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Old August 1, 2013, 04:59 PM   #5
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,278
It is also something of a myth that the Confederate States Army had only old scrap weapons until they captured quality guns from the Yankees.

True, the CS did use what they had, and some less formal soldiers preferred shotguns to rifles, but there is no record of any front-line C.S. unit being armed with junk. While some soldiers reported for duty with family shotguns and hunting rifles, by the time of the first battles, rifles captured from Union depots and arsenals had been distributed to front-line troops, and Gorgas had ammunition production well underway. By late 1861, arms from England began to come through; one ship carried 10,000 Enfield rifles for the C.S. Army, plus 4000 for state governments and 1000 short rifles for the C.S. Navy. Meantime, the U.S. was also buying Enfields and other European arms; their need was not as great, but one purpose in buying those weapons was to deny them to the Confederacy.

That one shipment also included 1 million rounds of .577 ammunition and 2 million percussion caps for the Enfields and 1000 rounds each for the Navy's short rifles. And similar shipments continued for several years until the Union got its blockade organized. The .577 Enfield was officially adopted by the C.S. Army and was so common in the U.S. Army that they began to issue only .577 ammo, which would function in both the .58 Springfield and the .577 Enfield rifles.

Did the Confederates use captured U.S. arms? Of course, but they did not depend solely on them; their main source of supply was Europe. One problem was that, as the war continued and Union forces began to use more "patent" guns (especially carbines), the C.S. had no way of manufacturing ammunition for many of them. But there is no record of any C.S. defeat due to lack of small arms or small arms ammunition.

Edited to add: There were local shortages of ammunition, as in all wars, and the C.S. transportation system was poor. Still, the Southern fighting man almost always had the means to fight. The main shortage in the C.S. Army was not arms and ammo, but food and clothing, especially shoes. And the shortages of both became more acute as Union forces captured or burned areas like the Shenandoah valley that supplied cloth, leather, and, of course, food. Worse, Southern farmers who had supplies refused, toward the end of the war, to sell them for Confederate money. It is to the credit of the C.S. government that they did not simply confiscate civilian property, even in Yankee territory; it was always paid for, even though the money was valueless outside the C.S. (and had little value even there.)

Jim K

Last edited by James K; August 1, 2013 at 05:42 PM.
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