Post by simon darkshade on Jul 13, 2020 5:06:12 GMT
I haven't read as much as I'd like to have of ACW era logistics and industrial production, but I have given some thought to the likes of the Spencer being introduced on a mass scale previously.
It would prove extremely tactically useful, but would present challenges of getting the increased amount of ammunition to the front in the quantities that would be employed. In some theatres, where the Union Army possessed their best lines of supply (I'm specifically thinking the Eastern Theatre), it could eventually prove decisive at an earlier time, exacerbating the industrial disadvantages experienced by the Confederacy. Out West, there will be some bottlenecks that will occur, given the greater distances involved and the comparative challenges of infrastructure. In both cases, the speed of supply from the railhead would be at wagon pace.
There might also be some technical teething problems along the way that occurred for other breechloading rifles in the Austro-Prussian War and even into the use of the Martini-Henry against the Zulus in 1873. Ironing the kinks out of a weapons system seems to take time and be a matter of trial and error; the intensity of the US Civil War would accelerate this process somewhat, but wouldn't completely remove it.
If we kick the process forward two years, then there will be substantial numbers of Spencers in service above @ in ~1863, around the time of Gettysburg. It would take time to tool up, although that process could be somewhat accelerate with an earlier state. If all went relatively right, then the course of the war from there could be shortened by ~6 months or so.
For modern fire arms, they didn't at all. As late as Gettysburg, over 50% of the Army of the Potomac was still using British or Austrian imports, with many even using converted muskets. It wasn't until late 1863 the U.S. figured out via industrial espionage in the UK how to use modern metal casting techniques to properly make rifles.
Epichistory, would you please cite your source(s)? I'd like to read what was written because that contradicts what I thought I knew about the US Springfield Arsenal and the fact the Spencer was available in 1860.
I am very intrigued about "industrial espionage".
Carl L Davis, Arming the Union: Small Arms in the Union Army (Port Washington, London: Kennikat, 1973), pp. 43-7. 10.5% of Union regiments at Gettysburg are armed partially or wholly with smoothbores and 15.8% partially or wholly with second-rate rifles. The Army of the Tennessee is even worse off, with less than half its solders having either Springfields or Enfields in August 1863. This despite 436,000 foreign purchases into the summer of 1863, with 116,740 Enfields purchased by 30 June 1862. This occurred due to the fact Springfield Armoury could only produce 2,500 arms per month (Jas. W Ripley, 11 June 1861, The war of the rebellion, Series 3 - Volume 1, p. 265), with this situation being rectified on the foreign market: "3,000 to 4,000 per month may be obtained as long as is desired, and if contracts are made for twelve months or more the delivery can be increased to 7,000 per month." (George L Schuyler, 5 September 1861, The war of the rebellion, Series 3 - Volume 1, p. 485)
"Our supply of muskets is so nearly exhausted it is impossible to furnish other than mustered troops; and there is not enough for this, without issuing the arms altered from flint to percussion."
(Ripley, August 1861: Arming the Union p.43)
"I have a half-dozen regiments ready to move and not a gun for them. The last one sent to Anderson he armed with flint-lock muskets. The recruiting business in Indiana will stop if guns are not furnished."
(O.P. Morton, September 25 1861, series 3 vol. 1 p. 539).
“In view of the inability of the General Government to supply all the volunteers with arms the government of this State authorised the purchase of Enfield arms in England, some of which are still to arrive. No other purchase has been or will be made by the State.”
(E.D. Morgan, governor of New York, to Simon Cameron, secretary of war, 30 November 1861, series 3 vol. 1 p. 698)
"Early in May thirteen thousand (13,000) new percussion smoothbore muskets were received from the Springfield US Armory. During the months of May and June, repeated calls were made by the Governor… but none were received until October, when three thousand second class altered muskets came to hand. It is only within the past few weeks that any considerable supplies have been received from Government, and very few prior to December 1st. The effect of this delay has been most unfortunate for the public service, and would have been disastrous, but for the supplies of Enfield rifles purchased by Col. Wolcott on State account.”
(Ohio Quartermaster General's report for the year of 1861, p.587 [source])
“One regiment at Erie, ready but unarmed; one regiment at Kittaning, ready but unarmed; three regiments at Harrisburg, ready and can be armed, but Governor would prefer the Government to arm them; one regiment in Philadelphia, ready but unarmed; two regiments in Philadelphia of seven companies each, without arms…"
(J.H. Pulseton, aide-de-camp and military agent for Pennsylvania to Edwin M. Stanton, secretary of war, 31 January 1862 series 3 vol. 1 p.874-5)
Although much more publicity is given to the adoption of American machinery by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, the Springfield Armoury had been envious of British barrel-manufacturing techniques long before the British commission made their inspection. In America, barrels were formed and welded under a trip hammer, a laborious process which produced barrels which frequently failed under proof, while British barrels welded by rolling were quicker to produce and more reliable. Attempts to roll-weld barrels using American machinery and iron failed: it was only in 1858, when the Springfield Armoury bought an English rolling mill, 50 tons of English iron and a Birmingham operative by the name of William Onions to supervise the work, that the Armoury successfully rolled its first barrels. Onions remained the only trained barrel-roller at Springfield until the outbreak of the Civil War, when necessity led to the importation of four more machines and the training of other workers in the art. But English iron was as important as English machines to this roll-welding technique: only the iron produced by a single English firm was sufficiently homogeneous, contained the right quantity of phosphorous, and possessed a ‘fine, uniform distribution of slag particles’ with ‘relatively low liquidus temperature’. As a biography of one of the leading American industrialists makes clear:
"no first-class gun-metal was available in the United States. The supply of such metal had to be imported at high cost from Europe. A little came from Scandinavia, but most of it from Great Britain… during months when the British attitude became more and more alarming, the United States remained dependent on Marshall & Mills. The British ironmasters had the formula; the Americas did not."
Put simply, at the time of the Trent Affair the United States could not produce a modern musket without British assistance. This is why the statistics for gun-barrel exports are so high in early 1863: after Union industry had tooled up to produce locks and stocks, it still needed British barrels. It was only after Hewitt travelled to Staffordshire on a personal project of industrial espionage, pleading with off-the-clock Marshall and Mills workmen in a local pub to give him the secret of making their iron, that the United States was capable of producing its own gun-barrels. At the end of 1863, Edwin Stanton proclaimed proudly:
"Among the arts thus improved is the manufacture of wrought-iron, now rivalling the finest qualities of the iron of Sweden, Norway, and England… This country until the present year has relied upon those countries for material to make gun-barrels, bridle bits, car-wheel tires, and other articles requiring iron of finest quality"
Not only did Stanton disguise how this improvement had come about, but his confident statement disguised the significant flaws Trenton iron possessed. By February 1864, Springfield was complaining about the uneven quality of the new product; Remington ‘found inspection losses on contract barrels so great as to make it necessary either to abandon this iron or ask that the inspection be made less rigorous.’ Even after Trenton began to produce iron, British exports remained significant. They were almost the sole source of steel for gun barrels, as well as producing the majority of files required to finish domestic guns.
Of special note for the purposes of this thread:
"None of these states provide evidence of a large supply of weapons not already considered. Nor, indeed, does the Union Navy. In most cases, the Navy requisitioned its weapons from the army; in others, they competed with them for the limited supply of guns available. For instance, the Navy’s order of 700 Spencer carbines in July 1861 meant that no weapons were delivered to the army until after the completion of the contract in December 1862. Their only significant independent order for weapons was a July 1861 contract for 10,000 .70 M1858 Plymouth rifles from Whitney, but it took until February 1863 to receive 100 rifles; by December 1863, only 5,300 had been delivered.
Indeed, the government made it clear that there was no additional source of weapons available: ‘Not a gun more could be purchased if all the Governors were in the market and the price doubled.’ This was not because the government was overly restrictive on the quality of guns it would buy. As we have already seen, it was prepared to tolerate both the inferior American rifles of P.S. Justice and vast numbers of mediocre European guns purchased in the first years of the war. Nor was the latter a giant ploy to corner the European arms market: when Marcellus Hartley attempted to do this after his appointment in July 1862, he was sternly rebuked by the government for his actions. If these sub-standard weapons were bought only to keep them out of the hands of the Confederacy, why did so many end up in the hands of Union troops?"
Thanks epichistory. That was certainly an "Eye Opener" and an education. Based on those quotes the Union Ordnance Dept. has long been wrongly vilified. Seems to me they did the best they could with what they had.