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Thread: Question regarding ranks and side arms

  1. #1
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    Default Question regarding ranks and side arms

    A simple question really I just was curious as to what the answer was. At what rank level did the soldier drop the musket and pick up a saber and a pistol? I know sergeants had a saber but didn't think they would have a pistol. Also would a corporal have a sword?
    Jacob Dunn
    Western Federal Blues

  2. #2
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    If you were cav,you would get one issued to you.If you're artillery,you have a cannon,so no worries.But infantry,you had to become an officer before you could drop the musket for a saber.But we know that some 2nd Lts carried rifles after they were promoted simply because they didn't have the money for a pistol and saber.Most officers didn't start carrying pistols until they reached senior officer as that was when an officer could afford one.It's not to say that jr officers didn't carry pistols,but it was just not as scene,unless the officer had money or connections.
    We know that in some cases,officers would give up the long butterknife for something that shoots.During Sherman's Carolina Campaign,many officers carried regular guns (usually something a little bit better than enlisted weapons),to both give them the fire power and to also help them appear more like enlisted men when guerrilla tactics were being used.
    Regulations state that corporals would not carry a sword.Would get in the way of formation.
    Cullen Smith
    South Union Guard

    "Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake"~W.C. Fields

    "When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey; and when I drink water, I drink water."~Michaleen Flynn 'The Quiet Man'

  3. #3
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    Well are you talking about U.S. or C.S.A? also siege, horse, or field artillery?
    I am a member of a battery of horse artillery. My unit represents General Forrest's artillery, and I have done allot of research on the subject of what his artillery men would have used. Most of them that I have read about carried at least a pistole if not a long arm, I know that this is a special case as Forrest did not go by regulations much[he often armed his men with captured weapons] but his artillery men found that they had to have small arms as they often fought to and from there firing positions.

  4. #4

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    Hallo!

    You may want to use the SEARCH function here and on the AC board to review past discussions.

    In brief and to over generalize...

    For infantry officers were not required to be offensively or defensively armed. Commissioned company officers NUG wore swords as a symbol or rank. Those tended to be the regulation
    M1850 Foot Officers Sword or the lighter and less clunky M1860 Staff and Field Officers sword. However, as officers were required to purchase their own, one also finds all manner of substitutes such as militia swords, fraternal swords, foreign imports, and even cavalry sabres.

    Not required for service, some officers went the route of private purchase personal defense weapons as matter of personal choice and amount of cash they wanted to spend. For example, "horse pistols" were sometimes found to be a nuisance when a pocket or "poice" model sized revolver would do.

    I hate to use Universal statements.. but it would be almost "never" that an infantry private or NCO would "drop a musket' and take up a revolver and sabre.
    As shared, there were small numbers of men who thought a revolver was a necessary addition to what they were issued in 1861, but as he lore goes found them unneeded weight and sent them home or tossed them aside. Plus a similar thing for 1861-1862ish short swords in the form of oversize bowie knives for Confederates.

    Last, we are "plagued" with a number of Period studio images of infantrymen with pistols, or with pistols stuck in their belts (no holsters). While we can never knew exactly for sure, many believe these were photographer's props (as were some giant "Bowie" knives) borrowed for the sitting to make the customer look more martial or dangerous.

    In some segments of "reenacting," we have a tradition of men adding a revolver because they "can," and they think it kewyl. Much in the same way some officers are sometmes seen at the end of the ranks blazing away with a revolver at enemy formations.

    Curt
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tenfed1861 View Post
    ....But we know that some 2nd Lts carried rifles after they were promoted simply because they didn't have the money for a pistol and saber.Most officers didn't start carrying pistols until they reached senior officer as that was when an officer could afford one.It's not to say that jr officers didn't carry pistols,but it was just not as scene,unless the officer had money or connections.
    We know that in some cases,officers would give up the long butterknife for something that shoots.During Sherman's Carolina Campaign,many officers carried regular guns (usually something a little bit better than enlisted weapons),to both give them the fire power and to also help them appear more like enlisted men when guerrilla tactics were being used.....
    That right there might make for an interesting thread of its own. Was it not uncommon to see an officer carrying a rifle? I do remember reading about an officer during the Carolinas campaign using a rifle while he was leading his foraging party but haven't seen any other accounts like that
    Last edited by CedarForkRifles; 01-13-2013 at 08:39 PM. Reason: can't spell too good
    Kevin Barnes
    Co I 6th NCST

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    It's true that some officers did carry a rifle, but I can't believe that it was all that common. First of all, the officer would be forced to carry it and the ammunition and accouterments--quite a burden if you don't have to. Second, but more importantly, if the officer is doing his job he really doesn't have any time to take pot shots at the enemy. It's not his job to shoot at the enemy. His job is to command his men so THEY can shoot the enemy.
    Scott Washburn
    Mifflin Guard
    www.paperterrain.com

  7. #7
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    Default sidearms

    I portray an officer quite a lot during the season.
    There are several things that reenacting infantry officers (company on up) have adopted that were never necessarily the trappings of infantry officers.
    1) Pistols: Not in the regulations for an infantry officer to carry one. Many chose to. However, they are heavy and many carried pocket-sized ones rather than to purchase a heavy Army or Navy revolver. Too many reenacting officers burden themselves with pistol, holster, pistol cartridge box, and cap box. That's a lot of weight. I'd rather carry an extra canteen and rubber blanket.
    2) Cavalry belts: There are differences between officer's grade belts and US issue cavalry belts. many do not know the difference. For years you couldn't find a person who made officer's belts. Now, they can be found quite easily.
    3) Gauntlets: These are seen quite a lot in images. However, gauntlets were designed to protect the hands and wrists when on horseback. If you are not riding a horse you don't need them. They just make your hands hot and sweaty.
    4) Boots: They just don't make sense in hot weather. These too were made for mucking around in the mud and for protecting your lower legs while mounted. You just don't need them. They'll make your legs hot and are a pain to get off. Many photographs of officers show them wearing nicely made ankle boots or low quarter shoes. Boots aren't regulation for officers of any rank.

    Even of the above, cavalrymen received one pair of boots per year and two pair of booties (brogans). Spurs fit on them as well. Gauntlets were not an item of issue to cavarlymen until decades after the Civil War. ALL were privately purchased. Lots of images cavalrymen without gauntlets.

    I gave up carrying a pistol many years ago. They are a pain to load, a greater pain to clean, and I command an infantry regiment of 200 rifles to protect me. If I get in pistol range it is too close to shoot at someone safely anyway. Plus, I am a horrible pistol shot. It would only give me a false sense of security.

    Scot Buffington
    farb king

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddiamond View Post
    I portray an officer quite a lot during the season.


    I gave up carrying a pistol many years ago. They are a pain to load, a greater pain to clean, and I command an infantry regiment of 200 rifles to protect me. If I get in pistol range it is too close to shoot at someone safely anyway. Plus, I am a horrible pistol shot. It would only give me a false sense of security.

    Scot Buffington
    farb king
    And I've always heard that with an Infantry officer, you have your troops to protect you anif you need to use a pistol it's too late.
    Fritz Jacobs
    CPT, QM, USAR (Ret)
    VP Kentucky Soldiers Aide Society
    CPTFritz@aol.com

  9. #9
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    I've always felt that an officer aiming at an enemy soldier is focused on too small of a target.

    -Just my two cents.
    Mel Glover
    -GG grandson of Cpl Christian Greener, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, Co. F

    -Rob Weaver is my guru:
    -"...one of the characteristics of a good reenactor is the willingness to not be bulletproof."
    -"Be more concerned with your own impression than with anyone else's."

  10. #10
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    "And I've always heard that with an Infantry officer, you have your troops to protect you anif you need to use a pistol it's too late"

    I find this reasoning not to carry a pistol to be quite specious.

    Officers in the modern military carry side arms all the time and rarely ever use them in battle and if they did it would be rather pointless when everyone around you (including the enemy) has fully automatic weapons! Why do officers do so today, but wouldn't back then?

    And it was even more of a status to carry a pistol then than now. Yes some new officers dispensed with carry a side arm because they didn't have the $$ to buy one, but they usually would get one when they could. Most officers also carried around a saber, too. They sure as **** weren't sword dueling with the enemy!

    It was all a matter of the "look" and privilege of being an officer. It was what you did upon achieving rank.

    To refuse to carry a pistol because using one in battle is somewhat silly (and it is now and was then, too) is NOT a legitimate reason to refuse to carry one, really.

    So, the question we have to ask is this: Do we have proof of widespread disuse of pistols among officers because "if you need to use a pistol it's too late"?

    If many hundreds of officers dumped their pistols because it was battlefield unnecessary, then we should expect to see a large number (but not all) of reenactor officers not carrying pistols. Until we see all sorts of diary entries saying so, however, we should assume that the great bulk of officers carried their pistols whether they were battlefield useful or not.

    As to me, I've carried a Remington for 25 years in my various officer impressions. Haven't loaded and fired it for 27 years.

    WTH
    The StopUsingSpeciousIdeas mess
    Yuma gonna luv it

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