What would a realistic CW era police course of fire be?


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
If one was the Chief of police of a major US city during the CW and after studying various shoot outs that have occurred (which would be that of the NYPD study that I mentioned in another thread) what course of fire would you adopt that all your sworn armed officers would have to pass based of course on the limits of common CW era revolvers? Lets keep in mind a few facts that have not changed since the CW to the present time.
1. A man with a knife in his hand can stab some one from a distance of 7 yards in 1.5 seconds (assuming he is in good physical condition) which means an officer who's gun is holstered needs to draw his revolver in less then 1.5 seconds and hit a target at say 1.5 yard to simulate the ground gained by the suspect. 96% of the shootings will be at 5 yards or less in low light condition.
Yes of course in 150 years a lot has changed but then as now an officer has to be quick and accurate and the price of failure is high.
Leftyhunter
 

Craig L Barry

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Messages
2,057
Location
Murfreesboro, TN
I don't mean to get off track here but during the mid-19th century the police in major metropolitan areas of America did not all carry handguns. Some did, some did not. In 1857 Baltimore became the first US city to allow its policemen to carry firearms. And while police in some major cities carried guns, not all did, even in the wilder districts of New York City. For example, it was up to the Captain of Police in New York to authorize their use individually by beat cops within his jurisdiction.
 
Last edited:

JohnCWF

Private
Joined
Feb 12, 2012
Messages
37
As a police firearms instructor I teach my students. First rule of a gun fight. If you aint cheating, you aint winning...

Most Coppers of that era carried big sticks and applied them liberally. Best way to defeat a man with a knife is to clock him on the head, from behind, before he becomes a threat. Modern officers have to worry about Use of Force issues, Miranda, Fourth amendment, due process... None of which was a concern during the 1860s.

One of Theodore Roosevelt's reforms of the NYPD in 1895 included the building of a firearms training range. Some police historians credit Roosevelt’s practice range as leading to the founding of the first police academy.

I doubt a Civil War era police chief would have thought much about handguns, if at all.

Having said that. If I were training my modern students back in those days. I'd have a man sized target. Student at 5 yards. Draw from holster, (or pocket, waistband, etc...) and fire three shots center mass in 6 seconds. Then use the butt of the gun as a club.

Whatever works, just as long as you win.
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
I don't mean to get off track here but during the mid-19th century the police in major metropolitan areas of America did not all carry handguns. Some did, some did not. In 1857 Baltimore became the first US city to allow its policemen to carry firearms. And while police in some major cities carried guns, not all did, even in the wilder districts of New York City. For example, it was up to the Captain of Police in New York to authorize their use individually by beat cops within his jurisdiction.
I assumed all cops where armed since by the CW era mass produced handguns where widely available not necessarily cheap but available in particular to burglars who could easily fence them. Not to mention knives and other weapons such has blackjacks where very easy to come by and of course at 7 yards or less a determined adversary could be a real threat.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
As a police firearms instructor I teach my students. First rule of a gun fight. If you aint cheating, you aint winning...

Most Coppers of that era carried big sticks and applied them liberally. Best way to defeat a man with a knife is to clock him on the head, from behind, before he becomes a threat. Modern officers have to worry about Use of Force issues, Miranda, Fourth amendment, due process... None of which was a concern during the 1860s.

One of Theodore Roosevelt's reforms of the NYPD in 1895 included the building of a firearms training range. Some police historians credit Roosevelt’s practice range as leading to the founding of the first police academy.

I doubt a Civil War era police chief would have thought much about handguns, if at all.

Having said that. If I were training my modern students back in those days. I'd have a man sized target. Student at 5 yards. Draw from holster, (or pocket, waistband, etc...) and fire three shots center mass in 6 seconds. Then use the butt of the gun as a club.

Whatever works, just as long as you win.
Very interesting that after almost 50 years of mass produced handguns NYPD may of been the first police dept to have some type of standardized fire arms training. One would think that their would be some concern about officer survival since their where plenty of violent criminals in NYC and has you very well know (for those who don't the film "surviving edged weapons" by Caliber Press is a classic maybe its on youtube) a knife is no joke. At least cops back then could carry real impact weapons vs the expandable"silly sticks" as I call them today. I used one once not a happy camper about them but that's what I have to carry. I suppose 3 shots in six seconds at 5 yards might be as good as it gets with a CW era black powder revolver. Just a bit of trivia some of the Irish coopers in NYC would save up their meager earnings to import a"proper ' club from Ireland made of the Irish post swamp Oak which was very dense like today's rare cocoabola sticks from Mexico. Unfortunately from what I understand that tree is now extinct. Your quite right use of force back in the day was a whole different ballgame then it is now.
Leftyhunter
 

Don Dixon

Corporal
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
427
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
Some observations:

If you did a serious crime like murder or attempted murder in the 1860s -- particularly if you did a copper -- and they caught you they hanged you. Period. That tended reduce the level of extreme violence somwhat.

In urban areas, arming police with more than billy clubs and whistles was generally not considered necessary or appropriate. And, a policeman wouldn't be too much concerned about beating you half to death.

When the New York police started to carry revolvers, they carried them under their long, buttoned-up, mid-thigh length coats. Consequently, there was no way to get them out for a quick draw shoot-out.

When departments started to issue revolvers, they were often issued with flap holsters to protect the weapons, just as the U.S. military currently does with the M9. This is not conducive to the quick draw.

Consequently, if the cops went into action armed they generally went in with guns already out. There were no use of force models in those days, and killing a thug was considered good ridance to bad trash.

Hand gun shooting -- target, military, and cop house -- was done one handed in the classic code duello style until the modern technique of the pistol was developed after World War II.

The historical record is not consistent with the scenarios discussed in the above posts. I say this both as a historian and as a distinguished graduate of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's firearms instructor course. Even with modern firearms and training most police are really pretty bad shots.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Jobe Holiday

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
2,481
Location
The Perpetually Frozen North
I have to agree with Don Dixon's last statement wholeheartedly. I live in a large city North of the Mason-Dixon Line. A few years ago one of our female officers (sorry ladies) emptied her service revolver at a criminal who was backed up against a high wooden wall fence. The distance given in the newspaper was about 15 feet. She hit the wall with all 6 rounds and the criminal escaped!
J.
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
Some observations:

If you did a serious crime like murder or attempted murder in the 1860s -- particularly if you did a copper -- and they caught you they hanged you. Period. That tended reduce the level of extreme violence somwhat.

In urban areas, arming police with more than billy clubs and whistles was generally not considered necessary or appropriate. And, a policeman wouldn't be too much concerned about beating you half to death.

When the New York police started to carry revolvers, they carried them under their long, buttoned-up, mid-thigh length coats. Consequently, there was no way to get them out for a quick draw shoot-out.

When departments started to issue revolvers, they were often issued with flap holsters to protect the weapons, just as the U.S. military currently does with the M9. This is not conducive to the quick draw.

Consequently, if the cops went into action armed they generally went in with guns already out. There were no use of force models in those days, and killing a thug was considered good ridance to bad trash.

Hand gun shooting -- target, military, and cop house -- was done one handed in the classic code duello style until the modern technique of the pistol was developed after World War II.

The historical record is not consistent with the scenarios discussed in the above posts. I say this both as a historian and as a distinguished graduate of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's firearms instructor course. Even with modern firearms and training most police are really pretty bad shots.

Regards,
Don Dixon
Good point! I was just wondering how police in the CW era dealt with armed threats and what the capabilities or a CW era black powder revolver are. Apparently no law enforcement agency took a scientific approach to realistic shooting scenarios
until at least 1895 ( if that with the fore mentioned NYPD shooting range) and some where in the 1930's if memory serves me the FBI developed"Hogans Alley" based on real officer involved shootings.
It's hard to believe that with all the violent crime especially during the CW in big cities no police department cared enough about their officers to institute realistic use of force training based on the technology of that era. Yet it was what was and even today their are some major gaps in training.
Leftyhunter
 

civilken

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 25, 2013
Messages
3,519
I can't help but wonder if someone is trying to get a point across about something else this thread seems suspicious at best.
 

Dave Wilma

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Messages
3,158
Location
Elliott Bay
Law enforcement of the era focused on protecting commercial interests and keeping the lower classes in line. The weapon of choice for police was the truncheon, the sap, or the night stick. I entered law enforcement in 1969 and talked to old timers who told of simply clubbing suspects into submission. One old timer showed me how to fence with a night stick—pretty impressive actually. In the academy we were taught Ai Ki Do and how to do carotid choke holds.

In 1970, the strategy in Seattle for dealing with a shooter was to deploy the two Thompson submachine guns and fire single shots at the shooter until an assault time could overtake him.

Through the 1940s in Seattle, police training consisted of a day of orientation on municipal ordinances and firing six rounds from a revolver.

My great grandfather's brother, James Dorn, a veteran of the 11th Michigan, was killed in the line of duty in 1892 in Kentland, Indiana. He was a town constable dispatched to deal with a resident who refused to trim his trees. The newspaper accounts say the constable walked up to the man and clubbed him with his truncheon. The man shot the constable dead. The murder conviction was overturned because the constable did not have a warrant (I think there is more to the story).
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
Law enforcement of the era focused on protecting commercial interests and keeping the lower classes in line. The weapon of choice for police was the truncheon, the sap, or the night stick. I entered law enforcement in 1969 and talked to old timers who told of simply clubbing suspects into submission. One old timer showed me how to fence with a night stick—pretty impressive actually. In the academy we were taught Ai Ki Do and how to do carotid choke holds.

In 1970, the strategy in Seattle for dealing with a shooter was to deploy the two Thompson submachine guns and fire single shots at the shooter until an assault time could overtake him.

Through the 1940s in Seattle, police training consisted of a day of orientation on municipal ordinances and firing six rounds from a revolver.

My great grandfather's brother, James Dorn, a veteran of the 11th Michigan, was killed in the line of duty in 1892 in Kentland, Indiana. He was a town constable dispatched to deal with a resident who refused to trim his trees. The newspaper accounts say the constable walked up to the man and clubbed him with his truncheon. The man shot the constable dead. The murder conviction was overturned because the constable did not have a warrant (I think there is more to the story).
I remember talking to an old time LAPD instructor about 30 plus years ago and in the late 40;s LAPD had a six week training course. On youtube their is a 1954 LAPD baton training film about 8 minutes. Their is also a 1963 LA Sheriff baton training film that is much longer. Its amazing that police back in the CW era and perhaps to a lesser degree today are issued weapons but don't always have the proper training to use them correctly.
Leftyhunter
 

7thWisconsin

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
Messages
1,145
In eastern metropolitan areas of the 19th century, what was the criminal weapon of choice? A club or knife is cheap, will not misfire, works under all conditions and is easy to throw away. I suspect the police were equipped to meet the level of anticipated threat.
 

Dave Wilma

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
Messages
3,158
Location
Elliott Bay
In eastern metropolitan areas of the 19th century, what was the criminal weapon of choice? A club or knife is cheap, will not misfire, works under all conditions and is easy to throw away. I suspect the police were equipped to meet the level of anticipated threat.
And the club is non-lethal under most circumstances. Killing citizens was bad for business.
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
In eastern metropolitan areas of the 19th century, what was the criminal weapon of choice? A club or knife is cheap, will not misfire, works under all conditions and is easy to throw away. I suspect the police were equipped to meet the level of anticipated threat.
You might have your opinion changed if you see the Caliber Press film"surviving edged weapons"circa early 1980's. Yes a baton or club can subdue a suspect with a knife but it not that easy and their is a real possibility of failure for the officer. From what I gather from this threads the safety of police officers was not a major concern of police chiefs for at least many decades well into the 20th century.
Leftyhunter
 

Jobe Holiday

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
2,481
Location
The Perpetually Frozen North
From what I have read about the police in NYC during the mid 19th Century I believe they were "toughs" themselves. So that dealing with an element they either came from or were very close to wasn't an issue for them.
J.
 

leftyhunter

Colonel
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
16,820
Location
los angeles ca
From what I have read about the police in NYC during the mid 19th Century I believe they were "toughs" themselves. So that dealing with an element they either came from or were very close to wasn't an issue for them.
J.
True enough . My OP is a question of what kind of course of fire would one design for CW era police forces taking into account actual tactical realities and the technology of CW era black powder revolvers. I focus on revolvers because it is a bit cumbersome for a police officer of the CW era to carry a double barrel shotgun on normal street patrol. Not to say shotguns where not used but it would for practical purposes used only on rare occasions .
Has far as police being tough vs not tough that would require first a definition of toughness and an objective way of measuring it, Certainly many NYPD officers showed great bravery in fighting rioters during the NYC draft riots of 1863. There where also draft riots in Boston and some cities in Wi but I have not read about them.
Leftyhunter
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Messages
3,822
Location
Denmark
It's hard to believe that with all the violent crime especially during the CW in big cities no police department cared enough about their officers to institute realistic use of force training based on the technology of that era. Yet it was what was and even today their are some major gaps in training.
Leftyhunter
I would guess that Police officers was usually big men who knew how to handle them self in a fight... and everyone knew they cold give you a beating without any legal consequences. (that was the case in Copenhagen during this period... the police was just the biggest bullies on the street... when we are talking in the poor parts of the city)

Also you are clearly projecting you modern opinion about police work and firearms on the 1860ties...
 

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Top