PDA

View Full Version : 1861 Springfield rifle and Confederate impression???



Reenactor Wannabe
12-17-2006, 06:52 PM
This is my first post, so hi everyone!! I am just getting into reenacting and so you may see that I have a lot of questions here in the near future. The unit that I am planning on joining shows a list of rifles that can be used and the 1861 Springfield is listed, but from what i read this weapon was primarily used by the north. I'm sure there may have been some confederate soldiers that may have had this rifle, but seems that the 1853 enfield was the most common. Mainly asking the question because i just noticed that cabelas has the 1861 springfield for sale and i can get some good discounts there. So what do you all think?

Gary
12-17-2006, 07:05 PM
Suggest you find the unit you're going to enlist in, find out what rifles they carried historically, and then buy accordingly.

Springfields were available to the Southern soldiers. They were supplied by retreating Yanks at Manassas and elsewhere. General Banks, a political appointee of Lincoln, was dubbed the best quartermaster the Confederacy had.

Reenactor Wannabe
12-17-2006, 07:15 PM
Well the 12 guage double barreled shotgun was prevelant in the beginning and then the 1853 enfields around 1862 and the article also states that captured us weapons were issued to soldiers as well.

huntdaw
12-17-2006, 08:38 PM
You might want to do more research and answer your own question. It's not as simple as shotguns and then muskets. There were quite a mixture of weapons in the early war. The advice to carry what the unit you are representing carried is very good also. There are a lot of good books out there that will teach you much more than asking questions on a forum. Also, ask the folks in the unit you are planning to join. They should be able to help you a lot with the basics and then you can post questions on the forum for further details and things they might not be able to answer to your full satisfaction. If they can't or won't help you with the basic information, I would start looking for another unit very quickly.

flattop32355
12-17-2006, 11:59 PM
The suggestion to find out what units you'd be portraying has some merit, but if the organization you will be joining has a generic impression (they do a number of units, depending upon who they're representing at a given event), you may want to go with a more generic weapon.

Springfield '42 or '61, or Enfield '54 will cover most generic needs. The Richmond Rifle is the Confederate copy of the Springfield. Shotguns generally are not allowed in the ranks at most reenactments of any quality, same for 2-banders, and no one makes a really good '54 Austrian Lorenz yet.

Most '61 Springfields in Confederate use would have been field pickups or issued after being collected post-victory. Apparently, they were somewhat numerous.

Ask the folks in your potential outfit what most of them carry, and go accordingly.

As for getting it from Cabela's, I'd ask them who the manufacturer is. Not all '61 Springfields are created equal, and you want to be sure of the quality before buying, compared to other more traditional sources, so you can make an informed decision.

Rob Weaver
12-18-2006, 07:55 AM
The advice to find out what your unit actually carried is #1. However, beyond that, the Springfield '61 was the most common arm of the War, salvaged from battlefields by the thousands by the Confederacy. I've read of perfectly good muskets rusting in piles after battlefield salvage at Chancellorsville.
Furthermore, in the broader world of reenacting, the '61 is always allowed on the field, so you won't have any problems fitting in if it's going to be your only gun (and there are a lot of us who only own one gun!). It's a little harder to clean and maintain than an Enfield, given that it's not blued and doesn't come with that lovely built-in patch jag. My '61 fouls under heavy firing because of the shape of the spark chamber, but that's just a cleaning issue. Both for firing and reenacting, the 2 muskets are really interchangable.
BTW - take your musket with you when you buy a bayonet because all bayonets are not created equal. I went through 18 of them to find one that fit my musket!
Just for the record, the Richmond was a copy of the 1855, minus the Maynard primer. I always thought that camelbacked lockplate was so cool looking!

flattop32355
12-18-2006, 04:54 PM
Just for the record, the Richmond was a copy of the 1855, minus the Maynard primer.

My error. Thanks for the correction.

Jim Mayo
12-18-2006, 05:19 PM
I hunted a CS trench in Petersburg which was captured by the Yanks and them knocked down. Evidently when they disarmed the Confederates they threw their muskets in the trench and covered them up with the dirt from the breast work. I dug eight muskets, my hunting buddy dug two and 2 other friends dug one each. Out of a total of 12 there were 6 Enfields and 6 Springfields. One of each was found with the bayonet attached. All were in various stages of loading. I know that this is just one instance but it shows extensive use of Springfields in the ANV. Probably not the 50/50 ratio we found but plenty in use. The picture below is 5 dug in one day. The two with bayonets are in this batch.

I think people would be surprised if the type of arms being used by Confederate forces was actually known. Parts of all sorts of different rifles and muskets used to be found in CS spots. Even the dreaded 2 band muskets are well represented.

POF
12-18-2006, 06:22 PM
Even the dreaded 2 band muskets are well represented.

Jim,
which rifles have you seen dug from spots like the one at Petersburg? Lorenz, M1841, CS made?
Patrick Flint

tompritchett
12-18-2006, 08:05 PM
I would add two comments to Bernard's.

First, I would be very leary of a Cabella's Springfileld since their primary market would be black powder hunters and not reenactors. Therefore, I doubt that they would be too concerned with authenticity issues. Thus, it would be advantageous to find out who their original maunfacturer was and, if it was not Armisport or Euroarms, compare it against those sold by the normal sutlers.

Second, if your unit has only generic guidelines, you might want to consider the Enfield because of the cleaning issues discussed elsewhere in this thread. Basically, if you do not thoroughly clean out the spark chamber after every battle, you will run into misfire problems unless you drill out the nipple slightly to increase the amount of spark getting into the chamber.

John1862
12-18-2006, 08:12 PM
First, I would be very leary of a Cabella's Springfileld since their primary market would be black powder hunters and not reenactors. Therefore, I doubt that they would be too concerned with authenticity issues. Thus, it would be advantageous to find out who their original maunfacturer was and, if it was not Armisport or Euroarms, compare it against those sold by the normal sutlers.


I second this, and may I recommend James River Armory 'Springfield', which also can be bought through Regimental Quartermaster... http://jamesriverarmory.com/Model%201861%20Rifled%20Musket.htm http://regtqm.com/muskets_defarbed_muskets.htm . I will be getting one of these as well in the next few months.

Jim Mayo
12-18-2006, 09:50 PM
Jim,
which rifles have you seen dug from spots like the one at Petersburg? Lorenz, M1841, CS made?
Patrick Flint

Listed below are the non Enfield and Springfield rifles and parts I can remember finding. I figure if a part of a different weapon was found that weapon was there also. Either someone found the rest of it or just that part was lost. Enfield and Springfield butt plates, barrel bands, nose caps and locks were pretty common finds in the 70s and 80s. Even found an exploded barrel or two.

Austrian Lorenz from CS position at Battle for Weldon RR.
Springfield driven straight down into the ground from CS position near Hatchers Run
Front barrel band from a Bar on band enfield at CS pickett line along Hatchers Run
Mississippi patch box cover, butt plate and brass bayonet adapter near Crater Rd.
Front band from Ashville Rifle on Dimmock line. Took me a while to identify that one.

bob 125th nysvi
12-28-2006, 03:45 PM
The south had a fair number of Springfields since when they seceded they took over the federal arsenals in the south and cleaned them out to arm the boys.

Then of course they managed to acquire a number more due to early war bumbling by the Northern Armies.

So I would venture to say that the 1861 Springfield was probably the second most numerous weapon available to the south. And beyond 1862 would have been much more representative of southern arms than a shotgun was.

Of course the south was also able to replicate the weapon in some of it's own arsenals (especially AFTER they had grabbed the rifle making equipment at Harper's ferry).

So it is a pretty good choice for a generic impression.

So unless you are creating a specific impression, and doing it well, a 1861 isn't a bad choice.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

CapitolGuards
12-28-2006, 05:37 PM
The south had a fair number of Springfields since when they seceded they took over the federal arsenals in the south and cleaned them out to arm the boys.

When the South cleaned out those armories, there were no Model 1861s in the inventories... instead what they got were quantities of the old Model 1816 and 1840 smoothbores, a few percussion weapons like the M1842, and a quantity of "Harpers Ferry rifles," meaning the M1841 and its contractor clones and the M1855 rifle and rifle-musket.

In the Federal arsenals in January, 1861, the Ordnance Department reported an inventory of 22,821 M1855 rifle-muskets, 12,508 .58 caliber M1855 and M1841 short rifles, 42,011 .54 cal. M1841 short rifles, and 499,554 .69 caliber muskets. (The M1861 Springfield was first approved to gear up to start manufacture on Feb. 20, 1861, and didn’t begin to reach the field in appreciable numbers until the first few months of 1862.)

In the Confederate states, here‘s what they had available at the beginning of the War in the summer of 1861:

Alabama’s militia stocks consisted completely of M1822 flintlocks, and was augmented by another 19,000 .69 smoothbores, some percussion-converted, when they seized the Mt. Vernon federal arsenal early in 1861.

Arkansas: 9,600 weapons of all sorts, only 1300 of which were percussion ignition (900 M1855 rifle-muskets, 250 M1842s, and 150 M1841s). 5600 of the remainder were flintlock M1822s, and about 2700 flintlock .54 cal Hall‘s rifles. In August, 1863, some 30% of ammunition production at the Little Rock Arsenal was still for .69 caliber flintlocks, indicating these weapons were still in the field in appreciable quantities.

Georgia owned 1225 M1855 rifle muskets, and 25,780 M1822s, mostly flintlocks, as of April 1861.

Tennessee: 8,761 .69 caliber muskets, all but 280 of which were flintlocks. 700 M1855 rifle muskets. Tennessee regiments were still packing .69 smoothbores in the trenches in front of Atlanta in 1864.

Louisiana: 35,194 .69 cal percussion muskets, 8,283 flintlock M1822s. Seizure of the Baton Rouge Arsenal yielded an additional 2,158 "Harpers Ferry rifles," mostly M1841s and contractor clones due to the small production numbers of the M1855 rifle.

Mississippi started the war with 5,500 flintlock M1822s. Period. According to Peter Cozzens’ campaign history of Murfreesboro, half the 44th Mississippi charged at Stones River with nothing more than sticks or clubs. The other half carried muskets so decrepit that the soldiers carried the hammers in their pockets when not actually in combat, to keep from losing them.

South Carolina had 6,000 of its own “Palmetto” muskets, contracted copies of the M1842 smoothbore, and continued manufacture of these through the War. In addition to the Palmetto guns, there were approximately 11,000 other .69 caliber smoothbores in arsenals around the state.

Virginia owned 57,069 3-banded muskets in 1861, of which 53,988 were flintlocks. After an exhaustive search, an additional 35,000 muskets - all flintlocks - were scrounged from around the State. In October 1861, 44,172 flintlocks were still in the hands of troops in the field.

Texas and Florida had no state arsenals, and were in even worse straits than their sister states in equipping the troops.

Texas was able to obtain 1000 M1822 flintlocks from the U.S. Arsenal in San Antonio, and a limited number of other smoothbores left over from the 1836 Texas War for Independence. In 1862, Texas regiments such as the 16th Texas were armed with .69 caliber flintlocks and were accoutered with civilian buckskin hunting pouches.

In April 1861, Harpers Ferry was the only Federal arsenal in production, since Springfield had just shut down to re-tool for production of the M1861. It's loss to the Confederates put Uncle Sam in a bind, and was one of the contributing factors to the Ordnance Department cleaning out all the armories in Europe in order to arm the volunteers. Grant's Army of the Tennessee and the other western armies were principally armed with converted Springfield and Harpers Ferry smoothbores, as well as the European imports until they could better their lot thru battlefield pickups, and didn't get rid of all the pumpkin slingers until the fall of Vicksburg -- when ironically they re-armed themselves with imported Confederate Enfields from the warehouses there.

For your average Confederate, a .69 caliber smoothbore is still going to be your Universal Yankee Killer. And from the reenacting standpoint these days, they ain't that much more expensive than an Enfield, about the same price as a '61 Springfield, and they're a heck of a lot more fun to shoot...

Tom

Nuttman
12-28-2006, 08:17 PM
Many Southern boys carried the Enfield. Bought by the thousands before and during the war. Depending on what year of the war you would be portraying would be a factor and possibly what part of the country, but mid to late war a Southern soldier would have aquired a Springfield from a prisoner or picked one up on the battlefield. Early to mid war and even later he may have carried an early smoothbore musket or Enfield. A Southern soldier with a 61 Springfield would not be out of place.

bob 125th nysvi
12-29-2006, 02:54 PM
For your average Confederate, a .69 caliber smoothbore is still going to be your Universal Yankee Killer. And from the reenacting standpoint these days, they ain't that much more expensive than an Enfield, about the same price as a '61 Springfield, and they're a heck of a lot more fun to shoot...

Tom


which I read (quite a while ago) that a number of arsenals in the south had been extensively stocked prior to the war. Mostly because that was where any trouble from our neighbors would probably start (Canada not being considered much of a threat) and that just before the war pro-southern government officals also moved arms into those arsenals.

You are however the only person I've ever encountered who claims the .69 caliber smooth bore was the "average" weapon of the south.

Maybe in months 1-6, but not for the duration of the war.

The northern militia faced similar weapons availablity issues at the outset of the war but quickly made up the difference. It took the south longer due to the lack of manufacturing facilities, but they weren't killing Yanks at Fredricksburg with smooth bores.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

CapitolGuards
12-29-2006, 05:27 PM
You are however the only person I've ever encountered who claims the .69 caliber smooth bore was the "average" weapon of the south.

Maybe in months 1-6, but not for the duration of the war.

The northern militia faced similar weapons availablity issues at the outset of the war but quickly made up the difference. It took the south longer due to the lack of manufacturing facilities, but they weren't killing Yanks at Fredricksburg with smooth bores.


Per Porter Alexander, who served as Lee's ordnance officer for the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days until shortly before Fredericksburg, It was Gettysburg, in July 1863 before the ANV had gotten nearly all of its smoothbores replaced with .58 caliber rifled weapons. So yeah, at least a portion of the ANV was still shooting at the Yankees with pumpkin slingers at Fredericksburg. The situation in the Army of Tennessee was worse, since they had less priority on the good stuff than the ANV. Many regiments were still armed with smoothbores in front of Atlanta, and some were still using them at Franklin. My friend has an original M1822 Springfield, arsenal-converted, that was picked up from the Confederate side of the field at Franklin.

Check the original ordnance records, and you might be surprised about your hypothesis. Depending on the theater, and the unit portrayed, a pumpkin slinger is always a good choice for Johnny Reb. Enfields start showing up in the field in small numbers around October 1861; '61 Springfields just a little bit later. They were phased out earlier in Virginia, but the smoothbores soldiered on in the West until the end of the War.

Tom

Jim Mayo
12-29-2006, 05:36 PM
I ran across a copy of the picture of dead confederates behind the stone wall at Fredricksburg today. Remember this post I counted the number of rifles that were laying about and could be identified. There were seven that could be positively identified as to type. One M-55 rifle, One 61 Springfield and 5 enfields.

Food for thought.

bob 125th nysvi
12-30-2006, 01:26 PM
Check the original ordnance records, and you might be surprised about your hypothesis. Depending on the theater, and the unit portrayed, a pumpkin slinger is always a good choice for Johnny Reb. Enfields start showing up in the field in small numbers around October 1861; '61 Springfields just a little bit later. They were phased out earlier in Virginia, but the smoothbores soldiered on in the West until the end of the War.

Tom

Actually my brain threw at me last night (when I was trying to fall asleep) that didn't at least one Vermont regiment at Gettysburg used smoothbores at Pickets charge?

Soldiered on yes. On the ordnance rolls yes.

But 'Average' weapon?

And if we're going for a generic weapon then I don't think the .69 smoothbore would be a good choice. The problem should be solved by using what ever the unit he's portraying used.

If its a .69 - Go for it.

My unit was issued Springfields and Enfields when formed. I guess we got lucky not being one of the low number NY regiments who had to make do with what was in the armory.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

CapitolGuards
12-30-2006, 11:36 PM
I ran across a copy of the picture of dead confederates behind the stone wall at Fredricksburg today. Remember this post I counted the number of rifles that were laying about and could be identified. There were seven that could be positively identified as to type. One M-55 rifle, One 61 Springfield and 5 enfields.

Food for thought.

I've seen the same picture... but stop and think for a minute -- that picture was taken during the Chancellorsville campaign in May 1863, some six months after the slaughter at Fredericksburg, and right close to the time when the ANV had finally cleared nearly all the smoothbores from its ranks.

Also consider the size of the sample here, we're looking at about a hundred yards of a defensive line that's a couple miles long, in one of the more defended areas. I'd expect to see what this picture is showing us at that point in time.

CapitolGuards
12-30-2006, 11:48 PM
Actually my brain threw at me last night (when I was trying to fall asleep) that didn't at least one Vermont regiment at Gettysburg used smoothbores at Pickets charge?

As did the Irish Brigade for their entire service in the War. Several regiments in the II Corps sector at Gettysburg were packing .69 smoothbores, and many spent the morning of July 3 re-packing their standard buck-and-ball cartridges to buckshot. As one veteran of the Irish Brigade remarked, "Buckshot TELLS at close ranges." For the typical engagement ranges in the majority of stand-up, open field fights during the War, and especially in close, wooded terrain, the .69 smoothbore firing buck and ball was every bit as effective, and at short range, more effective than the rifle-muskets. The Boys of '61-'63 left the record to show it. From mid-1863 onward the .58 caliber rifle rules, but the first half of the war was fought significantly with the old smoothbores. Let the reenactor campfire myths slide, and go look at the ordnance records to see what they were carrying, and the ammunition being supplied for them.



And if we're going for a generic weapon then I don't think the .69 smoothbore would be a good choice. The problem should be solved by using what ever the unit he's portraying used.

Bingo. Impressions should be site-, time-, and unit-specific when possible.

tom

Jim Mayo
12-31-2006, 10:09 AM
I've seen the same picture... but stop and think for a minute -- that picture was taken during the Chancellorsville campaign in May 1863, some six months after the slaughter at Fredericksburg, and right close to the time when the ANV had finally cleared nearly all the smoothbores from its ranks.

The question in the original post did not specify a time period.

bob 125th nysvi
12-31-2006, 08:42 PM
Let the reenactor campfire myths slide, and go look at the ordnance records to see what they were carrying, and the ammunition being supplied for them.

Records you supplied. The Rebs had approximately 225,000 smoothbores/.69s on hand when the war started.

Even if you assumed that the were all issued to units for CSA service (and they weren't the States retained a fair amount of armament for 'home defense') and they were all servicable. They amounted to no more than 25% of the CSA's Infantry needs (assuming 1,000,000 of the 1,500,000 (approx) men mustered into service were infantry) for the duration.

So yes they would be significant a valid weapon for 1861 and into 1862 but there is no way 25% equals 'average'.

So the 'myth' is not the use of .577 weapons but majority use of non.577 weapons as the primary infantry arm.

But we both agree that time and place of the portrayal will determine the appropriatenss of the weapon.

However if you can only afford 1. Standard .577 would be a more appropriate choice by it greater use by both sides in the conflict.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY

bob 125th nysvi
01-02-2007, 02:21 PM
as Capital Guard pointed out, and using my same average argument, an 1861 Springfield would be a significant MINORITY item for a reb in 61 or 62.

So while I'd advocate a .577 weapon for a generic impression an 1861 would not do for an early war Reb.

So an Enfield or Lorenz might be your best option.

It worked for my unit because we were either Springfield or Enfield armed when we were mustered into service, but then we weren't there at Bull Run in 61 either.

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance, NY