Discussion Flintlock weapons

Virginia Dave

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Jan 3, 2019
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Waynesboro, Virginia
How often during the war were flintlock weapons used? When I was small I worked on one of my relatives peach orchards in North Carolina. I remember him showing me his great uncles rifle he said was used in the war. It was definitely a flintlock. I was about 12 years old and still have an image of it in my mind hanging over the door in the parlor.
 

roundball1

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Dec 12, 2010
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Columbus, Georgia
How often during the war were flintlock weapons used? When I was small I worked on one of my relatives peach orchards in North Carolina. I remember him showing me his great uncles rifle he said was used in the war. It was definitely a flintlock. I was about 12 years old and still have an image of it in my mind hanging over the door in the parlor.
The book “The Flintlock Musket” by Stuart Reid states that the Battle of Shiloh holds the distinction of being the last battle in which flintlock muskets were used in any significant numbers. The illustrations show what appear to be 1816 Flintlock Muskets that were not arsenal converted to percussion, at least not yet.
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
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Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
M1816 & M1817 as well as Halls were in use still in Flintlock as late as Shiloh.
Shiloh just might be one of the last if not THE last major battle in North America fought with flintlocks.

19th Tennessee CSA--although they may have gotten some caplock smoothbores just before battle.
12th Tennessee CSA had caplock and flintlock muskets
14th Tennessee CSA
20th Tennessee CSA had flintlocks until March 1862, then went to Enfields
22nd Tennessee may have had English muskets and some flintlocks.
23rd Tennessee CSA
24th Tennessee CSA ostensibly had 1841 Mississippi rifles and flintlock .69s.
28th Tennessee CSA had a mix of modern P53 Enfields and flintlock .69s.
33rd Tennessee had flintlocks, apparently to augment civilian hunting guns and shotguns
15th Tennessee had a mix of caplock and flintlock .69 smoothbores, apparently
6th Tennessee had a mix
So to the 9th TN also.
The Crescent City Infantry had a bunch of smoothbore muskets, 1819 Halls, and shotguns.
Apparently some un-modified flintlock Halls breechloaders were use by the 2nd, 6th, 7th, 10th Arkansas Inf.
3rd KY CSA had a mix of caplock and flintlocks.
15th Mississippi had a mix of rifles and smoothbores, including flintlocks.
Lots and lots more percussion converted flintlocks.


The last use of flintlocks in major battles in South America must surely be during the 1864-1870 Paraguay War or War of the Triple Alliance when Paraguay was decimated by Imperial Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay... Certainly large quantities of India-pattern British flintlock muskets had been sold to Paraguay after the Napoleonic Wars into the early 19th Century.

The 7th Texas showed up in Tennessee with 750 men. Their arms consisted of 123 shotguns--of which, 25 were in need of repair--150 miscellaneous "rifles"--48 in "poor condition"--and 104 percussion muskets given to them while they marched through Louisiana. A total of 377 weapons for those 750 men.

By August 1861 Tennessee had raised 17,541 infantry of which 69 percent were armed with flintlocks, 20 percent with smoothbore percussion guns, and 11 percent with rifles.
Apparently the 47th TN had 10 different makes and models of firearms in their possession!
 

FedericoFCavada

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Location
San Antonio, Texas
The book “The Flintlock Musket” by Stuart Reid states that the Battle of Shiloh holds the distinction of being the last battle in which flintlock muskets were used in any significant numbers. The illustrations show what appear to be 1816 Flintlock Muskets that were not arsenal converted to percussion, at least not yet.
Yes, and he found an instance where some Tennesseean CSA troops actually smashed their flintlocks after they replaced them with more modern arms captured from the battlefield... They didn't want anyone else to have them foisted off on them!

As a novice flintlock shooter, I can really, really empathize! Surprised I haven't done mine the same treatment sometimes!
 

Harms88

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North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
The only really big time I can think of flintlocks being used heavily is that of Shiloh, where we know at least one regiment of CS troops had to get up to near point blank range to use them. But we know of the occasional soldier that did use them but by mid-1863, there is so many Enfields and Springfields lying about that flintlocks were virtually non-existent in the regular armies.

I do believe that the Battle of Griswold during Sherman's March the Georgia Militia had many older fellas who fought with flintlocks. But that would have been the extent of their use by that time.
 

poorjack

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Jul 17, 2015
Location
NC
How often during the war were flintlock weapons used? When I was small I worked on one of my relatives peach orchards in North Carolina. I remember him showing me his great uncles rifle he said was used in the war. It was definitely a flintlock. I was about 12 years old and still have an image of it in my mind hanging over the door in the parlor.

Not to cast aspersions, but I'd be careful of family lore.

Back to topic, flinters were issued and used early, but they were discarded as fast as possible for percussion.
 

Rhea Cole

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Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The Battle of Mills Creek began at midnight on January 19, 1862, Confederate soldiers began a nine mile march in hopes of surprising Union soldiers under George Thomas. Like their forebears in the Revolution, they were armed with a mix of flintlock muskets, flintlock shotguns & percussion hunting rifles. Six hours into their march, southern troops blundered into the Union picket line & the battle commenced. Adding to the challenge of fighting amid the ridges & ravines that crisscrossed the battlefield, rain, sleet & freezing rain came down in torrents.

"The rain was descending in torrent & our flint lock muskets were in bad condition, not one in three could fire. We did the best we could with our old flintlocks. Mine went off once during the action, & although I wiped the 'pan' & primed a dozen times it would do so no more."
Unknown Confederate Soldier


Keeping with the antique warfare theme, the 9th Ohio fixed bayonets & made one of the few classic bayonet charges of the war. Just like in olden days, they drove in the Confederate left. What followed was a howling run to the rear that did not stop until they staggered into their camp, nine miles away. Staying only long enough to catch their breath, the Confederates crossed the Cumberland River to safety. In the morning, the advancing Federals found the camp almost intact, horses, equipment, tents, artillery & most of the former occupant's personal items had been left in place. In a scene straight out of the 14th Century, the delighted Union soldiers looted the camp.

"We have taken some of the nicest clothing I ever saw, broadcloth coats worth from five to twenty dollars a piece. I got a satin vest worth five dollars, a shirt worth a dollar & a half, & a silver-handled stiletto too."
Ohio Soldier

Sixteen of the twenty two Tennessee regiments raised by Governor Harris by May 1861 were armed with flintlocks. Some of them were Tower of London muskets gathered up from the Battle of New Orleans. In June, when Tennessee seceded, 1/3rd of Tennessee counties rejected secession. A sort of intramural civil war ensued using flintlock shotguns, squirrel rifles & antique flintlocks that had rusted away in state arsenals since the Jackson Administration. A year into the war, January 1862, the Tennessee infantry attempting to hold the approaches to Cumberland gap were still armed with flintlock antiques. The Battle of Mills Creek was the last time most of the surviving participants saw their flintlocks because the exasperated soldiers smashed them against trees or simply threw them into the mud. Being unarmed was better than toting a heavy worthless muskets around.


Off & on during the first year & more of the war, flintlock shot guns were the only armament some Tennessee cavalrymen could lay their hands on.
 
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CowCavalry

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
Yes, and he found an instance where some Tennesseean CSA troops actually smashed their flintlocks after they replaced them with more modern arms captured from the battlefield... They didn't want anyone else to have them foisted off on them!

As a novice flintlock shooter, I can really, really empathize! Surprised I haven't done mine the same treatment sometimes!

:smile:
 

Harms88

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North of the Wall & South of the Canucks
A few more specific examples:

John Burns is one of the most famous civilians of the Civil War from the North. At Gettysburg, during the first day of battle, he grabbed his flintlock and powder horn and joined in the fighting around McPherson's Ridge. But as he approached the fighting, he came across a wounded soldier and asked if he could grab his more modern weapon, which the soldier agreed.

But he most certainly would have used his flintlock if he hadn't gotten the new one loaned to him. (On an interesting note, after being wounded, he convinced the Confederates he was searching for his invalid wife who had wandered onto the battlefield and had got caught in the cross-fire. They tended his wounds and let him on his way).

John_Burns_1.png


Georgia's State Arsenal during 1860 had only 362 muskets and 297 pistols which forced Georgian regiments to be equipped almost exclusively with flintlocks until the factories across the South could start cranking out enough weapons (and enough Yankess could be killed) to start equipping them with greater numbers of modern weapons.

The 1st Florida was intially drilled with flintlocks before the Confederate government issued them 1855 rifled muskets.

The following link shows that a good number of regiments at Shiloh either had them until right before the battle, or carried them into the fight.

http://shilohdiscussiongroup.com/topic/2070-confederate-firearms-by-regiment-for-shiloh/
 
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major bill

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Aug 25, 2012
I would expect some regiments, both North and South, trained at muster camps with flint locks. Many would have received better arm before departing the state. To be honest drilling with flint locks would be less embarrassing than drill with stick or poles.
 

DixieRifles

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As a novice flintlock shooter, I can really, really empathize! Surprised I haven't done mine the same treatment sometimes!
I wanted a single-shot pistol for Christmas and really considered buying a Flintlock---which would be my first. I think I have only shot a flintlock one time.
Then I came to my senses and bought a percussion dueling pistol with full sights and set trigger.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I wanted a single-shot pistol for Christmas and really considered buying a Flintlock---which would be my first. I think I have only shot a flintlock one time.
Then I came to my senses and bought a percussion dueling pistol with full sights and set trigger.
One of our neighbors, when I was a kid, built a pair of dueling pistols & all the traps. He worked on the project for a year, as I remember. On a fateful Saturday morning, he went into his backyard to try them out. Our street backed up on a bluff, so there was a safety berm built in. He carefully aimed & fired. A few minutes later, our phone rang & his wife asked my dad to hustle over there. Dad found him lying in the yard with his pistol ten yards away. As dad put it, 'He was bleeding like a stuck pig.'

After taking careful aim at a power pole, our neighbor touched the hair trigger & got the full dueling pistol experience when the ball bounced off the pole & hit him square on the right shin bone. Dad said that a splinter of bone could be seen sticking out of the wound. Dad drove him to the hospital in their car, he did not want to get blood our seats. I don't know if the other pistol was ever fired or not.

Consider yourself forewarned.
 

Mark Neuman

Cadet
Joined
Mar 27, 2019
How often during the war were flintlock weapons used? When I was small I worked on one of my relatives peach orchards in North Carolina. I remember him showing me his great uncles rifle he said was used in the war. It was definitely a flintlock. I was about 12 years old and still have an image of it in my mind hanging over the door in the parlor.
At Fredericksburg, 13 flintlock muskets were still being used by soldiers in Lee’s army, which was the South’s best-armed army, so other Southern armies probably used flintlocks later than Lee’s.
 

Peter Stines

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Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
I hope you'll post a disclaimer that this is NOT SAFE and not to do this at home or with live rounds. He had a fairly serious hang-fire and could have been hurt. Historical accuracy is one thing, but you could get an authentic wound doing this. (Imagine what could have happened if a powder charge ignited while he was pouring in down bore ???
 

CSA Today

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Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
How often during the war were flintlock weapons used? When I was small I worked on one of my relatives peach orchards in North Carolina. I remember him showing me his great uncles rifle he said was used in the war. It was definitely a flintlock. I was about 12 years old and still have an image of it in my mind hanging over the door in the parlor.
I don't how many but some of the Confederates at Shiloh were armed with flintlocks and pikes.
 

CowCavalry

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
I hope you'll post a disclaimer that this is NOT SAFE and not to do this at home or with live rounds. He had a fairly serious hang-fire and could have been hurt. Historical accuracy is one thing, but you could get an authentic wound doing this. (Imagine what could have happened if a powder charge ignited while he was pouring in down bore ???
Duly noted. It is not my video, I found it on youtube and I do agree with you, I am especially concerned with the hang fire and how quickly he brought the piece down from his shoulder as if to examine it when it went off. Should have kept it to his shoulder and the muzzle down range for a minute..
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
Note well too that firing a musket that rapidly would produce a lot of high impacts downrange... NCOs often had to slow things down for that reason. Certainly these musketeers would have been drilled to that level of proficiency!
 
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