Machineguns

FEW people realize that machine-guns were, in fact, used in the Civil War. The guns used can be divided into two groups, true machine-guns, ie, continuous rapid fire, and volley guns. The latter were mainly employed in defence, particularly of bridges, and indeed became known as 'covered bridge guns'. Of the true machine-guns only three saw action, the Confederate Williams Machine-gun, the Union Agar or Union Repeating Gun, and the Union Gatling Gun. It was the latter which went on to win fame...

Spencer Repeating Cartridge Carbine

Although it was not introduced until 1862 and was used in limited numbers until 1863, it was so popular that 94,196 were eventually provided. The -52 calibre cartridge was rim-fire copper case, seven rounds being held in a tubular magazine held in the butt-stock, one in the chamber. The magazine was loaded into the butt through the butt-plate, the cartridges being fed into the breech by a coiled spring. The Spencer could also be fired as a single-shot carbine. Depressing and raising the trigger...

Union Flags Guidons

Companies also had a swallow-tailed guidon, by 1861 Regulations divided in half, red over white. On the red, 'U.S.' in white, and on the white the company letter in red. In 1863, however, the guidon was changed to a Stars and Stripes in the same swallow-tailed style. This was again changed in 1865 back to the original style. The guidons were 3 feet 5 inches from the end of the tails to the pole, 15 inches from the centre of the fork, and 2 feet 3 inches on the pole, which was again 9 foot....

Smith Percussion Breech Loading Carbine

30,062 were purchased by the Federal Government. A single-shot -50 calibre weapon it fired a paper-covered brass or rubber cartridge with flash holes in the end, by percussion cap barrel 21 f inches, 39 inches overall. To load, a T-shaped lifter in front of the trigger was pushed upwards which raised a spring catch on top of the barrel allowing the barrel to hinge down, opening the breech. Barrel, butt-plate, trigger guard and spring catch, blued the remaining metal parts case hardened in...

Confederate Equipment

The proposed standard equipment for the Confederate trooper was essentially the same as his Union foe. However, supply difficulties usually meant that the equipment carried was widely different in materials if not in design. Often the regulations were met from captured Federal supplies. Leather was more usually natural brown than black, black dyes being in short supply in the South. The cartridge pouch would probably have 'CS' or 'CSA' stamped in the leather rather than as a separate plate, and...

Revolvers

The situation with regard to revolvers was much the same. The main sources were captures from Union troops pre-war weapons already in the South revolvers made in the Confederacy, usually rather crude copies of the popular Northern guns and imports from Europe, notably France and England. The first two categories are covered by the details given under Union revolvers. The Southern manufactured weapons were of very varied quality and reliability, due mainly to the lack of materials and machinery....

Formations

Troops usually manoeuvred in columns of fours, a small flexible formation, which could pass obstacles and deploy easily. The charge was either made in two ranks, or in accordance with later manuals, a single rank. However, a charge could also be made in columns of fours or double columns of fours. Despite popular belief a charge was not made over any and all ground. Wherever possible the ground was scouted first, and obstacles cleared. A charge delivered over rough ground, fences or hedges,...

Brigade Flags

Supplemental orders to General Order 102 of March 24, 1862, provided for flags for the Headquarters and the two brigades of the Cavalry Reserve, Army of the Potomac. General Order No 53 of May 12,1863, described the infantry brigade flags, and Circular No 31 called for similar designating flags for the cavalry brigades. There appears to have been some delay in the issuing of these flags as some other forms of brigade flags were used see Plate 7 and illustrations opposite and on page 44 .

Uniforms

No special uniform appears to have been authorized for Indian units on either side. The 53rd New York wore a Zouave style uniform with tasselled red fezzes and the usual baggy Zouave trousers. The other Union regiments appear to have worn the regulation uniform, whilst retaining their traditional hair styles. A contemporary account describes the small kepis perched on their full heads of hair as comical and ludicrous. The Confederate units wore the same style of uniforms as the other cavalry....

Union Flags Personal Flags

Personal flags were used by some individuals to indicate their location on the field regardless of the actual position they held. Generals Sheridan, Merritt, Kilpatrick and Custer all carried personal flags. Major-General Philip H. Sheridan's was probably the most famous, though by no means the most colourful. General Custer had four different personal flags at various times throughout the war, two of which are illustrated. The first flag was a simpler version of the second without the fringe...

Gatling Machinegun 0 58 calibre 6 barrels

The first Gatling gun was designed by Dr Richard J. Gatling in 1861, as a special weapon to defend buildings, causeways and bridges. In 1862 Gatling demonstrated his first working model, which was fundamentally the Agar principle improved by the multi-barrelled arrangement of the Ripley gun. The gun had six barrels equally spaced around a central shaft, which were revolved by a crank. Each barrel had its own bolt, and cocking and firing were performed by cam action through a gear drive...

UNION Regulation Enlisted

8738 Union Cavalry Uniform

The Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861 set out in great detail the prescribed uniform, both dress and fatigue, for officers and enlisted men. However, these Regulations were rarely subscribed to in every detail, particularly later in the war. Shortages of materials and equipment, and the American soldiers' distaste for uniformity, saw to that. The dress hat was the same as for infantry, the black felt brimmed hat variously known as 'Hardee', 'Kossuth' and 'Jeff Davis',...

Confederate Flags

Flags The Confederacy Cavalry

The Regulations called for one flag to be carried, but as with the Infantry the Regulations were largely ignored. The Battle Flag was around 30 inches square for cavalry, but also appeared in guidon form about the same size as the Federal guidon. The various National colours as described for the Infantry were also carried, together with all their possible variations. One guidon based on the Stars and Bars Plate 7 had seven white four-pointed stars in a blue canton and red over white over red...

Confederate Enlisted Men and IMon Commissioned Officers Horse Furniture

Again much of what has been said about the Federal equipment applies to that of the Confederate Cavalry also, particularly as much was captured from the Union forces early in the war. Many militia units had good equipment, but the volunteers often had civilian saddles and equipment, at least until their first clash with Union forces. Cavalry saddles came last on the Confederacys list of priorities for leather, after cartridge boxes and artillery harnesses. Jennifer tree-type saddles were...

Starr Percussion Breech Loading Carbine

Sharps Carbine

Very similar to the Sharps, 25,603 were purchased. Single-shot -54 calibre 21-inch barrel, 37J inches overall it fired a linen cartridge by percussion cap. The rear end of the trigger guard was unlatched and lowered to drop the breech block backwards to expose the chamber. Barrel was blued, the other ABOVE Union cavalry carbines ,4 Sharps carbine B Burnside carbine C Smith carbine D Starr carbine. metal parts case hardened in mottle colours. Manufactured by Starr Arms Company, makers of the...

Union Flags Standards

Each regular regiment carried only one standard, the Regimental Flag. This was dark blue, 2 feet 5 inches on the fly, 2 feet 3 inches on the lance, fringed with yellow, on a 9-foot lance. The eagle was in natural colours, ie, brown wings and body, white head, neck and tail, and beak yellow shield blue over red and white stripes scrolls red with gold lettering 'E Pluribus Unam' above, the regimental number, eg, 'Second U.S. Cavalry' below the 13 stars white leaves green with red berries 10...

Carbines

Again the remarks under the supply of sabres and revolvers applies equally well to the carbines used by the Confederate troopers. The British Enfield single-shot muzzle-loading -577 calibre was widely used by both sides at the beginning of the war, and Confederates preferred it because of its accuracy and rugged reliability. The -58 calibre Minie ball and cartridge could be used. It followed the 'Tower' rifle musket pattern, and was some 40 inches long with two barrel bands and usually a strap...

Th and 6th Regiments US Coloured Cavalry

Raised in Kentucky in October 1864, they served with the 1st Division, District of Kentucky, Department of Ohio later Department of Arkansas and mustered out March 1866. By August 1863 an estimated 37,000 Negroes were serving in the Union Army, and some 180,000 had served by the close of the war. These troops formed the nucleus for the additional regular negro units authorized in July 1866, two of cavalry and four of infantry. These two cavalry units were the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry who won...

Enlisted

The regulation coat was the same grey double-breasted tunic or frock as for the infantry, with all trim in yellow. The skirt extended to halfway between the hip and the knee seven buttons in each row, the distance between the rows 4 inches at the top and 3 inches at the bottom stand-up collar to rise no higher than would allow the head to turn freely, to hook in front at the bottom and slope back at 30 degrees on each side. The cuffs were 2J inches deep at the upper seam, to button with two...

Organization

BOTH sides raised Indian regiments at least 5,500 redskin cavalrymen were recruited by the Confederacy, and around 4,000 served in the Union infantry. The South recruited Indians much earlier than the North, promising the creation of an all-Indian nation in what is now Oklahoma. Many of the Indian tribes in this area were originally Southern, owning negro slaves, and had been deported West by the Federal Government with an escort of the army now fighting the Confederacy. Leading figure in the...

Cords and Tassels

2nd Michigan Cavalry Flag

The Regulations specified the cords and tassels for infantry and artillery regiments, but no similar details appear to have been issued for the cavalry. This did not mean that cavalry commanders did not use them on their flags, presumably they did but to their own design. OVERLEAF FEDERAL CAVALRY PERSONAL AND DESIGNATING FLAGS T 2nd Personal Flag, General G. A. Custer, October 1863-June 1864, 2nd Michigan Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Potomac. Red over blue silk field painted sabres with...

Vandenberg Volleygun Various calibres 85 to 451 barrels

8738 Union Cavalry Uniform

Vendenberg designed a new system of 'artillery' using up to 451 barrel clusters firing musket balls in unison, but his idea met with only limited success. A screw-type breech held cartridges in individual chambers and slid into a key-way. Copper sleeves were forced into a counter-bored chamber for a gas-tight seal when the breech was screwed into the rear of the barrels. A centre charge fired by a percussion cap set off a whole volley or sections of barrels could be blocked off and...

Officers

Grimsley Saddle

Officers used the McClellan saddle, but often non-regulation outfits were used. Flat or English saddles were often used, as were Grimsley and Jennifers or artillery-type saddles, General U. S. Grant favouring this type. Over the saddle officers were supposed to wear the shabraque, dark blue, with a 1-inch gold edging lace as for mounted Infantry Officers. Under-housings, ie, the straps, were also blue. Officers also had a black leather valise bag, 16 inches long and 5-6 inches in diameter, worn...

Non Commissioned Officers Horse Furniture

Confederate Cavalry Officer

The most important piece of equipment was, of course, the saddle. This was RIGHT Confederate Cavalry from an old print showing from left to right cavalry genera with white plume in hat cavalryman in almost regulation dress except for kepi. Trousers are dark blue which is unusual. Note method of carrying sabre hilt forward strapped under saddle holsters and girth strap. Also the carbine is on a strap over the back rather than on the usual sling and hook cavalryman m slouch hat in place of kepi...

Non Commissioned Officers Personal Equipment

The trooper and NCOs wore a heavy 3-inch wide black leather carbine sling about 60 inches long across the left shoulder. The sling buckled at the back with a large brass two-tongued buckle at one end and a brass belt tip held in place with rivets at the other. To hold the carbine on the belt, sliding loosely, was a three-piece swivel consisting of a loop and polished steel snap hook, which attached to a carrying ring or bar set in the left side of the carbine in the small of the stock. The...

Billinghurst Requa Battery Gun 0 58 calibre 25 barrels

Billinghurst Requa Battery Gun

Built late in 1861 by the Billinghurst Company of Rochester, New York, this gun had 25 barrels mounted flat on a light metal platform on a two-wheel carriage. The sliding breech was operated by a lever and the barrels were loaded by light steel cartridges with an ignition hole in the oval base held in special clips for quick loading. When the gun was loaded, a channel behind the cartridges was filled with powder, which was ignited by a percussion cap struck by a hammer firing all barrels...

Agar Machinegun 058 calibre singlebarrelled

1862 Gatling Gun

This gun was also known as the 'Coffee Mill' gun because the cartridges were fed down a hopper shaped like an old-fashioned coffee grinder. Officially it was the Union Repeating Gun. The manufacturers described it as 'an army in 6 feet square'. The rate of fire was 120 rounds per minute. The gun was mounted on a two-wheeled carriage similar to that of the normal artillery piece, except that two equipment boxes were fixed one on either side of the axle. In order to reduce the danger of...

M1860 M1861 M1882 and M1864 Burnside Carbine

55,567 were purchased, most supplied by the Burnside Rifle Company the designer being General A. Burnside. The carbine was -54 calibre length 39J inches overall, barrel 21 inches and fired, by percussion cap, a perforated brass cartridge shaped almost like an ice-cream cone. The double trigger guard pressed together and was lowered to rotate the breech block and chamber into a vertical position to take the tapered case of the cartridge, the old cartridge being extracted by hand. Barrel was...

Williams Machinegun 1pounder 1 barrel 125 to 1 57 calibre

Confederate Williams Gun

This Confederate 'secret weapon' was invented by Captain Williams of Covington, Kentucky. The single barrel was 4 feet long, made of iron, and mounted on a light one-horse double-shafted mountain howitzer-type carriage. Rate of fire was 60-65 rounds per minute, with a range of up to 2,000 yards. The piece was manned by a crew of three. One fed self-consuming paper cartridges into the breech from above by hand. The second placed percussion caps on to a nipple on the left-hand side of the...

Union Badges

8738 Union Cavalry Uniform

The Corps Badges described in the Infantry volume were not worn by the cavalry but two units had special badges of their own, worn on the hat or kepi. Sheridan's Cavalry Corps had a white probably silver for officers sunburst with squared ends to the rays and a dark blue oval centre with crossed sabres in yellow or gold. Wilson's Cavalry Corps had a gold carbine with a red swallow-tailed guidon hanging points down from a tasselled gold cord on the guidon gold crossed sabres see illustration on...

M1859 and M1863 Sharps Carbine

80,512 of these single-shot breech-loading single-action carbines were issued. The two models were essentially the same, -52 and -50 calibre respectively. Both had a rate of fire of eight rounds per minute with self-consuming linen cartridges weight 7J lb length 21 -inch barrel, 374 inches overall. The breech block was dropped to open the chamber by levering the trigger guard down. Percussion was from disc primer or percussion caps. Early models were brass trimmed, later ones iron, with the...