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 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 01:03 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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See??

I told y'all Johann knew what he is talking about!!!



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 01:11 pm
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Johan Steele
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THe cleaner rounds were intended to be fired every 10 rounds the intention being to scour out the fouling w/ a washer attached to the back end. The originals sometimes worked sometimes didn't as the cleaning washer attached to the back of the bullet often broke in the process of ramming it home. Fouling was worse w/ English made bullets which were smooth w/out the grease grooves which also acted to scour some fouling out of the barrel.

As to the bayonet, many a solider both US & CS did ditch the thing at first opportunity but many did not. Frankly the bayonet & bowie would only really be appropriate early war... or for green troops. Most of the ANV carried bayonets through to Appomotax, further west mileage varied considerably.

CW firearms are my forte, my joy. I've fired originals of most of the major types of CW long arms.



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 01:35 pm
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Roger
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j harold 587 wrote: Just want to echo all of Johan's post. I will admit this may be a bit picky , but would a veteran Johnny tote the extra weight of a bayonet and a large fighting knife?  In my opinion the bayonette would have been lost. Once again excellent work on the painting. My wife has the talent there. I just make sawdust.

Thank you for the compliment on my painting and I don't have a problem at all with you being picky. I'm glad my figure has initiated some debate and I've learnt something in the process so thank you.

Roger



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 01:42 pm
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Roger
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Thank you for your reply Johan, very interesting. I now know who to direct any queries I have ref. civil war firearms:D

Roger



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 02:08 pm
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Michael C. Hardy
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Johan - once again, with all due respect, the historical record says otherwise. There are probably hundreds of examples of fouling being an issue with the men on the firing lines. I’ve listed several below. I do recall reading once of men using rocks to pound their ramrods to get their loads to seat. I could not lay my hand upon that example this morning. Hopefully, the other examples will suffice. The fouling was created by both prolonged firing of the weapons, and at times by usage of improperly sized ammunition, i.e., shooting .58 minies in .577 cal. Enfields.

While the regulations state to “seize the rammer at the small end with the thumb and fore-finger of the right hand, the back of the hand to the front” we must take into account that these men were trying to load quickly a projectile that did not want to easily slide down the barrel, all the while the smoke of the battle is chocking them, someone is shooting at them, and an officer or NCO is yelling at them to load faster and shoot lower.

A few examples:

On May 3, 1863, at the Battle of Salem Church, the 15th New Jersey’s Enfields were so fouled, that some men were forced to drive their ramrods into trees in an attempt to properly seat their loads.

Walthall’s Brigade, at Chickamauga, likewise had problems, not so much with fouling, even though that was part of the problem, but with improperly sized bullets. Lt. Harrison, brigade ordnance officer, wrote: “after the first few rounds, [some of the ammunition] was found too large, and frequently chocking the guns to the extent that they could [minies] could not be forced down...” (OR Vol. 30, 2:277)

Lt. Col. H. Oladowski, ordnance officer, reported on the Army of Tennessee in March 1863, that “The ammunition supplied for the Enfield rifles was found in a few instances rather too large. When guns become fouled, after 15 or 20 rounds, it is difficult to lodge the bullet home.”
(OR Vol. 32, 2:762-763)

Col. Louis R. Francine, 7th NJ Vol., reported that after fighting for three hours at Chancellorsville, with “ammunition giving out and the muskets becoming foul...” ordered his regiment out of the fight. (OR Vol. 25, 1:478)

Col. William Hawley, 3rd Wisconsin Inf., wrote after the battle of Chancellorsville “For nearly three hours my command was thus under a heavy fire, fighting desperately and constantly gaining ground, until the arms of the men became so foul by frequent firing that they could be loaded but with difficulty.” (OR Vol. 25, 1:720)

After Chickamauga, Col. R. H. Keeble, 23rd Tennessee Infantry, wrote: “Night was now coming on; our ammunition was failing, the men, some of them, having but one round– none of them exceeding three; guns had been shot and injured, and more becoming foul and useless.”
(OR Vol. 30 2:486)

During the battle of Spotsylvania Court House “Ammunition would run out and new supply would be furnished. Guns would become foul, when we would order the men back to wash them out and then return to the fight.” From the Report of Col. Robert McAllister, 11th NJ Inf., commanding 1I brigade, IV Division, II Corps. (OR Vol. 36, 1:491)



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 02:44 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Michael,

Very well researched reply! You have my compliments, sir!



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 02:50 pm
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Roger
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Yes, a very interesting post Michael. Thank you.
Roger



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 02:56 pm
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javal1
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For those of you who don't read TWIB (This week in the Blogs), well first, shame on you for not doing so. But my point is that you can read more of Michael's writings and ponderings at his blog North Carolina and the Civil War.



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 03:57 pm
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Michael C. Hardy
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Thanks for the plug. Back several years ago, when I was really into doing interpretation and reenacting, I spent a great deal of time researching the topic of fouling. I’ve probably got enough material around here for an article. Maybe one day I’ll have time to put that one together. I’ve also got an article here someplace (maybe by Joe Bilby) about the differences between the powder that we have, and the powder that they used. But alas, that manuscript on the 58th NCT is calling to me and I need to go and work on it before my publisher calls me again, wanting to know where it is!



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 07:11 pm
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Johan Steele
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Michael, no disresect received, I have no doubt fouling was at times an issue, especially after rapid fire or prolonged firing w/ no opportunity to clean between rounds. Add to that cases where men were not properly trained or were issued wrong ammo (.58 works in .577 but is a touch more difficult to seat)but I think fouling issues is a overstated problem. .577 or .58 in a .54 is a problem.

One of my favorite stories of fouling was a letter referencing the Battle of Atlanta. An amused Sgt wrote home about witnessing a rather embarassing and apparentlt quite disabling injury. A Pvt needed to clean his Springfield in a hurry and also felt the need to empty his bladder. Deciding to kill two birds w/ one stone he had a rather painful mishap allowing a quite hot barrel to contact a portion of his anatomy... I can only imagine the talk about that incident!

To add, one of the more common injuries was to the right hand, where a man would slam his hand down on the ramrod... on a severely fouled weapon the ramrod might not budge but the hand would continue leaving a rather painful wound.

The fist on the ramrod thing to me stands out as possible but extremely rare. Men who had experianced the issue usually never repeated the mistake. Some fashioned a wooden block to assist w/ their ramrod if it became fouled.

I can easily see it in a situation that is quite intense and men are rapid firing their way through 100 rounds, after 30 or so you had best start worrying about fouling. But as I said I believe most men were adept at field cleaning the weapon... it can be done in seconds if the situation warrented and the man didn't even have to leave the line.

A hot barrel, loose powder... a real danger of a cook off and I think most would rather lose a finger than the hand.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while severe fouling happened I believe it was an exception rather than a norm.



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 07:27 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Stupid question, again due to inexperience, but why would fouling be an exception rather than a norm in an instance where entire regiments or brigades were firing continuously in a hot fight? Wouldn't a majority, if not all, the rifles begin to foul after a certain number of shots?

I digress to Michael's citations in an earlier post of his:

Col. William Hawley, 3rd Wisconsin Inf., wrote after the battle of Chancellorsville “For nearly three hours my command was thus under a heavy fire, fighting desperately and constantly gaining ground, until the arms of the men became so foul by frequent firing that they could be loaded but with difficulty.” (OR Vol. 25, 1:720)

Walthall’s Brigade, at Chickamauga, likewise had problems, not so much with fouling, even though that was part of the problem, but with improperly sized bullets. Lt. Harrison, brigade ordnance officer, wrote: “after the first few rounds, [some of the ammunition] was found too large, and frequently chocking the guns to the extent that they could [minies] could not be forced down...” (OR Vol. 30, 2:277)

According to these two sources both a regiment and a brigade had difficulty with fouling.

Sorry if I have become nit-picky, but I am compelled to believe the first person sources discussing fouling at a regimental/brigade level.

On the other hand, and here's my dilema, I know Johan is very knowledgeable and experienced, so I am confused as to what to think of the fouling issue!

This has turned in to a great discussion!



 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 11:58 pm
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Johan Steele
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Both Chickamauga & Chanclorsville were big battles w/ units in the line for extended periods, I have come to see these as exceptions rather than the norm. When units were cycled out of the line to recive ammunition resupply they normally would have done a quick field clean. When I say this takes only a minute I'm not kidding, a mouthful of water down the barrel, thumb over the muzzle shaken a time or three and dumped out. If the barrel is extremely hot a good amount of that water will evaporate and a couple patches to swab out the worst of it and it's clean enough to fire again w/ the worst of the fouling gone.

I've read many period accounts of men cleaning their weapons while in the line. One was from the 2nd MN VI at Chickamauga, I think about 5-6 letters over the years have mentioned field cleaning, I've duplicated some of their methods on the firing line (I refuse to pee down my barrel though)all three methods worked.

As was mentioned earlier the cleaner bullets would help considerably but could cause problems if the washer broke off in the barrel and didn't exit it. Again another thing that could be attributed to fouling.

Wathall Brigade was largely carrying M1841's and Lorenzes IIRC which would have been .54 the situation at Chickamauga had them issued a box of .58 which they loaded on the advance causing the problem. Essentially the .58's would probably drop the first couple inches down the barrel but no further... and a couple raps w/ the ramrod would solidly stick the bullet. Major problem but not really related to fouling.

Something that we as re-enactors don't really understand or often grasp is that even in the hottest fights the average numbers of shots fired might only be 40 rounds or considerably less. We think of the big battles like Chancellorsville, Chickamauga, Shiloh, Atlanta... all can certainly be thought of as hot and intense fights but it's startling to realize that some regiments fired only 200 rounds per man across three days at Gettysburg (IIRC that was 2nd Wisconsin) needless to say I was quite suprised. But when you realize that the 3 aimed shots a minute we so often quote was not always a reality. I've live fired a lot w/ my M1841 a Parker Hale P53 and an original M1863 Springfield, I can't say as I ever managed 3 shots a minute. I know I did when I started w/ a round loaded but not consistantly. 3 shots a minute would use up a soldiers 40 dead men in under 15 minutes yet we often read of engagements that lasted hours w/out ammunition resupply; even taking into consideration an extra 100 or so rounds you can see there was no where near a 3 shots a minute rate of fire held.

Lets add one more bit to the mix, untrained troops. Many units both US & CS had green untrained or inexperianced troops see the elephent throughout the war. And firearms training was woefully inadequete for both sides. Did this contribute to fouling? Not really but if a man was a damned fool and didn't clean his rifle... here you get problems.

The manual used by both the US & CS on how to properly care for the weapon is very descriptive and effective, more time consuming than modern methods but frankly every bit as effective.

Something I have to remember is that not all soldiers were well trained, some lacked the brains to clean their weapons when needed etc.  To me the mini shows a man who is either inexperianced, poorly trained or perhaps in one of those hot fights.  But it doesn't ring to me; the fist stands out as just wrong.

Now one thing that has added to my curiousity was something mentioned about CW era powder being more fouling than modern... this is something contradictory to what I know, or think I know. If Joe Bilby states it I'm going to put my money on his work as he is one of the leading minds in the field IMO.

If I'm not careful I'll have to revise my opinion... but I'm not ready to eat crow just yet.

 

Regardless this has turned into a fascinating discussion.

Last edited on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 12:07 am by Johan Steele



 Posted: Thu Sep 27th, 2007 01:28 am
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Michael C. Hardy
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“A hot barrel, loose powder... a real danger of a cook off and I think most would rather lose a finger than the hand.”
I think one of the popular Civil War mags recently (maybe within the past year or so) did a photo article about men with parts of the their hands shot off. In my research, I have often wondered about men who are stated as having received hand injuries. Some of these were from enemy rounds. Others were from cook-offs and a few who shot themselves to take themselves out of combat.

And yes, severe fouling would be an exception. Most regiments fired few rounds during an engagement, or never got into combat at all, or, had time to clean their weapons. I recall one story of Federal regiments at Gettysburg rotating off the line and heading for a protected area to resupply and clean their rifles. I think it was in the Culp’s Hill area. And, in a combat situation, once your weapon became fouled, it would be easy to exchange it for a cleaner one.
However, we must also remember that the soldiers whose weapons did not foul did not write home about it. It was only those who had a problem. So, the letters home or the official reports will only contain those who had problems.
“And firearms training was woefully inadequate for both sides.”
That’s a understatement. If I remember correctly, the 54th Mass. went into the fight at Olustee with new Spensers. But no one showed them how to reload them once they had gone through their seven rounds. So they threw them down and ran.

Since there is virtually no target practice, why would there need to be a weapon cleaning class? I will qualify the above statement. For the Confederates, they did start creating sharpshooter battalions in mid-1863-1864. These men did practice at targets.

“I've read many period accounts of men cleaning their weapons while in the line. One was from the 2nd MN VI at Chickamauga, I think about 5-6 letters over the years have mentioned field cleaning, I've duplicated some of their methods on the firing line (I refuse to pee down my barrel though) all three methods worked.”
I’ve seen this too. However, what do you do when you have no water? I tend to notice in my research that most of the water in a canteen is gone by the time that the shooting starts. Speaking of pee - was it not a Federal regiment at Chickamauga that urinated on the barrels of their Colt Revolving Rifles to cool them down?


Albert - no stupid questions. This just happens to be a topic that I’ve given some time to researching. If you want to talk about the differences in screw-in artillery fuses, well, then, I’m not going to have much insight. And, I hope this isn’t too confusing. For some regiments and brigades in some battles, fouling was an issue and it would have taken a forceful hand to get that bullet to seat properly. In other battles, in which troops were less involved, you could load per regulations, keeping your hand away from the business end of your musket. Like many issues in the war, there were many variables, rather than one way it was “always” done.

Johan - I’ll try and see if I can find that article, or I’ll email Joe. If he did not write it, maybe he can tell me who did.



 Posted: Thu Sep 27th, 2007 01:37 am
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ole
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I know nothing about fouling but what I've read, and that is only relative. Of course, anyone who's read about CW battles knows that fouling was a problem. But I read one account, I think it was Larry Daniel's "Shiloh," were there were enough troups at the Hornet's Nest and in the cover behind them that half could be on the line firing while the other half was in the rear cleaning their muskets.

Couldn't let a good thread go without chiming in.

ole



 Posted: Thu Sep 27th, 2007 01:44 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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I guess I can finally draw a conclusion about fouling......Yes, it did occur....Yes it was a problem.....But did it occur each and every time?....Not neccessarily every time.....

Thanks, guys!!!

Anyone participating in the reenactment in Stockton, IL or Princeton, IL in October?



 Posted: Thu Sep 27th, 2007 01:58 pm
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Roger
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I'm pleased my model sparked such an interesting debate, thanks from me too.
Sorry Albert I won't be anywhere near Illinois in October, however Stockton on Tees is just up the road, how far are you willing to travel with your guns? :D



 Posted: Thu Sep 27th, 2007 02:02 pm
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Albert Sailhorst
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Roger,

If it were up to me, we'd be there in a flash, but I think the rest of the boys might have a hard time getting away from work!



 Posted: Sat Sep 29th, 2007 02:34 pm
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Johan Steele
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Roger here is a good shot of some high quality CS boys, this is Chickamauga a couple years back.

Attachment: 4120760-r1-038-17a.jpg (Downloaded 12 times)



 Posted: Sat Sep 29th, 2007 02:41 pm
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Roger
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Cheers Johan 'nother one saved for future ref. Keep 'em coming.

Roger



 Posted: Sun Sep 30th, 2007 12:26 am
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Johan Steele
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Here is another of that same unit.

Attachment: 4120760-r1-040-18a.jpg (Downloaded 8 times)



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