Possible Project on Confederate Weapons by Regiment

by Brett Schulte on March 7, 2015 · 0 comments

UPDATE: I’ve thought this over and I should be able to set space aside on my TOCWOC blog, creating a home page for this effort, and make someone(s) editor(s) to add pages and keep things updated.  Any takers?

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Let me be clear up front that what I’m about to say is an idea only, and an idea I don’t have time right now to take the ball and run with due to family, work, and other obligations. However, I’m floating it at TMP and here at TOCWOC as the most likely places where someone(s) might take this idea and run with it.

We’ve all at one time or another run into the problem of “unknown” Confederate weapons types by regiment. With that in mind, I’ve read with great interest Mark Horan’s various posts at TMP talking about the work he’s done on identifying Confederate company commanders and ordnance sergeants and looking for company ordnance returns.

Here’s a quote from one of his posts so you are familiar with the methodology:

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“Information for Confederate ordnance can often be deduced by accessing the “Records of Confederate Veterans”. These are files sorted Alphabetically by State, separated by Branch, and finally numerically by Regiment/Battalion. There records originally on paper, were microfilmed and available in DC Archives for years. It has, in recent times, been put entirely online. (Brett’s Note: at Fold3.com)

The Regimental listings contain the then available records for each MAN (alphabetically) in the regiment that were NOT placed in master records for units elsewhere after the Federal Government obtained all extant Confederate Records after the surrender.

To use them you need to do your homework. From other books, identify the COMPANY field officers and ORDNANCE SERGEANT for each company in the unit. Often company ordnance records can be found in the latter’s personal records, and requests for ammunition, being signed for by ordnance sergeant and the senior officer can often be found in the records of one of the officers or the Sergeant – or both.

What you then need to know was pistol ammunition was requested in ONE package of six rounds for EACH pistol in the unit (important for Cavalry) and ONE package of 10 rounds for each rifle of the indicated caliber in the unit.

So, for example, a request in June 1864 from Company A, 7th Virginia Cavalry for 306 .36 caliber and 78 .44 caliber pistol rounds, 240 .52 caliber carbine rounds, 50 .69 rifle rounds, and 140 .58 rifle rounds tells you that, at that instance in time, said company had 51 x .36 caliber revolvers, 13 x .44 caliber revolvers, 24 x .52 caliber carbines, 5 x .69 caliber and 14 x .58 caliber rifles. Which, combined with information on other company’s ordnance combined with any any known strength returns from the period can tell you a whole lot about the Regiment.”

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Note that Blue and Gray Marching also has a nice post on a similar method to determine Confederate armament at a given point in time.

This research has a use for me at my Siege of Petersburg site, and applies directly to people creating wargaming scenarios as well. I went to bed mulling over Mark’s methods and woke up this morning realizing the TMP community and interested others might come together to do this type of research across the entire war.

Which brings me to the point. Although as I’ve said I don’t have the time myself to lead this type of effort, I’d be glad to contribute to it for the time period I’m interested in. Here’s my idea to find out what weapons Confederate companies and regiments were using on a given date in a nutshell:

1. Find someone trustworthy and invested who is willing to create a blog or web site which hosts the data. A wiki type page where everyone can edit would probably work best.

2. Figure out how to organize the regiments we’d be listing, basically all of the Confederate regiments of the war. Obviously those regiments in many major battles would be of the most interest starting out.

3. Start listing out regiments, one per page or maybe one state per page.

4. The first phase would be people doing the research to identify company commanders and ordnance sergeants for each Confederate regiment and listing them on each unit page on the created web site from 1-3. Anyone with an interest and books/online rosters could begin to find this information and add it.

5. The second phase would be to take those names of company commanders and ordnance sergeants, search their compiled service records at Fold3 website (subscription required)…

6. …then find and post information from ordnance returns found in those CSRs, “checking off” each soldier someone searches.

7. Ideally an image of each ordnance return could be posted on the site for reference as well as transcribed information for search purposes.

***NOTE: People with Fold3.com access like me would need to be involved in 5-7.

In this way, Confederate weapons by company would slowly be found for the entire war, obviously with a lot of gaps. It’s work that would need to be done only once. After that, it’s public record and could be used by wargamers and people like me interested in specific campaigns. In the past, when I was single without kids, I would’ve launched headlong into something like this…and then would have dropped it half-finished without asking for help.

So instead of doing that, I throw this idea out on the wall, seeing if it might stick. This isn’t a one man job. But a group of a dozen or more people working on this could make some serious progress over the years.

For my part, I’d be happy to both find company commanders and ordnance sergeants during the Petersburg Campaign, and also to search identified soldiers’ CSRs in order to find ordnance returns for that period.

What do you think? Possible? Interesting? I do know a dedicated individual starting the site would be the needed catalyst to get things going. The beauty of this is that you could start with only one regiment and slowly build from there.


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