Amount of ammunition used during the war?

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#1
I was wondering where to find records of how much rifle ammunition was used during the civil war? Both confederate and union. Trying to determine approximately how many shots were fired per casuality. thanks
 

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#3
Not sure about total rounds expended, but I can say that one of my wife's ancestors by marriage, William McCarter, 116th Pennyslyvania, records in his memoirs that he was hit at Fredericksburg several times once in the left shoulder by a spent ball, and also in the left ankle. He was then hit in the right arm close to the shoulder while preparing to ram a cartridge home. The wound took him out of the action. While laying on the field, he was hit again in the wrist, but it was not serious. He had piled his blanket roll around his head, and on bullet went through six plies of blanket and rubber blanket, and he felt the impact on his skull, but it did not penetrate all the way through the blanket. When he later took the blanket roll apart, he found 32 more bullets in his blankets, and his clothes were shot to pieces. So for this one soldier, no less than 36 bullets found their mark upon his person or belongings.

all of this can be found in his memoir, My Life In The Irish Brigade.
 
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#4
I saw somewhere that one confederate arsenal made 72 million rounds and that the union army purchased 470 million rounds during the war. I also remember that approximately 7 million rounds were reported to have been fired at gettysbgurg
 

Dave Hull

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#5
While I have no idea, my infantry speak rears its base head in answer to this question;
"A S*** load"

Sorry, must be the break in the heat bringing my comedic side out, I could not resist

Dave
 

prroh

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#6
I was wondering where to find records of how much rifle ammunition was used during the civil war? Both confederate and union. Trying to determine approximately how many shots were fired per casuality. thanks
At Gettysburg Union ordnance people reported that 4 1/2 million rounds of rifle and smoothbore ammunition were issued. ANV killed and wounded were around 26,000. About 2,000 casualties resulted from artillery.

I have read that the ANV expended over 3 million rounds that resulted in about 22,000 kia or mia. An additional 1,500 may have been caused by artillery. Artillery casualties are really only estimates as the differentiation between artillery and small arms casualties was made by doctors at aid stations and then extrapolated among total causalities.

A further factoid from Gettysburg is the famous fight of the 20th Maine. Chamberlain stated that he had slightly over 400 men available at the position with 40 rounds each or around 16,000 rounds, which was almost totally expended. Oates' men lost maybe 120 men in the fight, some of which was fired by the sharpshooters who sheltered with the 20th's Company B.

There was a widely circulated joke that enough lead to equal a man's weight had to be expended before a hit could be registered. Hope this helps
 

ole

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#7
Somewhere, a long, long tme ago, I read that, war-wide, it took roughly 100 pounds of lead to take a man down. I'll imagine that sharpshooters and some elite units improved on that some. I'll also suppose that some of the cwt. was directed at horses.
 
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#9
with 530 gr bullets you can make approx 13 per lb of lead as i recall. times that by 100, i heard 130, but for argument sake lets use the smaller number. That makes for 1300 rounds per hit. Kind of refutes many reenactors claims that the average soldier could fire three times a minute and hit a man with ease from 300 to 500 yards.
 

trice

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#10
I was wondering where to find records of how much rifle ammunition was used during the civil war? Both confederate and union. Trying to determine approximately how many shots were fired per casuality. thanks
I am sure the records exist somewhere (might be fragmentary, but this is routine military housekeeping). I just don't know where to tell you to look.

I do recall seeing a mention that Sherman's troops had an extended period during the Atlanta Campaign where small arms ammunition expenditure (rifles and pistols) averaged 200,000 rounds/day. That is without any battle on the scale of Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Chickamuaga, etc. It also is only for Sherman's roughly 100,000 troops, and does not include the bullets the Rebels would have been firing back at them.

The RR was the only way to provide such quantities in an isolated area like north GA. That is why Sherman went to such efforts to protect his RR, and cracked down on anything that didn't come into the category of food and ammo coming forward on the trains.

Tim
 
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#11
I am sure the records exist somewhere (might be fragmentary, but this is routine military housekeeping). I just don't know where to tell you to look.

I do recall seeing a mention that Sherman's troops had an extended period during the Atlanta Campaign where small arms ammunition expenditure (rifles and pistols) averaged 200,000 rounds/day. That is without any battle on the scale of Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Chickamuaga, etc. It also is only for Sherman's roughly 100,000 troops, and does not include the bullets the Rebels would have been firing back at them.

The RR was the only way to provide such quantities in an isolated area like north GA. That is why Sherman went to such efforts to protect his RR, and cracked down on anything that didn't come into the category of food and ammo coming forward on the trains.

Tim
Two rounds per day per man might actually be a fair guess for any campaign. Even though the Atlanta campaign did not see battles on the scale of Gettysburg, the fighting was constant. Sam Watkins makes much of the number of days in a row that he was in some sort of fight during Atlanta.
 

kansas

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#12
According to Broun it took 200 pounds of lead and iron to wound a man. he claimed over 72 million rounds of small arms ammo issued from the Richmond Arsenal alone. Kinda put a crimp in the Confederates making every round count. He claimed about 150 pounds of lead and 300 pounds of iron for every man killed.
 

ole

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#13
Kind of refutes many reenactors claims that the average soldier could fire three times a minute and hit a man with ease from 300 to 500 yards.
That it do. One has to be pretty exceptional to load and fire three times per minute. (Try doing that while in a trench or behind a tree -- with other people shooting at you.)

There might be a few individuals in each regiment who could "hit a man with ease from 300 to 500 yards." They were called sharpshooters, and they didn't fire at that rate.

Speculation here, but most just banged away at the smoke, which accounts for whatever amount of ammo expended per killed or wounded.

I would be inclined to make every shot count, but I've never tried doing that when someone was trying to shoot me.
 
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#14
Americans in WWII, and I suspect most of our wars, waited until an enemy was within 75 yards before firing. As to the enormous waste of ammo in the ACW, the lay of the land can cause troops to fire high. And I also would be willing to bet that breastworks and natural cover took the brunt of what the infantryman fired.
 
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#16
Alexander Stiwell "The Story Of A Common Soldier of Army Life In The Civil War 1861-1865" p40-42
I distinctly remember my first shot at Shiloh...I think that when the boys saw the enemy advancing they began firing of their own motion. Without waiting for orders. At least I dont remember any. I was in the front rank, but didn't fire.I preferred to wait for a good opportunity, when I could take deliberate aim at some individual foe. But when the regiment fired, the Conferderates halted and began firing also, and thefronts of both lines were at once shrouded in smoke. I had my gun at the ready, and was trying to peer under the smoke in order to get a sight of our enemies. Suddenly I heard someone in a highly excited tone calling to me from just in my rear,-"Stillwell! shoot! shoot! Why dont you shoot?" I looked around and saw that this command was being given by our second lieutenant, who was in his place, just a few steps to the rear. He was a young man, about twenty-five years old, and was fairly wild with excitement, jumping up and down "like a hen on a hot griddle." "Why lieutenant," said I, "I cant see anything to shoot at." "Shoot, Shoot, anyhow!" "All right," I responded, "if you say shoot, shoot it is;" and bringing my gun to my shoulder, I aimed low in the direction of the smoke and blazed away through the smoke. I have always doubted if this, my first shot, did any execution-but there's no telling. However, the lieutenant was clearly right. Our adversaries were in our front, in easy range, and it was our duty to aim low,fire in their general direction, and let fate do the rest. But at the time the idea to me was ridiculous that one should blindly shoot away into a cloud of smoke without having a bead on the object to be shot at...the extent of the wild shooting done in battle, especially by raw troops, is astonishing, and rather hard to understand...(At Shiloh) I heard an incessant humming sound way up above our heads,like the flight of a swarm of bees. In my ignorance, I at first hardly knew what meant, but it presently dawned on me that the noise was caused by bullets singing through the air from twenty to a hundred feet over our heads. And after the battle I noticed that the big trees in our camp, just in the rear ofour second line, were thickly pock-marked by musket balls at a distance of fully a hundred feet from the ground. And yet we were seperated from the Confederates only by a little, narrow field, and the intervening ground was perfectly level. But the fact is, those boys were fully green as we were, and doubtless as much excited...I reckon they were as nervous and badly scared as we were.
 
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#17
Apologies for spelling errors in last post. Been musing all day about this. Just a thought, Stillwell also writes about getting cranky with a bloke who fires right next to his earhole. I was wondering if you 2 or 3 men from the front you are "accidently" forced to shoot high to get clear of your own men in front. Recall disciplined British redcoats are always seen in movies books paintings, etc as front row on their knees allowing a clear shot for the rank behind. Once again sorry about spelling because I am sipping on a "rebel Yell (brand)" bourbon.
 
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#18
No need to worry about spelling errors. I am sure firing in ranks had it's difficulty. I am convinced though, after reading many, many, diaries and stories that battles were more like a firefight, large skirmish affairs, than standing in two ranks firing. Leading generals, Hill for example, states he never seen a line straighter than a rams horn, a crooked one at that. Sherman stated that formations broke as soon as the firing started. Lying on the ground, hiding behind a tree, using the body of a dead comrade as protection, would be the norm, not the exception. Almost every battle was decided on who had the best ground, like high ground, woods, rivers/streams at flanks. Every battlefield I went to had some type of fortifications. Troops caught out in the open suffered extensive casualities. When charging the enemy behind breastworks some officers told the men not to load their guns. They did not want them to stop, fire and load again, while out in the open field. Too much advantage to the enemy.
 
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#19
I nursed to the end the last survivor of the Gallipoli campaign (according to current historians) in WW1 until his death.(ANZAC Day is Australias most sacred day. Our most sacred site is actually on foreign soil in the Dardanelles) When they went over the top at the battle of Lone Pine they were told no ammo in the gun we are going in with the bayonet. I dont quite understand the thinking in this instance as the with the 303s they didn't need to stop and reload. My boss who recently went to the site was shocked to find out that 2000 Australians and approx 6390 Turkish men were killed in 5 days, 5000 near the "cup" I am told that this area is the size of a tennis court. War correspondant Charles Bean who was present said "the only respect which could be paid to them was to avoid treading on their faces".
 
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#20
Maybe the British command underrated "Johnny Turk" (as he was sometimes called). With a superior attitude believed he would buckle under the face of cold steel. While I deliberately didn't talk about the war with my friend He confided the "Turk" was a "bloody good shot" He had a certain amount of respect for his enemy. The Turks were ordered " I dont order you to fight, I order you to die". The lesson being dont underestimate your enemy especially when your enemy is fighting for their homeland. Sorry to get off topic, but I think the attitude of men who are under intense combat conditions is relevant to the Civil War noteing that at Lone Pine they affixed their personal mementos and final written thoughts to the trench wall before going "over the top"- yet it is reported that not one man refused to do his duty in the face of almost certain death.
 



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