Ammo Buck And Ball

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Smoothbores have a front sight, but no rear sight. You aim them like a shotgun; put the bead on the target and fire. On the Brown Bess, if you line up the tang screw at the rear of the barrel, and the bayonet lug at the front, you get relatively good accuracy out to about 80 yards. It requires that you hold your head up straighter than we're taught in rifle marksmanship today. (Might be part of the answer to the question: "how did they fire a musket and not have those heavy hats fall off their heads?")
 

Jobe Holiday

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Location
The Perpetually Frozen North
Most respectfully, there were smoothbore muskets with front and rear sights used in the ACW. The U.S. imported, and issued, some 150,000 "Potsdam" muskets which were smoothbores with front and rear sights. The company of Hewes & Phillips also altered thousands of M-1816 and M-1835/40 smoothbore muskets to percussion and added M-1858 leaf rear sights to them.
J.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
If I'm on the battle field, I want to be able to lay an effective fire down ASAP, not have to wait until 100 yards. I'll take a 61 Springfield please.

I doubt they would issue solid shot or buck and ball, I'd guess they'd go combination. Now can a raw recruit be trusted to fire the right cartridge at the right time is my question?
Problem is that your regiment is made up of men who never learned how to judge the range, change the range on the sights or how to aim... other than point directly at the enemy. So any firing outside of about 100 yard will have little effect anyway.
So the typical combatrange was about 100yards.

And too many of your men can't even manage to correctly load their guns...
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Remember that entire regiments were essentially armed with the same type of musket, so a commander really can't position his rifle-equipped units to provide long range support by fire, then maneuver his smoothbore-equipped regiments into contact quickly as shock troops.
Actually the plan was there.
First of all, in Hardee's 1855 book the two flank companies is suppose to be fighting in front of the line in skirmish order most of the time. Screen the battalion and weakening the enemy.
Casey have the same rule, but the war department overruled it. But the text is still in the book, just marked with a O.

And it was supposed that one battalion of light troops fighting in skirmish order would screen a number of battalions of heavy infantry that was armed with smoothbores.(not covered in Hardee's book, since it don't cover brigade level tactics)

In some brigades one battalion got rifles and did focus on skirmishing and the rest smooth-bores.
In other cases the two flank companies got rifles arms, the 8 center companies smooth-bores.
So in some cases the option was there
But this was rarely done early in the war, since it do require well trained men and good coordination between the units.
And it require a brigade commander who understand this and know how to both train it and do it in combat.

And if the light infantry don't fall back the correct way, they can cover your own firing and put you in a worse situation then had they not been there... so not using them was a lot simpler and less of a risk. (if we are talking in open terrain)
Also there was early on a lack of rifles.

So for much of the war, the basic tactics when say two brigades meet each other frontally was very simple. Two lines going head to head and trading fire at rather about 100 yards.

By late war the csa did get a lot better at this with their sharpshooter battalions. And we have Shermans men experimenting with extending the formation to lower the casualties.
 

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Actually the plan was there.
First of all, in Hardee's 1855 book the two flank companies is suppose to be fighting in front of the line in skirmish order most of the time. Screen the battalion and weakening the enemy.
Casey have the same rule, but the war department overruled it. But the text is still in the book, just marked with a O.

And it was supposed that one battalion of light troops fighting in skirmish order would screen a number of battalions of heavy infantry that was armed with smoothbores.(not covered in Hardee's book, since it don't cover brigade level tactics)

In some brigades one battalion got rifles and did focus on skirmishing and the rest smooth-bores.
In other cases the two flank companies got rifles arms, the 8 center companies smooth-bores.
So in some cases the option was there
But this was rarely done early in the war, since it do require well trained men and good coordination between the units.
And it require a brigade commander who understand this and know how to both train it and do it in combat.

And if the light infantry don't fall back the correct way, they can cover your own firing and put you in a worse situation then had they not been there... so not using them was a lot simpler and less of a risk. (if we are talking in open terrain)
Also there was early on a lack of rifles.

So for much of the war, the basic tactics when say two brigades meet each other frontally was very simple. Two lines going head to head and trading fire at rather about 100 yards.

By late war the csa did get a lot better at this with their sharpshooter battalions. And we have Shermans men experimenting with extending the formation to lower the casualties.

@huskerblitz posted in this thread: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/22nd-ky-infantry-muskets.158026/page-4#post-2110230

He posts the below article which kinda describes the same thing in the 22nd KY (Union) as @thomas aagaard states above. Or at least I believe so.

00C9EF37-95DC-447F-A3AE-29496B655308.jpeg
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
"for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. "
I gotta write that down.

I completely agree.


I know buck and ball wounds were nasty. Getting hit by a buck and ball load threw soldiers back when they were hit.

@Ethan S. But you lived. At least statistically speaking, I would think your chances of surviving being hit by Buck and Ball is be far greater than being hit by a .58 Minie ball.
 

huskerblitz

Major
Joined
Jun 8, 2013
Location
Nebraska

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
A college student answered the question of the effectiveness of the rifle musket vs the smoothbore at short range back in 1999 and Ucvrelics posted that article here on Feb. 17, 2019.

https://civilwartalk.com/attachments/musket-smooth-bore-pdf.292861/
The short take of the article: under 100 yards shooting against massed troops, go with the smoothbore shooting buck and ball. Beyond 100 yards, out to 300, go with the rifle musket. Beyond 300 yards, save your ammo until the enemy gets to 300 yards.

I don't think the student brought up one other item that could make a difference, that of barrel fouling. A smooth bore with a heavily fouled bore could still be loaded with buck and ball where a rifle musket may be out of action until properly cleaned.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
I gotta write that down.
I belies Sir Isaac Newton beat you to that quote! To get hit with a full "Buck 'n' Ball" load you would have to be at nearly Point Blank range. I've played with Buck & Ball, and it spreads really fast!
J.
exactly.
Newtons 3rd law of motion:
Law III: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
A college student answered the question of the effectiveness of the rifle musket vs the smoothbore at short range back in 1999 and Ucvrelics posted that article here on Feb. 17, 2019.

https://civilwartalk.com/attachments/musket-smooth-bore-pdf.292861/
The short take of the article: under 100 yards shooting against massed troops, go with the smoothbore shooting buck and ball. Beyond 100 yards, out to 300, go with the rifle musket. Beyond 300 yards, save your ammo until the enemy gets to 300 yards.

I don't think the student brought up one other item that could make a difference, that of barrel fouling. A smooth bore with a heavily fouled bore could still be loaded with buck and ball where a rifle musket may be out of action until properly cleaned.
War is not like an rpg where you get to carry whatever you can purchase in the store before heading out on the adventure. You fire what you were issued. Troops were not trained to switch ammunition systems under varying conditions. You reach in your cartridge box, pull out a cartridge and load it. The issue of marksmanship training has already been brought up; Civil War troops were not that highly trained. Buck and ball may have been optimal under certain circumstances, and rifled fire optimal under others, but by and large infantry were maneuvered exactly the same regardless of armament, and the level of training largely negated any of the tactical nuances that we're massaging here.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Anyone that got any rules about the use?

Danish 1850ties military manuals do cover how to carry the 5 buck&ball cartridges issued.
(In the left cartridgebox of the two carried on the front of the soldier), how to recognize it by color, when to load it and similar.

But I don't remember any of the american drill books covering the use of different types of cartridges.
Since most of the text used in the civil war period books was based on Hardee's 1855 translation. And that was suppose to be used with a rifle it is not a big surprise.
Maybe Scotts older drill book got something on it?

Anyone know?
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
exactly.
Newtons 3rd law of motion:
Law III: To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.
Actually I am an engiear engenere engineer. In college I took 2 physics courses(failed one and retook it), and a lot of Math courses that included Physics problems and a cool hands-own physics lab. And I watched all the Myth Busters. So I am familiar with Newton's 3 laws and the Laws of Thermodynamics.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
The drill manuals are, to a certain extent, copies of each other. There's nothing in Scott's, or Von Steuben, or the 1764, or the French Marine drill of 1756. They all assume that there is some sort of loadable cartridge in the box, but not what it is.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
The drill manuals are, to a certain extent, copies of each other. There's nothing in Scott's, or Von Steuben, or the 1764, or the French Marine drill of 1756. They all assume that there is some sort of loadable cartridge in the box, but not what it is.
civil war period drill books, were usually a direct copy of the text in Hardee's 1855 translation of a french drill book.
Gilhams (the infantry part), US infantry tactics 1861, Casey's, Hardee's revised are all direct copies... with some changes.

But Von Steuben and Scotts got nothing to do with each other.
The first is based on Prussian drill in 1770ties.
Scotts is a translation of a much later french drillbook.
Two different traditions of drill and organisation.

But since everyone was carrying the cartridge box the same place and with rather similar weapons, and a human body being a human body there will obviously be similarities in the manual of arms.
And 50 men in two ranks are 50 men in two ranks, no matter the army and there is a limited way of getting them from A to B in an effective manner. So again there are similarities in how the US army, British and danish army did things Even if they are different traditions.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Well said.. That's really where I was going. I see a lot of similarity between Steuben and Scott, but that's getting OT. Point was that they're all silent about this ammunition.
 
Top