Discussion 800 to 1000 yard rifle accuracy?

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I have a report from Second Lieutenant of the First Dragoons, U. S. Army that states;

"I fired at them at a distance from 800 to 1000 yards, and can say with certainty that several of the Indians got wounded."

He then says that two of the Indians fired back, and their balls falling among his troops, he was compelled to remove his horses from view. These Indians had taken to a high bluff out in California after being tracked in August of 1861 from Fort Crook. What rifle would a small company of 30 men including the guide, carry with them having that range and accuracy, firing above at a height? And what about the two Indians that fired down upon the company?
Remember this is out west on the Pacific Coast in August of 1861.
[Report from Series 1 Volume 50, Part 1, page 25-26].

Thanks,
Lubliner.
 

Robin Lesjovitch

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
I have a report from Second Lieutenant of the First Dragoons, U. S. Army that states;

"I fired at them at a distance from 800 to 1000 yards, and can say with certainty that several of the Indians got wounded."

He then says that two of the Indians fired back, and their balls falling among his troops, he was compelled to remove his horses from view. These Indians had taken to a high bluff out in California after being tracked in August of 1861 from Fort Crook. What rifle would a small company of 30 men including the guide, carry with them having that range and accuracy, firing above at a height? And what about the two Indians that fired down upon the company?
Remember this is out west on the Pacific Coast in August of 1861.
[Report from Series 1 Volume 50, Part 1, page 25-26].

Thanks,
Lubliner.
I do not think L would be concerned about any of this. Lt. Feilner, I think, is telling a story. The .58 Springfields could fire at the indicated range, but I do not understand a claim of wounding anybody at that range. It could have happened, but at 800 yards one will do really well just to make out the form of somebody. If the Indians had a couple of rifles, they could put some rounds out that far, too.
I don;t think it worth any time thinking on this.
 

John Winn

Captain
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
If either side actually hit anybody it was pure luck. I suppose such would be technically possible back in the day but so difficult as to be highly improbable. Maybe if they peppered the area with enough rounds a few might have hit something.

Even with modern arms it takes a very skilled rifleman to hit stationary targets at 1000 yards with iron sights shooting offhand.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I have a report from Second Lieutenant of the First Dragoons, U. S. Army that states;

"I fired at them at a distance from 800 to 1000 yards, and can say with certainty that several of the Indians got wounded."

He then says that two of the Indians fired back, and their balls falling among his troops, he was compelled to remove his horses from view. These Indians had taken to a high bluff out in California after being tracked in August of 1861 from Fort Crook. What rifle would a small company of 30 men including the guide, carry with them having that range and accuracy, firing above at a height? And what about the two Indians that fired down upon the company?
Remember this is out west on the Pacific Coast in August of 1861.
[Report from Series 1 Volume 50, Part 1, page 25-26].

Thanks,
Lubliner.
The only way to resolve this issue is take a group of skilled shooters set up law enforcement type targets at an actual 800 and 1000 yards and using actual or reproduction rifles that are authentic copies of the original rifles in question or at least of s similar black powder rifle of that era and using iron sights see if they can hit the targets firing without using a bench rest.
Leftyhunter
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
:unsure:
From reading deeper into the account, 2nd Lt. Feilner probably dismounted most of his 30 men, and took beads on the Indians. After having heard other claims over the past year on accuracy, the account though possible, was improbable, and I think the Indians' own quick movements were mistaken for hits. I cannot yet vouch for his veracity without reading more reports of his activities. I thought it would be interesting what others here might think of such prowess. Thanks for the replies.
Lubliner.:wavespin:
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
I have a report from Second Lieutenant of the First Dragoons, U. S. Army that states;

"I fired at them at a distance from 800 to 1000 yards, and can say with certainty that several of the Indians got wounded."

He then says that two of the Indians fired back, and their balls falling among his troops, he was compelled to remove his horses from view. These Indians had taken to a high bluff out in California after being tracked in August of 1861 from Fort Crook. What rifle would a small company of 30 men including the guide, carry with them having that range and accuracy, firing above at a height? And what about the two Indians that fired down upon the company?
Remember this is out west on the Pacific Coast in August of 1861.
[Report from Series 1 Volume 50, Part 1, page 25-26].

Thanks,
Lubliner.
I think its a distinct possibility he was a terrible judge of range.........
 

John Winn

Captain
Joined
Mar 13, 2014
Location
State of Jefferson
The only way to resolve this issue is take a group of skilled shooters set up law enforcement type targets at an actual 800 and 1000 yards and using actual or reproduction rifles that are authentic copies of the original rifles in question or at least of s similar black powder rifle of that era and using iron sights see if they can hit the targets firing without using a bench rest.
Leftyhunter
Ah, but the targets also have to be moving about trying not to get shot and more than one of them has to get hit.

And why do the shooters get to be skilled ? The average soldier on the frontier wasn't that proficient.


(Sorry ... got into the white wine again)
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
A minie ball will carry that far. Whether it carries that far with any degree of accuracy is speculative. Now, the P53 Enfield was superior in this regard but it is highly unlikely that the Dragoons were armed with them.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I think its a distinct possibility he was a terrible judge of range.........
After @John Winn commented above, I began to think about proficiency and judging ranges. These men, at least some of them relied upon hunting game, I would think?? If so, even led by guides (trappers etc.), they shouldn't be 250 yards off, with 800 to 1000. It is possible when these reports were generated into headquarters, most scouting parties were small affairs hunting Indians that stole cattle from settlers, or resolved fights between drunken miners and Indians. The importance of this testimony was limited other than the Indians got away, and the reason for it. The intelligence he conveys in his report isn't shots expended, nor trophy score, so he hurts nothing by it, and better than being vague.
Lubliner.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Anyone who think this story is correct, try go out in an open field with a friend. Then walk 1000 yards away. (use a app on your phoe to check the distance) Then try to spot your friend...

I hit a target at 400m with a H&K G3 rifle with metal sights a number of time when doing my mandatory service. At that range the target is very small, and the front sight cover it completely...
Would not even try shoot at a person sized target at 1000 yards without a optical sights to help actually spot the target.
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
A minie ball will carry that far. Whether it carries that far with any degree of accuracy is speculative. Now, the P53 Enfield was superior in this regard but it is highly unlikely that the Dragoons were armed with them.
My line of thinking about Harper's Ferry refits, and when the men out west were supplied. I doubt new shipments would be sent to the Pacific coast when the clamor in the east was rising. After the Mexican War, those camps and forts sprung up mainly, 1850's.
Lubliner.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Ah, but the targets also have to be moving about trying not to get shot and more than one of them has to get hit.

And why do the shooters get to be skilled ? The average soldier on the frontier wasn't that proficient.


(Sorry ... got into the white wine again)
Just to show how hard it is for even a skilled shooter to hit a Target at 800 to one thousand yards with any mid Nineteenth Century rifled musket.
Leftyhunter
 

gary

Captain
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
distance estimation is critical followed by adjustment of the sight. The earlier 1855 had a ladder sight. Later production 1855 didn't.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

poorjack

Corporal
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Location
NC
While we can make the muskets extremely accurate using certain techniques today, even a modern issue military rifle would struggle to hit at 1k. Even a modern issue gun is considered ok if it can hold 4moa. That means a 40in target at 1k and that's with a trained marksman, not the average soldier. Shooting at that distance for the common soldier is still an area denial technique and hitting any one person would be just bad luck for that person. The concept is to create a rain of bullets on a given plot and make it very unhealthy to loiter there, so I'm skeptical of claims at extreme distances without specialized equipment and a highly trained marksman. Area denial is an old concept and carried to it's ultimate with small arms in WW1 where the British used machine guns aimed at a fixed spot behind German lines and waited for something or someone to wander into the "beaten zone" where a sustained burst would impact.
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Anyone who think this story is correct, try go out in an open field with a friend. Then walk 1000 yards away. (use a app on your phoe to check the distance) Then try to spot your friend...

I hit a target at 400m with a H&K G3 rifle with metal sights a number of time when doing my mandatory service. At that range the target is very small, and the front sight cover it completely...
Would not even try shoot at a person sized target at 1000 yards without a optical sights to help actually spot the target.
Remember, they did have scopes for their rifles. Were the rifles 54cal or .45cal? Did they Increase the powder load for different distances? Much more back ground info needed.There are charts for BP loads and bullet trajectory.
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
distance estimation is critical followed by adjustment of the sight. The earlier 1855 had a ladder sight. Later production 1855 didn't.
Some times a memory just stays put. Back in 1991 I read the book 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' about the Revolutionary War. It was contemporaneously written soon after that time (?), but it mentions a soldier up in New York taking a bead on a target 500 to 800 yards off, and hitting it. That would be in the 1780's when most of the patriots had spent years in the forest hunting game. Some times a memory flees.
Lubliner.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Remember, they did have scopes for their rifles. Were the rifles 54cal or .45cal? Did they Increase the powder load for different distances? Much more back ground info needed.There are charts for BP loads and bullet trajectory.
What rifle issued to the (regular) army in august 1861 had a scope?


(I expect the dragoons had rifles, and not carbines?)
 

Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
What rifle issued to the (regular) army in august 1861 had a scope?


(I expect the dragoons had rifles, and not carbines?)
These rifles or muskets out west were most likely issued between 1855 to 1859. I would think the common lot being distributed in that time frame could be found. I would wonder even if they had been rifled or remained smoothbore?
Lubliner.
EDIT: to correct myself-- Not yet able to find a source, but thinking of gold discoveries, and the entry of the State of California, the arsenals in San Francisco would have probably had weapons on hand that would have been guarded, ever since Fremont's military founding. My primary source material doesn't extend further than 1860, but I can find the strategic movement of troops in that State covering 1861 and 1862, as well as the Oregon Territory.
(Lubliner).
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top