Infantry Longarms

It was not until late 1862 that the Confederates were able to replace obsolete flintlock muskets with percussion muskets—many of these still being smoothbore—among its frontline troops. This was accomplished with weapons from three sources: the US Army, foreign countries, and local makers.

The US Army, mostly armed with Mi861 Springfield rifled muskets and Pi 853 Enfields, was possibly the major supplier. The Confederate Ordnance Department reported on 30 September 1864 that 45,000 small arms had been captured, compared to only 30,000 imported and 20,000 produced in the South during that year. The Ordnance Department also reported that after the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 they recovered 26,000 rifles and rifled muskets from the

Lockplate of the first type of Richmond Armory rifled musket. The later model had a lower 'hump' to the lockplate and was stamped 'cs' over the 'RICHMOND, VA.' (Russ Pritchard)

Lockplate of the first type of Richmond Armory rifled musket. The later model had a lower 'hump' to the lockplate and was stamped 'cs' over the 'RICHMOND, VA.' (Russ Pritchard)

Fayetteville Rifle TypeLondon Armoury Company Confederate

Richmond Armory rifled muskets, the earliest type on top and the later model below it. (Russ Pritchard/Milwaukee Public Museum)

field: of these, 10,000 were thought to have been discarded by Confederate soldiers who traded them for better weapons found on the field.

Imports played a large role in arming the infantry. Of these, 75 per cent were English made, mostly copies of the Pi 853 Enfield; 20 percent were from Austria, mostly the Mi854 rifled musket, of which 100,000 were imported; and the remaining five per cent were from France, Belgium and various German states. The major English supplier was the London Armoury which, by February 1863, had shipped 70,980 rifled muskets, 9,715 rifles and 354 carbines to Southern ports. Thereafter this company shipped 1,300 rifled muskets a month until the end of the war.

Captured rifle- and musket-making machinery from the Harper's Ferry Armory was also sent South. Machinery for making rifled muskets went to the Richmond Armory, which produced some 11,762 weapons. These rifled muskets were close copies of the US Springfield, except that the lockplate had the 'hump' designed for a Maynard primer, and brass nose caps and butt plates were used. Rifle machinery went it) Fayetteville, North Carolina, where some 20,000 rifles were produced before that city's capture in 1865. The rifles were copies of the US Mi855, 49^ ins. long. They had locks like those of the Springfield, and brass barrel bands, nose caps, butt plates and trigger guards.

Copies of the Enfield rifle were produced by Cook & Brother, a private concern which manufactured some 20,000 'two-band' rifles and a much smaller number of 'three-band' rifled muskets. Poor copies of the Enfield were also produced in the Tyler, Texas, Armory. Other Southern private makers copied the M1842 rifle, albeit in relatively small numbers.

A handful of British-made sharpshooters' rifles were also imported. These were of the Enfield type, which resembled the Pi 858 short rifle; the Whitworth rifle; and the Kerr, which was similar to the P1858 Enfield. All of these models were 0.45 in. calibre.

Each longarm was fitted to take a sling, yet not all weapons were actually issued with slings: indeed, the Richmond Arsenal issued only 115,087 musket and carbine slings in three and a half years, although it issued 323,231 longarms. Until 1864 the average issue sling was made of cotton cloth, with a leather-reinforced section punched to take the adjustment hook. After 1864 leather slings were issued.

Cavalry Longarms

In March 1862 an ordnance officer wrote that Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest had said 'that the double-barrel shotgun is the best gun with which the cavalry can be armed". However, a more traditional weapon in the shape of a single-shot, muzzle-loading copy of the Enfield carbine was adopted as the regulation Confederate cavalry longarm in October 1863. A factory was set up to make these at Tallasscc, Alabama; but it was not until April 1865 that their first 900 carbines were shipped—too late to be of much use. Such carbines were also made by-Cook & Brother, and imported from England; and the Richmond Armory made some 2,800 short carbine versions of their rifled muskets. A number of Southern makers also produced copies of the muzzle-loading, single-shot Mi854 US carbine.

Breech-loading carbines, as used by most US

858 Enfield
The three models of Fayetteville Armory rifles, the earliest at the top and latest at the bottom. Like the Richmond weapons, these were made with dies captured from the Harper's Ferry Arsenal. (Russ Pritchard/Milwaukee Public Museum)

Detail of the lockplate of the final Fayetteville rifle, showing the distinctive S-shaped hammer. These were among the finest Southern weapons made. (Russ Pritchard)

cavalry regiments, were more efficient and faster shooting, and were therefore prized as war booty. The S.C. Robinson Arms Manufactory was set up in Richmond to make copies of the breech-loading Sharps carbine in 1862. The factory produced some 1,882 of them before it was taken over by the government on 1 March 1863; eventually its production totalled 5,200 carbines. The 'Richmond Sharps' quickly got a bad reputation for bursting on firing, however. Even though the rumour was unfounded, it persisted, and the 'Richmond Sharps' remained unpopular with the cavalry throughout the war.

Other breech-loading carbines were made by George Morse (about 1,000 weapons, using brass centrefire cartridges), and J. H. Tarpley (this type having a rising breech to take a paper-wrapped cartridge). Other breech-loaders which used a paper-wrapped cartridge were the 'Perry' or 'Maynard' carbine; and the 'rising block' carbines, whose manufacturers are unknown today.

Weapons which took a brass cartridge, such as the Morse carbine and captured Northern models like the Burnside and Spencer, presented the Confederate Ordnance Department with a prob

Burnside Carbine Ammo

lem. They had virtually no facilities to make such ammunition; it was not until far 011 in the war that they finally set up suitable plants, and by then it was too late to do them much good. This meant that many of the best captured US Army carbines could not be used by the Confederates, except on an individual basis with chance-found pouchfuls of cartridges.


According to the Confederate Ordnance Department's Field Manual of 1862, 'Colt's pistol is used in our service, and is constructed on the revolving principle, with a cylinder containing six chambers and a rifled barrel.' Copies of these revolvers, usually in 0.36 in. calibre, were made by Griswold & Gunnison (production: 3,600 revolvers), Leech & Rigdon (350), Rigdon & Ansley (2,330), The Columbus Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. (7,500).

Two muzzle-loading Richmond Armory cavalry carbines. They are little more than cut-down infantry rifled muskets. (Russ Pritchard/Milwaukee Public Museum)

and Schneider & Glassick (14). Some of these, notably the Griswold & Gunnison models, used brass frames rather than steel because of supply shortages.

Spiller & Burr and the Macon Arsenal produced some 1,400 brass-framed copies of the Northern Whitney 0.36 in. calibre revolver. Quantities of imported Deane-Adams, Beaumont-Adams, Kerr Army and William Tranter revolvers came from England; and Lefaucheu pinfire, Devisem, Raphael, Perrin, and Houllier et Blanchard revolvers came from France.

Edged Weapons

Except for special swords for musicians, which were not made in the South, the Confederates copied every regulation US model sword. Officially, these were copies of the US Mi840 cavalry sabre, the Mi860 light cavalry sabre, the Mi833 dragoon sabre, the Mi840 light artillery sabre, the Mi833 foot artillery sword, the Mi840 non-commissioned officer's sword, and the Mi850 foot officer's sword.

Generally, Southern-made swords are marked by their crudeness. Blades rarely had the stopped double fullers of Northern swords. Grips were usually wrapped in oilcloth or brown leather secured by a single, or at best double, strand of copper, brass or iron wire, often untwisted. Hilts were crudely cast, or even beaten out of sheet brass; heavy copper concentrations gave them a red appearance. Metal scabbards often had brass rings, chapes and throats, while leather scabbards were often sewn along the edge of the blade rather than up the centre of the back as on US scabbards.

Imported British sabres were used to some degree, especially the Pi853 cavalry sabre; and W. Walsoneid of Solingen, Germany, also made some Confederate swords. Finally, as with every other Confederate necessity, captured US swords were widely used.

In addition, many soldiers brought knives from home. These knives, with blades ranging from 6 ins. to 18 ins. long, were sometimes abandoned later as impractical; but many Southerners, used to carrying knives in civilian life, kepi them to the end.

Lances were issued to a number of cavalry units including at least one company of the 5th Virginia Cavalry, several companies of the 4th and 5th Texas Mounted Volunteers, and the 21st, 24th and 251I1 Texas Cavalry Regiments in early 1862; Col. Joseph O. Shelby's cavalry brigade in south-west Missouri also appear to have had lances in 1862. In February 1861 Gen.Joseph E.Johnston requested lancers armed with 10 ft. ash shafts with a 7 or 8 in. head. The lances he had in his army, he wrote, were poor, 'many of them of heavy wood and too short, the heads too thin and unnecessarily broad'.

The typical Confederate lance appears to have had an 8 ft. ash staff with a 10 in. flat spear point ins. wide. A pennon of the design of the first Confederate national flag was attached to the staff, and a leather wrist loop was tacked half-way up it; an iron ferrule shod the foot. Lances were largely abandoned by the end of 1862, except by some state defence troops.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0


  • simone
    What weapons were used in battle of tippecanoe ?
    9 years ago

Post a comment