Use of .69 Caliber Smoothbore Conversion Muskets During the Civil War

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CaliHistoryBuff

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I recently saw some US Veteran Reserve Corps ordnance returns from 1864 and 1865 which document smoothbore 69 cal. muskets still being used by a VRC unit guarding Confederate prisoners at Elmira Prison through 1865. Does anyone out there know if these weapons were M-1842s, M-1816s or something else?
On a similar note, does anyone have documentation showing what is the latest date for documented issue and/or use of smoothbore M-1816/22 conversion muskets being used in Civil War combat (or second line troops)?
 

FedericoFCavada

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Shotguns have long been used to guard prisoners, so why not a smooth-bore musket loaded with buck? Easier to unload if one is unable to simply fire the loaded charge and then reload when back on sentry duty...

As for smooth-bores, these were still in some evidence in battles like Gettysburg in July 1863 and Vicksburg, MS.
While far and away the majority of troops in the Federal Army of the Potomac used .58 or .577 cal. rifle muskets, the returns show the following for .69 smooth-bores:
Dean S. Thomas, Ready ... Aim ... Fire! Small Arms ammunition in the Battle of Gettysburg (Thomas Pubns., 2007), pp. 60-67, citing, RG 156 Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, NARA --"Quarterly Summary Statements of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores" 30 June 1863:

88th Pennsylvania [Phil.] (also Enfields)
81st Pennsylvania [Phil.] (also Springfield .58s)
63rd New York--3rd Regt. Irish Brigade [NYC]
69th New York--Fighting 69th/"Faugh a Ballagh!" [NYC]
88th New York--"Mr. Meagher's Own" 2nd Regt. Irish Brigade [Ft. Schuyler]
116th Pennsyvlania [Phil.]
145th Pennsylvania [Erie]
1st Minnesota (also Sharps, Springfield .58s and rifled .69s)
106th Pennsylvania [Phil.](also Springfield .58s, French .58s)
4th Ohio/ OVI [Columbus] (also Springfield .58s, Enfields, and English smoothbores!)
8th Ohio/ OVI "Fightin' Fools" (also Springfield .58s, Enfields)
12th New Jersey--"Buck and Ball" (recorded as making up buckshot cartridges from the buck and ball ammunition before Pickett's charge...)
11th Massachusetts "The Boston Volunteers"
11th New Jersey [Trenton] (also Enfields, Austrian .58s)
12th New Hampshire [Concord] (also Springfield .58s)
7th New Jersey [Trenton] (also Enfields and Springfield .58s)
9th Massachusetts "The Fighting Ninth" [Irish/Boston] (also rifled .69s--in fall '63 got Springfield .58s)
155th Pennsylvania [Pittsburgh]
13th PA Reserves/42nd Regt. "First Rifles" "Bucktails" [Harrisburg] (also Sharps, Enfields)
5th PA Reserves/ 34th Regt. [Harrisburg]
9th PA Reserves/ 38th Regt.[Pittsburgh]
3rd New Jersey (also Springfield .58s)
93rd Pennsylvania [Lebanon] (also .69 rifled muskets)
102nd Pennsylvania [Pittsburgh] (also Springfield .58s)
27th Pennsylvania [Phil.] (also Enfields)
 

Cavalier

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If I remember correctly the 9 Mass. traded their smooth bores for rifle muskets primarily because they began to have difficulty being supplied with smooth bore ammunition. I have not seen that concerning other regiments armed with smooth bores and wonder if that could be correct. I think I got that from their regimental history, a book I know longer have, sadly.
 

tbuckley

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I recall reading that the 9th New York Heavy Artillery, serving as infantry, had M1842 smooth bores at Monocacy in July, 1864. Of course, I can't remember where I read it, my memory isn't what it used to be.
 

FedericoFCavada

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In Earl Hess's outstanding work on the rifle musket in Civil War combat, he finds a case of Iowans with smooth-bore .69 muskets who got supplied with .69 Minie/Burton ball ammunition... That's a 730 grain ogival-conoidal ball backed by 80 grains of powder... Without rifling, I don't think it would be too accurate.

I've been delving into those kinds of supply issues as I research how the North Carolina school of the deaf-dumb-and-blind in Raleigh manufactured the so-called "Nessler" ammo for state troops serving with the CSA...
 

FedericoFCavada

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Unfortunately, I don't think that in military terms there was any difference between Model 1816s updated to use percussion caps and Model 1840s or Model 1842s. I think the only information that was recorded was simply whether the arms were .69 caliber and whether or not they were rifled.
 

Tin cup

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In Earl Hess's outstanding work on the rifle musket in Civil War combat, he finds a case of Iowans with smooth-bore .69 muskets who got supplied with .69 Minie/Burton ball ammunition... That's a 730 grain ogival-conoidal ball backed by 80 grains of powder... Without rifling, I don't think it would be too accurate.

I've been delving into those kinds of supply issues as I research how the North Carolina school of the deaf-dumb-and-blind in Raleigh manufactured the so-called "Nessler" ammo for state troops serving with the CSA...
I have a mold that cast's one of those North Carolina school of the deaf-dumb-and-blind Institute .69 bullets.
I understand they were made up something like the Enfield cartridge, have not been able to mess around with it yet in my 1842 Repro smooth-bore.

Kevin Dally
Nessler Ball project.jpg
 

cake1979

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Unfortunately, I don't think that in military terms there was any difference between Model 1816s updated to use percussion caps and Model 1840s or Model 1842s. I think the only information that was recorded was simply whether the arms were .69 caliber and whether or not they were rifled.
The Army of the Potomac’s periodic inventories did differentiate between the 1842 musket and those converted to percussion. By 1864 all smoothbore arms were considered 3rd class arms, and the 69th NY is still listed as having a full complement of 1842’s.

From a practical perspective though, there was essentially no difference between a converted 1835 musket and an 1842 musket. Both smoothies, both .69 caliber, not a rear sight to be seen!
 

FedericoFCavada

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I have a mold that cast's one of those North Carolina school of the deaf-dumb-and-blind Institute .69 bullets.
I understand they were made up something like the Enfield cartridge, have not been able to mess around with it yet in my 1842 Repro smooth-bore.

Kevin Dally
View attachment 325038
That looks familiar! I've got the very same mould. My first batch of cartridges used a brown paper, which proved too thick when combined with the grease. So I'll use a thinner paper, probably the same type of news-sheet packing paper I used to replicate Enfield-type paper cartridges. The cartridge paper I had was so thick, in fact, that I couldn't stuff a .670 ball wrapped in the stuff down the muzzle of my flintlock musket, let alone my original Model 1842... The new Type II Nesler mould is a .680. Once the Texas super-summer passes a bit, I'll fire up the smelting furnace and try to produce a good sized batch of these. Enough to make a meaningful test.
Down here we'll be having a skirmish when everyone gets back from Winchester... So I'll have to make up some Minié/Burton balls too!
 
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