Breechldrs Influence of repeating rifles in the Civil War

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
This is the only reference to logistics I've seen in the thread. Supplying an army with ammunition of different calibers is a logistical nightmare.

The NATO cartridge in our own world is a testament to this. Any ammo box will work for anyone who needs one.
Wilder's men used the nosebag for feeding their horses as an ammo pouch. They claimed to have never run short of ammunition.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Absolutely not. The Spencer required 4 drill movements to load the next round and recock the hammer. The rate of fire was similar to that achieved with Trapdoor Springfields whilst the magazine lasted, and when the magazine was empty it was outperformed by trapdoor conversions. Hence the flaw in the argument that Custer would have survived with Spencers; Spencers had less firepower than his BL carbines.

The M1 OTOH is a true self-loading rifle.

As we've discussed, Wilder's men were infantry, and deployed in the standard 2 rank, close order line. Their 4 regiments outnumbered Bate's 2 regiments by about 2:1, and yet the 37th Georgia actually broke the 17th Indiana with a bayonet charge (as we discussed six months back).
The similarities I indicated are accurate. Obviously, the list of differences is as long as your arm. My 10 year old granddaughter can fire a Spencer on a rest with great accuracy & at a decent rate of fire. It is a very well balanced & pleasant gun to shoot.

Unfortunately, Wilder did not deploy his men in a standard two rank infantry formation as you maintain. As per his report, he had his men strung out in a single skirmish line six feet apart. Anyways, all this stuff is there in the books for all to read & has nothing to do with the theme of this thread.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
At Hoover's Gap, Wilder listed 61 casualties, Bate recorded 146. The numbers engaged changed dramatically as the day went on, at a certain point Wilder withdrew, so none of he men were present. The five books I have at hand on the Tullahoma Campaign do not run to bean counting, so exact numbers are not listed.

All right, how many regiments are present?

Bate's after action report listed superior (Federal) numbers as the reason for the outcome of the fighting, and he said he had 650 engaged.

Of course, what is important is the fact that unlike a conventional cavalry unit, Wilder was able to hold his position until Thomas could send infantry to his support.
Well, yes, it's a mounted infantry unit; the brigade isn't a "conventional" cavalry unit because they're an infantry unit which rode to the battle, and were equipped with infantry weapons (long arms).
 

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
All right, how many regiments are present?

Bate's after action report listed superior (Federal) numbers as the reason for the outcome of the fighting, and he said he had 650 engaged.


Well, yes, it's a mounted infantry unit; the brigade isn't a "conventional" cavalry unit because they're an infantry unit which rode to the battle, and were equipped with infantry weapons (long arms).
You got that right, Wilder's men were adamant that they were not cavalry. They even went so far as to pick the yellow piping off of their jackets. The whole point is that Wilder's Brigade was a new kind of infantry force that used horses for transportation & had the firepower of a unit 3 times their size. Coupled with two batteries of mounted artillery, Wilder had taken the original dragoon concept & raised it to a new level.

As to poor old Bate's report, he & his men were completely overwhelmed by the fire superiority of Wilder's combine force of repeating rifles & artillery. Bate really thought he was fighting a force many times larger than it was. All of that is covered in the five books I can see on the shelf behind my computer screen. I encourage you to read David Powell & Wittenburg's new Tullahoma book. Dr. Harold Bradley has written about the Tullahoma Campaign for 30 years. I don't have it here at the present, but there is a history of the Lightening Brigade from the 1890's that is pretty good.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The whole point is that Wilder's Brigade was a new kind of infantry force that used horses for transportation & had the firepower of a unit 3 times their size.
Really? When do they show this by beating a unit of superior size in a firefight?

As to poor old Bate's report, he & his men were completely overwhelmed by the fire superiority of Wilder's combine force of repeating rifles & artillery. Bate really thought he was fighting a force many times larger than it was.
So he thought he was outnumbered. Was he wrong?
If so, how do you know? Wilder brought four regiments and Bate brought two, and you apparently don't have any "bean counting" numbers...
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Really? When do they show this by beating a unit of superior size in a firefight?


So he thought he was outnumbered. Was he wrong?
If so, how do you know? Wilder brought four regiments and Bate brought two, and you apparently don't have any "bean counting" numbers...
As I think my reply above indicates, Bate thought he was facing a force much larger than it was. In any case, it got dark & infantry support came up for both sides. Wilder had secured Hoover's Gap (which if you have ever seen was quite an accomplishment) & Bragg's right flank was irretrievably turned. The deed was done in a day with trivial casualties instead of the three days & 2,000 casualties George Thomas had feared. Only torrential rains stood between Bragg at Tullahoma & total defeat. That is a nice day's work in anybody's book.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
You can read Bate's report, it is in the O.R. I actually have my own research topics to work on.
Bate states that he was able to drive the enemy back a mile into Hoover Gap from where they started.
He says that the enemy used "their excess of numbers" to turn his flank and enfilate the 20th TN. He gives no numerical estimate, just that he was heavily outnumbered.

So. How big was Wilder's force in reality? He'd been issued 2,000 Spencers, after all, and if he was using all of them he'd outnumber Bate 3:1, which I'd call heavy by any measure.
 

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Bate states that he was able to drive the enemy back a mile into Hoover Gap from where they started.
He says that the enemy used "their excess of numbers" to turn his flank and enfilate the 20th TN. He gives no numerical estimate, just that he was heavily outnumbered.

So. How big was Wilder's force in reality? He'd been issued 2,000 Spencers, after all, and if he was using all of them he'd outnumber Bate 3:1, which I'd call heavy by any measure.
if you want to know all this stuff, why don't you look it up & post a thread on that subject? If memory servers, Bate wrote his report after getting hammered a couple more times, retreating to the Tennessee in appalling conditions & a number of other calamities. What is it exactly you expect of him? At least the poor man wrote a report. Because of the nature of Bragg's withdrawal, entire regiments & Wheeler's cavalry don't even have accurate estimates of their losses. Drives historians who study this campaign nuts. Disasters are not exactly an accountant's dream, don't you know?
 

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Because you're the one who made the claim. You're refusing to provide the information, and you say you have it.
Pardon me, but you have made it extremely obvious that the one & only intent of this off topic stream of posts is to make ad homonym & straw man statements rather than pursue an honest discussion of the topic of the thread, so I will leave you to it.
 

Saphroneth

Major
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Feb 18, 2017
Pardon me, but you have made it extremely obvious that the one & only intent of this off topic stream of posts is to make ad homonym & straw man statements rather than pursue an honest discussion of the topic of the thread, so I will leave you to it.
What happened is that you made a claim, and then I asked for sourcing. That you have repeatedly declined to provide a source may be something you view as an ad hominem, but it is nothing less than a statement of fact.

Unless you have some kind of source for how large Wilder's Lightning Brigade actually was at Hoover's Gap - and I have not been able to find a report - the best estimate we can give is that he had four (fairly fresh) regiments and Bate had two. This implies that Bate was outnumbered 2:1 if not more.

Thus, what I am saying is that your contention that Bate thought Wilder's force was far more numerous than the reality is not supported by any evidence you have presented (as you haven't really presented any) nor by any evidence I have been able to find (Wilder's AAR does not give the strength of his force that I have been able to find, and he does not cite his faster firing weapons as critical to the battle; Bate's AAR does not give an estimated enemy strength except that they outnumbered him, and Wilder did indeed outnumber him).


If you consider asking for a source to be an ad hominem attack, it would behoove you to make fewer claims for which you feel yourself unable to provide a source.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
There is a different way to settle the debate,

You have the choice of going into combat with either a repeating rifle, or s muzzle loading musket or rifle. Each weapon will have 100 rounds.
Let's see your vote,
A. The repeater
B. The muzzle loader.
It is always going to be situationally dependent but B offers you a rifle with greater range and stopping power while A is a carbine which can fire faster but lacks range and might be a bit weak sauce if you find yourself charged by cavalry say.

In general warfare there was a reason why armies stuck with muzzles loader and when they did move went single shot breech loaders until magazine rifles arrived with sufficiently strong mechanisms to withstand full power cartridges.
 

67th Tigers

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Joined
Nov 10, 2006
The similarities I indicated are accurate. Obviously, the list of differences is as long as your arm. My 10 year old granddaughter can fire a Spencer on a rest with great accuracy & at a decent rate of fire. It is a very well balanced & pleasant gun to shoot.

Unfortunately, Wilder did not deploy his men in a standard two rank infantry formation as you maintain. As per his report, he had his men strung out in a single skirmish line six feet apart. Anyways, all this stuff is there in the books for all to read & has nothing to do with the theme of this thread.
Unfortunately, Wilder's report (which is here) says no such thing.
 

Waterloo50

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England
This is an interesting thread but to be honest I’m still none the wiser as to the answer that the OP asked, namely ‘ if enough had been acquired to outfit a few divisions, would it have made a tactical difference in any battle?’. I liked the response posted by @RodentRevolution, based on that post, I’d chose (B) I’d prefer stopping power and range especially against cavalry but I guess it really depends on the situation, infantry v infantry and at close range, I’d prefer a repeater. 👍
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
This is an interesting thread but to be honest I’m still none the wiser as to the answer that the OP asked, namely ‘ if enough had been acquired to outfit a few divisions, would it have made a tactical difference in any battle?’. I liked the response posted by @RodentRevolution, based on that post, I’d chose (B) I’d prefer stopping power and range especially against cavalry but I guess it really depends on the situation, infantry v infantry and at close range, I’d prefer a repeater. 👍
It might have made a difference, but not necessarily for the better for the repeater-armed units. Schnellfeuer was a problem suffered in the Franco-Prussian War by troops armed with the Dreyse breechloader but without the extensive training of the Prussians, and if a whole division burns through its ammunition by the end of hour one of a battle then it's bad news.
 

thomas aagaard

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Denmark
There is a different way to settle the debate,

You have the choice of going into combat with either a repeating rifle, or s muzzle loading musket or rifle. Each weapon will have 100 rounds.
Let's see your vote,
A. The repeater
B. The muzzle loader.
Wrong.
Would you rather have 1000 men with muzzleloaders like a Enfield P1853 and 60 rounds.
Or 10 men with henry repeaters with 20 rounds each.
You start out on a open field at 500 yards. (and if the men with the p1853 are brits, they will be firing at that range and hitting from time to time... when a Henry can't even reply)

And that is likely not even representative of the production and logistical issued with repeating firearms at this point in time.
 
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