Why was small arms fire so ineffective in the 19th century? - Page 2




 
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July 17th, 2009  
BritinAfrica
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulldogg
"What War-time Innovation has gifted the world".
Excellent thread bulldog
July 24th, 2009  
03USMC
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulldogg
Pretty sure it was the Sharps.
I think he's refering to John T. Wilders Lightning Brigade AKA Wilders Hachet Brigade (because they carried hachets) consisting of Indiana and Illinios Mounted Infantry Regt's (mainly mounted on mules) who were armed with Spencers. They were assigned to the Army of the Cumberland and made good use of their Spencers at Chattanoga/Chickamuga, Hoovers Gap and the Atlanta Campaign and later as Wilders main unit in his Corps of Cavalry.

The 51st Illinios also had a fair number of privatley purchased Henry's in their ranks at Chickamuaga and were documented as turning several assaults with them.
July 24th, 2009  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 03USMC
I think he's refering to John T. Wilders Lightning Brigade AKA Wilders Hachet Brigade (because they carried hachets) consisting of Indiana and Illinios Mounted Infantry Regt's (mainly mounted on mules) who were armed with Spencers. They were assigned to the Army of the Cumberland and made good use of their Spencers at Chattanoga/Chickamuga, Hoovers Gap and the Atlanta Campaign and later as Wilders main unit in his Corps of Cavalry.

The 51st Illinios also had a fair number of privatley purchased Henry's in their ranks at Chickamuaga and were documented as turning several assaults with them.
Yes, Wilder's men with Spencers & the 21st Ohio with Colt revolving rifles.
While many of the early Colt percussion revolvers were notched for a removable but stock "Lee Van Cleef" style, the military carbines & rifles look like any other musket from the breech forward.
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July 27th, 2009  
mmarsh
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
I was recently watching a movie about the exploits of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson and his adventures during the American civil war. In the battle of Fredericksburg, the Union army had to charge across a plain and ditch and was stopped short of a wall. There they stood in a line where they were plummeted with fire from the Confederates soldiers hiding behind it. Yet it is not the carnage that astonishes me here but how many survived, in fact most of the Union army still managed to retreat time and time again despite repeated attacks. Out of 114 000 men engaged, the Union army suffered ‘only’ 12,653 casualties (1,284 killed, 9,600 wounded, 1,769 captured/missing. Why so low?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fredericksburg

It seems to me the small arm weaponry used by soldiers was still slow firing, and remained so well into the 20th century. Why did they not simply give them revolvers? Better still adapt the revolver into a long barrelled weapon capable of firing say six reasonably accurate shots over a space of 6 seconds? Surely this would have rendered any offensive impossible against similar numbers of soldiers.
Perseus

I dunno, 12,000 casualties seems like alot, remember this was 1862. The bloodiest battle of the American Revolutional War was less than 1500 and that was only 80 years beforehand.

Why didnt they use revolvers? Range. If you look at the most common Union revolver -The US.Army Colt 1860 it was only accurate to about 75-100 yards. A 1861 Springfield rifle-musket about 2x-3x times that. The US Civil War was the first major conflict where the firearm itself was more dangerous than the Bayonet, therefore most battles didnt get too close. They were of course exceptions, but the Napoleonic era of the Bayonet charge as the means to win a battle was over. Most soldiers found their bayonets more useful as a roasting fork to cook their dinner.

Also remember that pistols were not generally issued to infantrymen, espicially in the Union Army (the Confederates was more flexible). However it was common that they were 'acquired' (usually by looting the dead) by both sides. They were also considered war trophies, and were sought after prizes.
July 27th, 2009  
George
 
As far as efficientcy of small arms is concerned, check out Cold Harbor.
Pistols were needed by Cavalry, any infantry enlistedmen cought with them had them confinscated & issued to the Cavalry. Some kept them hidden for use when foraging for extra food.
July 28th, 2009  
perseus
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmarsh
Perseus

I dunno, 12,000 casualties seems like alot, remember this was 1862. The bloodiest battle of the American Revolutional War was less than 1500 and that was only 80 years beforehand.

Why didnt they use revolvers? Range. If you look at the most common Union revolver -The US.Army Colt 1860 it was only accurate to about 75-100 yards. A 1861 Springfield rifle-musket about 2x-3x times that. The US Civil War was the first major conflict where the firearm itself was more dangerous than the Bayonet, therefore most battles didnt get too close.
Well a scene from the film prompted my statement which may have not been accurate. The Union soldiers seemed to pull up about 30 yards away from the Confederates hiding behind a wall. I cannot understand why any Union soldiers managed to escape from this barrage.

Range did not seem to be relevent in this case, however I suggested simply extending the barrel of a revolver to compensate for this deficiency. I am thinking as a weapons designer of the age rather than as an soldier who had to make do with what was available.
July 28th, 2009  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
Well a scene from the film prompted my statement which may have not been accurate. The Union soldiers seemed to pull up about 30 yards away from the Confederates hiding behind a wall. I cannot understand why any Union soldiers managed to escape from this barrage.

Range did not seem to be relevent in this case, however I suggested simply extending the barrel of a revolver to compensate for this deficiency. I am thinking as a weapons designer of the age rather than as an soldier who had to make do with what was available.
Did you read my comments about the rev rifle? Linky During the War there were Henrys(16 rounds), Spencer(7 rounds) , Colt rev rifles (5 rounds) The Army didn't want the higher expense, nor the extra supply burden of the increased ammo consumption, that these newer style rifles would cause to a strained budget.
July 28th, 2009  
03USMC
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by perseus
Well a scene from the film prompted my statement which may have not been accurate. The Union soldiers seemed to pull up about 30 yards away from the Confederates hiding behind a wall. I cannot understand why any Union soldiers managed to escape from this barrage.

Range did not seem to be relevent in this case, however I suggested simply extending the barrel of a revolver to compensate for this deficiency. I am thinking as a weapons designer of the age rather than as an soldier who had to make do with what was available.
The stonewall on Maryes Hieghts was the focal point of Fredricksburg but not the entire battle. Soliders in the civil war tended to shoot high, so much so that a common command on the firing line was "aim low boys". Shooting down from the hieghts would have caused more problems in that people shooting downhill tend to aim low. Take that into account along with the fact that a great many units retreated or simply layed down and presented a smaller target.

The US military was totally against multi shot weapons, thinking that soliders would "waste" ammo, this carried over into the adoption of the 45-70 Springfield Long Tom and Cavalry Carbine post CW, both single shot breech loaders (trap door) and even to the adoption of the Krag rifle with it's loading system and despite it being a reapter the regulations in it's loading were designed to conserve ammo.
July 28th, 2009  
George
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 03USMC
The stonewall on Maryes Hieghts was the focal point of Fredricksburg but not the entire battle. Soliders in the civil war tended to shoot high, so much so that a common command on the firing line was "aim low boys". Shooting down from the hieghts would have caused more problems in that people shooting downhill tend to aim low. Take that into account along with the fact that a great many units retreated or simply layed down and presented a smaller target.
There's a photo of a 2 story house that CS troops were in front of in a battle. You can see a huge number of bullet holes @ the 2nd floor window level!
July 29th, 2009  
perseus
 
 
I wonder if shotguns with fewer but larger calibre shot would have been more effective at short range especially given the poor medical facilities of the day?
 


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