56-50 Spencer


Was this calibre used in the Civil War?


Yes Sir.


Also, that particular HS was made by Joseph Goldmark from 1864 to 1866. He also made the .56/56 and the .58 Musket.

I just recently bought one of the .56/50 with that HS without the underline, it should be sent via parcel service to me soon.


There is some debate on how much action, if any, the 56/50 Spencer saw in the Civil War. It was definitely developed during the later portion of the Civil War. According to Thomas “Round Ball to Rimfire” Vol II the first deliveries of 56/50 Spencers cartridges was C.T.M. Co. on May 4th 1865 and the first order from Goldmark was delivered on May 19, 1865. Although this is not the official end of the war Lee surrenders on April 9. 1865. Some fighting continued in the west after that date. I don’t know if the 56/50 Spencer got was involved.



Springfield Armory developed the 56-50 in 1864 for the 1865 model Spencer. So the cartridge was definitely around even if there were no official surviving records of purchase before the end of the war.
And, in September 1864, The Ordnance Department decided on a uniform rimfire cartridge for all future carbines made for Federal calvary service. then on October 1864 they ordered 15,000 Remington carbines that were chambered for this, but it took Sage Armory almost a year to make the first delivery…BUT I would take a wild guess to say that the Ordnance Department would have definitely field tested them in 1864 before ordering so many. SO in my opinion, and in my collection these are categorized as civil war era cartridges. =)



I also categorize the 56/50 Spencer as a Civil War Cartridge.

However, the first 50 Cal Remingtons were not delivered until September 1865. The first 56/50 Spencer Carbines were delivered April 3, 1865. This cartridge may have seen some action I don’t really know. I’m not sure how much field testing they did back then. Maybe we could discuss this with Dean Thomas at SLICS, if anyone knows he would.



Unless some of the lot of .56-50 ammunition delivered by CTM on 4 May 1865 was air delivered to the Union forces taking part in the battle of Palmito Ranch in south Texas ten days later it’s hard to see how this cartridge saw any active use in the American Civil War. Jack


Most collectors categorize the .56-50 cartridge and its related arms as “Civil War items.” A purist historian may disagree, but heck, collectors collect for fun, and sometimes stretch their collection criteria to fit their interests.

Given that Model 1860 Spencers in .56-56 caliber were widely used during the Civil War, and that many of these were later converted to Model 1865 and the .56-50 ammunition most collectors seem to treat all the Spencers as part of the same group. (And have an excuse to add several variations of gun and ammunition to their collection!)

By the same reasoning, and collector leeway, most collectors will accept Joslyn Rifles made at Springfield Armory in the spring of 1865 and their ammunition as Civil War Arms. The same with the .44 caliber Rogers & Spencer revolvers, both these types delivered too late to see action.

A purist could argue that even the .58 caliber Remington “Zouave” rifles are “not Civil War” arms if actual issue and use is the criteria. Records confirm that 10,000 of these rifles were delivered to Watervliet Arsenal between April 18, 1863 and January 8, 1864 at a cost of $17.00 each. Inexplicably, all 10,000 were still there in May of 1866 and none were ever issued to troops during the Civil War. Finally the entire lot (less 1) were sold to Francis Bannerman in 1901 for 54 cents each, with the brass handled sword bayonets. (Prices have increased since then!)