Army of the Potomac Armament

     The research found on this page attempts to clarify the armament of the Army of the Potomac's infantry regiments during the Maryland Campaign. Most of the information found on the spreadsheet below came from M1281, "Summary Statements of Quarterly Returns of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores on Hand in Regular and Volunteer Army Organizations, 1862-1867," Roll #4, RG 156, Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, National Archives and Records Administration. Unfortunately, the July-September 1862 Ordnance Bureau Quarterly Returns were consumed by fire, meaning the October-December 1862 is the most comprehensive source available to determine the army's armament in September 1862.
     In my attempt to quantify the effectiveness of the Army of the Potomac's infantry by examining what rifles, rifled muskets, or muskets it carried during the campaign, I discovered the following Ordnance Bureau categories to sort out the best weapons from the worst. Below is the list of what the Bureau classified as First Class (best), Second Class, and Third Class (worst) Arms:

First Class
  • Springfield Rifled Muskets, M1855, 1861, N.A. and contract, .58 caliber
  • U.S. Rifles, sword bayonet, M1840, 1845, .58 caliber
  • U.S. Rifles, M1840, .54 caliber
  • Merrill's Breech-loading Rifles, .52 caliber
  • Sharp's Breechloading Rifles, triangular bayonet, .52 caliber
  • "Dresden" and "Suhl" Rifled Muskets, .58 caliber
  • French Rifled Muskets, triangular bayonet, .58 caliber
  • Enfield Rifled Muskets, .577 and .58 caliber
  • Enfield Rifles, sabre bayonets, .577 and .58 caliber
  • Light French Rifle or "Liege" sabre bayonet, .577 caliber
Second Class
  • Rifled Muskets "altered to percussion," N.A. or contract, .69 caliber
  • Rifled Muskets, M1842, N.A. or contract, .69 caliber
  • Belgian or French Rifled Muskets, .71 caliber
  • Belgian or Vincennes Rifles, sabre bayonet, .69 to .71 caliber
  • Austrian, Belgian, or French Rifled Muskets, .70 or .701 caliber
  • Belgian or French Rifled Muskets, brass or bright mounted, .69 caliber
  • Austrian Rifled Muskets, leaf and block sight, Q. bayonet, .58 caliber
  • Austrian Rifled Muskets, leaf and block sight, Q. bayonet, .577 caliber
  • Austrian Rifled Muskets, quadrangular bayonet, .54 and .55 caliber
  • "Jager" Rifles, sword bayonet, .54 caliber
Third Class
  • Smoothbored Musket altered to percussion, .69 caliber
  • Smoothbored Musket, M1842, .69 caliber
  • Austrian, Prussian, and Saxony Rifled Musket, .71 and .72 caliber
  • Austrian and Prussian Rifled Muskets, .69 to .70 caliber
  • Austrian and Prussian Smoothbored Muskets, .71 and .72 caliber
  • Austrian and Prussian Smoothbored Muskets, .69 and .70 caliber
  • English Smoothbored Musket, .69 and .70 caliber
     Before revealing the data's results, a word first describing the methodology used to compile this data is necessary. First, as mentioned above, the most complete records to shed light on the army's armament in September 1862 come from the last quarter of that year after the Battle of Antietam concluded. Thus, it is accepted that some units may have received different types of firearms after the Maryland Campaign concluded. If a reader has any sources that differ from the chart below, please contact me and I will change the information in this ongoing project. Additionally, many regiments carried multiple types of firearms in varying quantities. With a few exceptions, I have listed for each regiment only the kind of firearm that a majority of the soldiers in that particular unit carried. The numbers below therefore reflect the percentage of regiments who had a majority of its soldiers shouldering First, Second, or Third Class firearms and smoothbore or rifled weapons.
     Most importantly, this research is not perfect and I readily recognize that. So please, if you have sources that differ with what the spreadsheet below says, please contact me and I will be happy to change it. This is a collaborative effort.
     As of June 19, 2018, according to my research, here is how the Army of the Potomac's armament breaks down during the Maryland Campaign based on the survey of 214 infantry regiments:

First Class--76.2%
Second Class--13.6%
Third Class--10.3%

Smoothbore--10.3%
Rifled--89.7%

You can view the regimental breakdown here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your time and effort on this. Good resource for those of us interested in the arms carried by the different regiments during the war.

    ReplyDelete