Weapons used during ACW battles

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Norm53

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For each ACW battle, do we know the specific arms (by model) and ammo issued (and presumably used) by each USA and CSA unit?
 
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rpkennedy

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For each ACW battle, do we know the specific arms and ammo issued (and presumably used) by each USA and CSA unit?
For some battles, we do. For example, we have a very good record of Union arms for Gettysburg based on munitions records. Confederate units were not usually so homogenized in regards to their weapons so they could have a much wider variety of guns on the field.

Ryan
 

Norm53

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For some battles, we do. For example, we have a very good record of Union arms for Gettysburg based on munitions records. Confederate units were not usually so homogenized in regards to their weapons so they could have a much wider variety of guns on the field.

Ryan
Since CSA records might not exist, so limiting the data to USA units, do have that info available for most of the major battles?
 
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johan_steele

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Since CSA records might not exist, so limiting the data to USA units, do have that info available for most of the major battles?
Yes and no. Recording arms for posterity wasn’t a priority during wartime. Even while not on campaign record keeping was anything but precise.

The best most consistent measure of arms in hand are ammunition requisitions. But not even those are complete.
 

Norm53

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Yes and no. Recording arms for posterity wasn’t a priority during wartime. Even while not on campaign record keeping was anything but precise.

The best most consistent measure of arms in hand are ammunition requisitions. But not even those are complete.
Please correct the following for all major battles:
We know these:
Order of battle
Number of active troops for each unit
Commanders of all units
Disposition of all units
Terrain features
Units engaged and units not engaged in the fighting

We do not know the following for all the major battles:
Troop arms
Troop training
Troop readiness following long marches

Probably true that the USA arms, clothing, and nourishment were as good or better than those of the CSA

What do we know about cannon #s & specs and cannon ammo (specs) for both sides? And which artillery units were engaged and not engaged in the fighting?
 
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DixieRifles

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Please correct the following for all major battles:
We know these:
Order of battle
Number of active troops for each unit
Commanders of all units
Disposition of all units
Terrain features
Units engaged and units not engaged in the fighting
You think so? That is a lot of information to know. It seems that every battle always have some kind of question about if a regiment made it to the battle in time. Or maybe 4 companies were detached to guard a bridge or a wagon train.

You didn't include: Casualties. I have read some after-action reports for small battles/skirmishes and these figures don't seem to be accurate---especially when they give numbers for the enemy casualties. There are so many variables to consider.
 

rebracer

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I would say to the OP, this is a subject many of us devote our lives to studying and trying to detetmine, so this is not a simple response.
 
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johan_steele

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Please correct the following for all major battles:
We know these:
Order of battle
Number of active troops for each unit
Commanders of all units
Disposition of all units
Terrain features
Units engaged and units not engaged in the fighting

We do not know the following for all the major battles:
Troop arms
Troop training
Troop readiness following long marches

Probably true that the USA arms, clothing, and nourishment were as good or better than those of the CSA

What do we know about cannon #s & specs and cannon ammo (specs) for both sides? And which artillery units were engaged and not engaged in the fighting?
I’m not sure what you’re asking me to do? Normally for that kind of research you should expect to be paying someone.
 

Norm53

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OK, let me get to the bottom line. Considering the above unknowns, are CWT members justified in assessing major battle leadership skills?
 

thomas aagaard

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Number of active troops for each unit
No we don't.
Numbers for Antietam are guess work, when it come to Lee's army... and highly effected by lost cause mythology.
(just to take one example)

But of cause it is fine to try judge the decisions and abilities of officers... we just need to be honest about the things we don't know and where we have to base it on an educated guess.
 
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poorjack

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If you're trying to determine if Unit X had gun Y, then good luck. It's a well known fact that often troops would discard the gun they were carrying for one they perceived as better or, if their gun malfunctioned, they'd pick one up from the nearest casualty, Yank or Reb. Then let's couple that with the number of guns that were damaged in battle, collected, and sent to an armory for repair and reissue. Often the repairs would result in a gun different from the original one. Case in point, the 1842 Springfield. There are a number of examples where the Confederates collected them, sent the damaged guns for repair where barrels were chopped, changed, some hardware changed and now the gun has a completely different character. That's why I shoot a 42 Macon in Smoothbore competition. The Macon arsenal was known for chopping 42 Springfields to about 30" and that makes for a very handy length smoothbore.
 

Norm53

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If you're trying to determine if Unit X had gun Y, then good luck. It's a well known fact that often troops would discard the gun they were carrying for one they perceived as better or, if their gun malfunctioned, they'd pick one up from the nearest casualty, Yank or Reb. Then let's couple that with the number of guns that were damaged in battle, collected, and sent to an armory for repair and reissue. Often the repairs would result in a gun different from the original one. Case in point, the 1842 Springfield. There are a number of examples where the Confederates collected them, sent the damaged guns for repair where barrels were chopped, changed, some hardware changed and now the gun has a completely different character. That's why I shoot a 42 Macon in Smoothbore competition. The Macon arsenal was known for chopping 42 Springfields to about 30" and that makes for a very handy length smoothbore.
So there is no telling what a soldier was actually using. Thanks for your personal experiences.
 

johan_steele

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Please correct the following for all major battles:
We know these:
Order of battle Sometimes, and OoB's are not always accurate.
Number of active troops for each unit Only sometimes, rarely do accurate numbers exist due to straggling, casualties and desertion. We may know what a unit went into a campaign with but the actual day of the battle can be quite skectchy.
Commanders of all units This is sometimes suspect as well. Fog of war, creative bookkeeping, politics etc create confusion.
Disposition of all units Not even close, we have generalities.
Terrain features We know exactly what the battlefield looks like today and we often have accurate period maps, we also have inaccurate period maps to muddy up the water.
Units engaged and units not engaged in the fighting This is also sometimes suspect for a variety of reasons.

We do not know the following for all the major battles:
Troop arms Some we have very detailed info on, others we have only vague generalities.
Troop training See above
Troop readiness following long marches The impact of a 20 miles march in the heat of a day in July is somewhat different than the same march in September. Those same soldiers might be considerably different from one month to another.

Probably true that the USA arms, clothing, and nourishment were as good or better than those of the CSA Depends upon location and time frame.

What do we know about cannon #s & specs and cannon ammo (specs) for both sides? And which artillery units were engaged and not engaged in the fighting? See above, it depends upon timeframe, location and unit.
There is something called the Fog of War, it impacts everything when the actual shooting starts. Organization and professionalism cam mitigate it to a degree but it is an issue. Even today in the age of computers the Fog of War is an issue, just because a unit has 312 men fully trained, armed and equipped on paper doesn't take into account a vicious case of typhoid running rampant through the ranks or malaria, flu, dysentery, wild Saturday night etc. As anyone who has studies Jackson or a host of other Generals will tell you anyone can have a bad day.

To be brutally honest in this community (or any other) knowledge, education and experience determine a lot. There are some people on this site I wouldn't trust to safely get a child across a street and others who could argue a case before the Supreme Court. The same is true in a military at any time in history.

The reality is combat and warfare are not and never have been a computer game. We can get educated guesses but that is all we can really do, especially looking back over 150 years. We can look at the record of wins and losses, we can look at what we know of logistics and training, education etc. But to rate an officer or an army with any honestly... It's the any give Sunday adage one day that officer may be brilliant, the next he's so hung over he can't find his boots let alone his command..
 
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Norm53

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There is something called the Fog of War, it impacts everything when the actual shooting starts. Organization and professionalism cam mitigate it to a degree but it is an issue. Even today in the age of computers the Fog of War is an issue, just because a unit has 312 men fully trained, armed and equipped on paper doesn't take into account a vicious case of typhoid running rampant through the ranks or malaria, flu, dysentery, wild Saturday night etc. As anyone who has studies Jackson or a host of other Generals will tell you anyone can have a bad day.

To be brutally honest in this community (or any other) knowledge, education and experience determine a lot. There are some people on this site I wouldn't trust to safely get a child across a street and others who could argue a case before the Supreme Court. The same is true in a military at any time in history.

The reality is combat and warfare are not and never have been a computer game. We can get educated guesses but that is all we can really do, especially looking back over 150 years. We can look at the record of wins and losses, we can look at what we know of logistics and training, education etc. But to rate an officer or an army with any honestly... It's the any given Sunday adage one day that officer may be brilliant, the next he's so hung over he can't find his boots let alone his command..
Considering all the unknowns that you so ably describe, the CWT member assessments of battlefield leaders don't amount to much except for the few members whose judgments you trust.
 

Jobe Holiday

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Norm53, I don't understand your thinly veiled hostility. This page is for the study and discussion of the "Weapons & Ammunition" of the ACW, not:

Order of battle
Number of active troops for each unit
Commanders of all units
Disposition of all units
Terrain features
Units engaged and units not engaged in the fighting


Perhaps you have selected the wrong CWT page for your questions?
J.
 

johan_steele

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Considering all the unknowns that you so ably describe, the CWT member assessments of battlefield leaders don't amount to much except for the few members whose judgments you trust.
I don’t understand your question still.

There is no simple answer to your question. I’m certain you can find professional amateurs, rank professionals and quite a few casual hobbyists here with widely varying degrees of knowledge and more than a few with real expertise.

As an example I might be considered somewhat knowledgeable of Infantry small arms and the men who carried them. I’m less versed in the officer class and gentleman generals.

On the other hand we have a couple established authors who might rightly be viewed as experts in their fields.

It’s up to the reader to determine credibility of an author being read.
 
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pfcjking

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Some units were known for the weapons they carried. The Irish Brigade was famous for their use of the 1842 Springfield with buck-n-ball, and Wilder's Lightning Brigade had their Spencer Carbines.
I have seen hand written CS army inspection returns on fold3.com that reported how many of what kind of musket was in each company of a particular regiment, but this is a rare thing. Also, the nomenclature for the rifles was different than I would expect, though I cannot recall off the top of my head. "Dutch muskets" or something like that.... that could be all kinds of things from Lorenz rifles to Potsdam muskets.
If you want facts, well then you need to properly vet your sources. Make sure the facts aren't skewed to conveniently support a narrative.
The Official Records collected by the War Dept after the war was over is a great source. The amount of scanned books online that have been out of print for 100 years is a priceless treasure, but remember to consider the writer. I love Lt. General Richard Taylor and Major General John B. Gordon, but I also know that they are somewhat full of manure at times.
 
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