To piggyback on Curt's post;
Newbie questions are exactly what the "Camp of Instruction" folder is for. We used to called it "The Awkward Squad"!
Rust is necessary to be period correct.
Joey Hernandez Co. I 8th Texas Cavalry
38 Confederate Ancestors and Counting!
Lots of great answers, some soldiers carried what were known as "burnishing bars", ash and brick dust worked too. As Silas recommended, I carry a small vial of olive oil, and a little piece of steel wool in my cartridge box pouch with my worm and wrench.
24th Mo Vol Inf
Cannoneer, US Army FA Museum Gun Crew
Member, Oklahoma Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission
Company of Military Historians
Lawton/Fort Sill, OK
Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay -- and claims a halo for his dishonesty.— Robert A. Heinlein
Rust is not necessarily "period correct." Apart from campaigns like Sherman's through the Carolinas, I've seen a lot more references to filthy soldiers than to rusty guns -- "a ragged soldier and a bright musket" was an ideal dating back to the 17th century.
As far as a weekend reenactment, I think one ought to be able to get by with oil, as Silas said, and a wool cloth. Domet flannel is even better, and I certainly prefer using it this way than to wearing it. This method has generally worked for me, including on a long ago six day walk in the woods with friends. Only on the last day, firing in the rain, did my poor Springfield finally develop impetigo...
Curt may have something to add to this, but I remember reading here some time ago that the steel of repro muskets is a bit more conducive to rust than the originals. Still, a little attention can go a long way toward controlling this.
At any rate, I think we would probably do well to leave the modern abrasives till we get home. If nothing else, it's an incentive to explore more period solutions, in keeping with the spirit of a site called "The Authentic Campaigner"...
Michael A. Schaffner
On the matter of "rust":
In the 1862 edition of his textbook on ordnance and gunnery for U.S. Military Academy cadets, Captain James G. Benton wrote that French Army testing had indicated that small arms barrels could withstand 25,000 discharges without becoming unserviceable. And, that with “good care” the life expectancy for a military firearm should be approximately 50 years. The crucial issue was proper care by the soldier, which, of course, required effective training and supervision by his non-commissioned officers and officers. Benton wrote that “The practice of supporting the barrel at each end, and rubbing it with a strap, buffstick, ramrod, or any other instrument, to burnish it, is pernicious, and should be strictly forbidden.” But, that is exactly what many Civil War NCOs and officers required their troops to do. [emphasis in original] (Benton (Ordnance and Gunnery), p. 334 and 339)
So, if a Civil War soldier was following ordnance standards, his arm should have acquired a somewhat mottled appearance as he used an oily/greased rug to kill active rust, but not a polished appearance. Hell, they weren't even "polished" when they came from the armory.
The "The Ordnance Manual for the Use of the Officers of the Confederate States Army" states "In the inspection of arms, officers should attend to the qualities essential to service, rather than a bright polish on the exterior of the arms." p. 188. I keep emory cloth away from my muskets. Instead I use 0000 steel wool and oil at home. That knocks off rust but does not damage the metal. The whole point is to get a patina on the barrel and bands. In the field olive oil and a wool rag.
Company B, 79th NY Vols.
(New York Highland Guard)
Brings back the Time when I was newer and had just done an event of two days in the rain with my new custom-built M1855 Type II Springfield RM.
I wiped it down and wiped it dry, then heavily sprayed it well with WD40... and put it in its fancy padded zipper case.
Two days I went to check on it, and pulled an oily peach fuzz textured, orange gun out of the case. Many hours of work to return it to armory bright/field maintained appearance!
(WD40 floats on water.)
In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt
-Hard and sharp as flint...secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
-Haplogroup R1b M343 (Subclade R1b1a2 M269)
-Pointless Folksy Wisdom Mess, Oblio Lodge #1
-Often incorrect, technically, historically, factually.
I have used in the field, both a slightly damp rag with wood ash or a charred piece of wood to remove the morning rust.
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