I recently saw a west coast website of 116th PA reenactors stating that proper arms for the 116th early years' portrayals were Model M1842 or 1816/22 conversion muskets. The only printed info that I can find in reference to the issuing of weapons to the 116th states that they were issued smoothbores... the conclusion being that they were M1842.
Does anyone know of documentation showing they were issued M1816/22 conversion muskets?
Have recently read some discussions regarding smoothbore vs rifled muskets as to whether are not the rifled made an advantage. I'm not an armament individual but do know that the smoothbore was able to be loaded/fired faster however the rifled was more accurate, greater distanced but fowled quicker. Would enjoy hearing from more knowledgeable individuals on this subject. Pardon me Doc J if it appears I'm stealing the thread as I have been known to occasionally do.
Early volunteers were issued whatever smoothbore muskets were available in state and Federal aresenals. These were replaced as Enfields were acquired and Springfields were manufactured.
Some units however chose to retain their smoothbores. I forget which ones, but the smoothbores would readily take the devastating but close range round: buck and ball. The round was all but useless at 50 yards, but it was particularly deadly at 30 yards. A .69 caliber ball with three buckshot (about .30) packed a shotgun's pattern with balls that could knock a man down.
"Does anyone know of documentation showing they were issued M1816/22 conversion muskets?"
I don't, but it is concievable that they were issued both. When was the 116th mustered in?
The 116th musterred in August 1862 and their history indicates that they were issued "the old pattern musket" and it was loaded with a 69 caliber ball and three buckshot. Most suppositions are that it was M1842 muskets, but some think that they also used the M186/22 muskets.
"Old pattern" would refer to the M1816/22 conversions. At the time of Gettysburg the 116th PA shows only M1842 muskets in .69 w/ the Regiment... so even midwar range the M1842 would be appropriate. It is probable that upon mustering they were given what was available which would have included the M1816/22 percussion conversions and as newer arms became available they were issued.