Arming soldiers

The first civil war volunteers carried a variety of blades and firearms. Their generals urged them to accept standard weapons that any soldier could use. The rifles they preferred were single-shot arms loaded at the muzzle. They fired a cone-shaped lead slug called a minié. The slug or bullet came wrapped in paper. A

premeasured amount of gunpowder also came in the paper package. To load this rifle, a soldier pulled one of these cartridges from a box on his belt. He tore open the bottom of the cartridge with his teeth and poured the gunpowder down the muzzle of the rifle. Next he placed the bullet in the muzzle. Pulling a long metal rod called a ramrod from its place under the rifle's barrel, the soldier then rammed the bullet firmly down to the bottom of the barrel. To fire the rifle, he placed a metal cap filled with explosive on a metal piece called a nipple. When he cocked back the rifle's hammer and pulled its trigger, the hammer hit the cap and fired the weapon.

CS stamp

BOWIE KNIFE

Bowie knives had blades as long as a man's forearm and were carried by many Civil War soldiers. They were made famous on the American frontier and were named for their inventor, Jim Bowie, a Texas patriot who fought at the Alamo. The Bowie knife shown here with its red leather sheath was made in Sheffield, England, and was carried by a Southern soldier.

Hammer

Leather and wire grip

British armory stamp

Hammer

Folding long-range sight

Sling loop

Brass trigger guard

Folding rear long-range sight

Short wood forestock

Civil War The Henry Repeater

TROOPS WITH HENRY RIFLES

The Henrv rifles these Illinois soldiers are holding were the models for some of the weapons that would be popular in the American West after the Civil War. They were not loaded at the muzzle. Metal cartridges holding the cap, gunpowder, and bullet were stored in a tube under the barrel. When the shooter pulled down a lever beneath the rifle's trigger, that movement threw out any used metal cartridge at the bottom of the barrel. When the lever was pulled back up, it inserted a new cartridge into the weapon from the tube beneath the barrel. The up-and-down movement of the lever also cocked the rifle. This meant the Henry could be loaded and fired repeatedly. This action led to these rifles being called repeaters.

Cup to create a hollow base in a

Enfield bullet mold Cleaning tool

Paper Patch Bullet Molds

Molten lead poured here

Nipple wrench

Stamped brass cap

Double-edged tip

Metal ramrod

ENFIELD RIFLE

Southern soldiers used the same rifles as Union infantry. They also used the Enfield, a .577 caliber weapon imported from Great Britain. It was marked bv a crown or tower symbol stamped into the metal near the hammer. The stamp meant it had been made in England's Royal Armoury.

Cup to create a hollow base in a

Sling loop

Molten lead poured here

PERCUSSION CAPS

These brass caps are filled with a small amount of explosive. They fit on a metal nipple underneath a rifle's hammer or at the end of a revolver's cylinder. Soldiers carried a supply of caps in a separate small box on their belts.

Explosive fulminate of mercury

Enfield bullet mold Cleaning tool

Nipple wrench

Stamped brass cap

Worm screu\ which attaches to a ramrod to remove stuck bullets from a barrel

BULLET MOLD AND RIFLE TOOLS

To make bullets, a thin lead bar was put into a pot and then set atop a fire. When the lead turned to liquid, it was poured into a bullet mold. After the lead cooled and hardened, the handles of the mold were pulled apart and the newly made bullet was pulled out. The other items here are tools that could be attached to a ramrod and used to clean a rifle barrel or remove a jammed bullet from it.

CONFEDERATE FOOT OFFICER'S SWORD

Southern factories made swords for Confederate infantry officers. The sword here is modeled on one that had been made for U.S. Army infantry officers for years before the Civil War began. The letters CS are stamped on the outside of the sword's brass hand guard.

Double-edged tip

Steel barrel band

ARTILLERYMAN'S SHORT SWORD

Long before the Civil War, the U.S. Army gave soldiers who fired cannons these short swords. They were modeled on the swords carried by soldiers in the army of ancient Rome. American artillerymen were expected to use these blades to defend themselves and their cannons. By the time the Civil War broke out, however, these swords were not the best weapons. Soldiers used them instead as tools for cutting rope and cannon fuses.

Front blade sight

Hammer

Six-shot cylinder

Piston rammer

Sights Hammer Blade

Walnut ZriP

Trigger

Wood grip

Loading leider

Piston rammer

Cocking lever

Front blade sight

Walnut ZriP

Loading leider

Trigger

Front blade sight

Hammer

STARR ARMY REVOLVER

The Union government bought pistols from companies other than Colt and Remington. The Starr Arms Company of New York State made .44 caliber revolvers like this one for the North. It has two triggers. The trigger farther from the grip cocks the gun; the other one fires it. With this clumsy arrangement, the pistol was not popular.

Piston rammer

Cocking lever

Wood grip

COLT ARMY REVOLVER

Northern and Southern troops called any .44 caliber revolver an "Army" revolver. The six-shot Colt .44 and the Remington .44 were the two most popular Civil War pistols.

Front blade sight

Six-shot cylinder

Piston rammer

Trigger Brass trigger guard

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Responses

  • Urbano
    What was the cone shaped lead slug bullet called in the civil war?
    4 years ago

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