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We have a winner for the car raffle for Winner: from Lusk, Wyoming, with ticket Raptor Experience Help provide care for our avian friends. Explore Learn Store Research Support. Our Blogs: View all the blogs from the Center of the West. I agree with you entirely that it's likely that a misfire wouldn't be noticed in the din of a volley.
Even if it was, a firing line is hardly the place and time to start trying to pull out a packed charge. It's likely, as you said, that a soldier with a misfiring rifle either took another up from the ground, passed it back for a new one or simply held it until he either fell or the battle was over. Again, I see the percussion cap as the most likely point of failure. A soldier's hands will be greasy from the oiled cartridge paper, from the grease on the gun itself and wet from sweat, dropping or placing poorly a cap is easy to do.
Also, it feels like Grossman bases all his statistics on a few battles of the American Civil War. The Russians suffered 10, casualties while the Allies had but 56 cannon, and a large portion of the battle took place out of range of the Allied guns.
In fact, a force weaker by half held ground against an attacking enemy sheerly by use of accurate and devastating rifle fire, out of range of the Russian muskets. This fact flies in the face of Grossman's assertion that the soldiers of era's greatest fear was not dying but killing. Regarding the point about aiming and over-aim, does Battle Tactics of the Civil War cover that or is there something else you could recommend that does? I've heard that claim in a few places but have never been able to find anything further about it. Aiming at the knees is actually done to compensate for the muzzle rising from recoil before the bullet exits the barrel.
This distance may only be a small fraction of an inch, but at a few hundred yards aiming low would result in hit to the chest. Worth noting that with blackpowder weapons, the arc of the bullet is very noticeable at anything over a hundred meters or so; you have to aim quite high and drop the bullet onto your target.
Which requires long training; which in turn is why the basically untrained mobs of the Civil War rarely engaged at ranges over meters, even though their weapons were theoretically capable of it.
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Black powder firearms are notoriously unreliable and the more you fire them the less reliable they become until you clean them. That number is too high but it'll work for us. The remiander have a ball and charge down their barrel with no easy way to get it out. Now, of those guys some percentage won't notice that their musket didn't fire. We'll say 1 in 5 because it makes the math easy and because battlefields are noisy and confusing places. I will further assume that the guy who misses a hangfire like this never picks up on it; again, not a perfect assumption but not a terrible one either.
So the ones who notice scramble away to clean their guns and see if they can't get them working again while 96 guys 95 with working guns and 1 with a hang fire go on. We now have 92 guys 2 with hangfires. During the Civil War, Enfield P rifles were especially prone to fouling problems. The standard infantry round used in both armies was. However, the bore of the Enfield was. With a clean rifle, this difference is negligible, after a few shots a layer of black powder residue builds up on the inside of the barrel.
I own a reproduction Enfield, and I can usually get about five rounds fired before ramming becomes difficult and I need to wire brush out the bore.tweetangles.askyounow.com/wp-content/264/vow-seznamka-agama.php
They were, of course, muzzle loaders, breech loaders then were the exception. The Minnie bullet had no device for cleaning out the barrel, and after a dozen shots it would become foul, and often it was difficult to ram the bullet home.
After I had fired my gun a number of times, in attempting to load, the bullet lodged half way down. I made desperate efforts to send it home but to no purpose. I found a stone large enough to pound on the end of the ramrod, but the only effect seemed to be to set it the snugger. It was the wrong place to hesitate in. I capped the tube, drew up the gun and pulled the trigger expecting an explosion. The kick was strong but I did not discover any damage to the gun—doubtless the barrel was injured. I picked up another gun left by some dead or wounded man and resumed my work.
Eventually, both armies just started issuing. On another note, Springfield ms generally would misfire more than Enfield P53s. This was due to the tube that carried the spark from the percussion cap to the breech makes a sharp angle in the Springfield, while in the Enfield its straight. This design flaw was corrected in the Springfield m In light of your explanation, it's even more obvious why this would be when you consider that the only guns being counted were those that were thrown away. I'll provide a short analysis on the operation of muzzle loading rifled firearms. As stated elsewhere in this thread, loading a muzzle loader is a precise and time consuming chore.
Since muzzle loaders were first invented the shooters had a shortcut. Pre load your shot with wad if smoothbore , replace your ram rod, and close the hammer. Once you were in a situation to fire, all you had to do is quickly load a precussion cap and fire - providing a second advantage. This now leads me to answer your question. Pre loading your shot was extremely common. MANY men would have been killed, wounded, misfired, or fled, etc while having a pre-loaded gun as well as during regular refiring.
I tend to think that this shortcut, or routine operation of the firearm may have been incorrectly exploited by a historian who may not have had the knowledge of a well known system. It has become a niche skill in the shooting world since repeating rifles took over after the Civil war. Presently In Canada, muzzle loaders are the only weapon permitted to be transported while loaded - provided a percussion cap is not in place and the action is closed. This is due to the fact they may have had it ready to fire, but never came across a target to shoot at.
The only way to remove the round is to fire it, but the gun is considered "safe" if loaded without the cap. Obviously the firearm is required to be locked and stored away from live ammunition percussion caps in this case.