Tell me more! Were shotguns effective weapons?

major bill

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"Lieutenant Hathaniel A. Taylor of Hawpe's regiment stated that the men in his company were armed with "utterly worthless" shotguns incapable of harming man or beast. "they will hardly stick a ball into butter at the distance of sixty paces." (p.57-58 Fields of Blood the Prairie Grove Campaign, William L. Shea).

So were shotguns really this ineffective in combat? Perhaps shotguns were a bit more useful at shorter distances.
 

rpkennedy

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"Lieutenant Hathaniel A. Taylor of Hawpe's regiment stated that the men in his company were armed with "utterly worthless" shotguns incapable of harming man or beast. "they will hardly stick a ball into butter at the distance of sixty paces." (p.57-58 Fields of Blood the Prairie Grove Campaign, William L. Shea).

So were shotguns really this ineffective in combat? Perhaps shotguns were a bit more useful at shorter distances.

At short range, they could be very effective. But when the enemy is armed with muskets and rifles, shotgun armed troops are going to be in serious trouble.

Ryan
 
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IF you could get close enough, it could be supposed that a shot-gun was effective. However, as the war progressed, shotguns were used less and less.....For obvious reasons: They were close-range weapons against long-range rifles.
You answered your own question with your quote: "utterly worthless"..... "at the distance of sixty paces."
 

Henry Whitworth

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It's easy to imagine a shotgun, if you had a good one, being very useful in some of the situations they found themselves in. But to get to that point you'd have to carry one instead of a rifle all the time, which wouldn't do in more circumstances. I wouldn't be surprised if they were the go to for a lot of the people fighting in the irregular fights that went on in hill country and such. But not a lot of history is written about those encounters.
 

leftyhunter

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"Lieutenant Hathaniel A. Taylor of Hawpe's regiment stated that the men in his company were armed with "utterly worthless" shotguns incapable of harming man or beast. "they will hardly stick a ball into butter at the distance of sixty paces." (p.57-58 Fields of Blood the Prairie Grove Campaign, William L. Shea).

So were shotguns really this ineffective in combat? Perhaps shotguns were a bit more useful at shorter distances.
Shotguns worked fine when used by Confederate gurrillas in Missouri who used horses extensively at close range. Some members of the MSM used shotguns as well.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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"Lieutenant Hathaniel A. Taylor of Hawpe's regiment stated that the men in his company were armed with "utterly worthless" shotguns incapable of harming man or beast. "they will hardly stick a ball into butter at the distance of sixty paces." (p.57-58 Fields of Blood the Prairie Grove Campaign, William L. Shea).

So were shotguns really this ineffective in combat? Perhaps shotguns were a bit more useful at shorter distances.
Newt Knight used a shotgun to take out Confederate Major Lenore at his home in Jones County , Mississippi. No doubt in swampy or densely forested or brushy terrain guerrillas and Home Guards found shotguns very useful since they would often fight very close range.
Confederate Partisan Rangers were known to use shotguns and like the Missiouri guerrillas would fight at close range.
Leftyhunter
 

7thWisconsin

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Shotguns were issued to stagecoach and wagon guards all the time during the period. A couple of rounds of buckshot available very quickly would be sort of like the modern equivalent of spraying an area with automatic fire from a machine pistol like an Uzi. But the range is so short. Pistol range - 35 yards or so. A smoothbore musket, which is essentially a shotgun, has a much longer barrel and can push that buck and ball load out further, 75-100 yards, making it the next step up. Then there's the maintenance issue. Muskets and carbines, military hardware, is designed to be sturdy and easy to repair. Civilian arms like shotguns and hunting rifles are lighter in the stock, and more frail - wooden ramrods were still the norm - and lock repair requires a gunsmith who has the time to fit unique parts to the gun.
 

Rhea Cole

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In June 1863 a surprising number of the cavalry of the Army of Tennessee were armed with shot guns & smoothbore muskets which were pretty much the same thing. They were better off than entire company’s of the AoT that had no arms of any kind in June1863. The men of Imboden’s Cavalty who escorted the AoNV’s convoy of wounded from Gettysburg were armed with a motley collection of weapons that included many shotguns.
Firing from horseback, I am willing to believe that a shotgun makes sense. After all, any shot made from a moving horse is only going sorta vaguely toward where it is intended to strike.However, since CW cavalry were essentially mounted infantry, the white poof of smoke from a shotgun fired from cover would only serve to mark you as a target.
 
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Kyle Kalasnik

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Model 12 Winchesters were used against Jap snipers in trees on Guadalcanal and New Georgia in the Solomons, so they have their place. I know this because my father brought one home and I still have it.
Some Marines and Navy Corpsman I served with in Iraq were issued and carried Mossberg 500 Pump Shotguns. Very effective at close range.
 

thomas aagaard

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I would rather face an opponent armed with a saber than a shotgun.
Ever fired a gun from the back of a moving horse? (or even one standing still?)

Seen across the musket period it was more effective for cavalry to charge with saber than firearms.
And cavalry with firearms that got charged where in serious trouble... as we se a number of times late in the war, when the federal cavalry finally learned how to do a prober charge with sabers.

Obviously, if we are talking an ambush of a few supply wagons and a fight with 20-30 men the situation is difference.

But there is a good reason why regular cavalry across time where armed with saber, pistols and a carbine... and not shotguns.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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Shotguns only got used initially because it was the cheapest most available arm, (the whole perception of "Country of riflemen" and rifles in every home is rubbish). For infantry the shotgun was mostly useless, but there are instances where they worked well. Like the Battle of Mansfield in Louisiana, one Louisiana regiment, (sadly I can't remember which one right now), got a lot of praise for one charge and them not firing till they were right up against the Union line and scattering a Union regiment, but when you look at the reports, they were armed solely with shotguns. They had to get close to have an effect. I need to look that up again...

For cavalry though, shotguns tended to be highly regarded, especially in the Western Theaters. Most your Confederate cavalrymen didn't have sidearms, usually no sabers, with the choice of guns either being infantry rifles and muskets, or shotguns, with carbines a rarity. With infantry accoutrements too. If they were on horseback a shotgun was useful, dismounted not so much.
 

FedericoFCavada

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Double barrel shotguns were very frequently used, particularly by mounted men, but also some infantry. They were often brought from home. There are images and pictures of some that were contrived to use a bayonet. They offered two shots instead of one. These were, however, civilian arms, and so the locks and other critical parts were not built to the same level of robustness as a military arm, even a smooth-bore musket, which after all, is a type of shotgun, really.

A buck and ball cartridge offers a single .65 ball and 3x .310 buckshot for four projectiles. A buckshot load of the day was often 9x or 12x .310 balls. Certainly devastating at close range. In police and civilian use the shotgun developed a reputation as a fight stopping weapon. But at longer ranges, particularly with older types of non-buffered shot, the shot pellets leave the barrel distorted from contact with other shot, and since they are nominally round, they lose velocity very quickly. The spread of shot is not so wide as is often portrayed or thought of in uninformed popular culture, but at a distance of 35 to 40 yards out to 50 and 65 yards, which is easily still smooth-bore musket range, the spread of pellets starts to become so wide that the chances of achieving a disabling hit diminish.

In cases of shooting at rifle armed troops at ranges over that of a typical musket, anyone with a shotgun suffered the same disadvantages as someone armed with a smooth-bore. During the American Revolutionary War, there was actually a proposal to arm Continental cavalry with blunderbusses! The idea here was that it would be easier to reload than a conventional carbine or even brace of pistols. The flared muzzle did not spread out the shot, but it made loading from a lurching stage coach or carriage, or on the rolling deck of a ship, much easier.
 
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