullet, put into a paper cartridge. This was unusual at the time as by far the most popular ammunition at the time was the Minie Ball, which has been specifically designed to work with rifled barrels. Nonetheless the Tarpley was reported to be quite accurate with it's unique calibre bullet.
As mentioned earlier the Tarpley Carbine was one of the few breechloading designs used by the Confederate States during the Civil War. It's development and subsequent production had been caused by the Confederate's increasing need for firearms as their shipments from Europe began to dry up. Despite being produced to fulfill this role, the Tarpley was never greatly produced, with only 400 or so examples produced, so little that the Tarpley has been largely lost to history.