Loaded muskets picked up after the battle of Gettysburg.

thomas aagaard

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That's odd to me because .58 Minie bullets could be fired in the Enfield which is why they were used by both sides in large numbers.
But after just a few shots you would start to have problems loading it.
At some point during the war the south simply decided to stop making .58 bullets and only make .577 since they can be used in both enfields and springfields.
 

pfcjking

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It seems like we would see a lot more mention of this if it was such a bad problem. I do not doubt that it was a problem, but with weaponry varying from company to company at best, and at worst, from man to man, one would think we'd see more about this in writing.
 

Package4

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It seems like we would see a lot more mention of this if it was such a bad problem. I do not doubt that it was a problem, but with weaponry varying from company to company at best, and at worst, from man to man, one would think we'd see more about this in writing.
I do not believe caliber varied as much as some think, at least in the ANV, there were concerted efforts to make sure regiments were armed with the same caliber, at least the main body; many regiments had a flanking company or two that were used as sharpshooters, skirmishers or plain flanking companies and might have rifles (Mississippis, Enfields , Fayettevilles or '55 HF rifles). The Marylanders (CSA) just prior to Gettysburg, were issued over 10,000 rounds of .54 caliber and the balance .577; the .54 were issued to two flanking companies armed with .54 Mississippis and the balance, .577 to the main body, mostly armed with Enfield rifled muskets.

There are a couple of very good books that discuss this, "Shock troops of the Confederacy" and "Berry Benson's Civil War"
 

Don Dixon

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curious. What happen if you deliberately load an enfield or springfield RM with one charge and two bullets?
With the 2nd bullets properly seated on the first one...
Do it work with reduced range? do you risk blowing up the musket or?
I know it can be done with smoothbore muskets (or cannon for tha tmatter)

Major Hagner at the New York Ordnance Office was concerned that Muster 1854 System Lorenz rifles bored out to .58 caliber and re-rifled were not strong enough. So, he did the following:

"The guns were fixed in [a] frame containing six barrels at a time and fired each by percussion caps, using a hand hammer to give the blow. Eighteen fires with a single cartridge ball used without paper were fired from each barrel, and afterward two fires from each barrel with two cartridges, one rammed home first, and then a second on top of it. It seemed to me that in this firing the top cartridge was not consumed, the balls fitted so snugly and were so well greased. The whole number of barrels endured the firing without apparent alteration or injury, except that one cone was broken at the fiftieth [15?] fire, after which the barrel was fired by fuze.” (Congressional Serial Set No. 1131, pp. 124-5)

Standard proof for Springfield arms was as follows:

The 1862 edition of the Federal Army Ordnance Manual required that the barrels of Model 1855 rifle muskets be fired twice for proof after they had passed visual inspection. The barrel was loaded with 280 grains [18.1 grams] of the “best quality” musket powder topped with a 0.01 inch [0.254 mm] thick wad. A 500 grain [32.4 gram] bullet was loaded, which was topped by a second 0.01 inch thick wad. The entire load was “well rammed.” If the barrel survived the first proof, it was loaded with a second proof load using a slightly reduced charge of 250 grains [16.2 grams] of musket powder. The 1850 version of the Ordnance Manual required the same proofing process for smoothbore muskets, but using the standard round ball and a powder charge of 1/18th of an ounce of musket powder [385 grains/24.9 grams] for the first charge and 1/22th of an ounce of musket powder [318 grains/20.6 grams] for the second. (1862 Ordnance Manual), pp. 184-5; 1850 Ordnance Manual, p. 169)

Regarding Federal ammunition:

The Federal army experienced problems with their cartridges for the Model 1855-64 family of Springfield rifle muskets and Pattern 1853-61 family of Enfield rifle muskets. The diameter of the original design of the Federal Minié bullet for the Model 1855 Springfield rifles and rifle muskets was .5775 inches [14.67mm]. Cartridges using these bullets could generally be used in a clean Enfield. As the Enfield was fired and the barrel fouled, however, the bullets from the Federal cartridges might not go down the bore. Trying to maintain two sets of cartridges in the field for Springfield and Enfield rifle muskets was a logistical burden. So, by January 1862 the Federal Ordnance Department redesigned the .58 caliber cartridge to use a .574 inch [14.58mm] diameter bullet. It was assumed that this cartridge would work in Springfields, Enfields, and Muster 1854 Austrian arms bored out to .58 caliber and re-rifled.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

thomas aagaard

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If I understand the text correctly the first test you mention indicate that loading with two bullets can be done without serious issue. (in a rifled firearm)
If so, why is that not an explanation for many of the 12.000 double loads?

Naturally we are back to the lack of a proper source. are the double loads all two loads with powder, then a bullet, then powder and then a bullet? or was it counted as a double load, if there where just two bullets...
 

Don Dixon

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Thomas, the soldiers loaded multiple cartridges because they were grossly ill trained, not because they were trying to obtain multiple hits on target.

In 1849 Captain Nikolaus Wilhelm Freiherr Lenk von Wolfsberg, a k.k. Army Artillery officer, began the k.k. Army’s experiments with gun cotton as a possible propellant for artillery and small arms. There were a number of advantages to the use of gun cotton as a propellant for small arms. In comparison to black powder it produced very little smoke, and virtually no fouling the the bore of the weapon. It was also much more resistant to damage from exposure to moisture or water than black powder, and it was substantially more powerful than black powder. The impulse of the burning gun cotton on the base of the System Lorenz compression bullet was so effective, for example, that one could find no trace of the two compression grooves on fired bullets.

Dr. Theodore Canisius was appointed U.S. Consul to Vienna on 7 August 1861. In his professional duties in Vienna, Canisius became acquainted with Baron von Lenk and Ritter von Lorenz, who had been involved in Austrian Army experiments using gun-cotton as a replacement for gun powder as a propellant in small arms and cannon. These experiments had led to the adoption of the Muster 1862 Infantry rifle by the k.k. Army. The Muster 1862 rifle had a steel barrel, rather than wrought iron, giving a greater degree of safety for gun-cotton cartridges. Canisius became convinced that gun-cotton was both superior to gun powder as a propellant, as well as safer. In 1863, he began sending the State and War Departments copies of Austrian reports related to their experiments with and adoption of gun-cotton as a propellant.

In August, 1863, Canisius took six weeks leave of absence and returned to the United States bearing an Austrian rifle adapted to the use of gun-cotton – a Muster 1862 .55 caliber Infantry rifle – as well as samples of Austrian gun-cotton ammunition. His intent was to try to convince the War Department of the superiority of gun-cotton as a propellant. After Canisius went through the chain of command from Secretary of State Seward, to Secretary of War Stanton, to Brigadier General Ripley, Ripley directed that Major T. T. S. Laidley, Commander, Frankfurt Arsenal, conduct a test of the rifle and ammunition Canisius had brought from Vienna. The report of Laidley’s tests on 7 August 1863 contains a detailed description of the gun-cotton ammunition, and its performance. Twenty-two grains of gun-cotton propelled the 448 grain System Lorenz compression bullet to the same velocity that 60 grains of gun powder propelled a 520 grain U.S. .58 caliber bullet. It was very easy to load, and did not require a ramrod, since the cartridge dropped to the breech of the rifle of its own weight. Since there was no loose gun powder, the charge of propellant was the same from shot to shot, thus probably making the gun-cotton cartridge more accurate. Gun-cotton, unlike gun powder was not damaged by water. Gun-cotton ammunition weighed less. There was very little smoke from gun-cotton ammunition. And there was less recoil from gun-cotton ammunition.

Laidley had one significant concern about gun-cotton ammunition. He wrote that “Owing to the noise and excitement consequent to an engagement in actual service, the soldier frequently gets into his musket, two or three charges [cartridges] at the same time, it was to test the safety of the soldier from his own arm under such circumstances that three [gun-cotton] charges were fired at the same time.” The three charges burst the barrel of the test rifle in several places. That Laidley recognized and commented upon the fact that soldiers might frequently load two or three rounds in their weapons before firing them was indicative of the extremely poor state of marksmanship training in the Federal army. [emphasis added]

Since many of the arms recovered from the field at Gettysburg had been lost by Confederate soldiers, I would speculate that Confederate training was little, if any, better.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

kevikens

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Slightly off target but I read of an account during the war where some Union infantry were assigned to help out a gun crew during a battle. Eventually the only men manning the gun were infantry. Somehow they had heard about "double canister" and decided the rebels were close enough for that but had no idea that the phrase "double canister" meant two canisters but only one powder charge. They rammed two of both and got away with it. Apparently it got noticed as the guns bucked something fierce as they fired but no explosions happened. I don't know if the tubes were in any way damaged. Perhaps analogous to the double charged muskets.
 

thomas aagaard

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Thomas, the soldiers loaded multiple cartridges because they were grossly ill trained, not because they were trying to obtain multiple hits on target.
I know. Just trying to test other possibility.
And in this case I was not sure is loading two bullets would work or be rather dangerous.

If they had been loading one charge and two bullets it might have been deliberate. But had it been deliberate then we would properly have some information on it in writing. Somewhere about they doing it. (like with loading smoothbores up with lots of buckshots)

of cause the numbers are also used to prove how humans have a natural resistance to killing and similar.
(and that I don't agree on that much... since as you say they most likely did it because of poor training, not as a deliberate act)
 

Craig L Barry

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This is interesting...it came to both Joe Bilby and me in a "letter to the editor" which will appear in the next issue of Civil War News:

To the Editor:
I’m a long-time researcher of U.S. Army Ordnance Department records at the National Archives, and for the last ten years I have been focused primarily on Civil War records, but I am new to the Civil War News. At a recent show in Richmond, I picked up a copy of your November 2016 issue (Vol. 42, Number 10) and was quite impressed. However, that is not my purpose in writing. In Mr. Bilby’s column in that issue, I noticed a section titled “Provenance of Gettysburg loaded muskets,” in which Mr. Bilby discussed an April 2016 “Watchdog” column by Craig Barry. I have not seen Mr. Barry’s article so I don’t know specifically what he said, but based on Mr. Bilby’s statements the substance of it was regarding a: “much-repeated account of the 24,000 muskets, many of them with a number of loads in their barrels, retrieved from the field at Gettysburg.” Mr. Bilby noted that neither he nor Mr. Barry had found any official provenance for the story. Well, as a matter of fact, I can help with that problem. On seeing Mr. Bilby’s article I recalled seeing something on this topic, did a search of my material, and found the following notes:


1/4/1864, Record Group (RG) 156, Entry (E) 20, Volume 40, Letter W28 of 1864: Capt. Benton at Washington Arsenal for - warded a report of Master Ar - morer J. Dudley re the condition of small arms received from the battle fields. 1/4/1864, RG156, E201, Report #376: Master Armorer J. Dudley reported to Capt. Benton on small arms received from battlefields. He based his report on the arms taken from the Gettysburg battlefield. Of the number received (27,574), at least 24,000 of them were loaded. About one half contained two loads each, one forth contained from three to ten loads each and the rest had only one load. Some of the guns had two to six balls with only one charge of powder, and in some cases, the ball was at the bottom of the barrel with the powder charge on top of it. In some arms, as many as six paper cartridges were found whole – not having been torn open. Twenty-three loads were found in one Springfield rifle, each load being in regular order. Twenty-two balls and sixty-two buckshot with a corresponding quantity of powder, all mixed up together, were found in one percussion smooth-bore musket. Mr. Dudley also stated: “About six thousand of the arms were found loaded with Johnson’s & Dow’s cartridges, many of these cartridges were found about half way down in the barrels of the guns, and in many cases, the ball end of the cartridge had been put into the gun first. These cartridges were found mostly in the Enfield Rifle Musket.” About 1,000 of all muskets found, Union and Confederate, had stocks broken at the wrist with the butt of the stocks completely gone. One hundred and thirty-six arms of different kinds had been marred by shot; in many the ball had gone through the barrel or other parts had been shot away. Many barrels were burst, almost always near the barrel from having the muzzle clogged by mud or having left the tampion in place. Mr. Dudley noted that barrels of American manufacture were superior to those of the Enfields and Austrian weapons in both material and workmanship."

Without knowing where to look, this report would be difficult to find. One would expect it to have been filed in the letters received by the Chief of Ordnance, which is Entry 21 in the Chief of Ordnance records (Record Group 156), and the first set of notes above supports that assumption, for Entry 20 contains the registers for Ordnance Department letters received. But for some unknown reason, the Ordnance Office in - stead filed the report with “Reports of Experiments,” which the National Archives have cataloged as Entry 201.

Charles Pate
 

Craig L Barry

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Good question. In a way, yes...the discussion here prompted me to blow the dust off unpublished research I had in the tank on the topic and send it in as a monthly column. I figure if a question is interesting to us, it is probably interesting to other people as well. Plus, sometimes a reader can add or knows of missing information. This topic certainly turned out to be that way, and with the added bonus of discovering the long forgotten source.
 

thomas aagaard

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Nice.
It certainly gave a bonus in this case.

Earlier in this topic I gave the opinion that "The evidence is anecdotal" (for the number of loaded weapons)

But since then we found the article from Major T.S. Laidley (who was in a position to know the real numbers) and now this information.
 
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Don Dixon

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A gift is what it is...and it raises some other interesting points for discussion. For example..."Mr. Dudley noted that barrels of American manufacture were superior to those of the Enfields and Austrian weapons in both material and workmanship."

Latent provincialism?

There was provincialism. The Americans, British, and Austrians were each convinced that their weapon was the best in the world, although the Swiss probably had the best claim to it in the form of the Muster 1851 Feldstutzer. The Austrians, for example, described the System Lorenz as the "perfect muzzle loader." But, metallurgy in the mid-1800s was anything but an exact science. Arms manufacture was an art, and problems with metallurgy can be seen as late as the infamous low serial numbered Model 1903 Springfield rifles, which had improper heat treatment of the receivers.

It would be interesting to take barrel sections from a range of military weapons of the period -- there are lots of "sporterized" junk barrels out there -- and run them through a modern laboratory. It would make an interesting journal article. One could learn a great deal about the quality of the metallurgy. I haven't seen such an article, and if any one knows of one, I would be interested in the information.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Noonanda

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?I just read an book that stated the Enfields used by the union were not actually made by the British arsenals, but instead were the small gun makers around London. Hence the reason why there were so many issues with them due to poor quality controls, whereas the first few batches the confederates purchased were refurbished british government produced rifles.
 

thomas aagaard

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As I understand it (and generalizing)
The British army used machine made enfields produced by the government arsenal. They where only to be found in British hands during this period.

One private manufacture produced machine made enfields. The CSA purchased their weapons.

A number of others produced hand made enfields. The union purchased their weapons.

But one of the others can surely expand on it.
 

Don Dixon

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I just read an book that stated the Enfields used by the union were not actually made by the British arsenals, but instead were the small gun makers around London. Hence the reason why there were so many issues with them due to poor quality controls, whereas the first few batches the confederates purchased were refurbished british government produced rifles.

The British government purchased two interchangeable parts production lines from the Ames Manufacturing Company, Chicopee, MA, and in 1855 brought James H. Burton, the former master armorer at Harper's Ferry Armory to the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock to show them how to set up and use the macinery. The factory was fully on-line by 1859. Under Her Majesty's neutrality decree NO current production Enfield manufactured weapons were sold to the Federals or Confederates.

Responding to an 1858 contract with the British Army for interchangeable parts Enfields, the London Armoury Company also purchased one production line from Ames and by mid-1860 was producing interchangeable parts weapons. London Armoury's surplus production over the deliveries required by the British Army contract was sold to other buyers, including both the Federals and Confederates. Of the London Armoury weapons sold to America, the larger portion went ot the Confederates.

The other arms producers in London and Manchester produced non-interchangeable parts weapons, with those weapons being sold to both the Federals and Confederates.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Craig L Barry

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So those superior US rifle musket barrels... that was due to the superior US iron they were made from, right? One of the ironies here is that some period documentation suggests that the iron used in those "superior" US barrels was imported from Birmingham (see below):

"The list of materials is also interesting, as "Jessops" is a British company located in Sheffield. It has long been known that Springfield had to import all their steel, as nothing suitable for ramrods, bayonets and internal lock parts was made in the United States. It was also necessary to import the iron used for the barrels as well because the armory had abandoned hand-forged barrels and adopted barrel-rolling machinery. The American iron that was available to them was not uniform enough to work well with the new machines."
Machinery%20letter%201_zpstolnbfmn.jpg

Machinery%20letter%202_zpsef9fbvre.jpg


http://www.practicalmachinist.com/v...machines-materials-springfield-armory-311231/
 
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thomas aagaard

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A few days ago I read "Ten years in the ranks, U.S. army" by Augustus Meyers
It got some detail about how weapons was picked up after a battle.

A bit about the writer.
He join up in 1854 as a drummer at the age of 12.
I summer of 1860 he reenlist in the 2nd US infantry.
By later 1862 he is moved from being 3rd sergeant to brigade commissary sergeant. (aged 21)
After Cold Harbor he become ordnance sergeant.

This is after a fight on the 21st of august 1864. (what wiki call the battle of Globe Tavern)


"Lieutenant Pond, who had reported for duty, ordered me outside of the breast-works during the afternoon of this day with wagons and a large detail of men to collect the abandoned arms on the battle-field. The wounded had been removed and the dead buried; only dead horses remained. After dark I was sent out again to the picket line on the ground of the first day's battle. There we collected a large number of arms, remaining until approaching daylight warned us to depart and avoid drawing the enemy's picket fire. On the following night this was repeated under a heavy, soaking rain. I collected upwards of fifteen hundred fire-arms, of which more than half were those of the Rebels. There were rifles, muskets and carbines; also bayonets, swords, belts and cartridge boxes. The arms were rusty from having lain on the field during several days' rain.

It was necessary to classify these arms, make a report of them and turn them over to the ordnance depot at City Point. This work kept me, with the assistance of the ammunition guard, occupied for several days. Arms that were charged had to be fired, or the charges withdrawn, which was difficult in their rusty state. This work proved interesting to me and coincided with my own observations when in the ranks with my company in battle. I found that the ram-rods were missing from a considerable number of discharged guns, and a greater number had failed to be discharged on account of defective caps, or a befouled nipple. Some were doubly charged, and an occasional one had three, or even four, cartridges in the barrel, indicating that the soldier continued to load without noticing that his piece had not been discharged. Others were bursted at the muzzle, showing that the tompion had not been removed before firing. There were some with stocks broken by violence, probably by cool-headed men taken prisoners, who thoughtfully rendered their arms unserviceable. Such of the guns as had more than one charge in the barrel were fastened to a tree and, after fresh priming, we pulled the trigger with the aid of a string, at a safe distance. A few that could neither be drawn nor discharged, we buried in the ground. It has been said that it takes a man's weight in lead for every soldier killed in battle. I am inclined to almost believe that, from my own observations and from the amount of ammunition I knew to be expended on the battle-field of the Weldon Railroad, where I noticed innumerable bullet marks on trees standing on level ground, at height that could only endanger birds."
 

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