Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

    Jerry Thompson’s new book A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers indicates that New Mexico Volunteer troops were issued inferior arms during the first year of the Civil War. They were primarily armed with 1842 muskets (rifled and smoothbore). The author believes these Hispanic soldiers were deliberately issued “inferior” arms. It so happens that the Anglo soldiers (7th US Infantry and Colorado Volunteers) in New Mexico also carried smooth bore muskets issued from the same stores. Do you think this an accurate assessment? I would appreciate your opinion:

    1. What percentage of Union armies were armed with Springfield rifle muskets during the first year (April 1861—March 1862) of the Civil War?
    2. What percentage had .69 US muskets?
    3. Were M1842 muskets (smoothbore or rifled) rated as “Second Class” during the first year of the war? Do you believe they were generally considered “inferior” to .58 rifle muskets in 1861-62?
    4. When, exactly, did the Ordnance Department downgrade .69 US muskets to Second or Third Class arms?
    Last edited by Masich; 05-11-2018, 04:49 PM.
    Andy Masich

  • #2
    Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

    NARA has ordnance returns for just about every federal unit, but I think they only start in the last quarter of 1862. Others here with better knowledge of ordnance matters can give you an idea of relative percentages of weapons in the first year of the war, but I think it's safe to say that most of the infantry had smoothbores then simply because of the time it took to acquire or produce rifle muskets. As late as Fredericksburg about 10% of the AoP units were mainly armed with smoothbores, with another 10-15% (as I recall) having rifled .69s (not all Springfields, some French).

    And some units would continue to have smoothbores right up till the end of the war, depending on where they were assigned. During Early's raid on Washington in 1864, the white 1st District of Columbia volunteers, stationed in the Defenses South of the Potomac (and therefore thought more exposed to attack) had rifle muskets, while the white 2nd DC Vols. in the Defenses North of the Potomac (where the Confederates actually attacked) had smoothbores, as did the majority of the VRC companies at that time.

    As a general rule, frontline units in the east got the best first, followed by units in the west, followed in both cases by garrison troops. D.C.'s two other regiments -- the 1st and 2nd USCT -- provide good examples. The 1st USCT went off to war in early '64 with 42s and only received '61s several weeks after successfully fending off Fitzhugh Lee at Wilson's Wharf in May.

    The 2nd USCT trained with "Austrian, French, or Prussian smoothbores .69 to .72 caliber" in Arlington, then went off to Ship Island with a mix of Enfield rifle muskets, rifled .69 caliber 42s, and smoothbore '42s. Over the course of the last year of the war they received two large shipments of '61/63s at Key West, but never enough. Apparently the Ordnance Department had problems accepting that they needed that many -- despite the length of time in service most of the companies never fell below 70-80 men: the African American population of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama were more than willing to make up their losses...
    Michael A. Schaffner

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

      Thanks for your thoughtful response to my query.
      I am especially interested in the Civil War in the Southwest Borderlands and the fighting in New Mexico in February and March of 1862.
      I have microfilm of Ordnance Returns for California and Colorado Volunteers but would like to see the returns for the 5th and 7th US Infantry (Regulars) for 1861 and 1862 and New Mexico Volunteers in 1862 and 1863. Are these returns now available on line--or do I have to make a trip to Washington?
      When did the Ordnance Dept begin classifying arms as 1st, 2nd, 3rd class? Did it begin in the 1850s as flintlocks were converted to percussion or when smoothbores were rifled (c1855)?
      Would 1842 muskets (smooth or rifled) be classified as 1st, 2nd, 3rd class in March of 1862?
      Andy Masich

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

        My experience with the microfilmed NARA records is that they begin with the last quarter of 1862. The reports for earlier periods ought to exist -- they were required quarterly -- but I don't know where they are, apart from officer copies that may have survived in private hands. The 1863 OD guide for filling out quarterly returns notes that, "The printed forms hereinafter enumerated have but recently been prepared" as much for the convenience of the bureaucrats as the officers. This suggests to me that it took awhile for the record keeping to catch up with ordering and distributing arms, putting the convenience of later historians at an even lower priority...

        Additional information on ordnance can sometimes be found in the individual Letter and Order books of the regiments and companies, if they exist. Whether you can find any of this online depends on what previous researchers have dug up and decided to share. Researching at NARA can be very exciting and rewarding, but if you're coming from out of town it can be expensive. There are researchers who will do it for you for a fee. NARA has more info here: https://www.archives.gov/research/hire-help

        I don't know when the class designations we're familiar with began, but I suspect it was not much earlier than the 1850s, when the army found itself with .58 caliber rifle-muskets and rifles, .69 cal. rifled muskets, and .69 cal. smoothbores (and lower quality European rifled-muskets). Some of the correspondence with vendors suggests that the people selling weapons to the government had a pretty loose definition of "first class": https://books.google.com/books?id=U4...'s&f=false

        In March 1862 the '42s would be Third Class (the OD instructions from 1863 mention as a recent change only swapping miscellaneous items and parts as Class IX and X respectively). But based on what I said earlier, I don't think this means the OD thought they were the worst weapons out there. When the 2nd USCT went off to war the 1842s were considered an upgrade from the junk they trained with, though those foreign smoothbores were also Third Class (as were some of the foreign rifled smoothbores). There were even less desirable weapons in the federal arsenals -- "Fourth Class" included flintlocks, "Garibaldi Rifles," Hall's percussion, rifles "a tige," and "Boker's Vincennes" -- mostly poor quality stuff imported during the initial crisis of 1861.

        Hope some of this helps. The area you're working in sounds like a fascinating one.
        Michael A. Schaffner

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

          Out of curiosity I checked into Augustus Myers' memoir ("Ten Years in the Ranks -- U.S. Army") to see what he had in the way of arms at the outbreak of war. While serving with the Second Infantry on the frontier they were armed with the 1855 rifle-musket. I know the garrison of Fort Sumter -- Heavy Artillery -- had '42 smoothbores. From that I'm tempted to conclude all the regular army infantry had the rifle musket with the '42s being relegated to HAs in garrison. It's probably not that straightforward, but it seems to resonate with the pattern in the distribution of arms I mentioned earlier.
          Michael A. Schaffner

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

            I think you are probably correct about active units being armed with rifle muskets while garrison troops being issued smoothbores--maybe buckshot at close quarters for defense of depots, forts, and other fixed stations makes sense--but little that the army did made that much sense (especially after the Civil War began for real).
            I would like to verify what the frontier regulars were armed with in the winter/spring of 1862 and see how that compares to what the volunteers got. One author has speculated that the New Mexico Volunteers received woefully substandard arms while Anglo troops got first class arms. Is this true--or did the ordnance officers at Forts Craig, Marcy, and Union issue the best arms they had on hand--first come first served?
            The Ordnance returns will answer this question--if we can find them.
            Andy Masich

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

              I’ll apologize in advance for what may be a rather rambling and/or somewhat disjointed response. The short answer is that – generally speaking – the regulars, regardless of branch of service, got the M1855s and the federal volunteers got what was left. The states armed the non-federalized militia. In 1862, it’s likely the regulars had M1855s and the volunteers had the beaters.
              As background: the 1840, 1850, and 1862 ordnance manuals classify arms as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class. 1st class arms were “serviceable”, 2nd class “want repairs”, and 3rd class were irreparable. With the introduction of the M1855s, the classification seems not to have changed. For example, in a letter from Ripley to Governor Dennison of Ohio dated 28 June 1861, Ripley wrote, “… no rifle muskets of the new pattern on hand except such as are made from day to day, and these will be required for some time to fill existing issues for orders.” (NARA, RG 156, E3, Vol. 53, Register of letters from the Ordnance Department). The two federal armories where the rifled muskets were manufactured never produced up to capacity and some historians estimate that no more than forty thousand rifled muskets were available for issue in 1861. And, of course, the regulars had first dibs on them, theoretically.
              The next best arm available was the M1842 .69 caliber percussion musket, in both smoothbore and rifled configurations. These were available in greater, but still limited quantities. Earlier model smoothbore muskets, many dating to 1821 and altered from flintlock to percussion, were the most plentiful, most common, and most disliked.
              At the beginning of the war, the Ordnance Department listed its stock of arms as 437, 433 rifles and muskets. These quickly disappeared and, by the end of May, Ripley informed commanders and governors that the best arms he could provide – even for those volunteers mustered into federal service – were SB percussion muskets, likely M1842s. Even these were soon gone. Several states, like Ohio, sent agents to NYC and abroad to procure whatever weapons they could get. Enfields were the most preferred. (Carl Davis, Arming the Union, Small Arms in the Union Army, Port Washington: Kannikat Press, 1973).
              Anyway, to keep using Ohio as an example, the state grouped the .69 caliber muskets into two classes. First class muskets were the new model 1842s, manufactured as percussion muskets. Second class muskets were those manufactured between 1821 and 1842 and had been converted from flintlock to percussion. Second class muskets were further categorized into bright and browned finished. Bright muskets bore lock plate dates between 1831 and 1842 while brown muskets carried dates between 1821 and 1831. Anything made before that, though, was considered too old for alreation/conversion. That’s not a hard and fast rule, though. I have a rifled conversion dated 1820.
              To compound matters, descriptions of small arms in both state and federal documents and reports are anything but standardized: altered, unaltered, new percussion, new pattern, rifled musket, rifle musket, browned, bright, converted, smooth bore, modernized, long range, and percussioned.
              It’s not clear when the .58 calibers received the designation 1st class and Enfields 2nd class, but I suspect it was sometime in 1863 when both the national armory and the contractors were producing muskets in large numbers. Perhaps someone can provide that information.

              I hope this helps a bit.
              Last edited by James Brenner; 06-17-2018, 01:12 PM. Reason: grammar
              James Brenner

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: When did the US 1842 Musket become a 2nd or 3rd class arm?

                Hallo!

                A decent pre War snapshot is the inventory done in 1859 of federal armories and arsenals.

                There were:

                275,744 .69's altered to percussion
                14,765 .69's altered to Maynard
                213,155 M1842's
                33,155 rifled .69's
                24,105 M1855 RM's, .58

                For a total of 561,400 muskets

                Excluding 23,894 flintlock muskets

                1,385 rifles altered to percussion, .54's
                43,375 M1841's, .54's
                4,102 M1855 Rifles, .58's

                For a total of 48,862

                Excludes: 652 flintlock rifles

                The U.S. followed an old "British" system of trickling down older arms as new ones appeared to lesser troops among the regulars down a tiered system to "provincials" and militia based on function. IMHO, there was also a seemingly wink-and-a-nod given to generals with political connections, power, and influence based on their assignments.

                :) :)

                Curt
                Curt Schmidt
                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
                -Vastly Ignorant
                -Often incorrect, technically, historically, factually.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                  Andy,

                  The answers above are great, but for whatever its worth, below is the info on the 5th Inf and 7th in 1862.

                  Click image for larger version

Name:	5th Inf-1862.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	743.1 KB
ID:	225550

                  And just down on the same page is the 7th:
                  Click image for larger version

Name:	7th Inf-1862.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	649.2 KB
ID:	225551

                  As you can see, they had the 61 Springfield. You can also see how they classified these weapons by the titles on the top of the first image. Hope this adds to the discussion.
                  Attached Files
                  Steven Dacus
                  Casper, Wyoming
                  11th Ohio Cav (6th Ohio Cav: 1st Bat)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                    As you can see, they had the 61 Springfield.
                    Curious as to how you know they were '61s when the ordnance reports lump '55s and '61s (and later '63s) in one column.
                    Eric Paape
                    Because the world needs
                    one more aging reenactor

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                      The 1840, 1850, and 1862 ordnance manuals classified muskets as "serviceable", "needs repairs" or "irreparable". In 1861, when Ohio and the US Ordnance Department referred to small arms, they referred to them as altered, unaltered, percussioned, new model (.69), modernized, converted, rifled musket, rifle musket, new pattern, bright, brown, Greenwood, and a few other terms.

                      In the Ohio annual QM report for 1862, QMG Wright lists Class I muskets as Springfield rifle muskets. Class II are Enfields, Austrians, and light French rifles with saber bayonets. Class III muskets are Austrian rifle muskets .58 and .69 caliber, French rifle muskets, and Yager rifles. Class IV are Prussian smooth bores. He doesn't mention US made .69 calibers. In the 1863 report, he mentions large issues of serviceable, though inferior class of arms with which to arm the militia. To further confuse the matter, he describes the arms transferred to the state that year - to include US-made .69s - as serviceable, needs repair, and irreparable.

                      I have yet to find out when (if?) the US Ordnance Department began using the Class I, II, III, IV classifications. It seems that there was little agreement among anybody on how to classify small arms. It also seems like there's an distinction between serviceability, age, and manufacture, although one would think that they'd be synonymous. Is a Class IV Prussian musket serviceable, for example?
                      James Brenner

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                        These ordnance returns are great—just the sort of thing I’m looking for—but what quarter are they? I suspect that if this return is from 1862, it must be late in the year. I’m looking for the first quarter of 1862. What do you think the Regulars at Valverde had in February of 1862?
                        Why are no smoothbores listed on this return? Were they considered second class and as such not even included on the printed form?
                        Andy Masich

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                          Ouch. All these times I've looked at quarterly returns, I never realized that the column headings included both a weapon's classification and serviceability. It appears that, with the exception of the .54 caliber Mississippi rifle, all first class arms were of .58/.577 caliber. 2nd class arms include a mix of rifled .69s, 70's, etc. of various manufacture. I imagine the 3rd class consisted of smoothbores. BTW, these returns began during the 4th quarter of 1862. The quarters coincide with the calendar year, so 4th quarter included the months of October, November, and December.

                          As to determining what exact type of weapon the Valverde regulars carried, it appears that the most accurate source(s) for that information will come from either letters or diaries. Jerry Thompson's assertion that Hispanic soldiers received inferior weapons because of their race doesn't pass the smell test.

                          Thanks and a tip o' the hat to Mr. Dacus for posting the quarterly returns.
                          James Brenner

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                            Another point to note is that the model or type did not necessarily equate the to the class or serviceability designation. For example, when the 79th NY left New York City for Washington, DC, it drew arms from prewar militia stockpile. Unfortunately, the troops found these muskets unsuitable for use.*** In fact, the condition of their arms was such that, when the 79th arrived in Washington, the troops turned in their New York City muskets and were reissued the exact same mix of models, but of a higher class or serviceability designation.

                            ***State militia facilities in New York City had a large number of .69 caliber smoothbores ready for use by the militia. These were a mix of the Springfield Model 1816, converted; the Springfield Model 1822, converted; and the Springfield Model 1842. Prewar, the various New York City militia regiments would draw arms from the same facilities for use during drill musters, parades, or call outs, etc. and then return them when they finished. Unfortunately, decades of use by enthusiastic armatures left many of these muskets in poor repair (read: ridden hard and put away wet.)
                            Dave Schwartz,
                            Company B, 79th NY Vols.
                            (New York Highland Guard)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: When did the US 1842 Musket Become a 2nd or 3rd Class Arm?

                              Eric,
                              I was ignorant of that fact. Thanks for the info!
                              Steven Dacus
                              Casper, Wyoming
                              11th Ohio Cav (6th Ohio Cav: 1st Bat)

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X