How did the Federal troopers' repeaters affect battles?

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#1
Are there any histories or studies that show how the Fed Cav was benefitted from these repeater carbines in particular battles. I read Foote's account of Buford at Gettysburg, but there is not a whole lot there on this account (love the book, however).
 

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#3
I believe you, but then Shelby Foote is completely wrong about this. He claims that Buford had the repeaters.
 

ucvrelics

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#7
All I know is the well know quote from an unknown Confederate Soldier. "Them Yankees can load that gun on Sunday and shoot all week."
 

civilwarincolor

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#8
Foote is a very good novelist. But he is not a historian.
Historians have footnotes in their books and give us the source for his information. Foote don't.

Trust johan_steele, on this... not Foote.
@johan_steele has the distinct advantage of being alive to defend his comments while Foote does not. Foote was great at being able to put you into the moment. Sort of like watching a movie about the CW if there story is good and enough of the historical elements are correct you will forgive a few that they got wrong.

I watched an old movie from the 50's a couple of months ago. Due to budget reasons they used stock footage of aircraft for some dogfights. Growing up in an Air Force family I notice these things. They took off in one type of plane, fought battles in a 2nd and landed in a 3rd. I kept saying stuff like "Oh my gosh, I don't believe it!" My wife asked what the problem was when I told her she did not even realize it. She was focused on the story had no idea what had happened to the planes.
 
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#9
It would be interesting to know what would have happened if someone besides James Ripley had been in charge of federal weapons acquisitions. Ripley was adamantly opposed to adopting any repeating firearms -- he was replaced in September 1863. Had Ripley not been chief of ordnance in 1861, and somebody had been in charge who was open to new ideas, what proportion of federal troops would have been carrying repeating rifles by 1863? or by 1865? And how would history have been changed?
 

johan_steele

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#13
Is there a breakdown of just what kind of breech loading carbines Buford's men had 7/1/63?
Yes but I do not have it handy. IIRC it was a mix of Sharps, Burnsides & Smiths. Not every one of Buford's men was outfitted as Cav was supposed to be with a saber, pistol & carbine. There weren't enough arms to go around.

The charge that Buford had the Spencer carbine is easily disproven by looking up when it became available which was not until October. The only Spencer's on the field at Gettysburg were rifles in the hands of some of Custers men who were not on the field until well after Buford had made his delaying action that set him in history.
 
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thomas aagaard

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#14
@johan_steele has the distinct advantage of being alive to defend his comments while Foote does not. Foote was great at being able to put you into the moment.
There is nothing to defend. I think Foote is one of the best at what he did... write great narratives.
But without footnotes and sources his books are not "historical books"
And surly he knew that when he did his writing... and clearly this did not hurt his career.

It would be interesting to know what would have happened if someone besides James Ripley had been in charge of federal weapons acquisitions. Ripley was adamantly opposed to adopting any repeating firearms -- he was replaced in September 1863.
Giving untrained men repeaters would just have wasted a lot of cartridges... something the north was not able to supply in the needed numbers... So correct decision imo.

Similar in my opinion 80% of the men would have been better of with smoothbores firing buckshots than rifled muskets.

I do think focusing the national production on breachloaded rifles would have made sense, since imports could deal with the most pressing need and then start issuing breachloaded firearms to the best shots in the experienced regiments. This would improve their firepower and their survival rate.
 

Craig L Barry

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#15
I was going to let all this pass, as I actually can't add that much to the discussion other than what has already been posted. However, it is something that sticks in my craw a bit and maybe it shouldn't. First, Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said: "You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts." I have used that one myself so many times I sometimes forget where exactly I first heard it, but it stuck with me. Similar in spirit is what I usually respond when people ask why I don't write something more commercially viable than history books...in other words "fiction." It's because most of what is published as history is already full of unintentional fiction. And Moynihan has the right of it.

I have found most writers can be quite prickly when you point out factual discrepancies, even if they asked you for the feedback. There was a recent book signing at Stones River battlefield and I bought a copy of the book as I often do when an author has a table set up and will be presenting something as a "subject matter expert" or on events relevant to the programs for that weekend. The book was on the Orphan Brigade and it was a novel, not a history. The author asked if I would provide feedback on the "history" upon which he loosely hung his narrative. Well, you know where this story is going. I dog-eared the pages with factual or contextual errors for both the history and and material culture of the time period. It was basically every page, some pages both top and bottom. No extra credit for predicting he was not really interested in finding any of that out.

Similarly, Krause published a book in 2005 called Warman's Civil War Weapons. It was so full of obvious mistakes that it could have been passed off as not only fiction, but perhaps as comedy. Before a review of the book was printed I offered the publisher my comments in case the author wanted to offer some explanation for the mistakes, but really all he could hope to do was make corrections for a future edition. Again, no extra credit for predicting their reaction was to offer a variety of excuses, etc. Anything but "own the errors." The same thing is in play here, the facts simply are what they are and were Shelby Foote living, the facts such as they are would not be any different. Every work great and small has its share of errors. Maybe he would apologize for the small factual error about repeaters at Gettysburg---writers (self included)--- all make errors. I hate reading my own material because all I see are the mistakes. And there are plenty. Or maybe he wouldn't. We will never know.
 

rob63

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#16
It would be interesting to know what would have happened if someone besides James Ripley had been in charge of federal weapons acquisitions. Ripley was adamantly opposed to adopting any repeating firearms -- he was replaced in September 1863. Had Ripley not been chief of ordnance in 1861, and somebody had been in charge who was open to new ideas, what proportion of federal troops would have been carrying repeating rifles by 1863? or by 1865? And how would history have been changed?
This has been debated a few times before so I won't go into much detail, but the answer to your question is not at all. Spencer was given large contracts for his gun as soon as it had been tested. The delay in getting them to the troops was due to production problems, not contracts. Ripley's interference is a myth based upon a romanticized story of Lincoln's involvement in testing the weapon that gets repeated uncritically. Ripley literally gave Spencer a contract the same day that it was first approved for adoption. It took Spencer another 2 years to finally begin deliveries after he received his first contract.
 
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dlofting

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#17
Similar in my opinion 80% of the men would have been better of with smoothbores firing buckshots than rifled muskets.
Not sure about this, although I am ready to be corrected. Although many soldiers, north and south, came from cities where the possession and use of rifles/muskets was not the norm, many more came from farms/rural areas and would have been quite familiar with firearms. Yes, shooting in combat is quite different than shooting a deer or turkey, but the skill/principle is the same.
 

thomas aagaard

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#18
In late 1863 Meade ordered 10 rounds to be issued to every infantry man in his army... to familiarize the men with their guns... Even after Gettysburg way to many men had no clue about how to actually hit anything with his weapons... and needed to do more live fire to be able to just load and fire his gun correctly.
Most soldiers would have a bigger change at hitting something with buckshot at ranged less than 100 yards.

(and we got a number of cases of regiments going into combat with out any training in using their guns)

Also, hunting with a shotgun or similar and shooting deer at rather close range, is not the same as hitting a line of infantry at 200 yards in combat... hitting anything at long range take a good marksman and one that can judge the distance very precisely. (since the velocity is so low)
 

cash

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#19
Are there any histories or studies that show how the Fed Cav was benefitted from these repeater carbines in particular battles. I read Foote's account of Buford at Gettysburg, but there is not a whole lot there on this account (love the book, however).
Buford didn't have repeaters at Gettysburg.

Edit: I see this has already been pointed out. Sorry for the duplicate.
 



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