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"American AWI rifles vs jaeger rifles" Topic

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Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2017 6:39 p.m. PST

How did they compare?
I'm having a go at using TSATF for AWI battles.
Naturally I rate Hessian jaegers as equivalent to British rifles in all respects.
Then for Yankees, I give them rifle range but vary ratings by scenario.

However, I'm thinking about reload rates. Normally, I let musket armed troops move full and fire.
I'm wondering if I should make riflemen discard the high movement due to reflect reloading. Did Hessians reload faster than Yankees? Should the slow rate if reloading apply to them too?
I already have ideas for protecting them while reloading. Integrate musket and bayonet men in same unit, if I can show it was done in that scenario.
I'm not going to not give jaegers no penalty for having no bayonets, because Hessian commanders felt it necessary to protest them. (Triple negative! grin)

Are there any other differences I should bear in mind?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2017 8:02 p.m. PST

Quadruple negative actually. …..

Early morning writer23 Apr 2017 10:24 p.m. PST

Can't speak to the reload rate but I understand the German rifle to be a heavier weapon (more durable, perhaps?) and the American rifle to be a much lighter and longer weapon – and a work of art – so perhaps less rugged.

I'd guess, upon reflection, the American rifle will load faster because it was designed to use a smaller charge of powder – but I'd say the loading time differential would be pretty marginal. Rifles of the era required hammering home the ball because of the tightness of the grooves in comparison to the size of the ball – maybe buck and ball might have loaded a bit faster (or slower!)(and assuming useable in a rifle at all).

I understand Hessian commander protested a lot of things, especially the lack of proper dark beers!

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 4:50 a.m. PST

I would agree with Emw that if there is a difference it would be too minor to make a difference. There is the possibility that Americans used the greased patch and the Jaegers did not. If that is true, American loading would have been faster, but still not much.

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

Did both the Jaegers Rifles and the American Rifles fire the same effective distance?

OldGrenadier at work24 Apr 2017 8:27 a.m. PST

I recall having read many years ago that the American rifle units had an issue with enemy units getting in close, due to the lack of bayonets. Rifle users were advised to carry a sturdy knife or hatchet for close in work.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 10:17 a.m. PST

Sooooo….. the Jaegers were generally drawn from hunters who used such rifles all the time.

The American rifle units varied wildly in their familiarity with the weapon. The riflemen at Saratoga were only recently issued rifles and not perhaps overly familiar with them. Many of the early war rifle units faded away, others phased in and out during the war.

The Crown actually fielded more rifles than the Continentals – as rifles were found in Jaeger units, dismounted cavalry, Lights, and Loyalist units.

Jozis Tin Man Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

Currently read The Road to Guilford Courthouse, at in it the author states most American rifles were made by a handful of German gunsmiths in Pennsylvania. Maybe they did not vary that much? Does anyone know of museum examples? It would be interesting to compare them.

Bill N24 Apr 2017 10:51 a.m. PST

Do we know how many rifles were carried by Continentals in 1776-1778? While there were only a handful of rifle units in the Continental army, complaints by Steuben indicate that as late as 1778 you might find rifles being carried by individuals in different Continental regiments.

Also is it fair to compare rifles carried by the Continentals against rifles carried by all the different forces serving with the British army? In the south large numbers of militia were rifle armed as was some loyalist militia.

Rifle production had moved south prior to the Revolution with a number of gunsmiths in the Virginia producing rifles.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 11:03 a.m. PST


Whatever the "practical" differences between the traditional "Pennsylvania" and Jaeger rifles, the margin would be erased by the humans using them. This is true of most weapon comparisons, especially those where weapons are tested by mounting in vices and otherwise measured by standards impossible to enjoy in action.

Regarding reload times, I'd treat them as effectively identical, especially given the intentionally simplified nature of TSATF.

The effective range of either weapon is really irrelevant, too, as the only thing that could be said with any certainty is a rifled barrel spun a ball farther and more accurately than a smoothbore--which is no guarantee that in battle hits are ever going to be scored at any range.

Most musketry was within 200 yards, and while a rifle might strike a target beyond that, it would have been more by luck than the aim of the soldier. If you give musketry a maximum effective range of, say, 200 yards, you might give a rifle 250 or even 300, but the odds of hitting at those ranges would be identically maybe 1 in 100 for game purposes.

And show me the North American forest where anyone in battle could have even 50 yards of uninterrupted line of sight without trees, undergrowth, smoke, and threatening movement, etc, even to see a specific target!

You'll recall that it was said that the greatest effect of Yankee rifles was the psychological effect, the belief of their British targets that they were "wonder weapons," and that the men who carried them were extremely dangerous. It was even said that the very sight of Yanks in hunting shirts (their actual weapon be damned) was frightening since they were associated with those who carried rifles.

I'm aware you are using largely basic TSATF, and the game mechanics are not much, if any, attenuated to the specific circumstances of the era. However, you might make the only actually different effect between THEIR rifles and OURS a morale modifier for the Redcoats if facing a unit ostensibly rifle armed.

Notice that I don't suggest that such a modifier apply to Tory's. As otherwise fellow Americans, of the same general experience of weaponry, I've never read of any such troops being especially frightened by facing "Pennsylvania rifles."
Similarly, I don't recall any particular evidence that Rebel units were particularly afraid of British/Tory rifles.

The only word on the subject is that the Redcoats feared them.

And aside from the arguable moral effects of Redcoats facing Yankee rifles, the material effects of their rifle fire are not reflected in casualties inflicted on the enemy. There's no evidence at all that rifles could, much less did, cause more wounds than muskets. The only inarguable benefit was the effectiveness of riflemen efforts to bag enemy Officers. And you'll notice that where these stories are retold (most notably in association with the battles of Saratoga), those fatal shots were still fired from well within 200 yards--probably closer to 50 and less.

Finally, even these important "snipes" were the efforts of a few single marksmen--not whole units blazing away at the targets of their choice.

So… consider keeping only a modest difference in ranges between all rifles and muskets, a negative moral effect on Redcoats facing rifle armed units (but NOT a critical penalty, more like a nuisance factor), and only somewhat higher chances for rifle hits within, say, 100 yards, but otherwise have the same overall fire effect as muskets out to their respective ranges.

My twin shekels,

RudyNelson24 Apr 2017 11:19 a.m. PST

I read that the Jaeger rifle was different in several ways than the Long rifle. The German rifle was shorter which made reloading a little quicker. The German rifle also had a second barrel which was smooth bore. This gave them an advantage at the shorter than that it was intended to use the smooth bore. One source does imply that the American rifle had a longer range than the German one. Some say 50 yards farther and others up to 100 yards. Since effective smooth bore muskets were 50 to 60 yards individual, not volley, fire effective, both rifles outraged the smooth bore by a long ways.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 11:23 a.m. PST

"The German rifle also had a second barrel which was smooth bore. "

?????????? I have seen many repro jaeger rifles, and haven't seen one with a smooth bore. Can you add further on that (scurrying for weapons books later this evening).

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

There are too many variables here (as Virtual said) to make any significant difference. Again, look at the Continental rifles at Saratoga – only had rifles issued before the campaign.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 11:28 a.m. PST

TMP link

Previous thread on the subject

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 2:22 p.m. PST

My question is really about whether it would make a difference in TSATF beyond greater range than muskets. grin

JMcCarroll24 Apr 2017 4:48 p.m. PST

If memory serves me right a lot of the American rifles were close to .36 cal., some called the them squirrel guns. The European rifles in the .50 cal. range. As stated, the American rifles ( Kentucky ) were longer than there European ones.
The roll of a rifleman is not hand to hand combat!

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 7:33 p.m. PST


I'm trying to cross-walk your questions. The OP was:

"However, I'm thinking about reload rates. Normally, I let musket armed troops move full and fire."


"I'm wondering if I should make riflemen discard the high movement due to reflect reloading."

Depends on your time scale. It took twice as long to load a rifle as a musket – generally.

"Did Hessians reload faster than Yankees?"

Maybe slightly, but the wooden ramrods took care when loading.

"Should the slow rate if reloading apply to them too?"

Makes sense.

"I'm not going to not give jaegers no penalty for having no bayonets, because Hessian commanders felt it necessary to protest them. (Triple negative! grin)"

Quadruple by my count.

"Are there any other differences I should bear in mind?"

Jaegers were professional soldiers, so perhaps a training or morale bonus.

"My question is really about whether it would make a difference in TSATF beyond greater range than muskets."

Lost me on that one and the quadruple negative one. :-(

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2017 9:47 p.m. PST

If you have not played TSATF, then I'm afraid my ramblings make little sense. grin
I'm mainly asking if within the time span of a TSATF turn, there is any relevant differences between Yankee and Hessian riflemen. It's purely game related.

As for quadruple negatives, I am referring to the paragraph immediately above that sentence.

TSATF is a very simple game. I fear I was trying to add too much detail by trying to find differences between the two in a game I should not be doing that. It's probably enough to simply let rifles outrange muskets, 24" vs 20", and take away a movement die for reloading. Or the whole movement. I'm experimenting with that next game.

All turn times are relative in a game. I'm not going for absolutes here. I think that within TSATF dropping one die to reflect slower loading is sufficient and abstract. Or the whole next turn's movement. I haven't decided yet. But I have abandoned making distinctions between the two since that is gilding the lily. IMHO.

Supercilius Maximus24 Apr 2017 11:14 p.m. PST

I would say that if you want to keep the simplicity of TSATF, have a single rule for all rifles (except perhaps the ones that come with wheels and a mantlet). The difference in loading times will be seconds, rather than minutes, and it will be the experience of the man loading it that counts most in this type of game.

As an aside, according to Christian Cameron, up to 1/3 of the Company of Select Marksmen in Burgoyne's army were equipped with rifles taken from Morgan's men who had been captured in the assault on Quebec city in 1775.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2017 4:04 a.m. PST

What SM said. :-)

SM – Interesting about the use of captured rifles. I would assume then they also were able to obtain (also captured?) bullet molds as well to keep those rifles supplied? Not sure if that is a question or a statement – LOL.

Major Bloodnok25 Apr 2017 4:13 a.m. PST

All in all it will be a wash. The differences in bore, barrel length aren't enough to change anything, both have wooden ramrods. While both did not fit a bayonet Hessians are equipped with hangers, and did use them, while Americans have hatchets or knives (though there was a design to issue folding pikes to rebel riflemen that came to now't). The only thing that might come into play is that Hessian Jaegers are issued with a cartridge box, and thus pre-made cartridges, while the American usually carries loose powder and ball.

von Winterfeldt25 Apr 2017 10:04 a.m. PST

reload rates – in combat rifle man hardly reloaded like when going to hunt or when ambushing someone, they used sort of cartridges which had a tighter fit then the usual cartridges for the smothbore musket, Ewald writes that they carried an additional pouch of 40 cartridges.
Seemingly also in the military wooden ramrods were re placed by steel ones.
The Hessian Jäger would protest very much that their rifles were crude fits, they were as expertly constructed as any American rifle, if not better, there they had a very long tradition of rifle making in Germany for hunting.
A Jäger rifle had quite a good calibre, like .60 as well and seemingly heavier than a rifle of the rebels, so a ball of a Jäger rifle would have a much harder hitting than a rifle of the rebels.
So re-loading, traditionally – I would rate both identical, but using the cartridge a Hessian Jäger could load much faster.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2017 4:40 p.m. PST

Looking through my reference books it appears the jaeger rifles were anywhere from .60 to .75 caliber. I also saw at least one example of a longer jaeger rifle too. The photos are b&w but all appear to have wooden ramrods.

Personal logo RNSulentic Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2017 5:39 p.m. PST

I'd generally call it a wash, although it's possible that the German jagers could reload faster or have more available ammunition due to pre made cartridges.

The Hessian Jagers habitually worked in concert with musket armed supports, either other Hessians or British, like at Brandywine where Ewald was being supported by Highlanders.

Bill N25 Apr 2017 7:18 p.m. PST

The riflemen at Saratoga were only recently issued rifles and not perhaps overly familiar with them.

Washington did requisition rifles to help equip Morgan's command, but that does not mean the command was previously unfamiliar with them. For that we would need to know how many rifles were issued, and who the rifles were issued to. It is just as conceivable that rifles were issued to men who had broken rifles or to men who originally used rifles but who had later been issued muskets as it is that the rifles were issued to men with no experience with them.

I checked Guide to Virginia Military Organizations today and noted that 6 of Morgan's 10 companies were Virginians and 4 were Pennsylvanians, both colonies with strong rifle traditions. Morgan's troops saw actions in several skirmishes around New York before Washington ordered them north. This doesn't mean that Morgan's command was 100% composed of crack riflemen as the 1775 rifle regiment was reputed to be. It does suggest a portion of the command was composed of experienced riflemen, and the rest were at least familiar with using their rifles in combat settings.

Winston, you are coming at your rules from a different direction than I am. There is no firing penalty. Whether musket armed or rifle armed my troops suffer a movement penalty if they reload. Rifles do take longer to reload so the movement penalty is greater. I do not distinguish between reloading time for jaeger rifles v. long rifles. Even if there was some evidence showing one could be reloaded quicker than the other, and this held true regardless of unit, I doubt the difference would be great enough to justify complicating the rules. If I ever do have troops armed with Ferguson rifles I may write special rules for them.

historygamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2017 8:25 p.m. PST

Just read in Katcher's book on the Continentals that the 11th VA Regiment (Morgan's regt.) had no records of ever being issued hunting shirts. Further, new research for the 1st VA, which had two rifle companies (the other 6 carried muskets) when formed, were issued regimental coats out of stores in Williamsburg in 1775 and 1776.

Makes me start to wonder what some of the riflemen were wearing and perhaps also how many of them fought? It is possible that some of the integral rifle companies fought in the ranks, but used rifles instead of muskets.

Supercilius Maximus25 Apr 2017 11:02 p.m. PST

I would assume then they also were able to obtain (also captured?) bullet molds as well to keep those rifles supplied?

Given the understanding of logistics, I would suspect that the re-issue of the rifles was predicated on all the requisite paraphernalia being "present and correct".

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