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 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! I was completely unfamiliar with the use of the Austrian muskets.