1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free! If you aren't ready for that, try posting your question or comment as a guest!

The Std Confederate Infantry Arm

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by Craig L Barry, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,335
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    While just as common in the Union army (at least until mid-1863) the Enfield has been
    widely cited as the "std infantry arm of the Confederacy." It was certainly common enough to warrant usage for a generic CS impression at a mainstream Civil War re-enactment, which is where you find most of them. IIRC, from shipping manifests Lon Webster's book Entrepot attempted an accounting of all Enfields which ran the blockade and got into Confederate hands. It was something over 290,000. For easy math, let's say 300K. There were at least that many smoothbore muskets in use by Confederates, both imported and domestic. A few Flintlocks and obsolete European big bore pumpkin slingers, a lot of US models converted from flint and some percussion US Model 1842s. According to Nosworthy in Bloody Crucible of Courage (great book/terrible title) the ANV was still ordering buck and ball rounds in .69 by the hundreds of thousands in early 1865. So much for the theory that every Reb was equipped with a .58 rifle-musket by mid-1863.

    Nothing says "Confederate" like a smoothbore musket, but most Confederate (re)enactors use the Enfield. Or take the canteen. CS soldiers often remarked on the prevalence of captured US smoothside canteens over all else, but the (re)-Johnnies find it hard to resist tin drums and wooden canteens. Ditto with oval belt and cartridge box plates. It's our mindset. (Re)enactor based history takes the place of actual US history, especially with respect to material culture. We don't even teach very much US History in our schools anymore. An average Confederate soldier traveling ahead in time to a modern mainstream Civil War (re)enactment would have a hard time recognizing his modern counterpart based on the equipment in use, appearance and camp life. Heck, the time traveler would probably be happy to join them at the funnel cake stand, sleep on an air mattress and of course liquor up after hours. He might not have understood the numerical advantage in the field though.

    I stand accused of using a specific (rather than generic) weapon based on the date or other requirements of the event. My fellow park service volunteers chide me for pulling a particular musket out like a golfer picking a certain club out of his bag for a certain shot. It really only takes a smoothbore and a rifle-musket, of which there are a variety of reproductions available. I probably take it a little farther than most. That's an important part of enjoying the hobby for me. There is a story to tell, but you also communicate non-verbally by your appearance, attitude, equipment and how you use the material culture of the time period. I don't have all the answers but I am learning all the time. I do suspect the Enfield is vastly over-represented at most Civil War (re)enactment events. And I think my coffee is about right because it is campfire roasted from green Rio (v. Arabica) beans, very strong and tastes terrible.
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. kansas

    kansas Corporal

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    herington kansas
    I would suppose part of the preference is that the confederates did consider the Enfield rifle musket as made at Enfield Lock to be their standard. I suppose though that had more to do with Burtons plans and dies as well as his connections in England as anything. A considerable investment was made into making this standard become a reality. I have always been amazed by the number of smoothbore rounds made at arsenals however, the numbers are staggering of 69 caliber, as well as both 54 caliber in roundball and conical. The ordance chief of the AOT once ordered 1.5 million 69 buck and ball rounds for Bragg at one whack and wanted them delivered to his own depot ASAP. It seems that historians and maybe reinactors want to standardize everything today just as they did then, the problem being what is wanted and what was to be had were two different things.
     
  4. Old Hickory

    Old Hickory First Sergeant

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,477
    Location:
    Enders, Pa.
    The "average" range of ACW battles was, (depending on who you care to listen to) was 90-120yds. There have been instances of units opening fire at as far as 400yds, and as close as muzzle to muzzle, but the average was around 100yds, (not including skirmishers, sharpshooters, etc. who fired more or less at will). The rifle musket was not understood by officers, and the men, (for the most part) were not trained in its use and potential, for all practical purposes the smooth bore musket did just fine, and the men saw this. In a totally unrelated reading on Pennsylvania Rifles, past 1820 many were made smoothbore for buck and ball, "fer to better a chance to hit", (and it made a better all around gun for game). The era of the smooth bore was far from over, many surplus rifle muskets were bored smooth and sights removed at war's end to make them more useful in "civies". Due to the "rainbow" trajectory of the .58/.577 amunition, purpose hits beyond about 120yds. were rare for men not properly trained in their use, and often the men shot high even under 100yds. A "smoothie" loaded with B&B would at least give the shooter a 4 projectile chance of hitting something, and often the defenders of a position would pack 9-15 buckshot in a musket to greet their attackers as opposed to 1 bullet. This wasn't just a Southern thing, the boys in faded blue did it also.

    This is not to say the rifle musket was use-less! In the hands of a shooter it could proove deadly at long range, (and the sights on the Enfields were beauties). I remember an occasion at a long range shoot with my Windsor Enfield, (and taylored ammo) shooting at targets out to 650yds. the Enfield gave a good account of itself. Had it been a line of infantry, or even an artillery battery, no less than 3 of 5 shots would have caused a casualty. Again, this was using amunition taylored to that particular gun, not issue as would have been the case in the war. What would be the chances of a "pumpkin slinger" scoring a hit at that range? Near zero.

    From what I've seen and read here, Craig's right. Enfields are way over represented in in our modern world and the "smoothies" are way under represented amoung re-enactors, (the point of my thread, "Why Enfields?"). I was surprised myself to find one of my favorite Union regiments, (11th. Pa. Inf.) was issued and carried most of the war at least, rifled M-1842 muskets. Myself though, I would chuck a "Tower" Enfield for any rifled Springfield/Harper's Ferry, (1841-1863 Model, including converted rifled .69s). I've shot origional 1842 muskets at 50yds. and can say, once you see where they hit and use the same sight picture each time, they are accurate enough to hit a man's chest each time at that range under combat conditions. I didn't try buck and ball, but what can 3 more projectiles hurt?
     
  5. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,335
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    What you get is about 80 hits per 50 shots with buck and ball. Some multiple hits of
    course. The idea is get the other soldier out of the fight. Buckshot is a good way of
    doing it.

    Taking nothing away from the Enfield or rifle-muskets in general, but the smoothbore musket was
    the standard infantry arm of the Confederacy for a large part of the war.

    The big bored .69 "rifled muskets" (as opposed to "rifle-muskets") had a quite a kick if
    period accounts are to be believed.
     
  6. The Iron Duke

    The Iron Duke First Sergeant

    Joined:
    May 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,689
    Location:
    Georgia
    I have noticed this too although I'm not a reenactor. Larry Daniel's book Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee describes how the western Confederates used a wide variety of smoothbore, Springfield, Enfield, Austrian, and other muskets. But take a look at reenactment photos and the Confederates are almost always carrying Enfields. This is still true even if the reenactment is of some of the early battles like Wilson's Creek and Shiloh.
     
  7. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,301
    Location:
    Gone to Brush
    Back in my long past re-en days the P53 and the M1861 were the standard the movement to bring .69's in was just starting and the retooling to percussion from flint was cost prohibitive to alot of guys as well as the higher cost of the weapon. I only heard about in passing at events since I was Partisan and quite content with my four revolvers.
     
  8. kansas

    kansas Corporal

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    herington kansas
    Some ammo figures for the year 1863 Augusta arsenal
    .69 2,114,000
    .577 Enfield 1,217,000
    .54 1,271,000
    .75 40,ooo
    .44 army 240,000
    .36 navy 199,000
    repacked and refurbished misc. 600,000
     
  9. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    11,612
    Location:
    South of the North 40
    Over the years I've been very frustrated by CS re-enactors as the first CS unit I dealt w/ was a superb early "Campaigner/hardcore" unit and frankly very few units I've dealt w/ since measure up. I feel that the majority of re-enactors want to portrat history as they want it to have happened instead of how it happened. That's part of the reason my wife sticks out so much. Her dress is a bit threadbare and very plain she doesn't wear a ball gown at noon. And she is the extreme exception at most events which IMO is typical to the hobby.
     
  10. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,335
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I think those arsenal figures tell the story in a lot less words than I used.
     
  11. sf46

    sf46 Corporal

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    Messages:
    468
    Location:
    Pointe Coupee Parish, LA
    One thing that may be part of the problem, is that repro Enfields are more readily available than smooth bores. I've been looking for a decent smooth bore for a while and find very few available, and the prices very high.
     
  12. Old Hickory

    Old Hickory First Sergeant

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,477
    Location:
    Enders, Pa.
    From what I've been able to gather, over 340 Union regiments were issued Enfield pattern rifle muskets by the end of 1863, while less than 300 had 1855-1861-1863 Springfields for the sam time period. This would ballance out in favor of the Springfield by the end of 1864.

    Confederate regiments are much harder to determine due to incomplete records, however there are less than 50 listed as having been equiped with the Enfield long pattern for the same time period while regiments listed as carrying .69 muskets amount to about 25. About 20 listed as having a mix of Springfields and Enfields, (from Earl J. Coats book on CW small arms).

    The numbers seem off to me, but are incomplete.
     
  13. Ms Rebb

    Ms Rebb Cadet

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Southern Indiana
    I have not heard mention of the CS Richmond musket in .58 cal. How popular with the troops was this weapon?
     
  14. Old Hickory

    Old Hickory First Sergeant

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,477
    Location:
    Enders, Pa.
    I'm sure that most every man in the Confederate infantry wanted one, (or a Fayetteville). Being made on machinery captured at Harper's Ferry in 1861 the Richmond had all the quality and handling charactistics of the Springfield with the added pride of being Southern made. I've even read accounts of Union soldiers discarding Enfields, or other foriegn guns in favor of a Richmond.

    As stated earlier, Confederate records are far from complete, but here's what I can find;

    Richmond rifle muskets-16th. Va. Cav

    Richmond rifles-21st. Ms.-36th. Bn. Va. Cav.

    Fayetteville Rifles-9th. Tx. Inf.

    These may, or may not indicate full unit issue, but that's all I have in print from Earl J. Coats book taken from the National Archives. The way some Confederate units were set up later in the war, Richmonds may have been only issued to the skirmish companys of a given regiment, or "sharp shooter" units rather than entire line regiments.
     
  15. Old Hickory

    Old Hickory First Sergeant

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,477
    Location:
    Enders, Pa.
    Dixie Gun Works has U.S. M 1842 smoothies on sale right now for $615.00, lowest price I've seen on them lately, still more than an Enfield though.
     
  16. rebel boy

    rebel boy Cadet

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Messages:
    85
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Pardon me, camp, but I have a stupid question, what is "Std".
     
  17. Old Hickory

    Old Hickory First Sergeant

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,477
    Location:
    Enders, Pa.
    I think what Craig's getting at is, the most common infantry arm of the Confederacy.
     
  18. rebel boy

    rebel boy Cadet

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Messages:
    85
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    You mean "standard". Thanks.
     
  19. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2009
    Messages:
    29,701
    Location:
    Smack dab in the heart of Texas
    I'm really happy to confirm that. Among teachers of teens, STD has a not so great connotation.....
     
  20. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,335
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Yes, std in this case is an abbreviation for "standard." Or put another way
    the most common. For frame of reference, the point is that all those Enfield
    toting CS (re)enactors honoring their distant ancestoral relatives ought to
    endeavor to carry the same type weapons if they truly want to "get it right."

    They don't. In most cases the allure is "camping in funny clothes," a convenient and
    socially acceptable form of spouse avoidance. Nothing wrong with that either, it
    just isn't really honoring American heritage in a historically accurate way. Feel free
    to disagree if you like.
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page