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"comparison of British and US firing drills in 1862 - video" Topic

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huevans01127 Dec 2019 6:42 p.m. PST

YouTube link

British drill appears far more efficient.

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2019 7:17 p.m. PST

British cartridge was easier to load plus the primers easier to access. Interesting

Personal logo gamertom Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2019 10:43 p.m. PST

The British drill seems to have pretty much the same steps as the Union one. The difference is in how the cartridge is designed such that it is easier to open and to load the ball. Having the primer pouch on the chest belt rather than the trouser belt also was more ergonomic and made placing the primer cap a quicker step. These design differences make the drill look more efficient rather than the drill steps being fundamentally different. I wonder when that British cartridge design was issued as they were still biting the ends off during the Napoleonic period.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2019 8:56 a.m. PST

Interesting. The steps are basically identical and I think the difference in the rate of fire can be attributed more to the individual skill of the men rather than any inherent superiority of the method.

Trebian Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Dec 2019 3:34 a.m. PST

@gamertom The Enfield rifle with revised (non biting) cartridge dates from c1857. The tearing of the cartridge was allegedly introduced for Indian forces initially, over concerns about the use of pig & cow fat.

The Enfield was a more efficient rifle to load and fire as the waxed/greased cartridge made it quicker.

Trajanus29 Dec 2019 8:58 a.m. PST

Its an area we often don't think about.

OK Springfield's took a bigger bullet than an Enfield, most people will know that, but the fact that there were different cartridges is something else altogether.

Well actually, even that's not true, there were two bores of Enfield available one in .577 and one in .58 it depends on where you got them.

Just like there are all manner of loads for any given calibre down at the gun store and more than a few manufactures that gun nuts will agonise over, back in the day a round wasn't just a round!

The other thing to bear in mind is what, if any, access Enfield equipped US and CSA units had to the break off type cartridge in any event.

Millions of rounds were purchased along with the guns at the start of the war but how long did these last given loss through transportation and poor storage. Come to that how many of these were break off type anyway? Or indeed were any of them?

Not to mention the actual use. I have no idea what ratio of Enfield ammo use to Springfield would have been but if you consider an reasonable figure for combined expenditure, at Gettysburg alone, is considered to be 4.5 million rounds, you have to wonder how long the "fancy" cartridges lasted, if they were ever available.

Once used, or trashed, and given the Confederate supply and manufacture issues I'm thinking that biting was never in danger of going out of fashion amongst Civil War combatants.

Northern Monkey29 Dec 2019 8:50 p.m. PST

Very interesting video. It shows how good kit design can make a process slicker.

EJNashIII01 Jan 2020 11:06 a.m. PST

or not. The British did the bite as well and only changed in reaction to the culturally-based propaganda nonsense of the sepoy rebellion. What the video teaches us is that a perfectly rational seaming reason created in the "archaeological" study of something still doesn't mean it is actually correct. Second, you kind of defeat your own argument for what was "correct" or "better" when you don't wear the kit correctly and show a somewhat out of the normal uniform as the average. For example, The haversack of the American is worn wrong and the American the uniform is far from average, etc. 3rd, the most important factor was drill. The better-trained man would get off more and better-aimed shots no matter which system was employed. I would have liked to see more controlled timed tests in which the factor of the individual man could be removed. Real speed factors because of design really were not noticeable to the introduction of breechloaders, metal cartridges, etc. 4th, bullet and gun manufacturing, and supply cannot be overlooked. Simply put, if the bullet is oversized or undersized from the required spec you have very large performance issues. Too large and you have trouble loading. Magnify this by a dirty bore. too small, and the bullet can have a lack of power and/or accuracy. The Austrian Lorenz rifle suffered here because of non-standardized bores, no matter what national drill was used. In addition, some American soldiers faced shoddy contract made bullets and/or rifles produced under the idea that more was more important than individual quality.

AICUSV03 Jan 2020 9:15 p.m. PST

I am not sure about Federal troops having shoddy bullets, as far as I know all were arsenal made. Confederate troops did have a problem with Enfield pattern bullets "blowing out" (that is the nose of the bullet would blow out, leaving the bullet still in the rifle). Federal bullets were all cast at about 57.5 cal. allowing them to fit any "58" cal weapons.
The drill for loading and firing is something used to teach soldiers how to do those things. Once in the field there are "short cuts" that the soldiers soon learn. But you should also look at it from a logistics view. Increase the rate of fire and you put a greater demand upon the supply train, plus you increase the cost of maintaining your troops in the field (more bullets, more wagons, more arsenal works and so forth).

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