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Civil War Loading Methods

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by maint1517, Mar 16, 2018.

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  1. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    I have been cruising the internet, trying to find info on different loading methods used on both sides durring the Civil War for revolvers and muskets. Different tricks, supplies, etc...
    But I haven't found squat!!!
    If this thread has already been done before, forgive me. But if you have any information on this, please post it here.
     
  2. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I read that the Minie balls were unlubricated.

    If you want accurate shooting of a Musket, your Minie cannot be smaller than 0.002" than the bore. I can drop my Minie's in my Muskets, and hear the wind whistling out the nipple. Sounds similar to a horn pipe. With black powder, use lots and lots of lube. I fill the cavity of my Minies with a mixture of 50% beeswax and 50% crisco. I fill the grooves with grease. I adjust the mix according to outside temperature, even though, as I wrote earlier, I read that in the CW the issue ammunition was not lubricated.

    The best shooting Minies were Rapine Molds, used with 50 to 60 grains of Black powder. I never tried thicker walled Minies, Rapine made his for accuracy and they have thin skirts. I also never made paper patched ammunition, you can do that if you want.
     
  3. damoc

    damoc Member

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    Why would you use Crisco when lard is just as available and inexpensive?
     
  4. MEHavey

    MEHavey Member

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    See N-SSA
     
  5. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    There are always good programs on PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) every summer to correspond to the Battle of Gettysburg. They have some interesting talks over various topics other than the battle. Their DVDs can be purchased on line.

    This was produced by another production company but shows some good information on loading,



    On revolvers there is little written that I have found on whether flasks or paper cartridges were used for reloading. From this lack of written information can it be said that numerous revolvers were carried or preloaded cylinders replace empty ones. I don't know.

    In 'Three Years With Quantrill" by O.S. Barton, which is a diary written by John McCorkle, in there a farmhand is reported saying, "I wouldn't go down there to bother those fellas I've never seen one man carry so many guns in my life." But those men he was describing are partisans in the Trans Mississippi theater of the war, so hardly an accurate description of what was taking place in the other theaters.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
  6. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Thanks guys..
     
  7. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I recall reading that some Confederates jammed their ramrods into the walls of their trenches. They laid their cartridges out in front of them and when the Yankees charged and they fired, they grabbed the cartridge, bit it open, poured the contents down the barrel and then raised the gun to the ramrod that was stuck in the wall. Once the rifle was pulled back, they could cap and shoot.

    At Fredericksburg Marye's Heights and as well as at Spotsylvania Court House, the rear ranks passed their loaded muskets/mine guns up to the guy in the front rank. Shooters shot and loaders loaded.
     
  8. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    I just finished reading that very book last night for the second time. Honestly,it stirred many questions I have. Including the one that I posted here tonight.
     
  9. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    I had never heard that before! Great information 4v50 Gary!!!
     
  10. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    I was hoping he would have included a lot more details in his book about this very same question you raised. In a book about Jesse James when he was still at the farm and his brother Frank along with others came by to rest up Jesse would take "All of their revolvers to the barn for cleaning." That's all we get though.
     
  11. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    I was really shocked that he didn't myself. No mention of that or of where their lead and powder was acquired. He did mention Mollie Wiggington going and getting 35,000 caps for them though.
     
  12. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Sometimes I wonder how/when some of those stories get started. I have seen some CW trenches and none had enough room for a full length rammer to be stuck in the trench wall, plus such nonsense would be a great way to lose the rammer when/if the soldier had to "move out" fast (in either direction). Soldiers did not load muskets with powder and ball or use powder flasks. They loaded with cartridges and rarely (if ever) had any loose powder.

    Revolvers also were almost always loaded using cartridges. Again, soldiers did not generally carry powder, in cans or flasks; they were issued ammo in six round packets. An infantry soldier would not usually carry a revolver, same being the province of cavalry or of officers. Generally, the solider had enough junk to lug around that a handgun would have been a damned nuisance; we read about the soldiers who did carry private guns because the practice was so uncommon. Soldiers in the Civil War (and wars before and since) preferred to travel light, with the minimum of "stuff" to carry. They were not pioneers or explorers - they did not have to subsist for months on what they could hunt or carry. Anyone who ever saw a picture of a CW supply train of dozens, even hundreds, of wagons knows how the troops got their food and ammo.

    Jim
     
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  13. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    Definitely, they wanted that long range and very accurate rifle and their life in the field was wrapped around taking care of that long range and very accurate rifle.
     
  14. RecoilRob

    RecoilRob Member

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    I have read that this was a very common occurrence and for some it was because they preferred to not take human lives. The guy doing the shooting was 'blooded' and religiously speaking wasn't going to Hell any faster for killing multiple men vs just one...at least that was what they felt. It makes very good sense to have your good marksmen firing effective shots while less skillful men worked to keep a loaded rifle in his hands.
     
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  15. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Ok, heres one for you. Im sure you guys probably already have a solution for this. Every time I shoot, I end up with atleast one cap coming off the nipple on my revolvers. Sometimes before I ever even fire a shot.
    Which brought me back to this thread.
    During the Civil War, with all the marching, running, fighting, galloping on horseback, etc...
    How did they keep their caps on the nipples? Did they apply pine sap or something like that? Please bear in mind, im still fairly new to black powder revolvers. Im trying to learn all I can, as well as learning civil war history and techniques.
     
  16. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    You have the wrong sized caps. I have TOTW hardened steel aftermarket nipples that call for #11 caps, both CCI and Remington will work, and they fit perfectly. They won't fall off no matter how I jostle around my revolver.
     
  17. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Well, ive got CCI #11 caps. This has been happening with both of my .44 pietas, the 1860 and the 1858. As well as my 1851 .36 caliber.
    Maybe im not seating them correctly. Like I said, im new to this. Ive been just hanging the cap on the nipple with my capper, light down pressure pulling the capper off.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  18. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Jim. I'm unsure what book I read it in but I do recall reading that account. Lest we forget, storming of trenches were very rare by 1864. Sherman couldn't do it at Kennesaw and both sides knew how dangerous it was to charge over open ground against a fortified opponent. Cold Harbor II (1864) proved that. The likelihood of having to flee one's trench is very slim by that period. About the only time it worked was during Col. Emory Upton's attack on the Mule Shoe. Poor engineering by the Confederates made that point in the line vulnerable. First there was a slope over 100 yards from the Confederate positions. This meant Upton's men could approach unseen and safely. Second, even after they cross the open ground, there is a depression which allowed the men to kneel and disappear from sight of the Confederate positions. The Union men could catch their breath, steel their nerves and be in the Confederate positions in one rush. Certainly they would face one volley but there wouldn't be time for the Confederates to reload for a second volley before the Union men were upon them with bayonets. Hence the success of Upton's attack (which failed for other reasons).

    Turning to the narrowness of trenches, some trenches were deep and wide enough for a wagon to be pulled through it. It certainly was at Petersburg.

    02542r.jpg

    Here's a Union trench (I doubt if the Confederates were very different)

    21250r.jpg

    Confederate position at Kennesaw Mountain:

    32820r.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
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  19. damoc

    damoc Member

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    my pietta 58,s like Remington no 10 my uberti colts prefer no 11 but i have to pinch them a little to prevent falling of.
     
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  20. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    Try the #10 caps see if the seat better. The cap should seat on top of the nipple with slight pressure but sometimes I have to take a wood peg or my pick and push them down on top of the nipple. The cap should bottom out on the top of the cone.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  21. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Jim, most confederate soldiers were armed with what ever they brought with them. Squirrel guns, shotguns, Kentucky rifles, etc...,at least early in the war anyway.
    Did they really have cartridges on hand to issue for all the different types and calibers men brought with them?
    I am sure for the Union army this was the case.But from everything I have read,especially early in the war, it was a different story for the Confederacy.
    When John McCorkle first tried to join Colonel William Quantrill and his raiders, he was turned down because Quantrill chose the men who had brought pistols with them. John had only been able to acquire a rifle.

    Reference: THREE YEARS WITH QUANTRILL
    A TRUE STORY
    TOLD BY HIS SCOUT
    JOHN McCORKLE
    WRITTEN BY O.S.BARTON
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  22. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Crawdad1, that may be my problem. I'll try bottoming the cap out better. If that doesn't work I'll try the #10 caps.
    Thanks for the advice
     
  23. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Also, what is the size difference between #10 caps and #11's? Is it the length or diameter?
     
  24. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    See I never use a capper but I don't think they can apply very much downward pressure that is needed to seat the cap. I use my thumb or finger to apply downward pressure but if I'm getting too much resistance I'll go to a sliver of wood or a stick or my pick to seat the cap.

    Here is some good information.,

    Chart7_28_11_zpsff80173f[1].png
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
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  25. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Ok, I'll try pinching them a little as well.
     
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