Tell me more! Were shotguns effective weapons?

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
wasn't BUCK & BALL used by the IRISH BERGADE?
Buck & ball was a standard issue round used by both armies. It was intended to increase the fire power of muzzleloading smoothbore muskets & shotguns. At Stones River, 40% of Union infantry was armed with smoothbores. in a matter of months, they were historical relics replaced by rifles.

The Army of Tennessee had 60% smoothbores. Confederate cavalry, regular & irregular were armed with shotguns. inside 50 yards, buck & ball could be effective, which beats nothing.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
As a hunter I can tell you Buckshot( specifically OO or larger ) is devastating a ranges under 40 yards. Most hunters (that use buckshot) restrict their shots to 40yards or less, but thats only due to pattern density . Buckshot pellets of the stated size, can kill MUCH farther away. As a young man I remember, a local man was who tragically was killed by his partner, in hunting accident, when he took a single 00 pellet to the head at 125yards away. I remember it so distinctly because I was in the same woods that day, and saw the ambulance carting him out. At the time of the ACW shotgun slugs were also in use, I have one (dropped not fired) somewhere in my collection. They are at least the equal of smoothbore muskets, matching in range accuracy, terminal ballistics.
You are very correct !

I should have explained that I was referring to loads for game birds.
00 Buckshot is an entirely different discussion.

But ... as you know, even "bird shot" can be devastating at close range.

Living in a rural part of the Deep South, we always seem to have an ongoing "war" with our pesky armadillos.
Those well armored critter's can tear up a lawn in a few hours (digging for grubs and such).

Anyway, I've learned from experience the best way to eradicate this nuisance is with a single shot .410 at 15 yards or less.

Anything larger would be overkill ... and that would cause the buzzards extra effort to clean everything up.
:wink:
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
When I took a concealed weapons class, the instructor said if the intruder was in your house you should use a shogun because the holes in the wall are easier to fix 😂
I suspect that instructor was trying to be funny.

Most shotguns at close range will blow a massive hole into the walls ... (provided the shot doesn't doesn't knock down 1/3 of said wall).
A pistol or revolver will only produce only a relatively small "bullet hole".

I think it's great that people are taking formal training, (not only to meet the legal requirements for a concealed weapons permit)
but also to understand the basic fundamentals and tactical applications.

I wish more citizens would take such classes.

However, learning the basics of a shotgun ( even the hand held versions ) is easier than learning the dynamics of a pistol, revolver and rifles

But back to the topic.

Shotguns have been an important weapon for both the cavalry & infantry throughout the last few centuries.
These weapons remain important in 2021.
 
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KianGaf

First Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland
Buck and Ball loads were sort of like shotguns and at close range, they were very lethal!
It was a preferred round for the .69 musket.

I seen online somewhere that certain Irish units could be located on the battlefield of Antietam today by the discovery of buck and ball remnants in the soil. It was their preferred ammunition , afaik they reluctantly changed to .58 minie rifles later in the war.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
I suspect that instructor was trying to be funny.

Most shotguns at close range will blow a massive hole into the walls ... (provided the shot doesn't doesn't knock down 1/3 of said wall).
A pistol or revolver will only produce only a relatively small "bullet hole".

I think it's great that people are taking formal training, (not only to meet the legal requirements for a concealed weapons permit)
but also to understand the basic fundamentals and tactical applications.

I wish more citizens would take such classes.

However, learning the basics of a shotgun ( even the hand held versions ) is easier than learning the dynamics of a pistol, revolver and rifles

But back to the topic.

Shotguns have been an important weapon for both the cavalry & infantry throughout the last few centuries.
These weapons remain important in 2021.
Please allow me to add some insight here. Shotgun patterns do not tend to spread very much at "home invasion" distance. This is part of what can make them so devastating, but it also overrules the "point and shoot" method for many people. Across a typically sized room, my 12-gauge loaded with anything would have a spread pattern that you could probably cover with a dessert plate. One can imagine the size hole this would leave in a wall (or a human torso) at that range. One can imagine a spread like that severing a limb or a head from a torso. But a nervous shooter could also easily miss the target by failing to aim the shot. A modern shotgun choke is patterned by firing at the center of a 30" circle drawn on a piece of paper. This shot is usually made at 30 or 40 yards. At this range the spread is much greater. The pellet holes within the circle, and the spaces between them, are carefully noted by the shooter who wants to be informed about his or her gun's performance with various loads. This process is repeated with multiple loads, targets, pellet sizes, and ranges until the optimal pattern density within the circle can be determined. Every gun, choke, and load will pattern a bit differently.

With buckshot, fewer pellets are loaded, but they have much more mass and retained energy at much longer ranges.

Translating all this to combat situations, it's easy to imagine a shotgun with a combat load being VERY destructive and devastating at ranges out to 40 - 50 yards when used by a seasoned shooter. It's easy to imagine even a 00-buckshot pattern failing to hit a vital area at much longer range, but the individual shot pellets would retain lethal energy for considerable distance beyond that. It's easy to imagine missing a very close opponent with either a rifle or a shotgun.

I have never been in combat and I hope I never will be. I am sure soldiers who were able to keep their wits about them tried very hard to neutralize their enemy before he got within "home invasion" range! It would be SO hard to keep one's wits while so many potential targets are shooting back at you!
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Of course, the kill ratio of burglars to family members, neighbors & pets nationally is 40 to one. The advantage of a shot gun is that it won’t carry very far. In a recent episode on our area, a homeowner defending himself from an imagined intruder fired most of an AR15 magazine at his own reflection in his daughter’s full length mirror. The door was open & the rounds penetrated the hollow core door, her bedroom window & blasted through the bedroom window next door. Fortunately, in his panic, he had fired upwards & the children in the two bedrooms the rounds penetrated were safe in bed as the bullets imbedded in the ceiling joists.

Responsible people use frangible shotgun projectiles that don’t endanger innocent bystanders.

As it was told to me, the only real danger he was in was from the furious reaction of his wife & the mother of the children whose bedrooms he had shot up.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@KianGaf No expert here but I believe there is something to what you say. The Irish 9th. Massachusetts was armed with 69 caliber smoothbore muskets and only reluctantly changed to rifle muskets due to the ever more difficult issue of getting ammunition for them in the field, that's per their regimental history by MacNamara

The three New York regiments of the Irish Brigade were armed with smoothbore muskets throughout most of their existence if I am no greatly mistaken.

Another interesting little side light is the 37 New York, referred to as the Irish Rifles. No smoothbores there I would imagine.

There were thoughts along the line that the close range necessary for efficient use of the smoothbores was appropriate for Irish soldiers.

John
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
@KianGaf No expert here but I believe there is something to what you say. The Irish 9th. Massachusetts was armed with 69 caliber smoothbore muskets and only reluctantly changed to rifle muskets due to the ever more difficult issue of getting ammunition for them in the field, that's per their regimental history by MacNamara

The three New York regiments of the Irish Brigade were armed with smoothbore muskets throughout most of their existence if I am no greatly mistaken.

Another interesting little side light is the 37 New York, referred to as the Irish Rifles. No smoothbores there I would imagine.

There were thoughts along the line that the close range necessary for efficient use of the smoothbores was appropriate for Irish soldiers.

John
What the heck was that all about? 19th racist theory did not consider Irish members of the white race, anything is possible. Were the Itish, like prewar Japanese, near sighted?
 

KianGaf

First Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland
What the heck was that all about? 19th racist theory did not consider Irish members of the white race, anything is possible. Were the Itish, like prewar Japanese, near sighted?

Could be part of the propaganda by the British during the era that the Irish were a sub race. That kind of thinking helped cause the famine disaster or genocide as it’s classed in some circles.
 

Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
@Rhea Cole Well I have read that the theory was their impetuousnous, (my word, not theirs), in battle would get them close. Fredericksburg seems to bear this out, does it not? I believe the Scotts had a similar reputation in some military circles in that era. I wouldn't consider this racist myself, maybe others would. I have always thought it was intended as a compliment to their battlefield prowess, weather true or not would be a matter of opinion I suspect. If I'm not mistaken it was the leaders of the Irish Brigade who advocated for the Brigade being armed as they were.

John
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Could be part of the propaganda by the British during the era that the Irish were a sub race. That kind of thinking helped cause the famine disaster or genocide as it’s classed in some circles.
A remarkable number of the British aristocracy believed that the famine was God’s will. It was his way of winnowing out the population, reducing it to the size that the land could support. Whenever God’s will & money are combined, you better lookout.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
@Rhea Cole Well I have read that the theory was their impetuousnous, (my word, not theirs), in battle would get them close. Fredericksburg seems to bear this out, does it not? I believe the Scotts had a similar reputation in some military circles in that era. I wouldn't consider this racist myself, maybe others would. I have always thought it was intended as a compliment to their battlefield prowess, weather true or not would be a matter of opinion I suspect. If I'm not mistaken it was the leaders of the Irish Brigade who advocated for the Brigade being armed as they were.

John
Expecting a rational reason would be a flight of fancy.
 
Joined
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Location
Southwest Mississippi
Please allow me to add some insight here. Shotgun patterns do not tend to spread very much at "home invasion" distance. This is part of what can make them so devastating, but it also overrules the "point and shoot" method for many people. Across a typically sized room, my 12-gauge loaded with anything would have a spread pattern that you could probably cover with a dessert plate. One can imagine the size hole this would leave in a wall (or a human torso) at that range. One can imagine a spread like that severing a limb or a head from a torso. But a nervous shooter could also easily miss the target by failing to aim the shot.

Thanks @Patrick H.

You are correct about the details of shot patterns.
My defensive shotguns are entirely different than what I take when duck hunting.

My point was ... IMHO ... a shotgun is much more effective for home defense (in the hands of a novice) than any "single bullet" weapon,
semi auto or not.

But back to the topic, shotguns have been a very effective military weapon from the American revolution until today.
 
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Cavalier

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 20, 2019
In reading pretty thoroughly, I thought, about the Irish Brigade since 1954 I have never seen anything that indicated, to me anyway, that the reason for their being armed with smoothbores was any kind of anti Irish racism. Although plenty of that existed at that time, as we all know well. It seems to have been their idea and they seem to have embraced it rather wholeheartedly throughout most of their existence.

John
 

FedericoFCavada

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
In the U.S. Army, from the days of the early Republic right through to the start of the Civil War, if a soldier was armed with a .69 cal. smooth bore musket, then fully half of his ammunition allowance or allotment was supposed to comprise of buck and ball cartridges, with the other half single-ball.

The history of multi-shot musket loads is fascinating. Many other nations also hewed to the practice, not just the Americans. During the Napoleonic-era, for instance, Swedish troops were issued double-ball cartridges for use against charging cavalry. That's two full-sized musket balls, rather than a single ball and a trio of buckshot.

Shot fired from shotguns is typically round. For that reason, being spherical, it actually loses velocity relatively quickly, versus modern tapered "spitzer" bullets fired from rifled arms. Many states used to have hunting regulations and laws that only shotguns should be used due to their relatively short range and the population density where a bullet might cause loss of life, limb, or property... Modern shotguns have gone technologically into directions that would have flat surprised folks in the 19th century, and in police usage have been entirely superseded buy other service weapons. But one thing is as true then as it is now: within short ranges, few arms have a more formidable reputation.

Contempt for the "mere Irish" or the "Irishry" has a long U.S. Anglo-Dutch-Ulster-Scot pedigree in addition to that of the British, I'm afraid. Of course, eventually the Irish took over police departments and even political machines and lorded over the more recent arrivals from southern and eastern Europe... As Sonny and Cher once crooned: "The beat goes on..."
 
Joined
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Location
Southwest Mississippi
Swedish troops were issued double-ball cartridges for use against charging cavalry. That's two full-sized musket balls, rather than a single ball and a trio of buckshot.

Very true.

I will never forget the first "real shotgun" that my father let me fire.
(Quick back-story) my Dad was a former US Army NCO ... and a lifelong "Country boy"... so he knew what he was doing.
He drilled safety into my young mind before he even showed me the basics of ANY weapon.

Anyway, he started my "training" when I was about 8 years old with .22 rifles and little .410 shotguns.
By the time I was 11 years old, he let me fire a 12 gauge shotgun for the first time.

And no, it wasn't his new Remington 1100, it was an unknown brand 1924 double-barrel shotgun that Dad's Uncle no longer used.

That thing bruised my young shoulder.
And my shoulder was purple for three weeks . . . but it was so exciting for my little boy self to brag to my buddies (I've shot a 12 gauge).

:D
 
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