Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Antietam Armament: What Firearms Did Each Army Carry in the Maryland Campaign?

This blown-up view of the 93rd New York Infantry taken shortly after the Maryland Campaign shows the infantrymen holding their Enfield rifled muskets (Library of Congress)
     By September 1862, both the United States and the Confederate States had one and a half years to streamline the process of arming their soldiers in the field with uniform firearms. So, on the Antietam battlefield, how many foot soldiers carried smoothbore muskets as compared to rifled firearms in each army? While the answer might seem difficult to arrive at, a survey of several sources gives us an accurate estimate.

     The sources used in this survey are as follows:

  • Joseph G. Bilby, "Small Arms at Antietam," American Rifleman, July 2012.
  • Bruce B. Sterling, "Archaeological Interpretations of the Battle of Antietam through Analysis of Small Arms Projectiles," Archaeological Perspectives on the American Civil War.
  • D. Scott Hartwig, To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of September 1862.
  • Kevin Pawlak, "Army of the Potomac Armament," Antietam Brigades.
     Based on these above sources, here are the results:

Army of Northern Virginia:
Bilby: 70% rifled
Sterling: 61% rifled
Hartwig: 70% rifled
Average: 67% rifled

Army of the Potomac:
Bilby: 90% rifled
Sterling: 84% rifled
Pawlak: 89.7% rifled
Average: 87.9% rifled

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