The Endless Varieties of Civil War Enfield Bullets

The Endless Varieties of Civil War Enfield Bullets

Above are some of my better Civil War Enfield bullets that I have dug – most are unfired “drops” by soldiers.    Also called “Enfield-Pritchetts”, they were widely used by the Confederacy during the US Civil War.  The Federals used some Enfields as well.

Enfields are named for the English Enfield rifle that fired them, imported from England to the Confederacy, many by daring blockade runners.   My understanding is that typically each rifle shipped with 1000 rounds of these bullets.

Enfields don’t have the distinctive three rings of most Civil War bullets, but they have a nice aerodynamic shape, and are often nice and slick when found dropped.   They are less common to dig than “three ringers”, and usually give a nice solid signal even at great depth.    Occasionally, even after 150 years, a dug Enfield will still have the original boxwood plug in it:Photo Nov 16, 8 49 31 AM


McKee & Masons “Civil War Projectiles II: Small Arms & Field Artillery”, called “The Bullet Book” by diggers and collectors, is widely considered the bible for identifying Civil War bullets.   Diggers and collectors actually often refer to different bullets by the number designated in the book ie “M&M #212”.

The Bullet book only shows and numbers 20-25 examples of Enfields, but explains that over 75 different variants can be dug.   Different cavity sizes and cavity depth.  Different lengths.  Most are .577 caliber.  The one in the center  of the photo above was my first .54 Caliber.

Some of the rare and most sought after Enfields have markings in the cavity that were made during the production process. I’ve dug two marked with “57” and they are among my most prized bullet finds.

Enfield with "57" marked in the cavity.

Enfield with “57” marked in the cavity.

Three "L" marked base Enfields

Three “L” marked base Enfields

Enfield with teeth marks where a soldier closed cavity with his teeth!

Enfield with teeth marks where a soldier closed cavity with his teeth!

Just a few of the other markings include “P” and “L”, “55”, and the prized and probably often faked “CS” and “US” marked ones.   Most Enfields were imported from England, but the Confederacy made their own as well in places such as the Selma Arsenal in Alabama.


Enfield made by Confederates in Selma, Alabama. Note the “lube grooves”. Unlike other Enfields, it is a 3 ringer!

Enfields, along as big 69 caliber or larger three ringers, are among my favorite bullets to dig.   When you are digging Enfields, you are almost certainly in “the right place” where you could dig a rare Civil War buckle or other relic at any time.

Photo Jan 23, 2 47 12 PM

A nice dropped Enfield.

Good luck out there!

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