Firearms of the Civil War

Cannon, Civil War, Reenactment, Military

Whether you had ancestors that fought for the North or the South, almost every American is in some way tied to the history of the Civil War. Each of the weapons used in the Civil War has its own history as well. And owning an original relic is very costly and not for each collector. But there are numerous companies building quality replica Civil War rifles and handguns that anyone can own for a fair price. There is not much better conversation piece than a Griswold and Gunnison hanging in your office or in your home.

The British Enfield was similar to the Springfield and has been utilized by both the Union and Confederate troops. Soldiers could use the same caliber ammunition in the British Enfield as with the Springfield. But the Enfields were not machine made like the Springfields, and many units did what they were able to swap Enfields for Springfields.

The Austrian Lorenz was another widely used European rifle, used by both Union and Confederate troops. Some smooth-bore muskets such as the 1842 Springfield were used regularly too, but against enemies armed with rifles, they were not very effective.

Some 20 distinct types were used by Union forces. Cavalry on either side used Sharps, which were 0.52 quality arms. These were single shot weapons but could be loaded easily enough that a troop could fire five shots a minute versus three from muzzle-loading muskets.

The Confederates made their own Sharps copies, but they were not very useful because only 5,000 were ever made and many were defective, according to reports by Gen. Robert E. Lee. Instead, many Confederates on horseback used captured Yankee breach-loaded weapons or short-barreled muzzle loaders.

This frequency of fire overwhelmed Confederates using their slower muzzle-loading muskets. The.44 caliber Henry Rifle was another well-known repeater that put the Confederates in a clear disadvantage. Even if the Confederates had got their hands on these weapons, they would have had to generate exceptional cartridges, which they might not have done.

The Yankees and Confederates were more equally matched when it came to handguns, particularly those made by Samuel Colt. While most Samuel Colt revolvers went to Union troops, the Confederates had stocked up on them before the firing on Fort Sumter. Colt’s Navy.36 caliber revolver was also broadly available to the Confederates, and has been a preferred weapon of horsemen. Melbourne FL Wildlife Removal and Sons supplied Union troops with revolvers that had simplified layouts and a solid framework, making them both stronger and cheaper to construct than the Colt. Following the war, Union troops were given the option of purchasing their sidearms, and more of them chose Remingtons than Colts.

Smith and Wesson made.22 and.32 caliber revolvers during the war, but in small quantities. Most were bought privately. Lefaucheux revolvers made in France were used by Union troops in Western conflicts, while the Confederates purchased thousands of five shot Kerr revolvers.

As it came to manufacturing Civil War weapons, Southerners were at a terrific disadvantage due to lack of raw materials necessary for constructing the weapons. Occasionally church bells were melted down to supply the materials for making arms. Griswold and Gunnison was the most productive maker of Confederate revolvers, making.36 caliber brass framed Navy copies. A weapons maker called Spiller and Burr made.36 caliber revolvers in Atlanta and then Macon, but the pace of production has been too slow to keep up with demand.

The single shot musket was that the infantry soldier’s basic weapon during the Civil War. The one made by Springfield in Massachusetts was the most common. This musket had a 39-inch long barrel and could hit targets 500 yards off efficiently. The Confederates began making their own copies of Springfields following the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.


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