150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettsyburg reviews the firearms and munitions of the war
Fairfax, Virginia - On July 1, 1863, General George Meade's Army of the Potomac met General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It would be the turning point in the American Civil War.
For three days, Union forces held on as Confederates staged assaults on countless fronts. Hitting strategic points we would come to know as Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard and Devil's Den, they failed to find a way through. In a final push, Lee sent nearly 13,000 men to break Union lines upon Cemetery Ridge. Pickett's Charge. Half of them fell. The battle was lost — the South soon after.
This July marks the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. There will be memorials, celebrations, special events and more to mark the battle. Coverage will be vast. The Military Times (MT), for example, is preparing a number of specials surrounding the anniversary. A few of those were filmed at the National Firearms Museum.
MT's Rob Curtis asked for Senior Curator Philip Schreier. An expert on all things firearm, Schreier spent the better part of the morning discussing the technology incorporated in the firearms and munitions of the day.
"One of the most popular, certainly the most prevalent, was the three banded infantry rifled musket," said Senior Curator Philip Schreier. "Prior to the Civil War, they were firing the smooth bore muskets that were .69 and .75 caliber less than the length of a football field. You were unlucky if you were hit beyond 75 yards.
"With the rifled musket, and the development of the Minié ball, the effective infantry range was anywhere up to 250-300 yards."
The musket and the Minié ball were just the beginning. As the interview progresses, Schreier turned from muskets to Henry rifles, the little known Callisher and Terry breech loading carbine, and a comparison to guns used by today's American Military.
The NRA Museum centered reports are scheduled to go live on www.militarytimes.com at the end of the month.
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