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"Union Small Arma Ammunition Production" Topic

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Blutarski12 Aug 2017 5:56 a.m. PST

Found this data from "Notes on Ammunition of the American Civil War" by Col. B. R. Lewis – some quite surprising (to me at least) statistics …

Type of Arm ------ Quantity (assuming = produced)

Round Ball ------- 2,735,180
Buck & Ball ------ 6,021,220
Rifle ------------ 46,409,514
Spencer Rifle ---- 58,238,924
Sharps Rifle ----- 16,306,508
Sharps Carbine --- 13,861,500
Burnside Carbine – 21,819,200
Other Carbines --- 44,580,799

Comments and insights welcome.


donlowry12 Aug 2017 8:47 a.m. PST

Over what period of time?

rmaker12 Aug 2017 9:56 a.m. PST

Also, Federal arsenal production only or including contractors?

bsrlee12 Aug 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

The numbers look a bit odd – more Spencer cartridges than Rifle Musket? There might have been a few missing 1's or extra 0's.

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 3:38 p.m. PST

78Mu of carbine ammo vs 46Mu rifle musket rounds?

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 3:49 p.m. PST

I agree with the folks above. The numbers seem way to low. Think of it this way, if there were 100,000 infantry at Fredericksburg and they each had 40 rounds that meant almost 10% of the total production of rifled ammo was carried at that one battle.

The numbers you have are more probably either annual figures, or the figures from a few or one arsenal.

Blutarski13 Aug 2017 8:16 p.m. PST

Sorry for the slow reply, gentlemen … been tied up. Looked further into this document and the figures given in my original post excluded those quantities supplieded by private contractors. Found another statement entitled – U.S. ARMY PURCHASES AND FABRICATIONS, January 1, 1861 to June 30, 1866 which included both government and private contactor produced quantities:

SMALL ARMS – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – Purchased + Fabricated = TOTAL
Carbines, Muzzle-loading – - – - – - – - – - – -10,838
Carbines, Breech-loading – - – - – - – - – - – 396,896
Springfield Rifled Musket – - – - – - – - – - – 670,617 + 801,997 = 1,472,614
Enfield Rifled Musket – - – - – - – - – - – - – - 428,292
All other Muskets and Rifles – - – - – - – - – 795,544

CARTRIDGES – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - Purchased + Fabricated = TOTAL
Cartridges for Muskets .577 & .58 – - – 46,409,514 + 424,441,565 = 470,851,079
Cartridges for all Other Muskets – - – - – 8,766,400 + 221,571,978 = 230,338,378
Cartridges for Carbines – - – - – - – - – - 157,658,931 + 50,617,898 = 208,276,829

Notes and observations

The above figures cover a period extending more than a year beyond the cessation of hostilities. According to Claud Fuller (The Rifled Musket) only 643,4390 of the 1,525,000 Springfield Rifled Muskets ordered from private contractors were delivered by 1865.

If my arithmetic is correct, the Union produced approximately
> 248 rounds of ammunition for each Rifled Musket acquired for use.
> 290 rounds of ammunition for each "Other Musket" acquired for use.
> 511 rounds for each Carbine acquired for use.
The large number of rounds produced per Carbine (97pct of which were breech-loaders) must almost certainly correspond to its higher typical rate of fire in combat.

Based upon some hunting around in my books and the fruitful vastness of the interweb, there were only about 10,000 Springfield Rifled Muskets on hand at the start of the war; Springfield Armory produced only 13,000 more in 1861. The Union order to Great Britain for Enfields was placed very late in 1861 and would not likely have been delivered before early/mid-1862. The first Springfield Musket orders to private US contractors were placed in July, Oct, Nov and Dec 1861; about 282,000 weapons were ultimately delivered against these initial contracts, but, since I cannot imagine that the private contractors were any better equipped than Springfield Armory for mass manufacture, I would once again imagine that deliveries must have occurred over an extended period during 1862. Springfield Armory output grew to 200,000 in 1862 and continued to increase during the course of the war – 217,000 in 1863 and 276,000 in 1864.

Nevertheless, judging from the numbers of cartridges procured, "Other Muskets" must have seen a great deal of action early in the war.


Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 11:48 a.m. PST

The other muskets line would include widely used weapons such as the 1842 Springfield (smoothbore) and the Austrian Lorenz (about 300,000 imported by the Union). It would also include a dazzling array of truly terrible muskets used early in the War.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 1:05 p.m. PST

Some states, such as Massachusetts, purchased Enfield rifle muskets, as well as accouterment sets very early in 1861.

According to the Master Armorer's report in the 1862 Adjutant General's report, The state purchased 10,000 Enfield rifles, along with a matching number of English pattern accouterments, as well as knapsacks.

The accouterments took a little time to adapt to the American system, but they were available to issue by July of 1861.

Basically, the two major mods were removing the cap pouch from the cartridge box and adding belt loops so as to be worn in the American style, plus modifying some of the bayonet scabbards to take American pattern bayonets, and vice versa.

The English cartridge box had the cap pouch sewn directly to the right outer box face (as you view it) and under the outer flap. The Armorer had to remove those pouches, and stich new loops to the back. Existing English pattern boxes still show the empty stitching holes outlining where the cap pouch was originally mounted.

Massachusetts issued complete sets of English accouterments, and Enfield rifles (and knapsacks) to only two regiments. The remaining accouterments were issued as partial sets to make up for shortages in American pattern sets where needed.

I have a list somewhere here of those units which received full or partial sets if anyone would like to have that.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 1:09 p.m. PST

In addition, other states had contracted with arms dealers for overseas purchases, as well as from US Makers. Maine's armories included at least 2K Windsor rifles, which were M1841 rifles manufactured in Windsor, VT. These were equipped with sword bayonets and were issued with the M1855 rifleman's belt and cap pouch, but standard M1855 cartridge boxes.

The 7th Maine carried these through the war, until they were incorporated into the 1st Maine Veteran Volunteers in June of 1864.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 7:18 p.m. PST

Another point to consider is that the US Army Ordnance department took some steps to alleviate production by changing the caliber of rounds so that one size could serve 2 (or more) weapons.

In a letter listed in the footnotes of "Ready…Aim…Fire!" by Dean Thomas, a Major in the ordnance Department explained to a Captain in the regular army that rifle-musket ammunition for the .58 caliber Springfield had been reduced to an actual size of .57 so as to service both the Springfield and the .577 Enfield.

This .57 size explains comments by many soldiers that while the Enfield seemed to be more accurate than the Springfield, it fouled faster. In light of the Ordnance majhor's letter, that now makes sense as the windage for the .57 is less than for the Springfield at .58, and thus there is an APPARENT fouling issue since the bore of the Enfield has less surface area than the Springfield.

Anyway, the major went on to explain that the rounds were also reduced so that one round were serve for both the .55 Lorenze and the .54 M1841, and so forth.

It made manufacturing simpler and faster, and certainly made ammunition issues less burdensome in the field.

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP21 Aug 2017 3:11 p.m. PST

BTW, I meant to mention this regarding federal small arms ammunition in an earlier post, but forgot.

Just over 1/3 of the black powder used in manufacturing federal small arms ammunition came from the state of Maine.

Maine had 11 rolling mills producing black powder, and these funneled their products through the Maine arsenal system located in Augusta, Maine. In fact, the granitw buildings used for this are still there, and in pretty good shape considering their age.

What is fascinating about all this is how it came about. Prior to the war, a young West Point graduate from Dexter, Maine, Oliver Otis Howard, was assigned to the Augusta Arsenal to see to it that it was brought up to speed. Howard excelled in these tasks, and seeing down the road to a potential war with the south, he brought all the rolling mills up to the latest and most efficient processes, helped set up a transportation system to get the powder to Augusta, and then got the arsenal machinery up to snuff for production of small arms ammunition, and set up a program to expand production should war come about.

To this end, he also worked with local lumber mills to set aside product sufficient to produce enough ammunition boxes, as well as kegs and barrels for bulk powder packaging and shipment.

Some of the history of those rolling mills may be found in a book entitled "The Gunpowder Mills of Maine".


O.O.Howard did a great service to the nation, and his home state of Maine through his pre-war work setting up the foundation for production, and rapid expansion of it, should war come. When it did, the government was in an excellent position to supply ammunition for an expanding Army.

Blutarski21 Aug 2017 6:14 p.m. PST

TKindred Noticed on your profile that you are from Sagadahoc in the great state of Maine. If you attended the Huzzah! conventions in Portland, you and I may have crossed paths. Kermit Kincaid and I used to come up from MA to run Age of Sail games there.


Charlie 12 Inactive Member21 Aug 2017 6:27 p.m. PST

TKindred- Great information! I'm always interested in the logistical side of the ACW (maybe its the fact that I'm econ geek…)

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP22 Aug 2017 4:14 a.m. PST


We may well have. I ran an ACW game on Saturday afternoon, and always try and play in Friday's tournament games, whether it's Impetus or Lion Rampant.

I've been involved in wargaming up here since I first arrived in '77. It's a nice little convention, though it's been growing pretty quickly ever since it started.

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