Argentine .56 Merrill’s Patent Carbine Packet

This box contained 10 paper cased cartridges for the .56 Merrill’s Patent Carbine, which was one of several breech-loading percussion systems in service in the Argentine army before the Remington Rolling Block was standardized.

Not a single round was in complete condition, just bullets with remnants of paper attached. The label was pasted by a French gunsmith named Adolphe Bertonnet, who first worked for the army and later had a gunstore in Buenos Aires. He used this address in the 1860’s.

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Hi. I built a website dedicated to James H. Merrill and his Civil War era firearms -

Please reply if you still have this packet. Thanks, Eric in WI, USA.

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Fede, just realized you’re the person on this website I want to contact. John Spangler at oldguns.net gave me your name as a person in Argentina who might have some information to share on Merrill firearms. I added my website in the prior message, and hope you might be a second contact to provide research at the Museo de Armas de la Nacion in Buenos Aires. Two Merrills I found in auctions a few months back had a “Buenos Aires” stamp on the right side stock near the buttplate.

I’ve read that James H. Merrill had 3,800 unsold Merrill carbines, as stated by researcher/author Terry White, author of “American Manufacturers of Combustible Ammunition”. One of his hints as to where Merrill sold them was to Tsar Alexander II. My attempts to make contacts at Russian military museums like Sestroretsk have resulted in zero email replies.

Then, I found the two Merrills with the “Buenos Aires” stamps but again nobody at the Museo or contacts thru LinkedIn related to the museum would reply. This week, someone who lives 10 minutes from the Museo responded to my message on n-ssa.net, looking for anyone who could help with research at the Museo. He stated that when it opens up again he would try to find information on possible Merrills there on display or in storage, plus any contracts the Argentine government might have had with James H. Merrill.

Please reply when you can. John stated you had tremendous files… Thanks, Eric.

Hello Eric,

The Merrill carbine was used by Argentine army cavalry units and is listed in inventories from 1868 to 1875.

I have examined the only example found at the Riccheri museum and the serial number is 17462. Another serial number reported in a private collection is 18973.

Great website by the way, thanks for sharing.

Regards,

Fede

Thanks for the reply Fede. Do you have any photos of ammunition, boxes, etc. that you could share for my site? Also, any documentation you might have referencing the Merrills as being used by the government? Sure would be nice to find any evidence of the numbers of Merrills purchased by the Argentine government, and maybe serial ranges. I have 17833 and 18794 with the Buenos Aires stamp on my site. The two you mentioned, 17462 and 18973, would indicate to me that Merrill sold them at LEAST 1,500 carbines of a total surplus of 3,800 carbines the U.S. government was unwilling to purchase from Merrill. Would have been lots of ammo as well that went to Buenos Aires.

Do you know if there is any Argentina source of newspapers like we have in the U.S. - newspapers.com? Found so many great articles about Merrill. Do you know of anyone who is a Merrill owner and could send them my email and website information? Hope to read your reply soon. Thanks, Eric.

Eric, you can add the pictures of the packet to your website. You will have to wait for some time for pictures of bullets and cartridges.

To my knowledge, the only documentantion about the Merrill carbine are army inventories. I have copies of most of them from this timeframe; I’ll check the numbers as soon as I can. However, serials are not mentioned.

I don’t know of anyone having a Merrill, but I can ask when we all get back to normal.

Regards,

Fede

Just finished to transcribe the numbers mentioned between March 1, 1868 and April 30, 1875. I have only included items clearly identified as “Merrill”. These are the totals:

Carbines: 2,992
Cartridges: 262,720
Blank cartridges: 17,000
Primers: 70,896
Cartridge bags: 1,309
Bandoleers: 1,213
Primer boxes: 1,334
Holsters: 1,312

Regards,

Fede

Hi Fede. Any chance you could reply to my prior email sometime this week? Have you heard if/when the museum will open up again? Thanks, Eric.

Eric, I didn’t receive any email from you; can you resend it? No idea about the museum, but considering the situation I don’t think it will be open anytime soon. Regards, Fede.

This was from May 25th. Don’t think you responded.

Thanks for the reply Fede. Do you have any photos of ammunition, boxes, etc. that you could share for my site? Also, any documentation you might have referencing the Merrills as being used by the government? Sure would be nice to find any evidence of the numbers of Merrills purchased by the Argentine government, and maybe serial ranges. I have 17833 and 18794 with the Buenos Aires stamp on my site. The two you mentioned, 17462 and 18973, would indicate to me that Merrill sold them at LEAST 1,500 carbines of a total surplus of 3,800 carbines the U.S. government was unwilling to purchase from Merrill. Would have been lots of ammo as well that went to Buenos Aires.

Do you know if there is any Argentina source of newspapers like we have in the U.S. - newspapers.com? Found so many great articles about Merrill. Do you know of anyone who is a Merrill owner and could send them my email and website information? Hope to read your reply soon. Thanks, Eric.

Eric, I responded to your questions in my two previous messages. I don’t know of any Argentine website with a newspaper archive at a national level.

Regards,

Fede

Great info indeed Fede. Many thanks.

Fede, how many volume copies of the military inventories do you have? Any photocopies that you could share would be greatly appreciated.

I have a total of three photos with soldiers holding Merrill carbines. One is of a Confederate soldier/boy holding an earliest model Merrill carbine (blunt forend). Nice to think somewhere, someone has photos of Argentine military soldiers holding Merrills. Think I need to research the Argentina military conflicts with other countries and possibly civil unrest around this time in history.

Hello Fede

I recently came across this old post on the Argentine Merrill’s. I have been researching Merrill carbines after the civil war and was hoping you may have information on sales to the Argentine Army. Are there any purchase records available from the Army records on the Merrill carbines. How many purchased, dates, etc?

Thanks Much

Hello Robert,

I haven’t examined any purchase records so far, only the inventory records discussed above.

Regards,

Fede

Hello Fede

I hope this email finds you well!

Thank you for responding to my inquiry. Perhaps these purchase records exist and will one day help shed light on the Merrill sales after the CW.

On a separate note, do you have any information on the inspectors markings on the Merrill firearms purchased by the Argentine Army? I have observed carbines with high serial numbers without the Buenos Aries marking on the stock, with no US inspectors marks, with a single common letter stamped on the metal components. I am hoping you may be able to confirm if this is how the Argentine carbines were marked?

I appreciate you help

Stay safe!!

RI

HI Eric, hola Fede! I was reading your convesation and i have a little trace about your research. I am a Marrill carbine owner, I think the serial number is 18910. I hope this info is usefull for you.
Regards

Turco, humble apologies for not responding to you. I’ve not been on this forum for several months. please contact me at ewmail15@gmail.com. I’d really like to see photos of your Merrill 18910 and any provenance you might have to also share. Thanks, Eric.

Lots of discussion about the gun how about some pics of the
cartridge what was it?? I have 2 paper loadings I cannot identify
Sherryl

Here’s a link to my site’s accessories page, with plenty of photos related to cartridges.

and here’s a copy of the sales brochure that Merrill had published, illustrating how the cartridges were made. There is an original brochure at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Think it’s right on the GA side of the GA/TN border.

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