Shooting the Sharps Rifle

by Fred Ray on January 17, 2018 · 0 comments

The breech-loading Sharps rifle was one of the most advanced firearms used in the war. Although used by infantry and sharpshooters, it was used most extensively by Federal cavalry as a carbine, and was an important factor in their superiority in the second half of the war.

Three models figured in the fracas, the 1852 “slant-breech” model and the later 1859 and 1863 models, which featured some improvements. Here Ian at Forgotten Weapons test fires an 1852 model, and shows graphically a problem that sometimes developed, namely gas leakage around the breech. As he mentions, the sealing was done both with a sliding seal on the breech block and a sliding sleeve in the barrel. In theory, the hot gasses pushed them together and sealed the action. In practice, there were often problems, which were not entirely solved until the falling block action was adapted to use a metallic cartridge after the end of hostilities. As such, it became the basis of the famous 1874 “Buffalo Gun.”

I have a replica 1859 Sharps, and yes, the sleeve is stuck in the barrel and I’m trying various methods to get it out.

Confederate sharpshooter commander Eugene Blackford also bore an 1852 Sharps that he obtained early in the war, and never mentions any problems with his, nor do most of the other users, so it must have worked acceptably well. Whether this system would have worked as a standard issue infantry arm is open to question as it was much more likely to get out of order than the rather simple muzzle loading rifle-musket.

 

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Historical Cleansing Update

by Fred Ray on January 13, 2018 · 1 comment

Dollywood has renamed the Dixie Stampede. Now it’s just a Stampede. Dolly says it “streamlines the name of the show, will remove any confusion or concern about it, and will help efforts to bring the show into new cities.”

I agree with Knox County mayor Tim Burchell.

Well, like everybody else, I love Dolly, and I love all that she’s done for our community, which is her community, and I’m disappointed that they’re yielding to political correctness,” Burchett said. “What’s next? Are we going to change the name of Dixie cups and the Dixie sugar company? You know, I just hope they don’t change their Christmas program.

Seems like a boneheaded move to me. The people who are “concerned” about the word Dixie are not the ones who come to Dollywood anyway, and the ones who do are the ones likely to be offended by removing it.

On another front here in NC, the Durham vandals who toppled the Confederate statue have gotten a break from the prosecutor, who has dropped felony charges against them. The perps, of course, continue to see themselves as martyrs, and their supporters have demanded that all charges be dropped. “We want the courts to recognize what the people have been saying: that challenging and defeating white supremacy is not a crime,” said Jess Jude.

This is a pretty wide mandate, which would give them de facto permission to destroy anything they don’t like, rather like the Taliban or ISIS.

We live in strange times.

UPDATE: Having cleansed Baltimore of its Confederates and Roger Taney, vandals have moved on to other targets, including one to the national anthem.

A statue paid for with pennies contributed by Baltimore school children more than a century ago was found sprayed with red paint Monday morning.

Jennifer Arndt Robinson, executive director of Friends of Patterson Park, said the bronze statue of children holding a scroll to commemorate the writing of the Star Spangled Banner had been damaged by paint. The words “Racist Anthem” were sprayed on a sidewalk near the statue.

It wasn’t the first.

Among other incidents, a monument in Bolton Hill to Francis Scott Key—who wrote the poem that would later become the national anthem—was splashed with red paint in September. There, too, the words “Racist Anthem” were written in paint.
Baltimore official says damaged Columbus monument will be repaired, rededicated

And in August, a monument to Christopher Columbus in Herring Run Park was smashed. A video posted to YouTube showed a man striking the base of the monument with a sledgehammer. Another person held a sign that said “Racism, tear it down.”

 

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Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.

Some Fun With An Original P56 Enfield

by Fred Ray December 29, 2017

Wonder why the Confederate sharpshooters (and I mean here the light infantry battalions) were so feared? Cap and Ball will show you with an original P56 two-band Enfield rifle, which shoots very well indeed. And, he’s in the correct uniform.

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The 1854 Lorenz Jaegerstutzen rifle

by Fred Ray December 28, 2017

Most students of Civil War weapons have heard of the Austrian Lorenz rifle. Sometimes called the “Austrian Enfield,” it ranked third in numbers issued to troops on both sides during the conflict, and was the second most common imported rifle after the British Enfield. The biggest users seem to have been the Army of Tennessee […]

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Short Takes

by Fred Ray December 15, 2017

What do you do when you don’t have any Confederates to protest? You obviously make do with what you have. Two in the crosshairs are Teddy Roosevelt and of course Christopher Columbus. “For too long, they have generated harm and offense as expressions of white supremacy,” reads the petition, in a city which “preaches tolerance […]

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Review: Sharpshooting Rifles of the American Civil War: Colt, Sharps, Spencer, and Whitworth by Martin Pegler

by Fred Ray November 22, 2017

Sharpshooting Rifles of the American Civil War: Colt, Sharps, Spencer, and Whitworth By Martin Pegler Illustrated by Johnny Shumate, Alan Gilliland Publication Date: 24 Aug 2017 80 pages ISBN 9781472815910 $20 Martin Pegler is a prolific chronicler on military sniping, perhaps best known for his 2004 book Out of Nowhere: A History of the Military […]

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Short Takes

by Fred Ray November 17, 2017

A nostalgic look back at the long relationship between the Army and whiskey. American commanders began supplying strong drink in 1775 — right after the Continental Army was formed. Congress voted to supply it with beer. Gen. George Washington, who was fond of beer and all sorts of drink, nonetheless felt something heartier was required. […]

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