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Long Arms of Berdan's Sharpshooters

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by Legion Para, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    Andrew Sharp Shooters, 1st Massachusetts, Unattached.

    [​IMG]
     

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  3. Ralph Heinz

    Ralph Heinz Private

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    With percussion rifles in the pre-Civil War time period, full stock rifles were cheaper to produce then half stock rifles. The reason is that wood was cheaper and a full stock quicker to produce with labor being cheaper than a half stock that required a metal rib attached to the underside of the barrel with two ramrod pipes, an entrance thimble, and a nose cap that was sometimes formed of sheet iron or cast pewter. Those metal ramrod pipes and entrance thimbles were often hand forged around mandrels and took time to make. I've done this having built full stock and half stock percussion rifles. The advantage however is that a half stock was less likely to be damaged and today you sometimes see full stock rifles with wood missing or broken over that long length. It was also quicker and cheaper to produce full stock military rifles.
     
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  4. Ralph Heinz

    Ralph Heinz Private

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    Sgt. Kinsman's slant breech Sharps Sporting Rifle has a cast pewter nose cap (tip of the forearm). These were time-consuming to make as the wood had to be shaped and inletted first so that a form could then be placed over the end of the forearm and barrel and hot pewter was then poured into the form. Then it was hand-filed to its final shape and polished . Sharps continued to produce these on their model 1874 cartridge Sporting Rifles and on special order after March 1877 after they had gone to a wooden "schnaubel tip on the forearm. Many percussion rifles had similar pewter forearm tips.

    Roy Marcot and Ron Paxton have just released their huge and stunning book Early Metallic Cartridge Firearms and Model 1874 Sporting Rifles which is Volume II in a series of four books on Sharps Firearms. They will soon print Sharps Percussion Firearms -1848 Through 1865 and this will deal with Civil War Sharps and rifles like the slant breech Sharps that Sgt. Kinsman had. The photography done by Ron Paxton is the finest I've ever seen on any antique firearms book.

    That pewter metal varied in its composition with some having more lead which tarnished to a dark patina with age while others had more tin which stayed bright. On hard-used frontier Sharps rifles it isn't unusual to see some or all of this pewter tip broken off. It wasn't held on by screws but rather by the fact that holes in the wood were filled by some of that hot pewter when it was poured.
     
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  5. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    Don't you also notice that it's lighter and faster to swing onto moving targets (birds, clay pigeons, dragons, etc)?
     
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  6. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    Almost looks like a Chunk Gun.

    Scroll down on this page http://libraryguides.berea.edu/firearms
    See also http://www.muzzleblasts.com/archives/vol3no2/articles/mbo32-1.shtml
    Build your own https://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categories/GunKit.aspx/618/1/KIT-ANTIQUE-TENN-16-PERC

    The scope and false muzzle (to allow starting the bullet without messing up the muzzle-end rifling) makes me think of those pre-war shooting clubs (there's a specific German term for them that escapes me at the moment).

    Major Bill posted a photo of a uniformed, armed member here
    http://civilwartalk.com/threads/wel...you-want-to-see-here.98403/page-2#post-871113
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  7. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    Here ya go -

    Most of these competitive target rifles were manufactured with a false muzzle, which was inserted on the end of the barrel and was aligned by pins that inserted into the muzzle. The false muzzle was tapered internally to allow easy loading, then removed before firing. To help the rifleman remember to remove it before firing, false muzzles had a sight block that blocked your ability to see through the sight if it was in place. Because the false muzzle was made with the rifle, if it was lost, it could not be replaced and the rifle would be difficult to load without damaging the sharp edge of the barrel. The end of the muzzle could be easily damaged, which would negatively affect the accuracy of the rifle.
    http://www.berdansharpshooter.org/target_scopes.htm
     
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  8. Specster

    Specster First Sergeant

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    Who do you think were more important on day 2 at Gettysburg: Wyman White, and his sharpshooters in a Regiment Berfan had formed or Chamberlain and is Maine men?

    I just saw an ACW documentary which gave all the credit to White's men for stopping the Alabama men at liitle round top. They did not even mention Chamberlain by name.
     
  9. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    In all honesty neither were that important on day 2 at Gettysburg.
     
  10. Specster

    Specster First Sergeant

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    Perhaps you know something I do not. Chamerlain is widely considered to save the Unions left flank on day 2. I never heard of anyone denying that. He was awarded the Medal of Honor by Lincoln for his actions on day 2 specifically. He fought in other battles during the ACW and was badly wounded and give a "Death Bed Promotion." He was held is such high esteem hat he was given a place at Lee's surrender.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  11. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard 2nd Lieutenant

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    He didn't get the medal until the 1893.
    http://valor.militarytimes.com/recipient.php?recipientid=2140

    As a result the medal was not given for what he did... but for what history in 1893 told everyone he did. (two rather different things)
     
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  12. mrdix

    mrdix Private

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    " The book Kill Angels was written about his actions at this battle. So Im not sure where u r coming from." - this book is fiction , you should not use that as a reference
     
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  13. Specster

    Specster First Sergeant

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    Thanks, yes I read it a while ago and now I recall half way thru nothing was making sense
     
  14. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Perhaps.
     
  15. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    Not exactly a bunch of skinny young boys, are they?
     
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  16. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    @Story - That is a very good observation! The marksmen in the photo are not youthful soldiers. Why? Because then, just as today, the youth couldn't afford the "State of the Art" target rifles! These rifles were the most expensive arms made in America at the time of the Civil War, which is why the owners and marksmen shown in the photo are mature adults.
    J.
     
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  17. FZ11

    FZ11 Sergeant Major

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    To qualify they had to shoot a 10 shot 5" group at 200 yards using a rest and a 10 shot 5" group at 100 yards offhand. Open sights. Them boys could shoot!
     
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  18. Griffin144

    Griffin144 Cadet

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    Who can tell me more about this picture and the letter Ozias wrote to his father?
     
  19. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    Not a dumb question, at all.

    The full-length stocks on 19th (and early 20th) century long arms were meant to protect the bearer from the heat of the barrel. A musket or muzzle-loading rifle or early breachloader could be fired so often that the barrel would become painfully hot. Look closely at some reenactment photos and you'll see rags tied to the barrel, just where the off-hand would support the barrel.

    To a lessor extent, those long stocks also provided the off-hand a place to grip when using the bayonet.

    When a civilian weapon is used for sniping, it's rate of fire is typically much lower and so the barrel isn't prone to overheating. No need for the extra weight of the stock's fore-end.

    Also, bayonets are generally not mounted on sniper rifles. If a sniper is close enough to the enemy to need a bayonet, he's doing sniping wrong.

    As for surplus military weapons being 'sporterized', the new owners didn't feel the need to carry around the full weight of a military stock. Out came the saws.

    To put things in perspective, there was so much surplus that musket barrels were used as monument fence posts after the war.

    Mind you, at the time Civil War arms were being sold off as surplus they were obsolete and dirt cheap. Those who 'bubba-fied' them into hunting weapons can't be held to fault by 21st century collectors, because the need for cheap hunting rifles over-rode any notions of some future potential collectability.
     
  20. ucvrelics.com

    ucvrelics.com 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

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    When I see those big ole scoped Sharp's it always reminds me of the Missouri Boat Ride.

     
  21. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    It would appear that Andrews S.S. favored the long tubular sight. I believe that most of the Berdans did not, at least from photos.
     

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