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Repeating rifles

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  • GnrlJEJohnston@aol.com
    In communicating with Joe Bilby, I asked the following question: Joe, For a muzzle loader, the old saying is forty rounds in a cartridge box. How many rounds
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 4, 2005
      In communicating with Joe Bilby, I asked the following question:
       
      Joe,
      For a muzzle loader, the old saying is forty rounds in a cartridge box.  How many rounds would a man have if he used a Sharps;  how many rounds if he had a Spencer or a Henry?????   Just wondering.
       
      Here was his response.
       
      The same, really, although sixty were often issued with both guns, forty in the box and another 20 in the haversack or pack or pockets.  Both Sharps and .58 musket cartridges weighed about the same, so there was a limit to how many a man could comfortably carry.  They were also fragile and could be damaged in the pocket.  Sharps cartridges were linen, and musket cartridges paper. The Henry permitted men to carry more rounds because the ammo was much lighter and not fragile at all. The Spencer was the same, but weight was around the same as a musket cartridge. 
       
      Joe Bilby
       
      Then another member of the forum asked:
       
      Future president Harrison,  then a Brigade Commander in the XX Corps,  reported his men ran low of ammunition and had to strip the cartridge boxes off Confederate and Union dead around them to keep up the fight.  It was interesting that one of his regiments was armed to a large extent (100 plus) with Spencers.  I  would have guessed  these guys would have run out first,  but apparently the men with the old .58 muskets did.  Harrison made no mention of a specific need for additional Spencer ammo at the height of the battle. 
       
      To which Joe responded:
       
      Not as great as you would think.  Seven rounds fairly fast, perhaps in 15 seconds or so if you're really smoking and not aiming, then you have to reload, which will take you at least a minute.  I would say the real, or effective rate of fire, aside from that initial devastating blast of seven rounds in 10-15 seconds, is around the same as that of the Sharps. Some think that all Spencers were supplied with tubes of cartridges like the old shooting gallery reloaders to drop seven rounds into the buttstock at once, but this is not correct, as I note in the book.  the rate of fire of the Henry was higher because it held more than twice as many cartridges and you did not have to manually cock the hammer for each shot..
       
      Joe Bilby 
       
      Then it was asked:
       
      Could it have been by July 1864 they knew to have an extra supply on hand for the Spencer?  Or did these guys learn to husband their ammo given the ability to run through it at a faster pace?
       
      Joe's response:
       
      I would say the latter.  If I were the commander, I would hold the Spencers in reserve until I could best use a massive application of firepower for  specific purpose -- to break up an attack that threatened to break through, for example. On the other hand, the Spencer guys may well have run out of ammo as well, and, since they were not the bulk of the brigade, and without the ability to rummage through other casualties' cartridge boxes, maybe he did not think it worth mentioning specifically. Or something like that.  Just speculating. 
       
      Joe Bilby   
       
      I believe that this clears up a little on the topic of lever action rifles that we have been discussing.
       
      JEJ
       
       
       

       
       
    • keeno2@aol.com
      The Sharps, which is the most used long arm during the Overland Campaign, was manually cocked and required a percussion cap. The lever served only to drop the
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 4, 2005
        The Sharps, which is the most used long arm during the Overland Campaign, was manually cocked and required a percussion cap. The lever served only to drop the breech-block. When the block was raised, it sheared off the end of the cartridge. A cap was fitted on the nipple and the hammer was pulled back to full-cock.
         
        The primary advantage of the Sharps over the Springfield and Enfield was that it didn't require the ramrod, hence, rate of fire was increased.
        Ken
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