I blew my back out several weeks ago and was laid up taking vacation time instead of workmans comp. I was allowed a rare treat when a friend rolled me into his van and we spent the day in the MN Historical society.... I continued my quest for info on arms carried by the 3rd & 4th MN VI.
My only success on more info on the arms issued to the 4th MN VI was an ordnance return fom April 62 showing: 198 M1841/44/45 rifles & 80 M1817 rifles percussion conversion spread between three companies. 5 other Companies were wholly armed w/ M1816/22 Conversion Muskets and one company carrying "Bright Belgian" muskets.
At some point, I'm assuming after their furlough they received M1861's & at some point in 1863 they appear to have acquired some P53's.
I found photographic evidence of men from B & E companies changing out M1816/22 Percusion conversion for M1841/45 w/ a hint that D company may have traded their M1817 rifles for M1841's and another company may have traded their "Bright Belgians" for M1841/45's... this brings the total M1841's to about 600 w/ the balance still being M1816/22 conversions.
In July 1863 the 4th MN may have been one of the Regts authorized by Genl Grant to trade in their old smoothbores for Captured P53's and a document sans date shows the 4th aquiring "180 stands Captured arms" I can assume these would be Enfields captured at Vicksburg.
The 4th MN VI had gained a reputation as a hard marching & hard fighting unit by the time of the Vicksburg Campaign and might well be considered a representative unit of western federals. In April of 62 they were still carrying a majority of arms made in 1816 & 1817 converted from Flintlock to Percussion along w/ one company carrying despised Belgian "pumpkin throwers." That means the Regiment had only two companies carrying anything newer than 20 years old. In short only 2 out of 10 men were firing anything w/ a range much past 100 yards. And by the time of Vicksburg only 5 of 10 were; when the garrison of Vicksburg was largely armed w/ first rate arms w/ ranges in excess of 400 yards.
The M1841/44/45 was essentially the famed Mississippi rebored to .58 cal w/ a better rear sight and bayonet added. It was a first rate arm w/ a very high reknown; however it's only advantage over an M1861 was that it was considerably shorter... yet it was no lighter due to a thicker barrel.
By the fall of 1863 the Union had pretty much eliminated their small arms deficiencies and there were ample P53 Enfileds (near to 80,000 courtesy of the CS) and M1861's available in the ranks. Most older arms were returned to various arsenals and later reissued to the USCT. Most conventional wisdom states that upon vetranizing (fall of 63 to summer 64) most men were issued new M1861 or M1863 Springfields and conjectual evidence from MN Regiments bears this out.
But a real kicker and quite a bit of confusion for me was finding a tintype showing Sgt John E Risedorph of the 4th MN VI w/ an M1841 and a riflemans belt supposedly dated 1865 taken in Washington DC after the Grand Review! All of my reasoning says this has to be an incorrect date on the tintype... until I found a muster out document showing a soldier from D Co 4th MN VI purchasing an M1845 w/ saber bayonet upon his muster out! Could the 4th MN, or some of the men have managed to hold onto their M1841's?
One of those annoying detail mysteries that I've been working on for quite a while has been the arms of the 4th MN VI I've pretty much exhausted MN Historical society sources.
Do any of you have a more complete listing of arms issued (when & approx numbers) to the 3rd & 4th MN VI? I feel I've pretty much exhausted the MN Historical societies sources on the subject and have only conjectual data from other sources.
Any assistance or ideas would be appreciated.