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"Possible Project on Confederate Weapons Types" Topic

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bschulte07 Mar 2015 8:37 a.m. PST

Let me be clear up front that what I'm about to say is an idea only, and an idea I don't have time right now to take the ball and run with due to family, work, and other obligations. However, I'm floating it at TMP as the most likely place where someone(s) might take this idea and run with it.

We've all at one time or another run into the problem of "unknown" Confederate weapons types by regiment. With that in mind, I've read with great interest Mark Horan's various posts at TMP talking about the work he's done on identifying Confederate company commanders and ordnance sergeants and looking for company ordnance returns.

Here's a quote from one of his posts so you are familiar with the methodology:


"Information for Confederate ordnance can often be deduced by accessing the "Records of Confederate Veterans". These are files sorted Alphabetically by State, separated by Branch, and finally numerically by Regiment/Battalion. There records originally on paper, were microfilmed and available in DC Archives for years. It has, in recent times, been put entirely online. (Brett's Note: at Fold3 dot com)

The Regimental listings contain the then available records for each MAN (alphabetically) in the regiment that were NOT placed in master records for units elsewhere after the Federal Government obtained all extant Confederate Records after the surrender.

To use them you need to do your homework. From other books, identify the COMPANY field officers and ORDNANCE SERGEANT for each company in the unit. Often company ordnance records can be found in the latter's personal records, and requests for ammunition, being signed for by ordnance sergeant and the senior officer can often be found in the records of one of the officers or the Sergeant or both.

What you then need to know was pistol ammunition was requested in ONE package of six rounds for EACH pistol in the unit (important for Cavalry) and ONE package of 10 rounds for each rifle of the indicated caliber in the unit.

So, for example, a request in June 1864 from Company A, 7th Virginia Cavalry for 306 .36 caliber and 78 .44 caliber pistol rounds, 240 .52 caliber carbine rounds, 50 .69 rifle rounds, and 140 .58 rifle rounds tells you that, at that instance in time, said company had 51 x .36 caliber revolvers, 13 x .44 caliber revolvers, 24 x .52 caliber carbines, 5 x .69 caliber and 14 x .58 caliber rifles. Which, combined with information on other company's ordnance combined with any any known strength returns from the period can tell you a whole lot about the Regiment."


This research has a use for me at my Siege of Petersburg site (, and applies directly to peple creating wargaming scenarios as well. I went to bed mulling over Mark's methods and woke up this morning realizing the TMP community (and interested others) might come together to do this type of research across the entire war.

Which brings me to the point. Although as I've said I don't have the time myself to lead this type of effort, I'd be glad to contribute to it for the time period I'm interested in. Here's my idea in a nutshell:

1. Find someone trustworthy and invested who is willing to create a blog or web site which hosts the data. A wiki type page where everyone can edit would probably work best.

2. Figure out how to organize the regiments we'd be listing, basically all of the Confederate regiments of the war. Obviously those regiments in many major battles would be of the most interest starting out.

3. Start listing out regiments, one per page or maybe one state per page.

4. The first phase would be people doing the research to identify company commanders and ordnance sergeants for each Confederate regiment and listing them on each unit page on the created web site from 1-3. Anyone with an interest and books/online rosters could begin to find this information and add it.

5. The second phase would be to take those names of company commanders and ordnance sergeants, search their compiled service records at Fold3 website (subscription required)…

6. …then find and post information from ordnance returns found in those CSRs, "checking off" each soldier someone searches.

7. Ideally an image of each ordnance return could be posted on the site for reference as well as transcribed information for search purposes.

***NOTE: People with access like me would need to be involved in 5-7.

In this way, Confederate weapons by company would slowly be found for the entire war, obviously with a lot of gaps. It's work that would need to be done only once. After that, it's public record and could be used by wargamers and people like me interested in specific campaigns. In the past, when I was single without kids, I would've launched headlong into something like this…and then would have dropped it half-finished without asking for help.

So instead of doing that, I throw this idea out on the wall, seeing if it might stick. This isn't a one man job. But a group of a dozen or more people working on this could make some serious progress over the years.

For my part, I'd be happy to both find company commanders and ordnance sergeants during the Petersburg Campaign, and also to search identified soldiers' CSRs in order to find ordnance returns for that period.

What do you think? Possible? Interesting? I do know a dedicated individual starting the site would be the needed catalyst to get things going. The beauty of this is that you could start with only one regiment and slowly build from there.

bschulte07 Mar 2015 9:06 a.m. PST

PS I've thought this over and I should be able to set space aside on my TOCWOC blog, creating a home page for this effort, and make someone(s) editor(s) to add pages and keep things updated. Any takers?

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2015 10:40 a.m. PST

I would respectfully question the math involved for ascertaining the number and types of arms involved through ammunition requests.

Each type of unit (infantry, cavalry, etc) was given a "basic load" a minimum issue to be carried by the men at all time in their cartridge boxes and upon their persons. This was the same for both sides in the conflict.

For example, Hooker, when he took over the AoP, issued a general order that specified that each infantryman would carry 50 rounds of ammunition. 40 were in his cartridge box, and another packet of 10 rounds were in his coat pocket or knapsack/blanket roll, etc.

Those requests for ammunition, it seems to me, would be for sufficient rounds to bring the unit's men up to the "basic load" called for by their respective commander(s).

It is true, as he points out, that ammunition came in blocks for pistol cartridges, and paper bundles of 10 rounds for infantry & carbine ammunition.

However, CS cavalrymen who were armed with long guns also had infantry cartridge boxes issued to hold the rounds and protect them from damage prior to use. It is no stretch of the imagination to believe that those same cavalrymen were issued with at least 40 rounds, the number held in the box (20 loose in the segmented tops of the tin containers inside the box, and 2 unopened packets in the bottom compartment of the tins.

It's an interesting theory he has, and he is certainly on the right track. Having said that, the quarterly inspection reports for each unit are also an excellent place to start, and many of these have been digitized at the LoC, while the rest have at least been made available on microfilm/microfiche.


TKindred Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2015 10:47 a.m. PST

An interesting interpretation based upon inspection returns of CS western theater cavalry.

PDF link

bschulte07 Mar 2015 11:10 a.m. PST


You wrote:

"Having said that, the quarterly inspection reports for each unit are also an excellent place to start, and many of these have been digitized at the LoC, while the rest have at least been made available on microfilm/microfiche."

Is that true for Confederate units? Can you point me in the direction of some relevant links at the LOC as well as links with more information on the microfilm?


bschulte07 Mar 2015 11:14 a.m. PST

PS If you're referring to the Confederate Inspection Reports (M935), those are only available for (mostly) 1864 on, especially in the East. The method listed out above would find ordnance returns for earlier in the war.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2015 4:27 p.m. PST

Please see my second posting on this thread TMP link which summarizes the inspection reports from BG Davidson's 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Army of Tennessee, on Dec 20, 1863 and Mar 4, 1864. It shows that at least Davidson's troopers had a wide assortment of weapons – rifles, carbines, and pistols – available to them. The reports go into much more detail than I summarized here.


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