Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Old Austrian Musket" (UPDATED)

 In September of 1861 the men of the 6th Iowa continued their training Missouri. It was here that they were issued their first set of army equipment including muskets. We also see in this entry their first uniforms.

 "On the next day arms and aecoiiterments and a large supply of clothing were issued to the regiment, each man receiving a gun and equipment, 2 shirts, 2 pair drawers, 2 pair socks, 1 pair shoes, 1 pair pants, 1 cloth cap, 1 blue jacket, 1 sky blue overcoat, 1 wool blanket, knap- sack, and canteen. The guns were the old Austrian musket pattern, with fuse primers. At the first dress parade Major Corse tested the quality of the guns by trying to fire a volley, when only about a dozen guns in the line fired. Colonel McDowell's swearing order had no effect in restraining men and officers from expressing their disgust in vigorous language."

 The men of this regiment were apparently "disgusted" with the poor quality of this musket.

Austrian Musket

These muskets were common in the Western theatre as a first musket and would sometimes later be replaced with an Enfield or Springfield Musket.

Another kind was the Belgian musket. This is described by Theodore Upson of the 100th Indiana.

August 1862 Camp Morton, Indianapolis 

 "We have been drawing arms today. We don't like them much; they are Belgian muskets with a great cheek piece on the side of the stock and are about the poorest excuse of a gun I ever saw. I don't believe one could hit the broadside of a barn with them."

Another description of early war muskets comes from Alexander Downing of the 11th Iowa. He writes:

" Friday 25th Oct 1861. - We got our equipments today. Our guns are the old-fashioned muskets made by working over the old flint-lock gun so as to use a cap in place of the flint. The musket is loaded with a cartridge containing powder, ball and three buckshot in front of the ball. Each man is to carry 40 rounds of ammunition all the time. "

 This description could be talking about the Belgian smoothbore but I am unsure and not as familiar with arms of the period as I'd like to be. Perhaps a reader could straighten this out for me.

Soldiers with Lorenz Austrian Musket

An amusing incident involving an Austrian Musket: 

 November 1861
 "At another time a newly arrived recruit alarmed the whole camp by firing at a flock of crows while on duty as a camp guard on a lonesome beat out on the big prairie near a cornfield where the crows were accustomed to perch on the high stakes of a rail fence.
noise they made, they tempted the sentinels to test the serviceable qualities of their guns and their marksman- ship on them.
The young man had enlisted from patriotic motives and had some practical ideas of the duties that would be required of him as a soldier, which prompted him to try the merits of his gun on the crows. The cannon-like reports of the old Austrian musket, when he opened fire, aroused the camps and the whole command was summoned to arms. Colonel McDowell, mounted on his horse,proceededing great haste to the point of danger. In a rage of anger and with abusive language, he assailed the sentinel for his breach of discipline; when, in fact, he had only demonstrated what the military genius of those in command had failed to do, that the troops were inexperienced in the use of firearms and non-effective with the unserviceable guns then in their hands. "When approached in a respectful manner by those with whom he was acquainted and asked concerning the firing, he replied in a spirit of injured dignity, "that he was try- ing the killing merits of his gun and that it wasn't worth shucks"When the absurdity of the affair was fullv realized everybody laughed and the young* soldier returned to duty."

Soldier with Lorenz Austrian Musket 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Tin Cup and Plate, Knife, Fork, and Spoon....

Union Soldiers Eating

According to Hardee's Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, the rations for a soldier during this time usually included:

-20 oz. pork or beef (Beef was either fresh or salted, and pork was always salted.)
-12 oz. hard bread in camp or garrison or 16 oz. of hard bread at sea, on campaign, or on the march
- 1 oz. compressed cube of desiccated mixed vegetables or a 1.5 oz. compressed cube of desiccated potatoes if supplemental foods were unavailable

 This would be supplemented by (per 100 rations):
-8 qts. of beans or peas
-10 lbs. of rice or hominy
-10 lbs. of green coffee beans or 8 lbs. of roasted coffee beans
-10 lbs. of sugar
-2 qts. of salt
-1 gallon of vinegar

 In July of 1861 the 6th Iowa, still encamped at Burlington were to provide themselves with eating utensils. This is the following account :

July of 1861

"The supply for the meals furnished by the contractors was abundant, but the cooking and facilities for serving were horrid — grub, dirt, and flies was the general mix- ture. Three meals were served each day consisting of fresh beef, boiled; bakers bread, raised with yeast sponge ; boiled vegetables ; coffee and tea — with an abundance of sugar. Not many of the men were accustomed to the use of fresh beef at that season of the year, and it was seldom that any of them used bakers bread at their homes, so that, when they partook in such large quantity of the prepared food and were forced by the circumstances to inactivity, as compared with their active habits of life on the farms, many developed camp diseases and ailments. The arrangement was soon made
to issue the army ration to the companies and then have the food prepared by company cooks ; each man supplying himself with a tin cup and plate, knife, fork, and spoon. This gave much better satisfaction, and improved the health in the camp."

The Boys of Iowa would have to adjust to army rations quickly. Soon salt pork and hardtack would be the mainstay of their diet.
Soldier eating hard tack 

Civil War era plate, bowls, knife and fork

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Sibley Tent for the 6th (UPDATED)

Soon the 6th Iowa moved south towards St. Louis and the Jefferson Barracks. On August 11th the steamer carried them from St. Louis, 12 miles south to the barracks located on the banks of the Mississippi. After reaching the site of the barracks they made camp on a high bluff "without tents or arms". 

On August 14th the Regiment participated in it's first battalion drill.

 In the evening the men gathered at the arsenal and were issued the following.

 "Linen pants, cotton drawers, woolen shirts, socks and coarse shoes, also Sibley tents."

 "It was stated and so understood at the time by the men in the regiment that General Fremont had purchased the clothing, on his own account, and had given it as a present to the regiment." 

Sibley Tent US Patten US14740 A

 The Sibley tent was invented Henry Hopkins Sibley and patented in 1856. This tent became a standard in the West and was used by the likes of George Armstrong Custer in the Indian Wars. 

 The tent saw it's first service during the Utah Expedition of 57-58 proving that the tent would stand up well. Sibley would recieve $5 dollars for every tent made according to the agreement with the US Department of War. However Sibley would resign and join the Confederacy and would forfeit the royalties from some 44,000 of the tents he designed.

The 6th Iowa used these tents for quite some time.   In November of 1862 the tent would be turned in in exchange for new "pup" tents or "dog" tents.
 However a reference is made to Sibley tents arriving for the 100th Indiana with a mention of them being made in Theodore Upsons Journal.

 January 22, 1863 Grand Junction Mississippi 
 "When we got back to camp we found that a lot of Sibly tents had come for the regiment." 

"When we went to bed we were rather crowded; for when you get 20 in a Sibly tent there is not any spare room. We had to lie down with our feet to the centre and were packed in like sardines in a box." 
 "There are five regiments here, the 12th Ind, 6th Iowa, 40th Ill, 46th Ohio and the 100th Ind; also part of a battery." 

 Another note on tents issued to the 6th:

 "On the 19th (August), each company received five Fremont tents for the enlisted men and two wall tents for the officers, and the camp was then regularly laid out and permanently established on the south side of the park, and named Camp Jessie in honor of Jessie Benton Fremont, wife of the commanding general."

Soldiers sitting in front of a Sibley Tent 

Sibley Tents