View single post by Michael C. Hardy
 Posted: Wed Sep 26th, 2007 03:08 pm
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Michael C. Hardy

Joined: Tue Sep 25th, 2007
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 48

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Johan - once again, with all due respect, the historical record says otherwise. There are probably hundreds of examples of fouling being an issue with the men on the firing lines. I’ve listed several below. I do recall reading once of men using rocks to pound their ramrods to get their loads to seat. I could not lay my hand upon that example this morning. Hopefully, the other examples will suffice. The fouling was created by both prolonged firing of the weapons, and at times by usage of improperly sized ammunition, i.e., shooting .58 minies in .577 cal. Enfields.

While the regulations state to “seize the rammer at the small end with the thumb and fore-finger of the right hand, the back of the hand to the front” we must take into account that these men were trying to load quickly a projectile that did not want to easily slide down the barrel, all the while the smoke of the battle is chocking them, someone is shooting at them, and an officer or NCO is yelling at them to load faster and shoot lower.

A few examples:

On May 3, 1863, at the Battle of Salem Church, the 15th New Jersey’s Enfields were so fouled, that some men were forced to drive their ramrods into trees in an attempt to properly seat their loads.

Walthall’s Brigade, at Chickamauga, likewise had problems, not so much with fouling, even though that was part of the problem, but with improperly sized bullets. Lt. Harrison, brigade ordnance officer, wrote: “after the first few rounds, [some of the ammunition] was found too large, and frequently chocking the guns to the extent that they could [minies] could not be forced down...” (OR Vol. 30, 2:277)

Lt. Col. H. Oladowski, ordnance officer, reported on the Army of Tennessee in March 1863, that “The ammunition supplied for the Enfield rifles was found in a few instances rather too large. When guns become fouled, after 15 or 20 rounds, it is difficult to lodge the bullet home.”
(OR Vol. 32, 2:762-763)

Col. Louis R. Francine, 7th NJ Vol., reported that after fighting for three hours at Chancellorsville, with “ammunition giving out and the muskets becoming foul...” ordered his regiment out of the fight. (OR Vol. 25, 1:478)

Col. William Hawley, 3rd Wisconsin Inf., wrote after the battle of Chancellorsville “For nearly three hours my command was thus under a heavy fire, fighting desperately and constantly gaining ground, until the arms of the men became so foul by frequent firing that they could be loaded but with difficulty.” (OR Vol. 25, 1:720)

After Chickamauga, Col. R. H. Keeble, 23rd Tennessee Infantry, wrote: “Night was now coming on; our ammunition was failing, the men, some of them, having but one round– none of them exceeding three; guns had been shot and injured, and more becoming foul and useless.”
(OR Vol. 30 2:486)

During the battle of Spotsylvania Court House “Ammunition would run out and new supply would be furnished. Guns would become foul, when we would order the men back to wash them out and then return to the fight.” From the Report of Col. Robert McAllister, 11th NJ Inf., commanding 1I brigade, IV Division, II Corps. (OR Vol. 36, 1:491)

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