Whether you had ancestors that fought for the North or the South, almost every American is somehow tied to the history of the Civil War. Each of the weapons used in the Civil War has its own history also. And owning an original relic is very expensive and not for every collector. But there are numerous companies creating quality replica Civil War rifles and handguns that anyone can own for a reasonable price. There is not much better conversation piece than a Griswold and Gunnison hanging in your office or in your home.
The British Enfield was comparable to the Springfield and was utilized by both the Union and Confederate troops. Soldiers could use the same caliber ammunition in the British Enfield as with the Springfield. But the Enfields were not machine made like the Springfields, and lots of units did what they were able to swap Enfields for Springfields.
The Austrian Lorenz was another widely used European gun, used by both Union and Confederate troops. Some smooth-bore muskets such as the 1842 Springfield were used frequently too, but against enemies armed with rifles, they were not very effective.
Some 20 distinct types were used by Union forces. Cavalry on both sides used Sharps, which were 0.52 quality arms. They were widely used by Gen. John Buford’s division when they pushed back the Confederates’ advance towards Gettysburg in July 1853.
The Confederates made their own Sharps copies, but they were not so useful because only 5,000 were made and many were faulty, based on reports by Gen. Robert E. Lee. Instead, many Confederates on horseback used captured Yankee breach-loaded weapons or short-barreled muzzle loaders.
This frequency of fire overwhelmed Confederates with their slower muzzle-loading muskets. The.44 caliber Henry Rifle was another well-liked repeater that place the Confederates at a clear disadvantage. Even if the Confederates had got their hands on these weapons, they would have had to produce special cartridges, which they could not have done.
The Yankees and Confederates were more equally matched when it came to handguns, particularly those made by Samuel Colt. While most Samuel Colt revolvers went to Union troops, the Confederates had stocked up on them before the firing on Fort Sumter. Colt’s Navy.36 caliber revolver was also widely available to the Confederates, and has been a favorite weapon of horsemen. Remington and Sons supplied Union troops with revolvers that had simplified designs and a solid frame, which makes them both stronger and cheaper to build than the Colt. After the war, Union troops were given the choice of buying their sidearms, and more of them chose Remingtons than Colts.
Smith and Wesson made.22 and.32 caliber revolvers during the war, but in small quantities. Most were bought privately. Lefaucheux revolvers made in France were used by Union troops in Western battles, while the Confederates purchased thousands of five shot Kerr revolvers.
When it came to manufacturing Civil War weapons, Southerners were at a terrific disadvantage because of lack of raw materials necessary for constructing the weapons. Sometimes church bells were melted down to supply the materials for making arms. Griswold and Gunnison was the most productive manufacturer of Imperial revolvers, making.36 caliber brass framed Navy copies. A weapons maker called Spiller and Burr made.36 caliber revolvers in Atlanta and then Macon, but the pace of production has been too slow to keep up with demand.
The single shot musket was the infantry soldier’s basic weapon during the Civil War. This musket had a 39-inch long barrel and might hit targets 500 yards away efficiently. The Confederates started making their own copies of Springfields after the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.