"Confederate soldiers were often better armed than Federal troops"

BillO

Captain
Joined
Feb 2, 2010
Location
Quinton, VA.
I think not. I do suspect that the Southern boys received better ammo than the feds. The North bought most of their powder from contractors while the South had to build their powder mills so their powder would have been more consistent.
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
How pray tell is using more advanced captured enemy equipment to equip one's own troops a "swindle"? BG Gorgas equipped a substantial portion of the Confederate Army with weapons recovered from the battlefield and repaired. Perhaps the Confederates didn't actually surrender themselves and their arms at Vicksburg and the assertion that they did is "fake news"?
Just calling it by one of the more colorful and entertaining terms I've heard a lot of folks call Grant's actions in a likewise light-hearted way. After all many soldiers back then accused the Quartermaster Department, (sometimes rightfully...) of swindling them so if it was a swindle it was fair play.:D

Not trying to paint the man in a bad light, I would've done the same thing in his position. It would've been a swindle if he hadn't and those guns go into storage or re-issued to other troops elsewhere, and leave him and his men with the obsolete stuff. Perhaps it could be called a "Do unto them before they do unto me!" type of affair.:bounce:
 

14NYSM

Private
Joined
Sep 18, 2021
Gentlemen, when the above cited article was written, there was yet to be done any serious investigation into the types and quality of imported arms that found their ways into Confederate forces. Now we know that the Enfield rifles sold to both the North and South at this time were not the same quality as those issued to and carried by Her Majesty's forces. In 1967, anyone who came across a three-bander Enfield was sure it saw Confederate service, even it it had been imported from India. sure, the North wound up with junky European surplus, but they were surplussed from those countries, not made for export like the Enfields. Southerners also relied on civilian weapons more than the North.
 

Scott1967

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Gentlemen, when the above cited article was written, there was yet to be done any serious investigation into the types and quality of imported arms that found their ways into Confederate forces. Now we know that the Enfield rifles sold to both the North and South at this time were not the same quality as those issued to and carried by Her Majesty's forces. In 1967, anyone who came across a three-bander Enfield was sure it saw Confederate service, even it it had been imported from India. sure, the North wound up with junky European surplus, but they were surplussed from those countries, not made for export like the Enfields. Southerners also relied on civilian weapons more than the North.
I don't think it mattered what you carried early in the war because the tactics were still far behind the weaponry that changed when troops entrenched more and used the rifled musket to its full extent in clear open ground , Up to that point the smoothbore with Buck & Ball was the equal of the rifle.

Rifled Cannon on the other hand proved very effective especially on the Union side with the 3 inch Ord proving the best all round cannon of the war , The AoNV and Lee preferred the 12 pdr Napoleon which was fine on the defensive but when your attacking is next to pointless wrong fuses of not the lack of rifled cannon cost lee badly at Gettysburg on the third day imho.
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
I'd just say it comes to time and place on whether or not they were better armed.

Now say at the Battle of Franklin, Dug Gap, Mill Creek, Shiloh and so forth? Absolutely not, Federals had that advantage.
I don't know the overall comparison of the arms of each side at Shiloh, but I know that many federal units still had converted flintlocks. My ancestor's Illinois regiment didn't get Enfields until after Shiloh. The regimental history describes soldiers having to rest the ramrod against a tree to force the rounds down fouled barrels.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
There are some who believe that the Enfield was a better rifle than the Springfield.
By 1861 a machine made Enfield with the British made cartridges was a far fare better weapon than a Springfield with American made cartridges.

The Springfield would have a bullet that resulted in heavy fouling after just a few rounds and the sight on the weapon was not correct to that bullet. (so even if you where a good marksman, your "Tools" where bad)

The Enfield could be fired all day long and the last shot would be loaded as easily as the first round. And the sights where actually correct to the bullet and powder charge used.

So some csa soldiers at Shiloh where lucky by having both...

But enfields used by the federals (and some of the csa enfields) where handmade and as such not as good quality and not made of interchangeable parts.
And they used the same bullet for the enfield as for the springfield. Resulting in both weapons using a bullet that was not correct to the sights... and they caused heavy fouling.
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
I don't know the overall comparison of the arms of each side at Shiloh, but I know that many federal units still had converted flintlocks. My ancestor's Illinois regiment didn't get Enfields until after Shiloh. The regimental history describes soldiers having to rest the ramrod against a tree to force the rounds down fouled barrels.
That's probably still better armed....

There were some Arkansas units that list only "squirrel rifles" and shotguns as the arms for most companies in a few regiments, plus the CS Army still had a lot of flintlocks in the ranks. I halfway wonder if Shiloh was the worst battle of the whole war for the whole CS Army weapons and organization wise.

Here's the best study I've seen on the Confederate gun situation at Shiloh:

https://shilohdiscussiongroup.com/topic/2070-confederate-firearms-by-regiment-for-shiloh/
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
Without knowing much about this, I suspect that instead of going through lengthy paperwork, Grant simply (on paper) pretended that the arms his own troops left behind had were surrendered by the captured troops, and so those were the arms he gave to the quartermaster to return to the Union depot, and he did not list the better Enfield arms as captured, but pretended (on paper) that these were already in his troop's hands.
That's a paperwork adjustment, not really a swindle.
I've heard that arms lost were often carried on the books of the unit until some catastrophe occurred, and then a report would be created that, say, 150 muskets had been carried away by a flash flood and so lost. That balanced the books.
I've read that in Indian War times, when cavalry troopers would desert, they would be reported as taking with them two or three arms, even if they didn't really take any arms - and and so the company books were balanced!!
 
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14NYSM

Private
Joined
Sep 18, 2021
By 1861 a machine made Enfield with the British made cartridges was a far fare better weapon than a Springfield with American made cartridges.

The Springfield would have a bullet that resulted in heavy fouling after just a few rounds and the sight on the weapon was not correct to that bullet. (so even if you where a good marksman, your "Tools" where bad)

The Enfield could be fired all day long and the last shot would be loaded as easily as the first round. And the sights where actually correct to the bullet and powder charge used.

So some csa soldiers at Shiloh where lucky by having both...

But enfields used by the federals (and some of the csa enfields) where handmade and as such not as good quality and not made of interchangeable parts.
And they used the same bullet for the enfield as for the springfield. Resulting in both weapons using a bullet that was not correct to the sights... and they caused heavy fouling.
Those rifles made at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield were indeed "Machine made." However, the rifles that were sold to the Confederacy were "Tower" marked and so each part was made in a different shop, then the parts hand fitted in the Tower armory (or Armoury) If you have ever handled a "Tower" marked Enfield without the broad arrow stamp, you would see the quality is not what was expected.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Those rifles made at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield were indeed "Machine made." However, the rifles that were sold to the Confederacy were "Tower" marked and so each part was made in a different shop, then the parts hand fitted in the Tower armory (or Armoury) If you have ever handled a "Tower" marked Enfield without the broad arrow stamp, you would see the quality is not what was expected.
There was one private arms manufacture that made enfields with machines. London Armoury Co
And the CSA agent Caleb Huse managed to get enfields from them.
 

Craig L Barry

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Location
Murfreesboro, TN
Without getting too deep into the trees here, let me clarify a couple things:

"Tower" marked commercially made Birmingham P53s were produced from hand-made parts but were not assembled at the "Tower" or ever got anywhere near an inspection with gauges at the "Tower." It is important to understand that the Tower was a government facility operated and staffed by the War Department (British Govt) for purposes of inspecting commercial arms purchased on contracts for their own infantry. The Tower was not ever assembling or inspecting arms on any commercial contracts for foreign governments like the US or CS during the Civil War.

Yes LACo produced machine made parts interchangeable P53s which they sold to whichever side had the money to pay for them and the US and CS were both customers. So were other foreign governments. The minimum contract was for 10,000 units. Massachusetts buyers beat Caleb Huse to the first contract with LACo by a few hours so not all of them went to the Confederacy. LACo had the same machinery that RSAF used in general. Look there is a lot more to all this than can be fit into an internet forum post. Both Suppliers to the CS books have long and detailed sections on these topics. At the time the LACO P53s were perhaps considered the equal of the US 1861, and an argument could be made that the design was superior in some respects, but that is a discussion for another day.
 
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Joined
Aug 1, 2020
Location
Mid Hudson Valley, New York
+1 on Mr. Barry's "Suppliers to the Confederacy" if you are interested in this topic. The ACW Enfield pattern rifle and rifle musket were produced by many different makers but none were sold to the USA or CSA from the British government's Royal Small Arms Factory. The London Armory Company rifle muskets that I have personally viewed appeared to be of very high quality.

Bill
 
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