Author Topic: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)  (Read 33523 times)

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2009, 05:14:58 PM »
When one starts talking about other tactics for the revolution, they forget that the British faced those tactics in the French and Indian wars.  Braddock's fiasco has been credited with demonstrating to the colonists ta ht the British could be defeated if those tactics were used.  However at (I think) Niagara Falls, Boutet used similar tactices to those used at Cowpens and had a portion of his command fake a retreat which the French and Indian forces followed up on.  The French forces got flanked and surrounded.  They very definitely proved that while the "Patriot" was an enjoyable movie, tomahawks were a very poor weapon against British regulars trained in the use of bayonets.  Canada became a British colony.
I think also that the perception is that they lined up and marched against each other, which was no more done than a quarterback always handing off to a running back in a football game.  Their maneuvering would be comparable to a football game.  They also learned from the F&I war.  Robert Rogers and his rangers also taught them a little about wilderness warfare.  Rogers is said to have lost a little favor in American history as he remained a loyalist and helped keep the American forces from getting Canada.
A good example of a special weapon use is the pump shotgun.  It was used in the Phillipines to stop Kriss wielding Moros, as a trench sweeper in WWI, probably WWII, on patrols in Viet Nam, and now in Iraq in urban warfare.  While a poor weapon to arm every trooper with, in its place it is very effective.

DP

The problem with the bayonet verses the colonial rifleman was that the riflemen, obviously, were not TRAINED to counter it.
Also its tough to deal with a large group of pikemen in ranks or large groups in any case.
As I was taught years back there are 2 types of bayonet fighters, the quick and the dead (I was trained but I never had a bayonet while in the a combat zone).  In the vast majority of cases any hand to hand combat is over in seconds. Long fights are movie $#@* for the most part.
I don't think anyone here knows how the the battles were actually fought aside from what we read.

In talking to a Korean war combat vet about this very discussion he said jokingly of the bayonet "you mean this can opener fits on a rifle?"

Dan
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Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2009, 01:16:47 AM »
At the 1746 battle of Culloden Moor, the Jacobean Scots had their very finest hand to hand fighters in the front ranks.   These were the veterans who had the most ability and experience with hand to hand fighting.   With sword, dirk, and targe (small shield) they were more than a match for any individual British bayonet armed infantryman AND YET THEY GOT SKEWERED on the British Bayonets.  This because the British line held their fire until the Scots were very close and the British did not (at first) thrust the bayonet at the enemy directly in front of him, rather they thrust at an angle and skewered the enemy to the right side as did each British infantryman all along the line right after the first British volley was fired.   This tactic requires extreme discipline and TRUST that the soldier beside you will gut the enemy in front of you while you are stabbing the guy in front of the next soldier beside you in line.  The British soldiers in the second and third ranks (in the British Units that were formed into three ranks), continued to pour musket fire into the Scots while the front rank was using the bayonet.  It was a slaughter.  Thus the British Infantry, who were not as good INDIVIDUAL fighters as the Scots, overcame the advantage the Jacobean Scots had by the courage and discipline of the British line.   What many people don't know about the battle of Culloden is there were close to as many Scots (if not more) fighting for the British than the numbers of Jacobean Scots had on the field that fateful day.

Some of the American Riflemen may have been (and some likely were) as good at hand to hand fighting as the Jacobean Scottish veterans.   A tomahawk and scalping knife CAN be very effective weapons against an individual bayonet armed infantryman, but not very good against disciplined troops who fought together and knew how to use the bayonet.   Sure, the riflemen could and did often retreat (and often just ran for their lives) when they were confronted in close hand to hand combat with British Infantry.  That's why they needed the Light Infantry to fend off and keep the British Infantry occupied while they continued to load and fire their rifles.   When they worked together as a team, the riflemen and light infantry both did what they did best, they were the most effective.  That's why Dan Morgan considered the American Light Infantry so vital to the success of the Riflemen at Saratoga.

If one only talks to the average "Grunt" in any battle of any time period, you would only get the account of what he actually did or saw.  No one person would ever see much or most of a battle unless it was a very small action.  So even if one actually could talk with a veteran of Saratoga, we would never get the whole story of the battle. 

I am not trying to criticize the Korean War Soldier who had never used the bayonet, but he must not have been in any of the battles when the Chinese sent wave after wave of their troops against the Americans.  When that happened, the Americans did use the bayonet.

I was not quite old enough to have served in Viet Nam because the Marine Corps wasn't sending many new troops in country in the early 70's.  I came on active duty 6 days after my 18th birthday on October 1971 and didn't graduate Infantry Training Regiment until March of 1972..  I can't speak for the most part on how any other service used the bayonet from the Viet Nam War forward, but I certainly can speak about how the Marines used them.    They weren't used often, but they were used a few times to great effect.  The most famous battle the bayonet was used and that most people may recognize is the Siege of Khe Sanh.   My boot camp Platoon Commander received his second silver star as a Sergeant after killing many VC with the bayonet until the rifle was struck shot out of his hands, then he killed five others with an entrenching tool in his right hand while he choked another VC to death with his left hand.  During the move to the Rifle Range in Boot Camp, the King Rat found and read the Platoon Commander's Silver Star certificate where it spelled it out, so it was not just a story.

In Nam Phong, Cambodia, we used bayonets on a couple of night actions while in a perimeter defense.   I didn't have one because I had grabbed a M870 shotgun, since a couple days before we had seen how poorly an M16 had performed against an enemy.   12 Gage buckshot in solid brass shells worked wonders.  Also, I had had basic bayonet training, but after that I made it a point to learn a LOT more about it in subsequent years. 

The British did one or two bayonet charges, during the Falklands.

In a couple of actions, Marines used bayonets in Panama.

We never had to use the bayonet in the first Gulf War because so many enemy soldiers surrendered rather than fighting in close action.  Also, the Americans had such great air/fire superiority there.

We didn't have to use the bayonet in Somalia, though I think some soldiers used it at the action written up in "Black Hawk Down."  Somalia was my last "operational theatre" as I retired with 26 years in 1997 due to blowing out my leg three times and I have torn rib cartillage on both sides of my rib cage. 

Marines did have to use the bayonet a few times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bayonet is no where near as useful on the 21st century battlefield as it was in the 18th century, but there are still a very few times it comes in VERY handy.



northmn

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2009, 05:08:47 PM »
The bayonet on the musket was the top technology of the 18 th Century and it worked.  The military musket of this period started out with very long barrels which made them similar to a spear.  Benjamin Franklin was said to have mentioned that we should go back to longbows as they had a greater rate of firepower.  In some ways he may have been correct as a longbow unit could have shot an advancing 18th century unit to pieces.  They could have opened up at about 180 yards, and shot far more than 3 shots per minute.  The musket replaced the longbow because it would shoot through shields and armour that would stop or deflect arrows.  Also the longbow required extensive practice.  When Boutet (A Swiss colonel who was promoted to general afterwards, which was very rare for a foreigner) used his tactics the bayonet was very effective.  The natives received very heavy casualties and the British very few. At the "Paoli Massacre" the British attacked an American unit with unloaded muskets and bayonets and inflicted 300 casualties and only receiving 7 of their own.  They claimed the irony was that Wayne turned around at Stoney Point and used the same tactics on them with similar results. Chamberlain, in the Civil war, ran out of ammunition at Little Round Top at Gettysburg, and charged with bayonets and defeated the Confederates.  Here is the issue.  Muskets were to be loaded 3 shots to a minute.  Rifles were slower, at what maybe 2 a minute?  A lot of distance could be traveled with musket and bayonet while reloading.  Also, once a light infantryman got within 60-70 yards of a rifleman there was no military advantage to the rifle as the musket was now accurate enough to hit a man.  Again its all technology of the times.  At Agincourt 13000 British shot up 30000 French Knights with longbows, but by the 18th Century longbows were no longer used.

DP

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2009, 06:55:11 PM »
I think you may have missed my point.
As I stated if the bayonet was so needed/necessary why do we not see more rifles so equipped? Almost none of the Hessian rifle units had them so far as that goes and too much is made of the single unit (IIRC) that did have them.
I was never even issued  a bayonet in VN. So those who needed one were lucky they had it.
I don't recall seeing one in the company or in the arms room. We had a few of the little miniature K-bar "survival" types that I remember.

My friend was wounded sometime during the retreat from the Chosin Res so he saw a few Chinese, masses of them in fact.

I also pointed out that in ranks the "pikeman" is hard to deal with. Running up to impale ones self on a row of British bayonets is hardly what I would call bayonet fighting nor do I see it as applicable to the American Revolution. The situation encountered by the Scots is similar to the Spartans slaughtering the Persians at Thermopylae. It was a dumb move.

Riflemen fighting musket armed infantry could not use the tactics that gave the musket the advantage. Had the Natives marched out onto the field and  lined up to shoot it out with Braddock's command THEY would likely have been massacred.
But they fought THEIR fight by THEIR rules and won.
Just like fighting a Japanese Zero with a P-40 or F4F you must neutralize the enemies advantage by NOT fighting his fight.
The problem with the riflemen in the revolution was, in some cases at least, that commanders wanted them to fight as musket armed infantry would and this was simply not going to work.

Dan

He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2009, 07:05:34 PM »
The bayonet on the musket was the top technology of the 18 th Century and it worked. 
<snip>
DP


It worked so long as both sides were using the same tactics. Line up, shoot, charge.

If one side refused to come out and be shot and bayoneted then the musket/bayonet was less effective to very ineffective and could be defeated by a group that hid in the trees and shot the people standing in the ranks waiting for a "real" battle to start.

In America the Musket was only the top technology so long as everyone agreed to play by the rules that made it so.
Dan
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Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #30 on: September 22, 2009, 10:00:39 PM »
Dan,

I'm going to have to break this down into two posts in reply.

I think you may have missed my point.
As I stated if the bayonet was so needed/necessary why do we not see more rifles so equipped? Almost none of the Hessian rifle units had them so far as that goes and too much is made of the single unit (IIRC) that did have them.

The answer to your question partly lies in the fact that the system of interchangeable parts manufacture was still in the future at the time of the Rev War and a rifle was a civilian arm and was not made to have a socket bayonet fitted to it.  The U.S. did not have a rifle that was designed for a bayonet until the Model 1817 common rifle that was at first fitted for the M 1816 musket bayonet, but later dropped from issue because in use, the musket armed infantry supported the riflemen as they had in the Revolution.

In the 18th AND the 19th century until we began using the interchangeable parts manufacturing system, bayonets were made and then individually hand fitted to each musket.  If a bayonet was made too loose on a musket, it would not be effective and might even fall or be knocked off during hand to hand fighting.  18th century socket bayonets, for the most part, did not have the locking rings on them that were added in the 19th century.  So 18th century bayonets had to be more carefully hand fitted.

In the 18th century, the Americans had much more limited manufacturing capabilities than did the British or Hessians.  We NEVER kept up with the demand to make enough arms and munitions of war as it was during the war.  Had we not gotten significant quantities of arms and powder from the French and to a lesser extent from the Dutch, the Revolution would have run out before the British gave up.  So Americans fitting bayonets to civilian rifles was so low on the priority lists, it was almost never done.  For quite some time, the American musket armed troops did not have adequate quantities of bayonets – so they weren’t going to worry about making and fitting them to rifles.

Also, most American rifles were the private property of the riflemen.  If you took their rifles away from them to modify the rifles for and make bayonets to fit them, they had no other rifle to use to fight.  Plug bayonets could have been made, but they were never truly satisfactory even for muskets and had long since been relegated to history after the socket bayonet was invented in the 17th century.

I was never even issued  a bayonet in VN. So those who needed one were lucky they had it.  I don't recall seeing one in the company or in the arms room. We had a few of the little miniature K-bar "survival" types that I remember.

That sounds like you had what was known as the Air Force pattern survival knives.  Marines were almost always issued bayonets in Viet Nam, except for some very specialized units.  They made a point of issuing bayonets to us before we were sent to destroy the base at Nam Phong and I’m DARN glad they did.

My friend was wounded sometime during the retreat from the Chosin Res so he saw a few Chinese, masses of them in fact.

Yes, I’m sure your friend saw plenty of Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir.  That means he most likely was a Marine or a Navy Corpsman.  The Chinese could not use wave attacks because that was a fighting retreat through a long series of valleys surrounded by hills. Much of the fighting was actually done on the hills in small actions.  Also, Marine Air bombed and strafed the Chinese in close air support, so they weren’t stupid enough to mass their forces like that, where it would have been necessary to use the bayonet.  The Chinese outnumbered the Marines and Corpsmen four to one, but that was not enough combat power to break through into the lines where the bayonet would have been needed.  You have to have at least a 7 to 1 ratio of attackers to defenders to do that in modern warfare.

I also pointed out that in ranks the "pikeman" is hard to deal with. Running up to impale ones self on a row of British bayonets is hardly what I would call bayonet fighting nor do I see it as applicable to the American Revolution. The situation encountered by the Scots is similar to the Spartans slaughtering the Persians at Thermopylae. It was a dumb move.

The Jacobean Scots at Culloden had used the tactic of the Highland Charge many times to overwhelm the British and break up and send British forces in retreat in close quarters fighting.  It had not worked in the “15” and the “19” when the British had artillery support, but the British did not have as many cannon at Culloden.  What was different about Culloden was the British changed the way they used the bayonet that negated the advantage the Highlanders had had in close quarters fighting up to that point.  Besides, the Jacobeans did not have the supplies of powder and ball the British had with them.  But you seem to have missed the point they were far better armed, trained, and experienced at fighting musket armed infantry than American Riflemen had during the Revolution. 

After the battle of Breed’s hill (AKA Bunker Hill) - “American General Artemas Ward, writing after the battle, stated that “a supply of spears might have saved the entrenchment.”  Congress sent him 1,500.”

http://books.google.com/books?id=Wnj_yC4E2scC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=bayonet+drill,+french+and+indian+war&source=bl&ots=4vTFg-dds0&sig=DfLUSGSyma0gfYtSDHaCYECa_A8&hl=en&ei=6lO4StDnNpW7lAe1gpHSDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2

Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2009, 10:39:22 PM »
Second post.

Riflemen fighting musket armed infantry could not use the tactics that gave the musket the advantage. Had the Natives marched out onto the field and  lined up to shoot it out with Braddock's command THEY would likely have been massacred.
But they fought THEIR fight by THEIR rules and won.
Just like fighting a Japanese Zero with a P-40 or F4F you must neutralize the enemies advantage by NOT fighting his fight.
The problem with the riflemen in the revolution was, in some cases at least, that commanders wanted them to fight as musket armed infantry would and this was simply not going to work.

The American Riflemen had PLENTY of opportunities to pick their ground and fight “their way” in the campaigns of New York and New Jersey.  This because George Washington and his subordinate Generals did not yet have the experience to coordinate the American forces as the British did.  Many of the battles were small actions spread over the area.  So how did the American Riflemen perform?  As Joe Huddleston wrote in “Colonial Riflemen in the American Revolution":

"With the reputations of the riflemen already tarnished (due to their conduct after the siege of Boston) their sorry performance in the campaigns of New York and New Jersey certainly did not help their cause."

The difference at Saratoga was that Dan Morgan used Light Infantry to support the riflemen and they could effectively do their best work.  The American Riflemen were obviously not very good at discipline in New York and New Jersey then, either;  and you don’t win battles without discipline. 

Braddock’s defeat is not as clear a victory of rifles over muskets as it was extremely poor strategy of Braddock keeping his forces confined to a road and poor tactics.  The French and Indians could have massacred Braddock’s forces with muskets and bows and arrows just as effectively.  Braddock threw away his advantage by keeping his troops confined to the road and when attacked, they could not maneuver properly.  In Braddock’s campaign and prior to the massacre, Braddock HAD used Linear Tactics very effectively.

“However, in some studies, the interpretation of "Indian style" superiority has been argued to be a myth by several military historians. European regular armies already employed irregular forces of their own and had extensive theories of how to use and counter guerilla warfare. Stephen Brumwell argues just the opposite stating that both Forbes and Bouquet, at the time, recognized that "war in the forests of America was a very different business from war in Europe."[9] Russell argues it was Braddock's failure to rely on the time-honoured European methods that cost him the battle.[10] The British had already waged war on the irregular forces of the Scots, and Balkan irregulars, such as Pandours and Hussars, had already made their impact on European warfare and theory by the 1740's. Braddock's failure, according to proponents of this theory, was that he failed because he did not adequately apply traditional military doctrine (particularly by not using distance), not the lack of use of frontier tactics.[11] Peter Russell, in his study, shows that on several occasions before the Battle of the Monongahela, Braddock successfully adhered to standard European tactics to counter ambushes, and as a result had been nearly immune to earlier French and Canadian attacks.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braddock_expedition

Now, there is a battle that was almost eerily similar to Braddock’s defeat in most every respect.  That battle was The Teutoburg Massacre and it happened over 1,700 years before Braddock got waxed.

http://www.falcophiles.co.uk/facts/teutoburg.html

Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #32 on: September 22, 2009, 11:20:00 PM »
There are also some very important things about 18th century warfare that even many modern warriors do not grasp about warfare in those times.
Until I had done a LOT of reenacting, I never truly understood how the clouds of black powder smoke from the muskets would effectively hide the opposing forces.  When a breeze is blowing, the black powder clouds are swept away fairly quickly, but it still takes some time before you can AIM at individual soldiers.  When the air is hot and humid, the smoke doesn’t go away very quickly at all.  Also, fog will effectively hide HUGE forces from each other until you almost trip over the enemy.  In both cases, the rifle has no tactical advantage over the musket cause you can’t hit what you can’t adequately see.

At night, the rifle has no tactical advantage over the musket, either.  Matter of fact, the musket and bayonet have the advantage there.  This because unless you have a mostly full moon, you can’t see well enough to employ the rifle at anywhere near its full range capability.  On many nights of each month, 25 to 40 yards is about the furthest you can see what you are aiming at and you often can’t effectively use the open sights.  I would NOT want to be a rifleman in a group of riflemen caught at night by a bayonet charge of disciplined musket/bayonet armed troops. 

It also seems that some people think the British just stood in ranks and let the riflemen fire at the without doing much of anything about it.  That is pure fallacy.  The British knew fully how to maneuver and send a flank or rear attack around the riflemen when the riflemen were aiming and fighting in their front.  Sure, the riflemen SHOULD have had scouts on their flanks, but in the “Fog of War” – many times the word doesn’t get properly passed to the commanders until the British were charging into your area and nearly on top of you.

Also, though the British did not have nearly as many Cavalry as they used on the European Continent, they did have Cavalry in the Revolution.   As a rifleman, then, you were SCREWED if the Cavalry turned up on your flanks or rear.  Riflemen did not have bayonets  to hold off the Cavalry charges.

Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2009, 11:50:17 PM »
Oops, forgot one more thing. 

I admit I don't know how much ammunition the "average" American Rifleman carried into battle.  I don't believe anyone has ever done a good study of that, but I could be mistaken. 

A full powder horn, when they had enough supplies to actually fill their  horns, was more than ample for most battles.  However, what we do know is that powder and lead was always in short supply in the American Army, especially in the early years before the French Alliance. 

I learned something from the History Channel that I didn't know about Saratoga until quite recently.  Just prior to the Battle of Saratoga,  General Gates had to strip lead off local houses to melt it down for balls or they would not have had enough balls to fight the battle.  I'm sure the Riflemen received a share of that lead, but they didn't have a whole lot to spare.

This is pure speculation on my part, but I doubt the riflemen normally had a whole lot of balls to shoot.  If they considered 24 rounds to be adequate for muskets for a days battle and muskets did the majority of fighting in each battle, I'm guessing they would not have issued enough lead to the riflemen for more than a dozen or so rounds of ammunition.  So what happens in a battle when you run out of ammo?  Doesn't matter how accurate the rifle was when you couldn't shoot it.

Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2009, 12:46:17 AM »
By the 1800's and particularly in the "West", the musket was found to be woefully innadequate, especially when fighting the 'single' quarry.   Dan's last statement fully describes the 'problem' experienced by musketeers as well as in 'The West', yet the 'powers that be' continued to issue muskets - some rifles for special regiments, but mostly muskets.

Too true.  They had what would have been an excellent rifle to issue, the Model 1817 with steel ramrods tipped in brass and Model M1816 bayonets to fit them.  But, they were too wedded to muskets for general issue.

Offline George Sutton

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2009, 02:08:51 AM »
Years ago I owned an British soldiers diary from the Rev War. In it he wrote that the the Colonials were cowards because they fought from cover and would run when advanced upon by the British lines.

This very much frustrated the British because the Americans would not stand and fight.

Centershot

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2009, 04:41:37 AM »
It is possible to pick through anything and find this or that. If you mention the sorry performance in NY and NJ you need to point out that there were bright spots. Early on the Americans did not really have a handle on what they were doing. Washington was constantly out generaled etc etc.
I know what a few people can do for a column and then escape unscathed. BTDT. But you have to choose the ground carefully.
Most of my units casualties in VN were from 2-4 man rpg teams and we seldom even saw them and we were not in what everyone who was never there assumes was the SE Asia jungle.
Burgoyne had already run into this before Morgan even arrived being sniped on his march down.
The British Army was probably the most capable in the world in the 1770s. Yet the Americans could still pull out a victory now and then.  The British were formidable but they had a hard time dealing with the militia when they fled and/or if they staid on the roads trying to get someplace as the return from Concord/Lexington.
Would also point out that the average British private was not especially indoctrinated with thinking for himself. The British had a learning curve that they had to get over in dealing with people that shot a round or two and ran away.

Riflemen and ammo. The rifles needed better powder, but a lot less of it, a lot less lead too. The typical rifle 40+- to the pound or even smaller. The typical musket was 14 to 11 to the pound and used 100+ grains of powder. So a pound of powder and 100 balls was about as heavy as 24 rounds for a musket.

If you read Burgoyne's comments from Huddleston you will hear him state that every time the smoke cleared for a minute officers were shot.
Anytime you get 50-100 people shooting BP there is a lot of smoke.

We have little to go with from the rifle units, it seems they did not write a lot of stuff down. The American army tended to elect their leaders, at least at the company level and perhaps the choices were not all that good. So we really don't know how they felt about it all. How they were generally used and how they felt they should have been.
It is thought that at Cowpens the militia was mostly rifle armed and they did OK there but they had a leader that understood them.

If Braddock had been effective against the F&I before why did he get whacked so bad at his defeat? Why did he go from knowing what he was doing to a fool? And I did not say the natives opposing him had rifles though a few surely did.

Time for supper.

Dan
He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

J.D.

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2009, 08:15:13 AM »

If Braddock had been effective against the F&I before why did he get whacked so bad at his defeat? Why did he go from knowing what he was doing to a fool? And I did not say the natives opposing him had rifles though a few surely did.


Braddock expected an ambush at the crossing of the Monongahela, but it didn't materialize. He thought the french had abandoned Duquesne and pulled in the flankers and scouts, in advance of the, advanced guard, due in part to the dense underbrush, but also to increase the speed of his advance.

Prior to that, Braddock used his few NDNs as eyes and ears in advance of the army. Moreover, scouts in advance of the army and platoons of flankers created a screen that prevented large scale ambushes, as happened at the final battle.

God bless

Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #38 on: September 23, 2009, 09:06:46 AM »

If Braddock had been effective against the F&I before why did he get whacked so bad at his defeat? Why did he go from knowing what he was doing to a fool? And I did not say the natives opposing him had rifles though a few surely did.


Braddock expected an ambush at the crossing of the Monongahela, but it didn't materialize. He thought the french had abandoned Duquesne and pulled in the flankers and scouts, in advance of the, advanced guard, due in part to the dense underbrush, but also to increase the speed of his advance.

Prior to that, Braddock used his few NDNs as eyes and ears in advance of the army. Moreover, scouts in advance of the army and platoons of flankers created a screen that prevented large scale ambushes, as happened at the final battle.

God bless

Exactly so.  When Braddock abandoned tried and true military tactics to build/advance the road quicker - he found out disastrously what happens when one abandons the principles of distance and maneuver.

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #39 on: September 23, 2009, 11:03:32 AM »
It is possible to pick through anything and find this or that. If you mention the sorry performance in NY and NJ you need to point out that there were bright spots. Early on the Americans did not really have a handle on what they were doing. Washington was constantly out generaled etc etc.

I have mentioned at least three times (if not more) that the riflemen were very effective when used properly and normally when supported by musket/bayonet armed light infantry.   So I believe I have given the American Riflemen their proper due.   But that doesn't change the fact that when they had many opportunities to "pick their ground and fight their way" in the campaigns of New York and New Jersey that they performed so poorly.  Once again, going back to what Joe Huddleson wrote:

"Credit for losing the battles and winning the war in the south must ultimately go to General Nathaniel Greene rather than the presence of riflemen in his forces."

"In summary, it must be concluded that the rifle and the rifleman were effective military tools ONLY when applied in a specialized manner.  Used in this way, the colonial rifleman may have affected the speed with which the war was concluded, but not the ultimate outcome of the conflict."

Burgoyne had already run into this before Morgan even arrived being sniped on his march down.

The British Army was probably the most capable in the world in the 1770s. Yet the Americans could still pull out a victory now and then.  The British were formidable but they had a hard time dealing with the militia when they fled and/or if they staid on the roads trying to get someplace as the return from Concord/Lexington.

The value of sniping in the Revolutionary war can not be discounted, to be sure.  However, what snipers affect more than casualties is loss of morale on the enemy WHEN they are not as confident of their commanders.  Burgoyne being ever the Poppinjay and split up and used his forces so badly - actually negatively affected British morale more than the American Riflemen.  

You are forgetting something about the British return from Lexington/Concord.  The mission of the British forces was to capture and destroy arms, powder and supplies -but NOT to make war on British citizens - which we all were back then.  The British showed a whole lot of restraint, though they did fire to defend themselves.  Had the British forces fought like they did in a War, the outcome of their retreat from Lexington/Concord would have been very different indeed.

Would also point out that the average British private was not especially indoctrinated with thinking for himself. The British had a learning curve that they had to get over in dealing with people that shot a round or two and ran away.

That's true to a point.  But, you don't win major battles and you certainly don't win wars using those tactics.  Even if you lose most of the battles and run away, you still have to inflict enough casualties to make the enemy give up - as the British did.  That's why Huddleston wrote what he did about the Riflemen and I quoted above (again).

Riflemen and ammo. The rifles needed better powder, but a lot less of it, a lot less lead too. The typical rifle 40+- to the pound or even smaller. The typical musket was 14 to 11 to the pound and used 100+ grains of powder. So a pound of powder and 100 balls was about as heavy as 24 rounds for a musket.

Rifles during the revolution averaged between .50 and .56 caliber, as is often quoted.  That means they would have gotten 40 to 45 balls per pound of lead figuring the ball sizes were from .47 to .49 caliber.  We know from archaeological evidence the British and Americans used musket balls around .690" which would be 14 balls to the pound.  OK, so you get about three times the balls per pound for rifles than you do for muskets.  No dispute there.  What was the average amount of powder used in rifles back then?  (I will readily admit I do not have that information.)  Did they use short range target loads or did they use full power "hunting" loads?  I would think they used hunting loads requiring more powder.  I'm using another SWAG, but I think the ratio of powder use in muskets vs rifles would have been about 3 to 2 or at most 2 for 1 - and the last figuring 50 grains of powder for a rifle load.    But those are just figures.....

Quartermasters then fully realized how much powder and lead it took to make a round of ammo for both muskets and rifles.  When you have ample quantities of both powder and lead, you can give everyone a full issue of rounds per day or per battle.  However, we were almost always short on powder and lead.  That's why General Gates had to strip lead from houses prior to the battle of Saratoga. When an army is short on powder and ball, an able Quartermaster has to issue quantities of powder and ball in accordance with the Commander's orders and by how important each type of weapon is considered to be for the battle.  Since muskets were considered and were actually much more important to winning battles than rifles, they would have issued quantities of powder and ball by that order of importance.  When you don't have an ample supply of each, you would give the musket armed men a full 24 rounds (if you could) and settle for a lesser number for the riflemen.  That's why I suggested when powder and ball were short, they most likely issued 24 cartridges for muskets and about a dozen for rifles.  They may have had to issue 20 balls for muskets and 10 or less for rifles, or something like that.  Again, this is speculation because we don't know the exact quantities of powder and ball available to the Americans for each battle - BUT it does go along with making the best use of limited supplies.  Oh, and I won't argue the riflemen could/would perhaps have given more casualties per numbers of rounds, but Commanders and Quartermasters at the time knew muskets were more important to winning battles.  

If you read Burgoyne's comments from Huddleston you will hear him state that every time the smoke cleared for a minute officers were shot.
Anytime you get 50-100 people shooting BP there is a lot of smoke.

I won't dispute that at all.  But it wasn't JUST 50-100 firing.  When the British fired their volleys it was a lot more than than that for each volley, they provided their own "smoke screen" the riflemen could not see through either.  Alternating volleys from the front and rear ranks would have provided near constant smoke screens or at least made it much more difficult to aim well.  The British also fired faster than the American Regulars until Von Steuben taught the Americans a simplified musket drill.   The British also had 3 pound "grass hopper" cannon that added even more of a smoke screen.  The American musket armed infantry firing volleys would also have given smoke screens that would have blocked the view of some, if not many of the American Rifleman as well.   I"m sure the riflemen did fire as soon as the smoke cleared, but it would not have cleared very often or very much in a heated battle.  

Modified to add:  In battles in wooded areas, the smoke from the volleys and cannon didn't clear as fast as they do on open fields.  That meant it was even more difficult to aim properly at Saratoga than battles in more open country.

We have little to go with from the rifle units, it seems they did not write a lot of stuff down. The American army tended to elect their leaders, at least at the company level and perhaps the choices were not all that good. So we really don't know how they felt about it all. How they were generally used and how they felt they should have been.
It is thought that at Cowpens the militia was mostly rifle armed and they did OK there but they had a leader that understood them.

Dan Morgan's performance at Cowpens was one of, if not the most brilliant use of forces by any American Commander in a major battle.  Yes, he did understand the militiamen and that's why he only ask them to fire two shots and then retreat.  The battle was won by the strength of the Regulars and the Cavalry, though, and they were not armed with rifles.

« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 11:09:43 AM by Artificer »

northmn

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #40 on: September 23, 2009, 05:33:57 PM »
Another example in a way was the battle of Isandlwana where the British took a beating from Zulu's armed with spears.  Chelmsford had little repsect for them and did not set up a proper defensive position for that camp which got wiped out.  Breech loading rifles against spears.  Rifles during the Revolution were to slow to load to be effective as a main military weapon.  Also flintlock rifles were not as reliable as muskets and did not adapt to volley firing.   It was not until the invention of the Minnie bullet that rifles came into their own (along with percussion ignition).  The civil war had quite a few bloody battles because early musket strategy was employed against rifles.  At the end they ended up using WWI trench warfare.  They learned.  Grandad was not stupid.  Had there been better tactics for the Revolutionary period, they would have used them. In the war of 1812 the British marched on Washington using the same tactics and burned the capital.  While the Battle of New Orleans showed a victory using suggested tactics, it was a situation where the British had to come head on into an entrenched force.   Arm chair quarterbacking today does not take into account the technology of the times.  Also there is the fact that while good riflemen can be effective, how many of the general population are that much better with rifles than muskets?  Also as another point, there were no significant number of rifles used by the French and Indians at Braddocks defeat.

DP

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #41 on: September 24, 2009, 08:44:32 AM »
Another example in a way was the battle of Isandlwana where the British took a beating from Zulu's armed with spears.  Chelmsford had little repsect for them and did not set up a proper defensive position for that camp which got wiped out.  Breech loading rifles against spears.  Rifles during the Revolution were to slow to load to be effective as a main military weapon.  Also flintlock rifles were not as reliable as muskets and did not adapt to volley firing.   It was not until the invention of the Minnie bullet that rifles came into their own (along with percussion ignition).  The civil war had quite a few bloody battles because early musket strategy was employed against rifles.  At the end they ended up using WWI trench warfare.  They learned.  Grandad was not stupid.  Had there been better tactics for the Revolutionary period, they would have used them. In the war of 1812 the British marched on Washington using the same tactics and burned the capital.  While the Battle of New Orleans showed a victory using suggested tactics, it was a situation where the British had to come head on into an entrenched force.   Arm chair quarterbacking today does not take into account the technology of the times.  Also there is the fact that while good riflemen can be effective, how many of the general population are that much better with rifles than muskets?  Also as another point, there were no significant number of rifles used by the French and Indians at Braddocks defeat.

DP


Northmn,

Wasn't the Battle of Isandlwana the battle portrayed in the movie "Zulu Dawn" as the Battle of Rorke's Drift was portrayed in "Zulu" ?   I fully realize the inherent inaccuracies and problems trying to interpret history from movies portraying historical events, but "Zulu" does show both how effective the bayonet was in the hands of troops who knew how to use them and three ranks volley firing when faced with overwhelming numbers of attackers.   If the British actually used the three ranks in volley fire as they did in the movie, it demonstrates there were still a few times when Linear Tactics were excellent right up to the end of the 19th century and used with single shot breechloaders as you pointed out.

During the "Un-Civil War," they tried many things to overcome the loading speed and accuracy range of the rifled musket.  At first, they went from the fastest "march" in drill manuals from "Double Quick Time" to the "Run."  They thought running in formation would close the added distance between forces to use the bayonet, because the rifled musket was accurate at further distance.  Well, that didn't work out.   They threw out thin skirmishing lines and that worked a little, but those lines were called back when major forces came up opposing each other to engage.  Otherwise the Skirmish lines would have been cut to pieces.  So that didn't work. 

Then they tried a drill technique for skirmishers known as "Companions in Battle."  Skirmish lines were broken down with four men formed into little groups called "Companions in Battle," which was the precursor to the modern day Infantry Fire Team in an Infantry Squad.  They kept an eye on each of the other four and one would shoot, while one had finished loading, while the other two were in various stages of reloading.  That meant they would always have at least one musket ready to fire and would never be caught with unloaded muskets from such tactics of volley firing. That made a better skirmishing line, but still wasn't the key to answer volley fire by large forces using linear tactics.

The Drill Manuals of the day (because both sides used the same manuals) also called for a new technique known as "Fire by File."  Instead of having the front or rear rank fire all together by volley (or both ranks fire together in a single volley) which effectively meant your forces were all reloading together, this new tactic was employed more by Southron forces.  "Fire by File" meant the first men in the front and rear rank fired together, then the second men in each rank fired together and this all the way down the line.  HOWEVER,what was so innovative was that after they fired, they continued to load and fire at will without further commands - so you never had a time when all your men were reloading all together.  It gave you a constant, if somewhat sporadic, continuous fire.  It also allowed the soldiers to take better aim and squeeze the trigger rather than jerk the trigger and shoot over the opposing forces as was often the case with volley firing.  It wasn't the answer to the range and speed of the rifle musket, but it actually kept your casualties down and you inflicted more damage to the opposing force IF your soldiers could hit what they aimed at.

The next improvement in a large battle probably was Brig. Gen. John Buford's Cavalry dismounting and using their breech loading carbines from defensive formations to hold up the Confederate advance the first day of Gettysburg.  The ability to rapidly move troops where you needed them most and the firepower of the breechloaders was significant and most likely saved the Battle of Gettysburg for the Union.  It was the precursor to the highly fluid war in Europe that we know as WW II.   However, there weren't enough horses, nor enough breechloaders even in the Union Army to make the tactics effective at that time.

The next step was thought up by Colonel and later Union General Upton and used at the Battle of the Wilderness.  Instead of long battle lines, he proposed sending Battalions or Regiments lined up in deep columns to hit a fairly small point of the enemy line with overwhelming force to break through.  They would hit a portion of the Confederate main battle line with unit after unit after unit, etc. to overwhelm a portion of the line.  Of course the soldiers in the first Battalion or Regiment took horrible casualties and the following Battalions or Regiments were fired upon by the Confederates on their flanks.  Still, it gave Grant an idea.........

"Grant probed both of Lee's flanks on May 9 and 10 to no avail. About 6:00 p.m., a 24-year-old colonel named Emory Upton formed 12 hand-picked regiments along a little woods path opposite the heart of Lee's defenses. Upton had received permission earlier in the day to assail the west face of the "Mule Shoe" using imaginative tactics designed to penetrate the salient, then exploit the breakthrough. The Yankees padded to the edge of the woods 200 yards from the Confederate line, then burst out of the forest with a yell.

In 60 seconds, Upton's men closed with a startled brigade of Georgians. The Federals seized four guns, a reserve line of works, and almost reached the McCoull House in the center of the "Mule Shoe" before the Confederates recovered. Southern artillery at the top of the salient stymied Upton's expected support, and a counterattack eventually shoved the Bluecoats back to their starting points. But the boyish colonel's temporary success gave Grant an idea. If 12 regiments could break the "Mule Shoe," what might two corps accomplish?"

http://www.nps.gov/frsp/wildspot.htm

That tactic was a bit better, but it still wasn't the answer. 

Confederates next came up with the best answer at that stage of the war and that was to use the shovel to overcome the numbers of enemy against them and the range and accuracy of the rifled musket.  Federal soldiers complained that if you gave Lee four hours, he would have field works thrown up, another few hours and there would be trenches, another couple of hours and there would be branches or logs over the rifle pits to protect the heads of the Confederates while they shot.  Those kind of works were almost impossible to overcome with the technology of the day unless the attacker had massive numbers of artillery.  That and the Trench Warfare siege of Petersburg led to the tactics of WWI.

So the "Un-Civil War" started out using 18th century tactics and wound up using 20th century tactics (some even used in WWII) before it was over.

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2009, 07:01:27 PM »
I think we are saying the same thing from different perspectives.




Rifles during the revolution averaged between .50 and .56 caliber, as is often quoted.  That means they would have gotten 40 to 45 balls per pound of lead figuring the ball sizes were from .47 to .49 caliber.  We know from archaeological evidence the British and Americans used musket balls around .690" which would be 14 balls to the pound.  OK, so you get about three times the balls per pound for rifles than you do for muskets.  No dispute there.  What was the average amount of powder used in rifles back then?  (I will readily admit I do not have that information.)  Did they use short range target loads or did they use full power "hunting" loads?  I would think they used hunting loads requiring more powder.  I'm using another SWAG, but I think the ratio of powder use in muskets vs rifles would have been about 3 to 2 or at most 2 for 1 - and the last figuring 50 grains of powder for a rifle load.    But those are just figures.....

Whose quotes?
 Hanger states  that he had never seen an American rifle over 36 to the pound. This borne out by John J. Henry's journal entrys quoted by Huddleston pg 28. The 45 to the pound rifle be bought is inferred to be larger than the one he lost in a river crossing. It is further born out by the prevailing bore size of surviving near new condition rifles of the period which are generally under 50 caliber. Steel canvas shows an early Kentucky by Resor that was made prior to 1777 that is .42. The battlefield capture "Thomas rifle" #121 in RCA is 47 caliber. While I KNOW some rifles were over 50 caliber bore sizes larger than 50 are not all that common in rifles that still retain their rifling even today. Most rifles were recut at least once. Look for vice tracks on the breech end of the barrel. A pretty good indicator of at least one recut by someone who was not concerned with the finish.
Henry stated he had a pound of powder and 70 balls in his pouch enroute to Quebec. I bet Morgans men had similar amounts when they arrived at Saratoga and would submit they didn't need a lot of ammo from Gates. But I have no idea what their consumption of powder and lead was. But we can assume that Henry figured he had enough for at least one engagement.
Hanger mentions shooting 1/2 ball weight of  powder in an American rifle "without the slightest recoil".
This is very good max load in rifles under about 58-62 caliber today.

I won't dispute that at all.  But it wasn't JUST 50-100 firing.  
Modified to add:  In battles in wooded areas, the smoke from the volleys and cannon didn't clear as fast as they do on open fields.  That meant it was even more difficult to aim properly at Saratoga than battles in more open country.
I used the number just as an example. I don't do re-enacting that requires shooting blanks. But I have been on firing lines with a lot of smoke when the wind was down. PITA for timed fire.
But the riflemen often took to the trees. Fraser, for example, was shot by a man in a tree, according to Fraser.
This thins the smoke somewhat. If they could not see to shoot how did they pick off the British Artillerymen and capture the guns which they are created with doing.

Dan Morgan's performance at Cowpens was one of, if not the most brilliant use of forces by any American Commander in a major battle.  Yes, he did understand the militiamen and that's why he only ask them to fire two shots and then retreat.  The battle was won by the strength of the Regulars and the Cavalry, though, and they were not armed with rifles.

The militiamen were a MAJOR part of the tactical strategy at Cowpens and it worked VERY well. They caused the British to fall into disarray chasing them and made the British extremely vulnerable to the regulars over the crest of the hill.
Everyone assumes the militiamen were simply gone after they fired their 2 shots. I doubt this is 100% the case. If I had a rifle I would simply back off to a safe spot and continue to snipe. Shooting into a mass of people at 200-300 yards is going to hit something even if the ball drifts from its intended target.
The Militiamen's (probably heavily armed with rifles) actions may well have been the key to the whole victory. The militia could not have won this fight alone. But on the other hand we must admit that the regulars may have lost without their somewhat deceptive performance on the battlefield.

For some reason folks here seem to think that when I state something to the effect that "such and such played a key role" they assume that I think that nobody else did anything. This is not the case.
This said we must also admit that small events can turn large battles. Denying Burgoyne recon, harassing him for quite a long period.
Schyler delayed him on the march and more from Huddleston.
"In the open fields the rebels are not much count, but in the woods they are redoubtable.....the rebels lurk in the woods and dart from tree to tree. In their skill as marksmen they may be compared to the peasants of Sollinger: their riflemen are terrible."

This was from a Hessian officer.

There were rifleman present before Morgan arrived as previously stated and officers were being killed.
Again from Huddleston concerning the battle of Bennington. "...Col. Baume was shot through the body by a rifle ball, fell mortally wounded; and all order and discipline being lost, flight or submission was alone thought of."
I submit that this occurred more often than some might want to think. A courageous leader can turn a fight around at times and the loss of a leader can also precipitate defeat.
The riflemen were not all supermen. Apparently some were not even really good riflemen though many or most were certainly adequate.

Morgan's riflemen were sent to Gates because Burgoyne was a serious threat and things were not looking good.
When Washington asked they be returned as soon as possible Gates responded. "In this situation your excellency would not wish me to part with the corps of the army of [which] General Burgoyne are most afraid of".
Huddleston again.

Huddleston is a great reference but I sometimes feel he give the riflemen a little less credit than they deserve but I do not have reference to his source material and only have what I find in his book and a few others so I am just supposing.

I am going to have to buy a couple of more books it seems.

Finally I would say that I am an primarily a rifleman. My experiences with the smoothbores I have owned has not swayed me. I seldom shoot small shot at anything and the only ML smoothbore I have is on consignment....
For example, while I grew up in Iowa I killed more pheasants with a 22 pistol than a shotgun. I did not particularly enjoy hunting them or eating them. I preferred hunting Squirrels which I really enjoyed both in the woods and at the table. Don't hunt ducks or geese at all since I don't care to eat them either. So I never used a shotgun much. I am sure this distorts my perspective somewhat, but I doubt its much different than many of the men who served in Morgan's Riflemen.
And...
If the riflemen were so easily countered, so useless and some would think, why did the British import German riflemen to counter them, unsuccessfully for the most part it would seem? And why did the British finally extensively test and adopt a Military rifle? They had been toying with this since the 1740s BTW.
Like the sniper of today the rifle armed colonist of the revolution was not a multi-purpose tool. He could do almost anything with some success but was best when used where his precision was most useful. From fortification he could kill the enemy at 200-300 yards easily. On ships he could make it impossible for the enemy to function except below decks. The British did this to an *American* ship using natives that had been gifted brass barreled rifles while visiting in England. Its in "British Military Flintlock Rifles" by Bailey.

So far as winning a war and not winning any major battles. The 20th century proved this was possible if the support for the troops waned and Britain was having some problems of this kind concerning the "American War".

Dan
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Offline Artificer

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #43 on: September 25, 2009, 12:42:14 AM »
First, as to average bore size of Revolutionary War rifle.  Under the old forum on this board, I brought up how the gunsmiths at Colonial Williamsburg mentioned in the 1980's that the average size of rifles in the Revolution was .45 caliber.  I got STOMPED for that and many people brought up many references that they were more like .52 to .56 caliber.  This even from someone who was working at Colonial Williamsburg at the time, a few years back.   One of the things they mentioned that surviving guns in calibers under .50 caliber survived because they weren't used as much and primarily for small game hunting.  I had believed what the Gunsmiths at Colonial Williamsburg had told me due to what I had read in Ned Roberts book "The Muzzleloading Cap Lock Rifle", the author there mentions a Bear Hunter who had been using something like a .41 caliber rifle, but thought that was too small so he went to a "bigger rifle caliber" of .47 caliber for black bear.  However, the overwhelming conclusions of the forum were for the large calibers.   Are we now back to .45 caliber being the average bore size for the Revolution?

Frazier was up in a tree, that's correct.  That's how he could better see and hit someone in a smoke covered battlefield.  That's WHY we know Frazier was up in the tree because it was unusual enough for it to have been noted in the battle reports.    But even at Saratoga, most riflemen weren't up in trees.  In other battles, there were no trees in the right spot to climb.  

The "approved method" the British used to place their most common field guns, the 3 lb. "Grasshppers" in amoungst the infantry lines where they acted more like "supporting arms" or medium or heavy machine guns do today.  At Saratoga, they advanced 8 guns and those probably were the ones the Riflemen were shooting at.

"Burgoyne had to choose between advancing or retreating. He decided to risk a second engagement, and on October 7 ordered a reconnaissance-in-force to test the American left flank. Ably led and supported by eight cannon, a force of 1,500 men moved out of the British camp. After marching southwesterly about three-quarters of a mile, the troops deployed in a clearing on the Barber Farm. Most of the British front faced an open field, but both flanks rested in woods, thus exposing them to surprise attack. By now the Americans knew that Burgoyne's army was again on the move and at about 3 p.m. attacked in three columns under Colonel Morgan, Gen. Ebenezer Learned, and Gen. Enoch Poor."

http://battle1777.saratoga.org/history.html

The Riflemen ordered to Quebec had not been shooting that much before they went.  Remember, Huddleston writes they had done so poorly up to that time. They also had time and more importantly, more access to lead before they went.  However from almost every example of original documentation, we know the whole American Army was short on lead prior to Saratoga and that's why General Gates had to strip lead from houses so he would have ammunition for the battle.  I won't argue that Riflemen would not have carried a good supply of balls when going on campaign, if they had the lead to cast the balls.   But original documentation strongly suggests everyone was short on lead for balls prior to Saratoga.  

As to the militia's role at Cowpens and what you wrote,  "They caused the British to fall into disarray chasing them."   Yes, the British line had to reform after the Militia fired and killed about 40 percent of the British Officers, but after reforming the British kept right on coming.  Then they hit the second line of Militia which also ran away.  The British DID charge headlong into the Regulars, but it was the regulars and the American cavalry that fought most of the battle. The militia DID come in at the very end of the battle after reforming, though, and their presence was part of the psychological point where the British crapped out due to "combat shock."  I don't mean to belittle the militia, but they did not do much actual fighting in the battle.  ALSO, Morgan set up the battle with a rapid flowing river right behind the American lines so the Militia COULD NOT run away.

"Daniel Morgan knew that he should use the unique landscape of Cowpens and the time available before Tarleton's arrival to his advantage. Furthermore, he knew his men and his opponent, knew how they would react in certain situations, and used this knowledge to his advantage.[27] To begin with, the location of his forces were contrary to any existing military doctrine: he placed his army between the Broad and Pacolet River, thus making escape impossible if the army was routed. His reason for cutting off escape was obvious: to ensure that the untrained militiamen would not, as they had been accustomed to do, turn in flight at the first hint of battle and abandon the regulars. (The Battle of Camden had ended in disaster when the militia, which was half of the American force, broke and ran as soon as the shooting started.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cowpens

Prior to the battle, the British were exhausted and very hungry:

"At 2:00 a.m. on January 17, 1781, Tarleton roused his troops and continued his march to the Cowpens. Lawrence Babits states that, "in the five days before Cowpens, the British were subjected to stress that could only be alleviated by rest and proper diet". He points out that “in the forty-eight hours before the battle, the British ran out of food and had less than four hours’ sleep”.[29] Over the whole period, Tarleton’s brigade did a great deal of rapid marching across difficult terrain. Babits concludes that they reached the battlefield exhausted and malnourished."

Then during the battle:

"After killing or wounding fifteen dragoons, the skirmishers retreated. The British pulled back temporarily but attacked again, this time reaching the militiamen, who (as ordered) poured two volleys into the British who—with 40% of their casualties being officers—were astonished and confused. They reformed and continued to advance. Tarleton responded by ordering one of his officers, Ogilvie, to charge with some dragoons into the "defeated" Americans. His men moved forward in regular formation and were momentarily checked by the militia musket fire but continued to advance. Pickens' militia broke and apparently fled to the rear and were eventually reorganized.

Taking the withdrawal of the first two lines as a full blown retreat, the British advanced headlong into the awaiting final line of disciplined regulars which firmly held on the hill.

Despite this, Tarleton believed he could still win with only one line of Americans left and sent his infantry in for a frontal attack. The Highlanders were ordered to flank the Americans. Under the direction of Howard, the Americans retreated.   Flushed with victory and now disorganized, the British ran after them. Abruptly, Howard pulled an about-face, fired an extremely devastating volley into his enemy, and then charged. Triplett's riflemen attacked and the cavalry of Washington and McCall charged. Completely routed, the dragoons fled to their own rear. Having dismantled Ogilvie's forces, Washington charged into the British right flank and rear, while the militia, having re-formed, charged out from behind the hill—completing a 360-degree circle around the American position—to hit the British left.
 
The shock of the sudden charge, coupled with the reappearance of the American militiamen on the flanks where Tarleton's exhausted men expected to see their own cavalry, proved too much for the British. Nearly half of the British and Loyalist infantrymen fell to the ground whether they were wounded or not. Their ability to fight had gone. Historian Lawrence Babits diagnoses "combat shock" as the cause for this abrupt British collapse—the effects of exhaustion, hunger and demoralization suddenly catching up with them.[30] Caught in a clever double envelopment that has been compared with the Battle of Cannae[1], many of the British surrendered.


« Last Edit: September 25, 2009, 12:59:39 AM by Artificer »

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #44 on: September 25, 2009, 07:22:33 AM »
Please people note that this is MY OPINION on the subject below so take it as such. I don't need to be put in stocks and pelted with rotten apples. But there are things here people need to consider concerning rifle calibers in Colonial America.
Much of what we learned in the 1960s was the product of what some collector wanted things to be. Heck they modified guns to make them fit what they wanted. Some flint rifles today never were flint (I have been told) but they fit in a collection better as flint so....

The folks advocating the large bore Kentucky are looking at the guns as they exist today. In heavily used guns this is a mistake. Freshing was a common occurrence. Clarks small rifle was freshed during the L&C expedition when it lost accuracy. Some of these rifles were in use for several generations. An early rifle that was later converted to percussion likely went through 2 owners before being converted, then several more until the ML fell from use with the arrival of good breechloaders. Thinking they were not recut in this time is just silly. If they were recut every 10 years they would still be far bigger now than when they were first put in service. Perhaps .100 bigger or even more. Remember enlarging .010 is only .005 per side and this is not a lot if trying to cut out pits or a well worn breech. So 1-2 calibers enlargement per fresing is perfectly reasonable.
Freshing, depending on bore condition will enlarge the bore by 1 to 2 calibers.
The large bore advocates like to ignore this or down play it. Almost anyone with a little knowledge could do this chore with minimal tools.
They also ignore the rev-war period statement of Col. Hanger, one of the premier riflemen in England, who states that he never saw a rifle over 36 to the pound (about .505 diameter, bore size of the rifle about .52) though he had examined hundreds of them.
Back in the 60s everyone "knew" the early guns were large bore. But there is documentation and existing rifles that bring this into doubt. The 42 caliber Resor rifle in "Steel Canvas" for example it is very likely a late 1760s-early 1770s and its 42 caliber.
The 47 caliber Thomas rifle was being used in combat when it was captured.
There was no real reason for a bore size over 54. If there were the western trappers would have used larger bores. They had long ranges and large game to contend with yet the 50-54 was the norm. This ball size range is adequate for almost any use in  NA (though not my choice for dangerous game like Gbears).  The powder and lead consumption is minimal for the game being hunted. Buffalo being the toughest food animal likely to be encountered and 50-54 will handle them. In the eastern US in the 1750s the biggest critter likely to be encountered was the moose or elk. The western east, Kentucky etc. Had Bison but its not like shooting a Gbear so a smaller caliber will work fine.
In war there are few humans that can functional well with a 45  caliber hole punched in them anywhere in the body anyway.
The 1792 Contract rifles were 48-50 caliber and these were meant for the military. So the  "they needed a large bore for shooting people" argument does not hold water either. The Harpers Ferry made service rifles were 54 (some in museums are found cut out to 58-60 caliber).
In my experience in shooting most game the 50 caliber will do about anything the 54 will though the bigger ball does make larger holes.
The 50 caliber rifle will shoot well enough and produce enough penetration to kill a man and likely a horse at 300 yards by actual testing I did sometime back to see if the Fraser shot was doable. In 3 shots at a human silhouette at 290 odd yards I got a fatal hit on the man silhouette, another that would have hit the horse he was riding if broadside and a miss. This with enough wind to require 4ft plus of kentucky windage.
For its killing power the 50 is the cheapest to shoot. People on the frontier did not use large caliber guns since the ammo costs too much. The most popular rifle calibers in the cartridge era were always the low to medium capacity ones, 38-40, 44-40, 40-65, 40-70, 45-70 and similar cartridges. The larger capacity cartridges were generally used by the hide or market hunters.
If you find an old 86 in Montana its as likely as not to be a 40-65. Because is was cheaper to shoot and would get the job done on anything but maybe Gbears.
The 45 will kill deer just fine even with 45 grains of BP so for the most part calibers larger than this are not needed for subsistence. As a result 44 to 50 calibers were very common.
Now some folks are going to see this as their ox being gored for what ever reason, be it what they really believe or because they have a 58-62 caliber "early rifle" and don't want it thought their rifle is "wrong".
And there WERE some large bore rifles made. But I think they were the exception unless all these smooth rifles in large calibers are the result of old large bore rifles being bored smooth.
If anyone does not like this idea of the 52 caliber and above being rare then by all means do some research and *think* about it. What was written and what of original rifles with small bores?
Time for bed before I fall off the chair.

Dan
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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #45 on: September 25, 2009, 10:11:00 AM »
Dan,

Well, it seems we share something else besides an interest in BP and military service.  We both grew up in Iowa.  I grew up on the Mississippi river in a little town about 22 miles south of the Quad Cities - Muscatine. 

Our hunting experiences seem to be vastly different, though.  We hunted rabbits, squirrels, quail, pheasant, ducks, some geese and I hunted quite a lot of raccoon.  I much prefer quail and pheasant to rabbit and squirrel, but that's a matter of individual taste.   Even had barbecued racoon a few times and it wasn't bad.   Hunting and fishing provided a lot of additional protein in our diet, especially in my younger years.  It's funny you should mention you don't like duck because we usually gave most of our ducks away to people who usually loved to get them.  I finally asked Dad about that a few years ago why we gave so many away and he told me he didn't care for duck at all.  I never knew that then as we ate a good many of them.   However, the ducks we killed were never wasted and we always had more people who wanted them than we had ducks.  (My first choice of game food was always and will always be Mississippi River Channel Catfish in the size we called "Fiddlers," which were about 12 to 14 inches long.  My Uncle ran trot lines for them in the side shoots of the Mississippi as well as we fished for them a good deal.)  For most of my hunting, except for raccoon where I used a .22 cal. Ruger Mark I target pistol and some squirrel hunting where we used Dad's .22 cal Model 74 Winchester rifle, we used shotguns.   

I learned to shoot a rifle pretty well by shooting at soda pop bottles in a couple of the dumping sites around town.  At around 25 yards, we got to where we could shoot the bottles from the offhand and take them by first breaking the tops, then the middles, then the bottoms - with three shots.  I spent a lot of the money I made in my before and after school job on .22 ammo and have no idea how many thousands of rounds I shot and they were all offhand.  I learned to shoot a pistol by holding it in one hand, while using the other hand to hold a flashlight/lantern behind me and pointing towards the racoon.  I got 47 coon with 49 shots and most of the shots were with the coon pretty far up the large oak or walnut trees in the Mississippi river bottom valleys or on the hills/bluffs around them.  On many nights we hunted racoon, the main thing I remember is going up and down hills all night.  Grin.  We never walked at night while coon hunting with lanterns on, though, and that experience of going through woods, hills, bottom swamps, around the sloughs and all sorts of terrain by eye without light at night REALLY helped me in my military career - but those are more stories off the subject.

Since you are only a little bit older than me, you should remember this.   Iowa did not have a "regular" hunting season for deer in those days, because there weren't enough deer.   There was a lottery where you might win a deer tag in any county of the state, but there was no guarantee it would be in your home county.  We could never have afforded the traveling and motel expense to hunt deer outside Muscatine county, so I never hunted deer until I was transferred to Virginia and the rest of the family moved back here to Virginia in 1975.   

I wanted to buy a Muzzleloader when I had saved up some money from work, when I was 16.  However, my Dad knew nothing of muzzleloaders and he was a little shy about them then.  He suggested I buy a varmint rifle instead.  Well, they were too expensive to buy ammo, so I bought a .22 magnum rifle from Herter's.  Never shot that rifle much as it cost a LOT more than .22 rimfire and I traded it off around 1973 to get an original percussion .41 caliber Swiss Federal rifle from a gun shop up in the Quad cities when I was home leave after Okinawa and our trip into Cambodia.

When they gave me an M14 in boot camp to shoot, I was in heaven.  It kicked about the same or less than a 12 gauge I was very used to shooting, but the accuracy was more than I had dreamed possible - especially for not having a scope.  I had never thought to shoot at 200 yards and especially not standing up and with no scope.  I was amazed how we could hit targets at 500 yards from the prone.  However, all that offhand shooting at the junk spots and squirrel and coon hunting had taught me basic marksmanship - besides what my Dad taught me, of course.

Since I have competed with a replica Brown Bess in the Northwest Trade Gun and Primitive matches, it's natural I have a higher regard of smoothbores than you might have.  I've also competed with replica and original percussion and flint rifles.  One of the finest shooting rifles I've ever owned was an original .36 caliber percussion rifle that would drive tacks at 25 yards with almost any size patch and balls ranging in size from .340 to .350.  Never did figure out why that rifle didn't seem to mind what ball and patch combination I fed it.  I never fired it much at 50 yards, but it was as accurate if not more accurate than any .22 at that range.  Not the same for a well built .45 flint rifle I shot for years.  It had a Siler lock and douglas barrel.  Took me QUITE a while to find out that rifle would only shoot it's best accuracy when I precisely weighed the powder charges at 42 1/2 grains by volume.  One grain of powder more or less than that and the rifle would noticeably not shoot as accurately.  So I've owned rifles on both sides of the spectrum as to how they shot with different ball, patch and powder combinations. 

Since I've hunted so much in the woods here in Virginia for deer, I know most of the deer taken here could have been easily been taken with a smoothbore flintlock.  It is a bit different in the Blue Ridge though and most people hunt with rifles there and if and when I get to hunt there, it will be with a rifle and a scope nowadays as my eyes aren't what they used to be. 

Daryl

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #46 on: September 25, 2009, 05:23:57 PM »
Guys- lets keep this to ML shooting only - I know I'd like to sit around and discuss all manner of modern competition shooting and what we did and when we did it with a bunchof you guys, BUT - please stick to ML shooting then, as now as the subject header lists.  This thread has pretty much covered that subject completely, and good it was, however there is altogether too much drifting of topics!

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #47 on: September 25, 2009, 05:38:57 PM »
I grew up north of Independence, its between Waterloo and Dubuque.

The first time I got picked up by the police driving was in Muscatine or very close by.
Dad never stops moving and decided to go to Muscatine and pick up a load of watermelons to sell since nothing else was going on. While dickering with the grower he sent me, about 14-15 at the time into town with the truck (1600 IHC with a 15 foot grain box) to get an empty weight.
Cop thought I was too young to be driving a truck and I ended up riding back out with the cop. Didn't doi anything wrong, just too young.

Like Daryl said...
Going to e-mail the rest.
Dan
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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #48 on: September 26, 2009, 10:38:35 AM »
OK, back to period and ML shooting only.

This goes to the amount of powder used by the musket armed troops vs the rifle armed troops. 

According to "Red Coat and Brown Bess, Anthony D. Darling, 1971, Museum Restoration Service, Alexandria Bay, N.Y., page 11."  The standard British powder charge in the paper cartridges was 6 to 8 drams.  A dram equals about 27.5 grains, so the actual load for the period would be 165 to 220
grains minus the amount used to prime the pan." 

I find that amount incredible, even if one figures 25 grains put into the pan and including spillage, then that would be at least 140 to 190 grains of powder in the barrel.  That is a PROOF load today.  Is this because the powder then was so much worse quality and/or where they expecting the soldiers to spill more powder in combat?  There is also documentation that the numbers of grains per "pound" varied a lot in the 18th century, in different countries, so the figure of 27.5 grains per dram may not be accurate in the 18th century.  I don't know.   Other sources suggest it was about 120 grains of powder, but that includes what was used in the priming pan, so perhaps 90 to 100 grains made it in the barrel in actual combat use.

One original source I found describing the amount of powder American Riflemen used was "the size of a woman's thimble."  I don't know how accurate an observation that was.  We rarely if ever find an original pouch and more importantly the powder measure with the gun to which it was used.  Even if we found both, do we know if the powder measure was for light hunting on small game or for larger game?  Some early documentation suggests they poured powder over a ball in the hand and when the powder just covered the ball, that was considered at least a "beginning load."  Not sure about the accuracy of that either.  Other original sources talk about firing a rifle over snow or a piece of canvas and when unburnt powder was shown to have been blown out the barrel, they backed off the powder charge a bit.  (I think this was also talked about in "The Colonial Gunsmith" video put out by Colonial Williamsburg, though I don't have a working DVD player to check that now)

The people in the 18th century were not so hung about about uniform standards and precise weights and measurements as we are today.  It has often been suggested they tried different amounts of powder and when they found what worked best in their rifles, that they made a powder measure to hold that charge.  But, as someone else mentioned, the "finer grade" of powder that was available would often be highly different from different times they received the powder - especially on the frontier.  Did they make a new powder measure every time they got different powder?  People back then weren't dumb, so it is likely they did if the new powder was enough different from the last batch, though I have no historic documentation to back that up. 

Now, I realize the anachronisms that can easily screw up any kind of analysis when we use modern powders in even original guns.  So let me state that from the start.  However, every flint and percussion rifle, musket and even pistol I've fired and seen fired including the originals fired in International Muzzleloading competition has two powder charges where they are the most accurate. One is a light "target" or "accuracy" load that would be fine for small game.  This charge is usually somewhere around the same number of grains as the caliber, though it could be a lot less.  For example in a .45 flint rifle I shot in competition years ago - the accuracy load for target shooting was 42 1/2 grains and the accuracy load for "hunting" was 80 grains.   In my .75 caliber brown bess replica musket, it liked 62 grains for an accuracy load and I never bothered finding out what higher amount of powder would also give good accuracy.  In NSSA shooting with .58 caliber rifle muskets, the accuracy loads are about 28 to 32 grains while the official service load was 60 grains. 

What I'm getting at here is if the American Riflemen were going to consistently hit an enemy soldier at 150 yards or more with enough terminal force to put him down, it wasn't going to be with a  light target load in my estimation.  It would have been with what we today might call a "long range" or hunting load.   Now, I could be wrong about that as I'm only speculating.  If anyone has any original documentation on the kinds of actual loads used by Riflemen in the 18th century, I'd love to read about it.

And to tie this up, what I'm getting at is that the differences in amounts of powder used by muskets vs rifles would not have been great.  I originally suggested that the amount of powder in a ratio might have been 2 to 1 for muskets to rifles, but even that may be too much.  Perhaps it was more like 1.5 to 1.

As to re-enactors "only firing blanks."  The reason I mentioned re-enactors was because only by watching them do we get some small idea of the powder smoke in the original battles.   That's usually only a very small idea because there are never near the numbers of re-enactors on the field in any time period as there were original combatants in the original battles.  So even by watching the larger Civil War reenactments, where you get larger numbers of opposing forces, it would never give us a good grasp of what the powder smoke would have been like in a good sized 18th century battle.   One of THE largest numbers of forces I've ever seen at reenactments was the 125th anniversary battle reenactment of Manassas (1st Bull Run to northerners).  We had a total of Federal and Confederate re-enactors of just bit under 5,000.   However, at the original battle of Saratoga, the British ALONE had about 6,000 men and the Americans 11,000 or more.  So it would be almost impossible for anyone alive today to get a firm grasp on just how much smoke there was at the original battles.

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Re: Shooting then and now (was sheet iron)
« Reply #49 on: September 26, 2009, 04:44:16 PM »
The service load for the Americans circa 1800 or so was 140-150 grains of powder IIRC. This was reduced to about 120 as the powder quality improved in the early 19th century.  Hanger speaks of shooting an American rifle with one-half ball weight of powder. 1/2 ball weight of any fairly well made powder will give sufficient velocity to kill or incapacitate a man at 300 yards and beyond. 1/2 ball weight is a practical max load today for calibers under 58 or so.
See
http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?topic=250.0

I used the 50 caliber for this test since its the caliber most likely to have been used *IMO*, others may disagree. But in any case if a 50 will do it a 54 etc would do it that much easier.
The ball that would been a miss struck a small pine tree trunk near the base about 3/4" in from the edge. It "swelled" and cracked the wood and bark for about 4". I submit that this will produce a fatal wound in a human if struck as the target was.
I gave my 16 bore to a friend who had never shot it (loaded with 120 grains) and told him where to hold and he hit a steel silhouette similar to the ones I used to shoot in the Army the first shot at 300 yards, off hand.

You also have to remember that generally the rifles used better powder than the muskets, at least finer.

The reason the musket was using a 14 to 12 bore ball and a fairly heavy charge of powder was than it was designed to pass through the man in the front rank and kill or wound the man in the second rank.

So far as a heavy charge of powder goes. I shoot 140-150 grains from my 16 bore rifle with a .662 ball. It produces about 1600-1650 fps.
I suspect that the Rev-War musket was likely making closer to 1300-1400.

I would also point out that Fraser was not the only senior officer killed at 300+- yards at Saratoga by a rifleman.
Gotta run...
Dan
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