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Old July 4, 2012, 10:45 AM   #26
SHR970
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The history of the buck and ball load is really interesting. I've read that George Washington was a huge fan of it and that it was used widely by General Meagher's "Irish Brigade" during the civil war with deadly effect, especially during the Battle Of Bloody Lane at Antietam.
There are a couple of reasons that B&B was used so prolifically during that period of time. If you have ever fired a Brown Bess, Enfield musket, or Springfield musket with the standard ball you would understand.

A Brown Bess is an 11 gauge gun (incorrectly called a 75 cal.) and is fed a .735" paper patched ball. You can hear the ball rattle down the barrel when you shoot it. Broad side of a barn accuracy is about all you can realistically expect from one at 50 yards. Pretty much the same for the smooth bores of the civil war era. The .mil crowd favored the smooth bore musket over the rifle for ease of loading and rate of fire.

The second issue that came into play was the dense cloud of smoke that would obscure the vision of the shooters after a couple or three volleys of fire. After the lines on both sides had fired a few volleys they were effectively firing blind. At that point it was bayonet charge time.

The buck part of the load was to simply give a gunner a chance to hit somebody with something; this was to make up for poor accuracy of a patch & ball as well as obscured vision due to smoke.

A 12 ga. shotgun shell with a round .690 ball in a standard wad is going to be more accurate than a smooth bore musket loaded with a patch and ball simply because the fit of projectile to bore is better. You do better still with a Foster or Brenneke slug.
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Old July 4, 2012, 02:29 PM   #27
Al Den
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Of course the Brown Bess was an inaccurate gun -- it was a true military smoothbore meant for reliable and massed fire from shoulder-to-shouldered ranks into the same in a time when the bayonet was actually the main weapon. Remember that even a pellet-wounded enemy was as good if not better than a dead one -- they required aid and care off the field of batttle and behind the lines, and would likely die of their wounds eventually anyway.



Just to be clear, neither the CW Enfield (Pattern '58) nor the Springfield RIFLE muskets ('55, '61 and '63) were smoothbores. Furthermore, though they were rifled they used type of minie-balls which were a slightly undersized conical bullet for easy loading in a blackpowder rifle and the skirt would expand upon firing into the rifling to impart spin, hence accuracy.
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Old July 4, 2012, 03:35 PM   #28
SHR970
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Al,

You are correct on the 58 Enfield and the models of Springfield you cited.

I should have said Harper's Ferry was a smooth bore and quite in use (many had not been converted to rifled barrels). The 42 Springfield was very much in inventory in both the North and the South. Same as the Harper's Ferry, not all were converted to rifled barrels.
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Old July 4, 2012, 08:30 PM   #29
Al Den
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Well, Harper's Ferry was an armory like Springfield. They MADE Springfield models (which are really "U.S." models) there although not generally quite as well as at Springfield Armory for reasons I won't go into now, only they'd be marked Harpers Ferry. Yes, there were many older weapons including many 1842 smoothbores (first general issue caplocks issued in the field during The War with Mexico -- the troops hated 'em) and more modern rifle muskets made and captured at Harper's Ferry by the Confederates, as well as equipment. Harpers Ferry actually did particularly produce a coupla rifles (the 1803 and 1841 or "Mississippi").

Both sites have great museums today.

Last edited by Al Den; July 4, 2012 at 08:45 PM.
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