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Login Name Post: Broken wrists on originals?        (Topic#306800)
shotgunner87 
40 Cal.
Posts: 262
03-09-18 09:35 PM - Post#1673546    


Hey guys I am not really into the civil war era but was at a shot the other weekend where a small group of union reanactors were doing a small arms demonstration. It was really neat and they had a variety of small arms represented. Anyway I got to talking to the "commander" (don't know the proper term sorry) and he had an original "1861 rifle musket" ( his words not mine). It had the original stock that had been repaired at the wrist and he claimed most originals had this problem and all of the guys there had similar guns but elected to restock them. His contention was that the reason for this was due to the fact that the soldiers would forgo using the ramrod in battle and instead they would start the round with their thumb and then strike the butt on the ground 3-4 times to seat the round then cap and fire. How accurate is this info and is it true many originals are broken at the wrist and is it because of this practice?

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7098
03-09-18 10:34 PM - Post#1673548    

    In response to shotgunner87

I was a fairly hard core reenactor of different time periods for over 30 years. I spent 8 of those years doing UnCivil War. I also spent over half of those years working UnCivil War period guns at the North South Skirmish Association. Also spent quite some time reading Ordnance repair related matters of all the time periods, but most especially on the UnCivil War and the 18th century.

In all my reading and the information that came from those experiences, that is the first time I ever heard or read any kind of claim like that. So frankly, it sounds like a "re-enactorism" that has somehow been transferred from downright myth to supposedly what had been done in the period.

The wrist is the weakest part of the stock on almost every period military and civilian long gun up to and during the UnCivil War. So in the hard use by the military, that's where muskets stocks were often damaged and especially when using "clubbed muskets" in hand to hand combat, where you try to whack an enemy soldier with the butt of the gun stock, rather than using the bayonet.

I don't buy the myth that they normally didn't use the Rammers to load a muzzle loading military arm. Virtually all the evidence is that they spent quite some time learning the manual of arms to fire their muskets and that was with using the Rammer.

Not sure if the Commander was ignorant or just "shining you on" or something else, but it's a shame when such myths get passed on as facts.

Gus



 
shotgunner87 
40 Cal.
Posts: 262
03-09-18 11:06 PM - Post#1673554    

    In response to Artificer

Thanks I kinda figured that. It seems to me as though they drilled loading their guns until they couldn't get it wrong and generally in times of stress you revert to your training and not start something new. It also stands to read that if a stock broke it would be at the wrist and it appears as though hand to hand combat was fairly common and that would certainly break things.

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 7098
03-10-18 12:16 AM - Post#1673557    

    In response to shotgunner87

There is a huge amount of evidence that both Federal and Confederate troops were trained a great deal in the manual of arms and especially the "Loading in 9 Times," that really sped up re-loading. They knew that constant training in it would pay off in the stress on the battlefield, as you mentioned, and it surely did.

However, even though the later U.S. Commanding General George McClellan had translated from French and published a truly excellent "MANUAL OF BAYONET EXERCISE" for Bayonet Training in 1852, there is not much historic evidence on how much it was used to train even Federal Troops during the UnCivil War. Though some Pre-War Militia Units learned it and some of them were truly excellent at it, we just don't know how well or not that most troops were trained with it.

BTW, I can say "truly excellent" Bayonet Manual as the Reenactment Unit, the 5th New York Zouaves, back in the early 1980's, were highly trained and proficient in it. I made a point of watching them practice at reenactments, when I could. As a Marine Gunnery Sergeant at the time, I had some professional bayonet training, but had also studied it on my own. I was so impressed with what I saw the Zouaves do, I got a copy of the Manual and incorporated many of the movements with modern bayonet drill. 150 years after McClellen had first translated/published it, it was still very useful for modern warriors.

OK, sorry for going OT, but there is a LOT more evidence from journals, papers, reports, etc. that when hand to hand combat was done, it was often mentioned done with "Clubbed Muskets" and that would have caused more stocks to break at the wrist than using the bayonet.

But I can tell you from actual practice and experience, troops trained well during the period with McClellen's Bayonet Manual would have really had the upper hand over troops not trained with it and were only using clubbed muskets.

Gus

 
hawkeye2 
58 Cal.
Posts: 2268
hawkeye2
03-10-18 01:42 AM - Post#1673563    

    In response to shotgunner87

"1861 rifle musket" is accepted terminology for the .58 cal. 55, 61 & 63. Beyond that I'd say the guy has more fertilizer about him than the north 40. I've been around US muskets for a lot of years, own and shoot several originals and I can't remember when I saw a stock broken through the wrist or one that had been repaired. They were stocked in well seasoned American black walnut with care taken to get a good grain through the wrist. The butstock and wrist dimensions were unchanged from 55 to the end of trapdoor production so I can't believe there was a problem there. I should go on to say that I have a 61 that is broken completely in half through the front lock bolt hole back toward the trigger card with 3 small hunks broken out (1 missing) and several cracks running back through the lock mortise. There is no damage anywhere to indicate how it happened so I'm going to assume that the kids left it laying on the barn floor and the farmer drove over it with the tractor rather than bother to get down and move it. When (if) I get around to putting it together I'll post some photos.

Edited by hawkeye2 on 03-10-18 01:46 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
shotgunner87 
40 Cal.
Posts: 262
03-10-18 07:07 AM - Post#1673567    

    In response to Artificer

Funny you should say that my first thought was the stock broke when someone swung it to butt stroke someone and missed and hit a tree or more likely swung overhead like an axe to deliver the coup de gras. If broken on the battlefield. Certainly very possible it was broken after the war as well.

 
hawkeye2 
58 Cal.
Posts: 2268
hawkeye2
03-10-18 12:33 PM - Post#1673609    

    In response to shotgunner87

I would expect it to have been broken post war. To the best of my knowledge all unserviceable firearms were returned to the armory for repairs and would have been restocked. I have never seen an armory stock repair of a CW firearm.

 
tenngun 
Cannon
Posts: 7347
tenngun
03-10-18 12:59 PM - Post#1673611    

    In response to hawkeye2

There are some you tube vids showing people loading in such a fashion. DONT TRY IT!!
Some time around 1350 people learned that a ball not rammed home could blow up a gun.
A minie in a clean bore may drop home from tapping like this. In a dirty bore it.may hang up. How would you know?

 
satx78247 
Cannon
Posts: 6033
03-10-18 01:18 PM - Post#1673615    

    In response to tenngun

In the War of 1812 era, the British military taught "tap loading" the Baker rifle with an UNPATCHED round ball. - The same "technique" was suggested for the Brown Bess for rapid reloading in combat to increase the number of rounds used in volley fire.

Fwiw, I fully agree with you that it's a BAD & DANGEROUS idea that may cause the firearm to blow up.

yours, satx


 
tenngun 
Cannon
Posts: 7347
tenngun
03-12-18 02:58 PM - Post#1673990    

    In response to satx78247

Well, if someone is charging me with a cubit of sharp steel I might do all sorts of dangerous things.
I’ve shot sometimes with cartridges priming before running home, loading a primed gun is acceptable when the alternative is death, not when the target is deer or paper.

 
smoothshooter 
45 Cal.
Posts: 989
03-29-18 09:21 PM - Post#1677181    

    In response to shotgunner87

Most muskets that were broken at the wrist were caused by accidents with horses and wagons.

Bump-loading was not an unusual technique with smoothbore muskets if the ball was enough under bore size ( and many were) particularly the flintlock British Brown Bess and similar muskets that were nominally .75 to .78 caliber and issued with .65 to .69 caliber paper cartridges or loose ammo. It worked best with the first shot or two before the foulig started to get bad.
I have read multiple contemporary accounts of this practice in the British army up through the time of the Napoleonic wars and beyond.

I don't know if this was practical with American Civil War .69 caliber muskets such as the various iterations of the Springfield and similar contract smoothbores, since here the issued ammunition usually was a tighter fit than mentioned above.
I personally think what the re-enactor told you was pure hogwash, whether he knew it or not. The bullets fired in rifled muskets are a pretty snug fit even in a clean bore, because if they are not accuracy suffers a lot. Ideally, the bullet is only two to three thousandths under bore size-not loose enough for bump-loading.
Can't explain the large number of cracked stocks those guys had on their originals, unless they were part of a discounted batch surplus dealers from around the 1900 time period like Bannerman's put together from parts to at least get something for piles of broken stocks they may have had on hand and needed to get rid of.

Or perhaps they were broken by ignorant re-enactors who listened to advice from people like the guy you were talking to.

Edited by smoothshooter on 03-29-18 09:24 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
hawkeye2 
58 Cal.
Posts: 2268
hawkeye2
04-01-18 11:17 PM - Post#1677701    

    In response to smoothshooter

"Or perhaps they were broken by ignorant re-enactors who listened to advice from people like the guy you were talking to."



 
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