Tell me more! Reports on the Expenditure of Ammunition

The Walking Dead

Corporal
Joined
May 19, 2021
The United States Army made the decision to arm it's troops with a muzzle loader. One reason stated was the excessive expenditure of ammunition that would occur if they went with a breechloader.

Later in the war were reports done on actual ammunition expenditure by regiments armed with breech loaders? Such as Wilders Brigade at Chickamagua. If yes, where will I find these reports? What type of ammunition supply would a regiment equipped with breech loaders take into battle?
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I have wondered how, under normal conditions of preparing for battle, the men would be issued 40 rounds per man, and occasionally 20 more. That amount of ammunition doesn't seem to sustain a long span of fire power, when those proficient enough could fire two or three rounds per minute.
Lubliner.
 

LouG.

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2021
Not sure how helpful this will be, but in the O.R., Ser. 1. Vol. 38, Pt.1, p. 146, Gen. Thomas reports the "Ammunition Expended During the Month of May, 1864", to include both artillery and small-arms ammo. Regarding small-arms expenditures, more than 2,600,000 "Elongated ball cartridges" were fired, as well as 3000 Spencer rounds and 2500 "Colt rifle" rounds (presumably used in the five-shot, .56-caliber Colt revolving rifles.)
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Not sure how helpful this will be, but in the O.R., Ser. 1. Vol. 38, Pt.1, p. 146, Gen. Thomas reports the "Ammunition Expended During the Month of May, 1864", to include both artillery and small-arms ammo. Regarding small-arms expenditures, more than 2,600,000 "Elongated ball cartridges" were fired, as well as 3000 Spencer rounds and 2500 "Colt rifle" rounds (presumably used in the five-shot, .56-caliber Colt revolving rifles.)
This report may also include practice on the range.
Lubliner.
 

LouG.

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2021
Found a more detailed answer to the original query. An official report of "...small-arms ammunition expended during the campaign commencing May 4 and ending September 8, 1864" by the combined Armies of the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Ohio, appears in the O.R., Series 1, Vol. 38, Part 1, p. 126. A staggering total of more than 21,300,000 "Elongated ball cartridges, caliber .57 and .58" were fired, as well as more than 390,000 "Spencer rifle cartridges." Notice also the 84,000 Burnside rounds expended, as opposed to 16,000 Sharps rounds. See also the 7100 "target rifle cartridges" fired. (Note: the reference to "Smith & Weston carbines" herein undoubtedly refers to the Frank Wesson two-trigger break-open carbine, sold by Kittredge of Cincinnati and other dealers.)

Obviously, this is a LOT of lead. Well worth checking this reference out.
 

LouG.

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2021
Well, it's difficult to be specific, because there might have been muzzle-loading small-arms involved other than .58 Springfields and .577 Enfields. (For example, the .69-caliber Minie ball for rifled M1842 muskets weighed 730 grains instead of the usual 500 grains for the .58 Minie.) But: starting with the fact that there are 437.5 grains in one ounce, and 7000 grains in one pound, we can do some rough estimating here. Assuming (with the usual caveats) that all the muzzle-loaders involved were .58 caliber, that means we multiply 500 grains times 21,300,000 shots fired, and then divide by 7000 to get the approximate weight, in pounds, of lead fired. Dividing that answer by 2000, of course, gives us the tonnage. My calculator won't handle that, so you'll have to tell me if your 665 tons is ball-park correct.

And obviously, we're not even including all the lead thrown by the breechloaders and repeaters. The mind (as they say) boggles!
 

mobile_96

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ill.
Assuming (with the usual caveats) that all the muzzle-loaders involved were .58 caliber, that means we multiply 500 grains times 21,300,000 shots fired, and then divide by 7000 to get the approximate weight, in pounds, of lead fired. Dividing that answer by 2000, of course, gives us the tonnage.
thanks for the numbers. Used 1 oz earlier. By my LT calculator I get 760.714 tons. (left off the last 10 decimal points) Truly amazing, and mind boggling as you said, as this number is most likely the bare minimum amount of lead fired during that time.
 

LouG.

Private
Joined
Jun 27, 2021
Truly amazing, isn't it? Who'd a' thunk it?

Regarding bullet weight, it's my understanding that the average weight of the .58 Minie ball for the rifle-musket was 500 grains; BUT there was also a .58 Minie made for the M1855 pistol-carbine which (with a wider, deeper hollow in the base) weighed 450 grains, even though its exterior dimensions were the same. All these bullets (including the .69 Minie) are shown in the "Reports of Experiments with Small Arms for the Military Service" (Washington, 1856), p. 109.
 
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