The Cleve Blakemore musket balls post: found!

Here

  1. Muskets were basically hand cannons that fired a lead ball almost the size of a baseball and were accurate at thirty meters. Sometimes one of these balls caused a person to just disappear in a cloud of bloody vapour and chunks of meat when they hit. They were about ten times as powerful as any legal weapon permitted in the U.S. today. If you were lucky, a musket ball only took off your leg below the kneecap or else an arm. The popular mythology of the “harmless” musket is a recently invented fiction of the leftwing press.

Ahahahahah.

Nice!

One of my favorite accounts of early firearms injuries was in a Civil War diary from a Union soldier from New York named Rice Bull. He was in a skirmish line trading shots with a Confederate skirmish line (it might have even been at Antietam) when he felt something wet on his cheek and touched it, only to discover blood. The fellow next to him told him he’d been shot and that he’d better head back to the doctor. Sure enough, he poked around his face and realized a bullet had gone through his cheek!

So this guy Bull stands up to walk back to the doctor and immediately takes a shot in the thigh. This is what screwed him up for the rest of the war. IIRC, he lay on the ground while the Union retreated back, the Confederates overran his position, and then the Union drove them back once more. What follows are some pretty harrowing accounts of what the field hosptial was like back then, too.

One of the amazing things about the Civil War is how many people died due to disease and poor medical treatment, essentially failures of logistics, rather than being killed outright by bullets.

 -Tom

>One of my favorite accounts of early firearms injuries was in a Civil War diary from a Union soldier

The Civil War was post-muskets though. Muskets were notoriously brutal, but inaccurate, weapons (as opposed to the relatively "clean’ entry injuries inflicted by the barrelled rifles used in the Civil War). They were essentially hand-cannons.

Which is why the “accuracy” of muskets in movies like Last of the Mohicans is so goofy.

The Civil War was post-muskets though.

Hence my post beginning with: “One of my favorite accounts of early firearms injuries was in a Civil War diary from a Union soldier.” :)

There were, of course, muskets still in use during the Civil War, particularly when many of the combatants had to arm themselves. Not everyone had a fancy new Sharps rifle.

But even when you’re talking about muskets, the fact remains that early firearms weren’t as effective at killing a man as things like dysentery and unsterile field hospitals.

 -Tom

>early firearms weren’t as effective at killing a man as things like dysentery and unsterile field hospitals.

Absolutely.

Actually, in that movie they specifically mention that the main character (played by Daniel Day Lewis) was a rifleman - they called him “The Long Rifle”. There were rifles in use back in the 18th century, they were just clumsy, heavy, muzzle loading weapons like a musket. Unlike a musket, they had a rifled barrel rather than a smoothbore barrel, which gave them much greater accuracy (although still nothing like a modern sniper rifle) and also made them much more difficult to maintain and load. Rifles were often used for hunting, while muskets were the conventional military arm b/c the armies of the day relied on training and morale rather than firepower - the extra range of a rifle was considered not enough to overcome the slow rate of fire, difficulty re-loading and complicated maintainence. One of the conventions of military history is that a small number of Americans used rifles to such good effect in the Revolutionary War that it caused the British Redcoats to adapt and former special rifle units, the “Greenjackets”.

There is a lot of information on these topics, along with some excellent historical fiction writing, in the Richard Sharpe series of books by Bernard Cornwell (the source of my nickname).

Dan

>in that movie they specifically mention that the main character (played by Daniel Day Lewis) was a rifleman - they called him “The Long Rifle”. There were rifles in use back in the 18th century, they were just clumsy, heavy, muzzle loading weapons like a musket

Interesting catch - I didn’t notice that. I thought he was firing a long-barrelled musket and consistently hitting moving targets at 100+ yards, which was ludicrous. At least with those early loading rifles it’s conceivable.

Cleve’s posts are twisted genius. I don’t think any of the USENET trolls that followed him could possibly compete. He’s the king.

This is still my favorite quote…talking about Grimoire…

“I’d say my shit is standing tall and taking names. If you
kicked my ass into the sky I would come down as sunshine,
that’s how good I am at what I do”

–Dave

And Grimoire still hasn’t been released … yeah Cleve is a class act alright.

I remember how he used to abuse Derek for the BC3K release.

And now Cleve is sullying Australia with his evil sperm.

Both sides used muskets long into the Civil War, and the the Confederacy still used them in 1863. While the rifle was commonly used, at the beginning of the war it was by no means the predominant firearm.

The observation about Last of the Mohicans (the movie) is correct, they used long rifles. Baker rifles were famously used by the 60th and 95th regiments in the Peninsular War by the British (early 19th century), mostly used for skirmishers and accurate shooting. At the time they were not widely adopted for many reasons: rifles (the Baker in particular) did not fit a socket bayonet easily (if at all), they took much longer to reload (the rifled grooves in combination with a ball w/patch was very hard to ramrod), and frankly soldiers were not taught to aim individually.

Eventually they were adopted worldwide, only after a cluster of different technological advances, but it still took awhile. Most units in the Mexican-American War still used muskets, though I think their widespread use was first noted in the Franco-Austrian War (1859).

— Alan

WWII is generally considered (since military historians are, literally, profesional grognards, there is of course no unanimity :D ) the first war where the majority of the casualties (of soldiers) were caused by weapons, rather than disease, starvation, etc.

Nick

Well, I know the early American settlers used muskets that only fired corks on a string, because Snoopy carried one on the Peanuts Thanksgiving Special. Also, they apparently made tiny muskets for birds, because Woodstock had one as well.

Maybe his fired birdshot, though.

My father is a professor of medicine specializing in critical care and an amateur historian. When I worked in the IT dept at his medical school, I used to sit in on some of his lectures because he always brought in some interesting historical context. One of the things I always found interesting was that criitcal care medicine made huge advances during the Vietnam war simply because for the first time technology existed to evac soldiers who previously would have died on the battlefield.

Really? I find that surprising. I would have thought that the efficiency of both weapons and field hospitals in WWI was high enough to make that one the first war where the majority were killed or incapacitated by weapons.

Interesting posts by Mark Asher in that usenet thread. Too bad the “gun control” subthread is so old; I’d like to respond to that FUD-statistic-spouting twit Bael with some statistics of my own.

In the War of 1812 the Tennessee Volunteers were notorious for sniping at the British with their long rifles, weren’t they? From what I’ve read they were accurate at a long distance. And of course those Tennessee boys were good with them.

This quote is taken from the Kentucky/Pennsylvania Long Rifle Home Page: http://www.webpub.com/jhagee/ky-lr.html:

Col George Hanger, a British officer, became very interested in the American rifle after he witnessed his bugler’s horse shot out from under him at a distance, which he measured several times himself, of “full 400 yards”, and he learned all he could of the weapon. He writes:
“I have many times asked the American backwoodsman what was the most their best marksmen could do; they have constantly told me that an expert marksman, provided he can draw good & true sight, can hit the head of a man at 200 yards.”

Quotations from M.L. Brown’s, FIREARMS IN COLONIAL AMERICA

Really? I find that surprising. I would have thought that the efficiency of both weapons and field hospitals in WWI was high enough to make that one the first war where the majority were killed or incapacitated by weapons.

In 1917-1918 there was a worldwide influenza pandemic that made the “world war” look like a playground. Iirc there was some political monkeying going on so that men in uniform that died of the flu were considered casualties of war in order to pay family benefits.

>In the War of 1812 the Tennessee Volunteers were notorious for sniping at the British with their long rifles, weren’t they? From what I’ve read they were accurate at a long distance. And of course those Tennessee boys were good with them.

…and then the Canadians burned your capital down, proving that guns are, in fact, bad. The least you could do is return the favour and take out our Prime Minister.

I think the “American backwoodsmen” have an interest in exaggerating a bit. ;0