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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    Maybe the capper is where I'm messing up. That and the fact that I'm worried that I'm going to put too much pressure and pop the cap with a load in the chamber.
     
  2. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Man,this helps me a lot! Thanks
     
  3. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    All right!! :)

    Even though it does take a lot of pressure to set off that cap I see your point. If you're going to shoot a lot I would suggest aftermarket nipples. They will tell you exactly what cap to buy. I always buy them and I have no problems seating caps.
     
  4. maint1517

    maint1517 member

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    Ok, thanks Crawdad1
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  5. RecoilRob

    RecoilRob Member

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    Even with a proper fitting cap....they need a firm push to seat fully so they'll be completely reliable...as well as not fall off. I've seen a fellow show that he actually uses the hammer to seat them! Of course, this must be done VERY cautiously with muzzle pointing in a safe direction, but I've never felt the need to go to such an extreme. Thumb pressure works just fine if you give them a good hard shove. It isn't pressure that sets them off...rather it's impact. So the likely-hood of you setting one off with thumb or pusher stick is very, very low. Still...anytime you're messing about with a loaded revolver be cautious of where the muzzle is pointing and don't let it sweep anything you care about.
     
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  6. kBob

    kBob Member

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    Well.......

    If we are talking about rifles using the Minnie pattern bullets of whatever type then....it depends on the rifle and ammo. The American style paper cartridges used in the US made rifles at the beginning and to the greater extent through the end of the war had a bullet in one end of the multiple layered paper tube and powder in the other. One bit open the powder end and poured the powder down the muzzle. If one were not standing then some shaking or bashing about with the muzzle raised was necessary to get the powder down in the breech area. Next the bullet was squeezed from the remains of the paper tube, and was lubed BTW, into the palm and then the bare bullet started down the barrel. Because of the lube and the loose powder one used the rod to push the bullet down snug on the powder. The rifle was then brought up and the hammer pulled back to allow capping.

    If one were issued British style paper cartridges and say an Enfield rifle then things were a bit different. One bit open the powder end and poured the powder down the barrel and see above, then the bullet end of the cartridge, which had the bullet point down toward the powder was inserted paper and all into the muzzle until the point (now up) was even or below the muzzle, then excess paper torn off ( the paper left around the bullet acted as a paper jacket and held lube in the bullet lube groove and this lube was the source of the ammo issue during the Indian revolt the Brits suffered) and the paper clade bullet rammed home on the powder. This paper patch bullet was one reason some claimed the Enfield Rifles fouled less.

    Later in the war some suppiers made cartridges that had a nitrated tube and were much more fragile than the typical two or three layer paper cartridges. The advantage lay in that they were simply inserted paper end first and then bullet powder and nitrated paper all rammed home. Some called these Patened cartridges as in patended. They were more fragile to carry, more suceptable to wet and occassionaly resulted in hangfires or failures to fire, but when they worked were much faster than the older methods.

    Hope this helps.

    -kBob
     
  7. drobs

    drobs Member

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    Remington #10 is what you want for Pietta revolvers.
     
  8. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    Uhmm, not exactly true. Some guys did bring their own, but the arms shortages at the start meant obsolete weapons were used far more often than personal weapons. As a result, there were units armed with smoothbores that were percussion conversions of obsolete flintlocks. Do some research into Confederate weapons procurement and you'll find that as the arms from Europe started flowing, the Confederates were well armed and pretty darn good at buying guns in Europe. There are a number of accounts where the Union arms buyers contacted Euro sources only to find out the Confederate had been there first and locked in a contract. The idea of personal weapons is a romantic one, but reality is the variety of calibers in person weapons meant that the individual soldier was burdened with getting his own ammo in addition to being a soldier and that means it was much more a guerilla thing. The individual weapon was more pervasive in far western AOs like Kansas, Arkanasas and Missouri with guys like Quantrill. Now as for logistics, both armies suffered from a multitude of calibers of small arms (and artillery!) and that was never really solved during the War. Post war, the military started to settle down on cartridge, caliber and weapon commonality that we see today. During the War, both sides were desperate for weapons and even Sam Colt had his snoot in the money trough along with many others. That's why you'll see Springfield pattern muskets manufactured by cos like Amos Keag. They're known as Colt Contracts. I shoot a replica of one in North South Skirmish competition. You'll also find interesting designs like Smiths, Ghallagers, Burnsides, Spencers, Henrys, Spiller & Burr, Tarpley, Maynard because of that phenomenon.
     
  9. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    True on the Rapine molds, I have several. BUT, the minies WERE lubricated with a tallow compound. As for filling the base, on SOME guns it works, on others, nope. From my Colt Contract, filling the base of a Rapine opens my groups up by about 2in. Unfilled, it's a bug hole at 50yds. I shoot competition in North South Skirmish and you will see some guys filling the base. I've dug more than one minie out of the backstop with a base still filled with lube that did nothing but go on a trip to the backstop. I have found that after about 15rds, my Colt starts to get "crunchy" with fouling shooting Rapine "trash cans" (think BIG wadcutter). The way to stop this was arrived through experimentation by changing powder, lube and lube method. Regular Goex red can burns fairly dirty compared to Old Eynsford or Swiss. That was first part. Lube change was to a concoction called Len's Lube being sold at Ft Shennandoah. Last, a thin and I mean very thin wipe of crisco in the base and now I can shoot 20+ with no issues. And yeah, they're sized to -.001 of bore size.
     
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  10. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    Musket loading method was usually in Nine times as specified in Hardees Infantry manual. Since both sides were using similar/same weapons methods were almost identical. For revolvers, it was a fairly common practice to carry spare cylinders loaded to reload during battle. The Rem 1858 is really easy to reload that way. Trooper would expend handgun, remove cylinder, put in loaded spare, resume shooting. When the empty cylinders were reloaded, it didn't vary much between sides. Reload cylinder, remove, place in cylinder pouch, next cylinder, repeat till all are reloaded including one in gun.
     
  11. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Ah, ..., no...., well it depends on the unit, and since a lot of the units were supplied by State Armories, in fact the majority were supplied by state armories, then no, they were armed with older rifled muskets, and even some with smoothbore muskets. 275,000 caplock Springfield 1842 muskets (smoothbore) were produced up until 1855, 25,296 .54 caliber rifled model 1941 rifled muskets were produced up until 1855. The Springfield 1855 was made in .58 caliber, and 75,000 were produced, and the machines to make them fell into Confederate hands at Harper's Ferry in 1861...the machines were moved to Richmond, hence the Richmond Rifle was born. Plus 900,000 Enfield 1853 rifles were imported by the Confederates. The British sent advisors, to the newly formed CSA, and at the start of the war found that about 70% of Confederate troops were armed with 1842 smoothbores, but that switched over during the war and about the same percentage had some sort of Enfield toward the end of the war.

    The book you reference details Quantrill, a partisan leader who raised his force, independent of the government of the state of Missouri, where he first formed his unit. Hence the confusion over what the majority of Confederate soldiers carried.

    LD
     
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  12. DD4lifeusmc

    DD4lifeusmc Member

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    can't prove it but believe their caps were a proper fit. Today our cap makers and nipple makers don't talk to each other thus you have to find which brand fits best or put aftermarket nipples on the gun that the caps do fit.
     
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  13. DD4lifeusmc

    DD4lifeusmc Member

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    As early as 1862 some military units had brass rimfire cartridges for their revolvers. But generally most had paper cartridges supplied by their respective armory's. the paper cartridge was paper or linen some were plain some were called combustible, as they were nitrated so they would burn more completely and provide more flame front to ignite the powder.
    In case of trench fighting many times two soldiers worked together one would shoot one would load some entire units would shoot this way. When the Minie ball came along the use of a patch was eliminated which sped up the reloading process. As the war progressed more soldiers were issued paper cartridges.
    some included the ball in them some didn't drop the cartridge down the barrel then ram it home (in the case of the mini) cap and fire. Some of the cartridges had to be torn open, the paper would act as a wad / patch.
    Some that were nitrated didn't need to be torn open the mini when fired was self sealing so didn't need the wad / patch
     
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  14. DD4lifeusmc

    DD4lifeusmc Member

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    I use the inline capper, i use my thumb on it right over the cap to push it down tight.
    I bought this capper through Montgomery Wards in 1978 . and I have had to pinch caps too.
     
  15. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    +1
     
  16. Jimster

    Jimster Member

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    The only chain fire I’ve ever had was when I was pinching #11s to fit my 1970s era .44 brass framed revolver. I had pinched them for years until this happened. I had read that pinching caps makes them out of round and can cause chain fire from the nipple end of the cylinder but I did it anyway. I firmly believe that the cap must fit the nipple perfectly to be safe and reliable. Even if that means replacing them with a aftermarket quality nipple with a good reputation for accurate sizing. No pinching.
     
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  17. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Member

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    Burned out flash holes in the nipples may allow for a powder trail.
     
  18. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Quantrill was mentioned.

    The further west one went, the worse the situation for arms. It was not unusual for Confederate units in the Trans-Mississippi units to have their own personal arms in 1861. By 1862 the situation improved (arms were shipped in via Texas since New Orleans was in Union hands) and many exchanged them for government issued arms. Guerilla units though are an exception and unless they became part of the regular army even in the capacity of a partisan ranger, they would not have access to modern firearms unless they were captured from the Union. Similarly, militia units in the Trans-Mississippi region generally brought what they had.
     
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  19. Smokin'Joe

    Smokin'Joe Member

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  20. DPris

    DPris Member Emeritus

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    Interesting side note, reading a book on "killing" which says that maybe 15% of Civil War soldiers actually fired at the enemy in battle.
    Fired overhead, loaded for others who shot, didn't fire at all.
    Denis
     
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