Battles with Spencer Carbine usage question

JimW

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Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Group,

I have a couple of questions that I have been trying to determine the answers to.

What is the most known battle that Spencer Carbines were used in? I find them mentioned at Yellow Tavern but not much else?

Is there any artwork depicting Union Cavalry with them? I have been looking but don't see any.

Many thanks for any input!
 
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May 1, 2015
Location
Upstate N.Y.
The first delivery of Model 1860 Spencer carbine was in early October,1863. By the end of the war in April, 1865 nearly 50000 were in service of the Union. So pretty much any battle from October, 1863 would probably have had some of the Spencers. There were Spencer rifles at Gettysburg
 

JimW

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Joined
Jun 9, 2020
In the Battle of Selma all Yankee troops had Spencer's
A good start for me then!

I am trying to find a painting of the troops with the carbines in action; not much luck.

The first delivery of Model 1860 Spencer carbine was in early October,1863. By the end of the war in April, 1865 nearly 50000 were in service of the Union. So pretty much any battle from October, 1863 would probably have had some of the Spencers. There were Spencer rifles at Gettysburg

I am familiar with the timeline; but I can't find the detail of where they were used to effect; and as stated I'm really looking for imagery.


Thanks to both of you so far!
 

Rhea Cole

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The first ful scale use of Spencer Repeating Rifles took place dieting the June 23rd opening of the Tullahoma Campaign. Wilder’s Brigade of mounted infantry broke through Hoover’s Gap & held it against determined attacks by CS infantry. At Guy’s Gap, a regiment of cavalry armed with Spencers participated in the successful assault on Shelbyville.

On order to take advantage of the firepower of the Spencer, Wilder deployed his men in a single line standing 6 feet apart. That made his front equal to a conventional unit 3 or 4 times their size. His men filled the canvas bags used to feed the horses as ammo pouches. A small two wheeled ammo cart carried reserve ammunition. Despite fears at the time, Wilder’s men never ran out of ammunition.

It was for Wider’s Hoover’s Gap action that The Lightening Brigade earned its name. Because of the superiority of the Spencer & the high quality of the leadership, Wilder’s men believed they were superior to anything the CSA could throw at them.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
"determined attacks" - 4 regiments of infantry with the high ground and artillery superiority beat back 2 regiment.

At Hoover's gap Wilder's brigade fought in close order, two rank lines. They were trained as infantry, and fought as infantry.

At Hoover's Gap, the 17th Indiana certainly "ran out of ammunition", but this appears to be that they simply emptied their magazines and then got bayonet charged before they could reload.
 

Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
Group,

I have a couple of questions that I have been trying to determine the answers to.

What is the most known battle that Spencer Carbines were used in? I find them mentioned at Yellow Tavern but not much else?

Is there any artwork depicting Union Cavalry with them? I have been looking but don't see any.

Many thanks for any input!

Trevilian Station.
 

bobinwmass

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Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
In a letter written July 19th, 1864 to the Spencer Rifle Company, Jos. R. Hawley, Colonel of the 7th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and then commanding the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Corps, writes-
"Sir - My regiment has now used the Spencer carbine since January, and has tried it in the battles of Olustee, Fla., and Chester Hill and Drury Bluff, May 14th and 16th, in Virginia, besides numerous picket combats and skirmishes. I am more firmly convinced than ever of the vast superiority of breech-loaders. For army purposes they are best: in many cases a magazine breech-loader doubles and I might say quadruples the efficiency of the soldier...At Olustee, the 7th Conn. opened the fight as skirmishers, and came away from it as the rear guard, enthusiastically in favor of this new arm. Once about dark on the night of May 14th, and three times in the heavy fog on the morning of the 16th, at Drury's Bluff, the enemy assaulted the position of the right on a knoll 400 yards in front of the rebel breastworks. Each time the rebels came very near, twice at least they must have been within forty yards before our side opened fire. In neither case did our fire last over three minutes, and when it ceased in obedience to the bugle signal, in neither case was a rebel to be seen or was there one firing at us. The terrible roll that the Carbines beat had utterly routed them; those not disabled had run back or in some way disappeared in the darkness or fog behind stumps or logs. This is not exaggeration I am trying to state the facts as I saw and heard them myself..."
 

bobinwmass

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Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
Regarding the link above, despite the info leading me there saying they were using Spencer Carbines, they do not look like Spencer's to me.
Seems strange replying to myself. Despite finding this image on the Military Wiki website under the listing on Spencer's, and the caption under the image proclaiming it to be of the 1st Maine Cavalry using Spencer's, Spencer's do not have patch boxes. I suspect they may actually be Sharps carbines in the drawing, and the Military Wiki posting is incorrect. Who woulda thought you can't believe everything you read on the internet.
 

bobinwmass

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Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
The 1st Maine Cavalry were issued Spencers on 10th October 1864, replacing their Sharps and Burnsides.
That may explain the confusion for whoever made the Military Wiki posting, as in that posting it says the image was of the Battle of Middleburg which I admit I never heard of and just looked up. Apparently the battle occurred in June 1863 prior to Gettysburg, so the 1st Maine would not have had Spencers yet. Perhaps the Military Wiki author knew about them having Spencers later, but was not aware they had different weapons prior to that.
 

JimW

Private
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Regarding the link above, despite the info leading me there saying they were using Spencer Carbines, they do not look like Spencer's to me.

bobinwmass; I had seen that image; and have to agree that it looks like a Sharps with a patchbox.

Trevilian Station.

Eric; Thank you! I used this to do some Google-fu and found a painting called "Distinguished Gallantry" that is closer to what I am looking for. I'd like something a little more "sweeping" than this one if that makes sense?

"Distinguished Gallantry"
 
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Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Location
Columbus, OH
Eric; Thank you! I used this to do some Google-fu and found a painting called "Distinguished Gallantry" that is closer to what I am looking for. I'd like something a little more "sweeping" than this one if that makes sense?

"Distinguished Gallantry"
I am very well acquainted with that Gallon painting. I took Dale Gallon and a representative of Norwich University to the Trevilian Station battlefield and spent a day with them there before Dale started painting, as I really wanted to make sure that Dale got the terrain right. The (then) Civil War Trust (now, American Battlefield Trust) had just acquired the land where the action depicted took place, and it was my first time on that piece of ground--the prior owners were extremely hostile and once threatened me with a shotgun for bringing a tour bus near their house, but not on their property--so that was a very fun day for me.

If memory serves me correctly--it's been a while--I believe that I wrote the essay on the Certificate of Authenticity that went with those prints.

I am unaware of any other image that will give you that level of detail of a Spencer carbines. Another of Dale's shows the Spencer rifle, but it's not the carbine.
 
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