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Rare Civil War Rifle Being Auctioned In Carmel

A rare Civil War era rifle is expected to be sold for up to $17,000.

  • Morse Carbine

    Image 1 of 2

    Photo: Wickliff Auctioneers

    Morse Carbine

  • Morse Carbine

    Image 2 of 2

    Photo: Wickliff Auctioneers

    Morse Carbine

Update 3/17:

The Morse Carbine rifle sold for $18,000 at auction Friday. Darin Lawson could not release the identity of the buyer but said he or she was from the Southern part of the United States.

Original Post:

An Indiana auctioneer is selling a rare Civil War rifle that is expected to go for tens of thousands of dollars and has a mysterious connection to the state.

The Morse Carbine rifle was used exclusively by the South Carolina militia during the Civil War, but only 1,000 were made because of a defect. And that makes the rifle an extremely rare Civil War artifact.

Wickliff Auctioneers in Carmel is auctioning the gun, after receiving it from a Central Indiana family that inherited it.

The gun also has “Bloomington, Indiana” etched onto the side and an indistinguishable last name.

Darin Lawson is the senior auctioneer at Wickliff Auctioneers and says he sees rare firearms every day, but this one is particularly unique.

“This is without question the most rare and the most desirable gun that we’ve had in any of our firearm auctions,” Lawson said. “Sometimes a gun can be rare but nobody cares, but this gun is rare and desirable.”

The rifle already has more than 70 bids and is expected to sell for between $12,000 and $17,000.

The gun has much less historical value though.

“There’s not much we can say with it. What do you say on a label? ‘This is a gun that they didn’t make very many of and it didn’t work. That’s not a very effective narrative when you are trying to teach Indiana history,” says Dale Ogden, senior curator of cultural history at the Indiana State Museum.

However, Ogden says if someone discovered more about the gun’s past, the museum would be more interested in the artifact.

“If it was a soldier from Bloomington who was serving in an Indiana unit at Shiloh or Antietam or Gettysburg or wherever and acquired it on the battlefield or took it as a war trophy and gave it to his son who gave it to his son, the more of that kind of information that’s available for an artifact the more value it has to a museum,” he says.

The rifle is a confederate gun, which is why Ogden says an Indiana soldier would have had to acquire it in battle, or a confederate soldier could have owned the gun and given it to someone who then moved to Indiana.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is an education reporter for StateImpact Indiana. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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