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Old 05-20-2013, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
48,025 posts, read 20,216,444 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post

Most boys grew up shooting muzzleloaders and were very familiar with them. A .58 cal minie bullet made a very large mess and could be reloaded fairly quick too. Sure the 1860 Henry Rifle might have held 15 rds but they used a really anemic proprietary.44 rimfire round without much knockdown power, plus they were very expensive and more difficult to maintain/repair.
You would have gotten along splendidly with General Ripley, seeing only negatives in making changes.

Besides rapid fire and reloading the repeating rifle had the advantages which I already listed above..ability to reload while in a protected position, cartridges which would not be fouled by wet weather. This instantly made it the best possible weapon for cavalry troops, and its value was certainly proven the first day at Gettysburg when General Buford's cavalry brigade, armed with repeaters, was able to hold off General Heth's division long enough for the Federal infantry to arrive. It was a huge success once again at the Battle of Franklin when General Hood's troops attacked Federal units which were armed with repeaters.

The repeating rifle was a superior weapon for scouts, skirmishers and raiders. Many of the Spencers and Henrys which were in use during the war were rifles which individual soldiers purchased with their own funds because they recognized that these weapons would help keep them alive longer.

I would certainly have armed my command with them if I had been a Civil War officer and had a choice. The Henrys could fire 28 rounds per minutes, the Spencers 20. A muzzle loader was good for two to three rounds a minute. If you were leading an attack against 500 men and had to cross ground in front of them which would expose you to fire for five minutes, would you think your chances better against an enemy which could put 70,000 rounds into your force during that time, or one which could fire 7500?
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,145 posts, read 20,142,391 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
You would have gotten along splendidly with General Ripley, seeing only negatives in making changes.

Besides rapid fire and reloading the repeating rifle had the advantages which I already listed above..ability to reload while in a protected position, cartridges which would not be fouled by wet weather. This instantly made it the best possible weapon for cavalry troops, and its value was certainly proven the first day at Gettysburg when General Buford's cavalry brigade, armed with repeaters, was able to hold off General Heth's division long enough for the Federal infantry to arrive. It was a huge success once again at the Battle of Franklin when General Hood's troops attacked Federal units which were armed with repeaters.

The repeating rifle was a superior weapon for scouts, skirmishers and raiders. Many of the Spencers and Henrys which were in use during the war were rifles which individual soldiers purchased with their own funds because they recognized that these weapons would help keep them alive longer.

I would certainly have armed my command with them if I had been a Civil War officer and had a choice. The Henrys could fire 28 rounds per minutes, the Spencers 20. A muzzle loader was good for two to three rounds a minute. If you were leading an attack against 500 men and had to cross ground in front of them which would expose you to fire for five minutes, would you think your chances better against an enemy which could put 70,000 rounds into your force during that time, or one which could fire 7500?
1860 Henry = very cool yet still very whimpy (and freakishly heavy!) gun with plenty of quirks. This is even a centerfire smokeless powder reproduction... I can't imagine how weak a rimfire black powder .44 was! Spencers likewise.



(yes, that's me)

You can load a muzzleloader from behind cover, but the main fighting strategy of the time wasn't like that, was it?



Like I said... later on the technology made substantial advances, but when it was brand new during the civil war era, the new tech was fiddly stuff that still had significant bugs to work out and didn't provide incredible advantage over the "old school" weapons.

Last edited by Chango; 05-20-2013 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 05-20-2013, 07:43 PM
 
Location: San Antonio
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Buford's brigade was armed with breech loading single shot carbines at Gettysburg, not with repeaters. Which shows the effectiveness of mere breechloaders against those armed with rifle muskets. As I recall Custer's brigade at Gettysburg was armed with repeaters, Spencer rifles, like Wilder's men used.

The effectiveness of Spencer and Henry repeaters, anemic cartridges and all, is shown by the performences of Wilder's Brigade at Hoover's Gap and both days at Chickamauga and of the 7th Illinois at Alatoona. And by the fact that veteran soldiers eagerly sought them. One officer of a repeater armed Midwestern infantry regiment of Sherman's army group remarked that the men worshipped their repeaters as heathens worshipped their idols. I reckon the fellas doing the actual scrapping knew the value of their weapons.

There was also an Ohio regiment at Chickamauga armed with Colt revolving rifles that did outstanding work at Snodgrass Hill.






One of Wilder's men with his Spencer rifle.

Last edited by Irishtom29; 05-20-2013 at 08:19 PM..
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:05 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishtom29 View Post
Buford's brigade was armed with breech loading single shot carbines at Gettysburg, not with repeaters.
You are correct, I wrote in haste. The 5th Michigan Cavalry and a portion of the 6th, those units belonging to General Custer's brigade, were armed with Spencers at Gettysburg. They were participants in the July 3rd cavalry battle east of the main battlefield. They fought Jeb Stuart's cavalry who were armed with lightsabers and Ninja throwing stars.
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:38 AM
 
Location: Southeast, where else?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
You've gotta remember the improvements were not as great as they seem to us in hindsight. It wasn't like they had the option to go from muskets to M-16's and simply dropped the ball.

Most boys grew up shooting muzzleloaders and were very familiar with them. A .58 cal minie bullet made a very large mess and could be reloaded fairly quick too. Sure the 1860 Henry Rifle might have held 15 rds but they used a really anemic proprietary.44 rimfire round without much knockdown power, plus they were very expensive and more difficult to maintain/repair.

As for the gatling gun, you had to tow it around on a wagon and roads weren't all that great; it was also a very complex high maintenance machine for the era and the rounds still weren't really effective like modern cartridges. A regular mortar or cannon could do far more damage and was much cheaper as well.

And submarines? Well, all the civil war subs ended up sinking soon after they were launched, usually with all hands. Truly useful subs didn't come about until WW1.

When you are fighting a war, "the latest and greatest" tech isn't always the best way to go. In fact, it usually isn't.

I hear you regarding the gattling gun but, in certain circumstances, they would have been priceless (Gettysburg comes to mind).....standing ranks, defined battle lines and with huge armies, they could have caused tremendous damage even more so with men lined up near shoulder to shoulder....better than artillery...can you imagine how much WORSE Pickett's charge would have been facing 8 gattling guns??? WWI trench warfare comes to mind....like mowing down wheat....and with range!

As far as Henry rifles, I beg to differ. .44 rimfire is more than enough to knock anyone down. More so if all you had/have is cotton to stop the bullet? 12-15 rounds of that X say 100 soldiers would/could have done much, much more. Dead by a .44 rimfire is as good as dead by a .54 caliber mini-ball. More accurate too....the Henry's were rifled, were they not?

Submarines while interesting were far from perfected but, you could see the potential damage with some more engineering...probably no time for that.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,478 posts, read 53,724,981 times
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If, and thank the Gods I have not been, in that kind of a fight I would have preferred myself and my comrades were armed with either quick action breach loaders or Henry repeaters. In that kind of a fight the amount of lead flying downrange is the decisive factor in victory. Dumb luck is the biggest individual survival factor. I would have liked to have a six gun or a short barrel shotgun for personal defense.

As a River Rat in 'Nam I carried a slide action shotgun and a Colt .45 pistol. They were adequate for that kind of fighting. So was the .50 Cal. BMG mounted on the boat.
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:32 PM
 
Location: The Mid South
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Post Even so 605,000 died

Just finished a book on civil war history. The author said that the south, in particular had to buy guns overseas and yet in general the yanks were aware of the shipments and often incepted or sunk the cargo.

The same writer said that Lincoln and his administration could have prevented the war and he gave some convincing reasons why. Which is a position that I have come to in recent years.

The authors last name was ledbetter.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fortoggie View Post

The same writer said that Lincoln and his administration could have prevented the war and he gave some convincing reasons why. Which is a position that I have come to in recent years.

.
Either side could have prevented the war by giving up their stated positions in favor of the other side. Neither was willing and that was why there was a war.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:43 PM
 
Location: southern california
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this is a good point. the same was true of WWII, american foot soldier was the only major player with semi automatic but was in existence b4 war started.
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,145 posts, read 20,142,391 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry3911948 View Post
this is a good point. the same was true of WWII, american foot soldier was the only major player with semi automatic but was in existence b4 war started.
The Nazis had quite a few of these:



But like most cutting edge WW2 German tech they couldn't get enough of them out onto the battlefield to make any difference.

Still not the same game as black powder early repeaters vs muzzleloaders though. Lever guns still didn't get truly practical until the Winchester Yellow Boy after the Civil War.
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