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Thread: Late war smoothbores ?

  1. #1
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    Default Late war smoothbores ?

    Hey all.. With the 1864 150th events around the corner , I decided to look into using my '42 Springfield for yet another year. I do strictly ANV and I wanted to know if their is any definitive evidence that smoothbores in general were carried until wars end or at least how late ? I found a few posts on the forum about ammo production for late war suggesting they were used until wars end ... But is their any positive identification of these being used into 64-65.

    Regards

    Peter Griebel

  2. #2
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    Peter,
    I would first ask the question of what unit are you portraying? Different units at different times had widely varying armaments and accouterments. Will McDonald posted on the AC Forum the papers of O.W. Edwards. He was the MSK at the Richmond Arsenal. I downloaded the 575 documents from him on Fold3.com to cross reference the work that Mr. McDonald has done. It was a massive undertaking to do on his part.
    Mike Brase

  3. #3
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    According to Brent Nosworthy in Bloody Crucible of Courage .69 buck and ball rounds were still being requisitioned by the ANV right up until April 1865 by the hundreds of thousands. Presumably this was to re-supply CS soldiers still toting around smoothbore pumpkin slingers. So yes, you are fine representing a late war Confederate soldier in the ANV with a 42 smoothbore.
    Last edited by Craig L Barry; 12-23-2013 at 04:26 PM.
    Craig L Barry

    Author: The Civil War Musket: A Handbook for Historical Accuracy

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig L Barry View Post
    According to Brent Nosworthy in Bloody Crucible of Courage .69 buck and ball rounds were still being requisitioned by the ANV right up until April 1865 by the hundreds of thousands. Presumably this was to re-supply CS soldiers still toting around smoothbore pumpkin slingers. So yes, you are fine representing a late war Confederate soldier in the ANV with a 42 smoothbore.
    I recently bought an ArmiSport 1842 Smoothbore from John Zimmerman for that purpose. Using 1816 percussion conversions is also historically accurate. I read somewhere that some Confederate militia units were even issued with unconverted 1795 flintlocks.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replys .. If indeed they were producing .69 cal ammunition until wars end then I guess the smoothbore was still in use . I wonder if some of the men preferred them.. Sometime I think it would be beneficial to have a buck and ball load as opposed to a single projectile for the kind of fighting that they did .

    Peter Griebel

  6. #6
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    Once found a M-42 bayonet in the bottom of a 1864 Cold Harbor CS trench. Other than that I have not found much evidence of smoothbore use in Petersburg or Richmond 1864-65 sites. However It is almost impossible to tell a dropped .69 ball from a case shot but fired .69 balls were hard to find. Not ANV but the 211th PA on the Howlett line and later Ft. Steadman area were armed with smoothbores.
    Last edited by Jim Mayo; 12-24-2013 at 01:38 PM.
    Jim Mayo
    Member of the old vets mess.

    http://www.angelfire.com/ma4/j_mayo/index.html

  7. #7
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    Smoothbores were in considerable use among the Heavy artillery battalions that comprised the Richmond garrison even as late as 1865. They were carried along the retreat and saw use at Sailor's Creek where the "heavies" made a valiant but futile stand.
    Bob Williams
    26th NCT
    AAIG, Carolina Legion

  8. #8
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    Besides the Richmond Arsenal reports of stock and issues of 69 caliber ammunition through that later time period. Ive also found/excavated a fairly large number of dropped and fired 69's throughout the Bermunda Hundred Campaign action sites (May 1864) and the respective nearby Howlett Line (May64-Apr65). Also in the Petersburg/Dinwiddie environs.

    Just a personal observation but in some spots did find some federal lead case-shot balls. However these tended to have a rather crude molding process that most still had a bold mold casting sprue protrusion on them. The musket balls tended to be better cast and sprue cut flush. Found several in confederate camp areas along the Howlett line that had been wormed-pulled bearing same charactoristics as those found dropped nearby. Some also found sporatic along the retreat routes from Petersburg to Amelia CH, Sailors Creek and west towards Appomattox. It would lend the impression that at least some troops were still armed with the 69's.
    Lieut Frederick Sineath
    14th Virginia Infantry Regt Co.I
    - 106th Penna Vol Co.F

  9. #9
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    Interesting subject that I have always wondered about. It is probable that the smoothbores were issued to units like the heavy artillery in the forts and other groups whose primary duty was in the rear with the gear. Smooth bores probably wouldn't have been very effective in the trench sniping that went on around Petersburg. I did find one .69 conical bullet on the back of a CS trench near Pamplin Park and always wondered where it came from. Out of about 7 or 8 thousand dug bullets from Petersburg that was the only .69 conical I ever found. I never counted the round balls as a bullet unless there was evidence of being fired such as the three dimples or barrel deformation on the ball. Some of those round balls however could have been from smoothbores or been dropped or didn't show evidence of being fired.

    Not all US case shot used crudely cast balls. Usually they loaded the shells with whatever was available. Rejected castings would certainly have been an option. I have dug several ground bursts and the lead case shot was near perfect. Have also seen them loaded with salvaged bullets, chunks of lead and .69 round balls. If memory serves me correct most of the lead filled shells were US. Most of the CS case shot by 64 was made of iron.

    I think the reason that the Bermuda Hundred area has as many .69 bullets found is that some of the later recruited high number regiments (such as the 211 Pa.) were given to Butler. So many of these regiments were armed with smoothbores that the US Gov had to start making .69 cal cartridge boxes again. Doesn't indicate ANV use but could explain the bullets laying around.

    Back to Craigs comment if the ammunition was being issued somebody must have been using it and that is probably the closest thing to documentation we are going to get.
    Jim Mayo
    Member of the old vets mess.

    http://www.angelfire.com/ma4/j_mayo/index.html

  10. #10
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    By way of additional documentation, an inspection report dated May 1864 by Lt. Col. Archer Anderson of the Heavy Artillery Battalions around Richmond (10th, 19th, 1nd 20th VA) had this to say: "Arms: 1125 smooth-bore caliber .69; 28 rifles caliber .69; 215 rifled caliber .58; 260 rifled caliber .54 [probably Austrians]. In no case were the arms in as good order as in required of troops in garrison; many were rusty."
    Bob Williams
    26th NCT
    AAIG, Carolina Legion

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