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Ozzy

Henry vs. Spencer

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The following link to YouTube video (about eight minutes long) features an excellent comparison of three repeating long guns available at time of Battle of Shiloh (but each one costing about three months pay of the Civil War private, were too expensive to be found in large numbers until later in the war): Spencer, Henry and Remington.

Produced 24 DEC 2015 and presented by R. Lee Ermey, this comparison of repeating rifles is well worth your time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4kN-AQLVD4  Henry Rifle vs. Spencer Rifle

 

   

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I have been looking and looking for an account I read years ago about a Confederate Captain from Arkansas carrying a Henry rifle at the Battle of Corinth.  Can't seem to "re-find" where I read that account (I hate when that happens).

 

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Stan

I had read that "first known use of the Henry rifle by Union troops" was at 1863 Gettysburg. Had not considered that someone from the South might have gotten hold of one (but will have a look around, and see what information is online.)

This link provides solid information about the Henry:  http://44henryrifle.webs.com/civilwarusage.htm 

And this item pertains to "offer to supply the Union with the Spencer" --   http://www.loc.gov/resource/mal.2558900/?sp=1  

Cheers

Ozzy 

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The story so far...

There is a misconception that "only 1731" Henry repeating rifles were available for Civil War use (sometimes stated as, "1731 Henry's were purchased by the U.S. Government; and nearly 800 of those remained in Government arsenals at war's end, never issued" -- gunsamerica.com).  However, as the statement indicates, 1731 is the number purchased by the U.S. Government, not the number produced by the factory at New Haven, Connecticut. 

From its release for sale in 1860, the initial run of "iron frame" Henry repeaters was about 400 units. Over the next 12 - 18 months, the "brass version"  of the weapon became available (with 900 of these produced in 1862; and a total 14,000 brass version Henry's manufactured by end of 1866) -- [ militaryfactory.com and gunsamerica.com ]. Of this production run, it is believed as many as 10,000 Henry Rifles saw service during the Civil War [Civil War Guns page 130]. 

If it is assumed no Henry's were produced in 1861 [total included in 400 "iron frame" units] and perhaps 200 "brass versions" available prior to Battle of Shiloh, the there is possibility that one of the 600 Henry Rifles available found its way to Pittsburg Landing and saw service 6 April... not impossible, just very unlikely. And it could be reasonably assumed that "someone sporting such an unusual gun" would be the topic of Camp Conversation, and moderately well known. (At least one letter or diary entry would make mention "of such a wondrous rifle.")

As for the 1731 U.S. Government purchases: some went to the Washington D.C. cavalry, and some went to Birge's Western Sharpshooters (under name of 66th Illinois Infantry.) The 7th Illinois Infantry (engaged at Shiloh) was re-mustered as a mounted regiment in January 1864... and the Veterans purchased their own Henry rifles: about 500 units, at $50/each. 

Other Union regiments attempted to purchase Henry repeaters as the reputation of the rifle gained strength; but the company was unable to ramp up production quickly enough, and most potential purchasers ended up acquiring Spencer rifles and carbines, instead [Civil War Guns page 149]. By the end of the war, 107,000 units had been ordered from the Spencer Company by the U.S. Government [gunsamerica.com].

Cheers

Ozzy

 

References:    http://archive.org/stream/Civil_War_Guns#page/n181/search/Henry  Civil War Guns

http://illinois.outfitters.com/illinois/history/civil/cw7-hist.html  7th Illinois and their Henry rifles

http://civilwar.illinoisgenweb.org/history/007.html   History of 7th Illinois Infantry

http://www.henryusa.com/rifles/the-original-henry-iron-framed/    Recreation Henry rifle with original specification details

http://44henryrifle.webs.com/civilwarusage.htm   Civil War Usage of Henry Rifle

http://www.militaryfactory.com/smallarms/detail.asp?smallarms_id=356    Specifications of Henry Rifle

http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/cowboy-time-machine-new-u-s-made-iron-frame-henry-full-review/    "Iron Frame" Henry (recreation) with details of specifications and use of original 1860 Henry.

 

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Something tells me that the mention of the Henry used at Corinth by the CS Captain from Arkansas was from the Ben Kitchens book, but, I could be wrong.  I read it, I know I read it, I just can't find that source again.  Frustrating!  LOL!

Stan

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Stan, click on following link and scroll to paras. 28 - 32...

http://www.rarewinchesters.com/articles/art_hen_02.shtml  Henry Rifle in Civil War Service, USA and CSA

While investigating the use of Henry Repeaters during Civil War, was able to confirm use (by both sides) during 1862. And Kentucky took an active interest in the weapon, with hundreds of sales recorded at Louisville. In the above link, Lieutenant William S. Skelton, Company E, Stirman's 1st Arkansas Cavalry Battalion is credited with use of Henry No.287 at October 1862 Battle of Corinth. (Was difficult to verify this information due to fact there were three other "First Arkansas Cavalry" units; but only Stirman's was at Corinth.)

Another Confederate user of a Henry Repeater was Captain Lorenzo Fisher, 10th Kentucky Partisan Rangers (he used his during 1862 in Kentucky.)

Cheers

Ozzy

 

Other good references:   http://www.henryusa.com/henry-history/    (first two paras. of Home Page)

  http://www.ammoland.com/2015/08/henry-rifles-history/#axzz5NHzzvpEj   (scroll past the ad)

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Arkansas_Cavalry_Battalion_(Stirman's)   

 

 

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That is exactly it!  Thanks Ozzy. 

Skelton, I remembered it was a distinct last name.  I did not know other Henry's were used at Corinth.  I could have sworn I saw it in print in a book, but, it could very well have been this article that I stumbled upon. 

I may be wrong, but I think most people think, "oh, Henry Rifle, they were blasting away like they do in Western movies".  I have even seen Civil War reenactors carrying Henry rifles and they were just blasting away when shooting.  I don't think this is historically accurate.  I think the soldiers lucky enough to have these weapons, especially early in the war, would have been firing "somewhat fast", but still taking deliberate aim.  Ammunition was not just laying around for this weapon.  I can't see someone, especially Confederate, burning through ammunition when ammunition resupply would be a colossal issue.  At Corinth, for Skelton, I think actually it would have been more than a colossal issue.  If he ran out of ammo, there was probably NO resupply, and he would be left carrying a heavy paperweight if he did run out of ammo.  I found the picture of Fisher mentioned in the article, holding his Henry rifle.  Fisher, and the 10th Kentucky Partisan Rangers Cavalry, however, did not fight at Corinth.  Their fighting was done in Kentucky for the most part.  Still, incredibly rare and historically important image.

I would imagine the most technologically advanced rifle on the field at Shiloh would be the Sharps rifle or carbine.  But, I imagine Birge's Western Sharpshooters, along with other marksmen and sharpshooters, were carrying some finely crafted rifles as well, such as the Dimick rifle.

Fisher.jpg

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