View single post by Johan Steele
 Posted: Sat Mar 10th, 2007 02:19 am
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Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
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The M1854 Lorenz Rifle Musket


Shane Christen


 


The M1854 Lorenz was the second most common imported long arm in use during the Civil War; second only to the excellent P53 Enfield.  The Lorenz Rifle Musket is a study in contradictions; some men thought them the finest arm they ever handled while others despised it so much they replaced them, at the first opportunity, with anything they could get their hands on.

Part of the reason for the disparity of opinion was that the Lorenz was not a truly interchangeable arm; it was in fact a hold over from an earlier time with many parts more familiar to a flintlock arm.  Individual gunsmiths from various points of Austria manufactured the Lorenz in great numbers to varying personal standards by hand fitting parts instead of machine making.  Despite this it was a simple and robust design that was generally well thought of.  At 52.75” long and just eight pounds it was shorter and lighter than its contemporaries.  It was the first arm of the Austrian infantry of the line to fire a bullet designed to expand and grip the rifling in a barrel.  Combined with an absolutely brutal four sided bayonet it was a weapon well fitted to the tactics of the mid 19th century.  The front site was unusual in that its base was installed at an angle to match an angled slot on the bayonet.   The Lorenz was originally designed with a simple block rear site for Line Infantry use.  However, many were issued with a high quality flip site with two windows graduated to 900 yards for the use of riflemen.  The M1854 left Austrian arsenals with a variety of finishes: bright, blued or browned.  Most had a raised cheek piece but some are found without.  Originally issued in .54 caliber many that found themselves in North America were rebored to .58 caliber... though as Army ordnance records show them in a variety of calibers from .54 to .61 that project may not have been as effective as intended.  The CS tested a variety of arms and rated the M1854 Lorenz as the equal to the P53 out to 500 yards.  That it was still in the field, both North & South, in 1865 speaks volumes of the quality of the arm.

Several hundred thousand were sold to the US and CS.  The Confederate Army of Tennessee was largely armed with the .54 Lorenz; while not as well liked as the P53 they gave outstanding service until the very end.  Most specimens still in existence show evidence of hard use.  Well over 100,000 M1854 Lorenz’s were imported by the CS.

Those in Union service were as well appreciated as those in CS.  Elements of the Iron Brigade put them to good service at Antietam and Gettysburg and they saw hard use at Shiloh, Iuka and Corinth.  They were not replaced in Union service except with the excellent M1861 Springfield.  The US imported upward to 250,000. 

The M1854 Lorenz is one of the most under appreciated arms of the Civil War.  With only manufacturer of a reproduction for the re-enacting community it is also one of the most under represented arms in the living history community.  Thankfully Loyalist Arms is making great efforts to create a faithful reproduction; and while their initial run had some glaring discrepancies they have promised to correct those errors in the future.

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