The Union Carbines acts as an example of less popular Civil War carbines, as well as ones that overall failed to be satisfactory in battle. On top of its defects, Union Carbines were behind the times in the evolving world of arms technology from its cartridges to its lack of interchangeable parts.3
To fully understand the Gwyn & Campbell, one must look to its precursor, the Cosmopolitan carbine as well. To clarity, when this website refers to the “Union” carbine(s), it references both the Cosmopolitan and the Gwyn & Campbell.
1 Thomas B. Rentschler, Cosmopolitan and Gwyn & Campbell Carbines in the Civil War: A Definitive Illustrated History of Two Rare and Unusual Civil War Cavalry Carbines and Their Use in the Field (Lincoln: Andrew Mowbray Publishers, 2000), 10; James Timothy Brenner, “The Politics of Civil War Weapons Procurement: The Ordnance Department and Two Ohio Carbines,” (MA thesis, Ohio State University, 1977), 78.
2 Rentschler, Cosmopolitan and Gwyn & Campbell Carbines in the Civil War, 27.
3 Rentschler, Cosmopolitan and Gwyn & Campbell Carbines in the Civil War, 22; Brenner, "The Politics of Civil War Weapons Procurement," 78.
The Cosmopolitan and Gwyn & Campbell:
Guns of Mystery and Many Names
The Union Carbines
Created in Hamilton, Ohio, the Union Carbines are considered to be the only midwestern gun manufactured for and used in the Civil War.1 Manufacturing in the midwest proved to be a challenge and an asset. The manufacturers did not have the luxury of journeymen frequenting their shop as often as those in New England. Yet, they would not have to compete with other arms factories for skilled labor. The manufacturing of the Gwyn & Campbell demonstrated that industrialization had spread to the Midwest.
A lot of mystery surrounds the Union Carbines today, and little is written on them. The carbines' titles also cause confusion and abstraction, because they had several different names: “Union,” “Grapevine,” “Ohio,” “Gwinns Union Rifle,” “Gwynns Carbine,” and “Gwynnes Carbine."2 Although the Gwyn & Campbell was considered to be different from its predecessor, the Cosmopolitan, the government used the names “Gwyn & Campbell," “Cosmopolitan,” and “Union” interchangeably when referring to the guns.2