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GUNS Magazine September 2011 Digital Edition - Page 32
HOLT BODINSON supply problems was the fact that there were no manufacturing arsenals in the Confederacy. The former Federal arsenals had been used simply as depots. The Southern Historical Society summed it up best observing, “Not a gun, not a gun carriage, and except during the Mexican War, scarcely a round of ammunition had, for 50 years, been prepared in the Confederate States. There were consequently no workmen, or very few of them, skilled in these arts.” Imports The immediate answer for both the North and the South was the acquisition of foreign arms and to that end both governments sent purchasing agents abroad to England and Europe. The results were remarkable. Based on research done by historian, Dr. Daniel M. Roche, as referenced in the book, Firearms from Europe, from 1861 to 1863, “foreign arms made up almost 50 percent of the shoulder weapons used by the Union Army.” They consisted largely of .577-caliber Enfields, Belgium .69-caliber muskets, Prussian smoothbore .69- and .70-caliber muskets, Austrian .54-caliber rifles and .70-caliber smoothbore muskets. “At the battle of Gettysburg, 31 percent of the Army of the Potomac’s 239 regiments were armed solely with imported arms while an additional 22 percent were armed in part with European weapons.” In spite of the Union blockade of the South, the Confederacy purchased approximately 500,000 small arms from abroad. The .577 Enfield became the South’s standard infantry rifle, with the .54 Austrian Lorenz rifle being probably the second most issued imported arm. As the war progressed, the salvage of arms left on the battlefield became a major source of small arms for the Confederacy, and it is estimated that approximately 250,000 small arms were recovered by the South, many of them foreign made. The production and distribution of ammunition for both sides must have been a nightmare. Imagine the logistics of supplying cartridges for .52-, .54-, .58-, .64-, .69-, .70-, .71-, .72-, .73-, .74-, .75- and .79-caliber shoulder arms! Yet, both ordnance departments did it. holt and his first 1863 Springfield. CIvIL WAR MAINSTAy The .577- and .58-caliber rifled musket—or was it? uppose you went marching off to battle in the early s years of the Civil war. would you be carrying a .58 springfield or a .577 Enfield rifle? No, you would probably have been issued a .69 us smoothbore musket dating from 1816 to 1842 or maybe a recently imported surplus rifle or smoothbore musket from Austria, Prussia, Belgium, Italy or France. Neither the North nor the south was prepared or sufficiently stocked with small arms for the conflict that was to follow, and the scramble to find or manufacture a main infantry battle rifle is one of the greatest stories of the war Between the states. Writing in January, 1861 to the Secretary of War, Joseph Holt, Colonel of Ordnance, H.K. Craig, reported the long guns located in US arsenals and armories were as follows: “Percussion muskets and muskets altered to percussion (caliber .69), 499,554, and percussion rifles (caliber .54) 42,011.” He went on to report that 60,878 of that total had been seized by the Confederate states and that a further 58,362 rifles and muskets were in danger of being seized by the states of Georgia and North Carolina. In the South, the arms located in Federal arsenals and depots totaled approximately 15,000 rifles and 120,000 muskets, plus another mixed bag of 30,000 or so available from state and private stores. Adding to the South’s The standard British service musket, the .577 3-band Enfield, was used extensively by both the South and the North. 32 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2011