Tell me more! Shoot low

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Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Rather, that was not what it was really like unless the figures were put in context of how many area settlers were instead quite competent with firearms for which no incident reports were made. Suppose there were 300 firearmport accidents reported at the Fort over five years. That sounds like a lot, yet what is that compared to, say, the 12,000 other residents of the area who had no accidents at all in that same time period, where competent use of a firearm instead saved people from going hungry or prevented injury, widowhood or abandoned children.

It seems to be a fad of late to disparage the firearms competency that commoners had before they enlisted, and of recruits after they enlisted. It denies the reality borne out in hundreds of County histories across the Country but particularly pioneer counties, that rural folks (most of the population in the Antebellum) pretty much had guns and knew how to use them.
Anybody who has studied westward expansion will help you get an accurate picture of the accidental woundings to Indian attack casualties. I would have to dig into my notes, but 1,200-1,500 to one is in the ball park. The example is people who did shoot themselves or others & has nothing to do with those who did not. That is a "what aboutery" fallacy.
 

byron ed

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Location
Midwest
...One of the incidents I use involves George Custer. Riding out on his own looking for game, while in the saddle, he shot & killed his horse....I know a man whose late father was shot through the fleshy part of both thighs by a bullet that passed through the horse he was riding. A fellow elk hunter discharged his hunting rifle from about 10 feet away as he dismounted. Horses & loaded guns are a very tricky combination.
And yet the very reason you note those incidents is because they were unusual, the very reason we call them incidents. In context, how many times, perhaps a hundred or more, had Custer gone out for game successfully with no accident? How many times had that father gone out armed on a horse without any problem whatsoever? How many successful Elk hunts had your fellow accomplished before this one accident?

You would draw conclusions about the general competency of a large segment of people based only on the accidents some of them had. Yourself having missed a red light or slid into a curb in winter at some point, are we to conclude you're an incompetent driver?

All I'm saying is that incidental occurrences are not valid for projecting the general performance or competency of army recruits in the CW, our topic here.
 
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byron ed

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Location
Midwest
...The example is people who did shoot themselves or others & has nothing to do with those who did not. That is a "what aboutery" fallacy.
Rather, the total of all those using firearms in that area has everything to do with assigning any significance to the fraction that happened to have shot themselves. The fallacy would be in not putting the number of accidents in context with the total of all those using firearms in that area. It is incorrect to assign a trend independently of the context.

There's no point in going round-and-round about this. Let's give the thread a break.
 
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BillH

Private
Joined
Sep 14, 2017
Location
SW Idaho
Off topic again, eh? Hmmm, concerning the "non-existent Indian threat", I could drive you to at least three sites within an hour of my house where there are markers and graves of some settlers who would take the other side of that argument. But since y'all are back east from here, how about a link instead? Much of this is roughly the same time period as the Civil War.

 

Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Off topic again, eh? Hmmm, concerning the "non-existent Indian threat", I could drive you to at least three sites within an hour of my house where there are markers and graves of some settlers who would take the other side of that argument. But since y'all are back east from here, how about a link instead? Much of this is roughly the same time period as the Civil War.

I suggest that a you would benefit from studying the history of westward expansion.
 
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If there was an "unlike" button, I'd be pressing it now. With all due respect, if you guys want to debate stuff that isn't related to the thread, you can do it by PM-ing each other. A few back and forths is fine but the debate seems to be dragging on.
 

byron ed

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Location
Midwest
...With all due respect, if you guys want to debate stuff that isn't related to the thread, you can do it by PM-ing each other.
With some due respect, a discussion about general competency with firearms does relate to the topic "shooting low" because that's an indication of general competency.
 
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Ara Oko

Private
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Sep 28, 2019
That ballistics chart tells the story very well why so many commanders told their men to fire low. With the heavy bullets that were in use during the Civil War, shots traveled an arching trajectory thus it was hard to use your sights on the point where you wanted your shot to hit, especially at longer distances. I remember reading that at even close distances of 100 yards or less, men were often told to aim at the belt buckles of the men that they were shooting at.
Oddly enough, I was also told to use the belt buckle (or groin), centre mass or lip of the helmet as aiming points.
The trajectory of my big, fat supersonic 7.62 was very flat.
However, Firing air weapons, it soon becomes routine to shoot high due to having to compensate for the drop. I believe this is where the phrase to "Get the drop on someone" comes from.
Muskets and minieballs would, I would expect, to also be prone to the high mass, low power and gravity equation.
After having to compensate for so many years, it becomes instinctive. I expect civil war troops also became adept in calculating the drop on the fly.
 
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thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
I expect civil war troops also became adept in calculating the drop on the fly.
Most Civil war soldiers did not do any sort of proper marksmanship training and very rarely fired their guns outside of actual combat.

So no, They did not learn that.
(that would require that you need to spend a lot of time on a firing range, where you get feedback on where you actually hit.)
 

byron ed

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Location
Midwest
Most Civil war soldiers did not do any sort of proper marksmanship training and very rarely fired their guns outside of actual combat...So no, They did not learn that...
...which is to dismiss the general cleverness and self-learning endemic to American recruits, many of them no more than generation removed from pioneer stock (if not pioneers themselves), many no more than a generation removed from the 1812 or Indian wars in the Midwest (and for that matter many having living G'pas that had fought in the Rev. war). Also it wasn't rare that Southern boys were engaged in slave patrol work.

So let's fairly contrast"they did not learn that" with "they were not taught that in the army."

To elaborate; whatever the typical recruit was in Europe was at that time (to respect your work on that) in the U.S. the typical recruit was a rural boy familiar with guns, including rifles. In the U.S. military-grade arms were ordinarily obtainable from the local jewelry or hardware store or via parcel through regular advertisements in big city newspapers. And they were brisk sellers at that (which we know because the ads were repeated). County histories back up civilian familiarity with guns.

Let's also note that so many soldiers were squarely and precisely shot in the head or chest, and others while on the run. So it's inconceivable to speculate that "not many" soldiers knew how to shoot; that they had no idea about arcs, windage, shooting low, leading the target etc. etc.

Another case in point: Given the situation back then, would any of us be casually strolling in front of a battle line 100-200 yards from the enemy, trusting that the boys on the other side were such poor shots? No. Hindsight is cheap.

And one last point: Trenches.
 
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thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
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Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
So whatever the typical recruit in Europe was (to respect your work on that) in the U.S. most rural boys were familiar with guns, including rifles, and military-grade arms were ordinarily obtainable from the local jewelry or hardware store or via parcel through regular advertisements in big city newspapers. Brisk sellers really (which we know because the ads were repeated).


(...)
Case in point: given the situation, would any of us have casually walked in front the lines 100-200 yards from the enemy, trusting that the boys on the other side were such poor shots. No. Hindsight is cheap.
Except that the number of rifled military grade firearms in the country was limited before the war broke out...

If we followed your reasoning to its full extent, we should expect everyone to be armed with a sharps or Henry... because there where ads for them in newspapers...

That there where ads for them, don't prove that they where produces in huge numbers or that everyone had one... just that a sufficiently number where sold to justify the ads and that there was a limited production happening.


Even if we just want 25% of all recruits to have experience with military-grade rifles, that would still have require more than half a million military grade rifles in the country before 1861... And they where simply not there. Had they been neither side would have resorted to importing old used smoothbores from Europe. (The union alone imported more than one million guns)


If production and availability had been as big as you repeatedly claimed, then the Union would just have produce the guns it needed on its own. But it could not.
As Don Dixon pointed out in another topic:
The Springfield armory managed to make about 6200 "springfields" in 1861. That is only 17 pr day.
( By the end of 1862 they where up to 280, by end of 1863 they where up to about 600 pr day.)

Since the Federal arsenal could not produce the needed arms, civilian manufacturers was used... but very few guns where delivered until early 1863. Had there been large scale civilian production of comparable military rifled firearms... it would not have taken 1½+ years to get production up at running.

The civilian american arms industry was simply not producing military weapons to that great an extent.


And your 2nd to last point.
The fact that They did "casually walk in front the lines 100-200 yards from the enemy" completely undermine your point.

Either the typical soldier was not a good marksman,
He was not armed with a rifled firearms
Or both.

And both points show that military rifled firearms was in no way common in civilian hands before the civil war.


And the last... Well the romans used Trenches... so I guess they also hard rifled firearms...
Trenched have been around for as long as organized warfare... that they where used during the civil war do not prove anything since they where also used in other 19th century was. Both before and after.
 

Joshism

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
With all the talk about the unusually difficult trajectory of minie bullets it's worth noting that no matter how much firearms experience you had in the 1850s you probably never fired a minie bullet. And training during the war rarely involved target practice.
 

byron ed

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Location
Midwest
Except that the number of rifled military grade firearms in the country was limited before the war broke out...
Or, they weren't. John Brown's investors had no trouble obtaining several hundreds of rifles ("Beecher's Bibles") to send to Kansas .

...we should expect everyone to be armed with a sharps or Henry... because there where ads for them in newspapers...
Meh, out-of-production Springfields and new Colt rifles were advertised and were selling in the U.S. as well, as were European arms. Did we mention that there were dozens of regional gun makers who were making rifles on spec as well? Though not military-grade or high-quantity orders, combined sales were in the several hundreds. So all said and done, we should expect that folks had been arming themselves from many sources besides (but including) Sharps and Henry in the two decades prior to the war.

That there where ads for them, don't prove that they where produces in huge numbers or that everyone had one... just that a sufficiently number where sold
Bingo; a sufficient number were sold. No one here has claimed that everyone had a gun; what's that all about?

...that would still have require more than half a million military grade rifles in the country before 1861... And they where simply not there. Had they been neither side would have resorted to importing old used smoothbores from Europe. (The union alone imported more than one million guns)
Yes, all of a sudden there was a crunch of demand for military grade rifles, so the supply for civilians would have been pinched in the last year before the Civil War's initiation. Of course what we should be factoring is how many guns civilians had accumulated in the twenty years prior to 1860, most all the newly purchased ones cap-and-ball, but not to ignore the thousands of flintlocks out there still in use.

If production and availability had been as big as you repeatedly claimed, then the Union would just have produce the guns it needed on its own. But it could not.
Yes, all of a sudden there was a crunch of demand for military grade rifles

Since the Federal arsenal could not produce the needed arms, civilian manufacturers was used... but very few guns where delivered until early 1863. Had there been large scale civilian production of comparable military rifled firearms... it would not have taken 1½+ years to get production up at running...The civilian american arms industry was simply not producing military weapons to that great an extent...
Yes, all of a sudden there was a crunch of demand for military grade rifles. Yet there was no shortage of rifles in circulation in the twenty years before the war -- the time in which recruits had grown up with them.

...The fact that They did "casually walk in front the lines 100-200 yards from the enemy" completely undermine your point.
And in what campaign were soldiers casually walking in front of the lines 100-200 yards from the enemy? Even so, the point was that none of us would be comfortable doing that in the same circumstance, knowing as they did that there were squirrel hunters in the enemy ranks. This was American pioneer horse-sense.

...Either the typical soldier was not a good marksman,...He was not armed with a rifled firearms...Or both...And both points show that military rifled firearms was in no way common in civilian hands before the civil war.
?? or neither. Many soldiers were good marksman (aside from their army training) and they were armed with rifled firearms.

So rather we have four points, none of them an indication of how common firearms were in civilian hands.


And the last... Well the romans used Trenches... so I guess they also hard rifled firearms...Trenched have been around for as long as organized warfare... that they where used during the civil war do not prove anything since they where also used in other 19th century was. Both before and after.
Or, trenches were not nearly in extensive use before the age of rifles, which you also know.
 
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Ara Oko

Private
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Sep 28, 2019
Except that the number of rifled military grade firearms in the country was limited before the war broke out...

If we followed your reasoning to its full extent, we should expect everyone to be armed with a sharps or Henry... because there where ads for them in newspapers...

That there where ads for them, don't prove that they where produces in huge numbers or that everyone had one... just that a sufficiently number where sold to justify the ads and that there was a limited production happening.


Even if we just want 25% of all recruits to have experience with military-grade rifles, that would still have require more than half a million military grade rifles in the country before 1861... And they where simply not there. Had they been neither side would have resorted to importing old used smoothbores from Europe. (The union alone imported more than one million guns)


If production and availability had been as big as you repeatedly claimed, then the Union would just have produce the guns it needed on its own. But it could not.
As Don Dixon pointed out in another topic:
The Springfield armory managed to make about 6200 "springfields" in 1861. That is only 17 pr day.
( By the end of 1862 they where up to 280, by end of 1863 they where up to about 600 pr day.)

Since the Federal arsenal could not produce the needed arms, civilian manufacturers was used... but very few guns where delivered until early 1863. Had there been large scale civilian production of comparable military rifled firearms... it would not have taken 1½+ years to get production up at running.

The civilian american arms industry was simply not producing military weapons to that great an extent.


And your 2nd to last point.
The fact that They did "casually walk in front the lines 100-200 yards from the enemy" completely undermine your point.

Either the typical soldier was not a good marksman,
He was not armed with a rifled firearms
Or both.

And both points show that military rifled firearms was in no way common in civilian hands before the civil war.


And the last... Well the romans used Trenches... so I guess they also hard rifled firearms...
Trenched have been around for as long as organized warfare... that they where used during the civil war do not prove anything since they where also used in other 19th century was. Both before and after.
This situation was dire. Its all about discipline and effective fire, and God if you're lucky! After about five minutes you either can shoot or are dead. You might get dead anyway.. Its all part of the job.
I joined the army to fight terrorists.
But who are they?
Answers on a postcard to:
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
This situation was dire. Its all about discipline and effective fire, and God if you're lucky! After about five minutes you either can shoot or are dead. You might get dead anyway.. Its all part of the job.
I joined the army to fight terrorists.
But who are they?
Answers on a postcard to:
Your post makes no sense at all.
 
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cake1979

Private
Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Location
The South Shore of the Mighty Ohio
While I think that the average US recruit had a little more firearms experience than a European one, I would think that it wasn’t with a .58 Minie at more than firing line distance. I’m sure there were plenty of squirrel-hunting folks who were deadly with a long rifle, and I’m sure that there were plenty who had fired a Brown Bess or 1816 smoothbore left over from earlier conflicts, but we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of new recruits.

Teaching those boys how to aim center mass or “belt buckle” high was an expedient way to ensure that someone on your line actually hit the enemy. The same ideas have probably been used by numerous countries in numerous wars. The 1903 Springfield’s battle sights were zeroed to a range of about 500 yards. As opposed to getting into the finer points of the ‘03’s complicated sights, recruits used the battle sight and aimed low.
 
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