Monday, January 16, 2012

Office Hours: How to Fire a Civil War Musket

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Today's question, or rather - request, comes from Price in Alabama (my home state..Roll Tide!!). Price wanted me to demonstrate the firing a of Civil War era musket. Well....I do not own one, so I can't really do it myself - I believe Price thinks I am an reenactor, which I find curious. Thanks be to Youtube! I found Mike the NPS ranger at Fort Pulaski Georgia giving a splendid demonstration complete with the proper commands.

Now from what I understand, a good soldier could get off three aimed shots in a minute. Seems like a tall order to me, especially when everything around you is exploding. But what do I know? See you next time on Office Hours - and keep the questions coming. I answer all of them...and I might just feature yours right here!



  1. Scott A. MacKenzieJanuary 16, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    It looks so easy, but try doing it while standing in ranks while someone is shooting at you.


  2. No kidding - nothing I would ever want to do!

  3. You may not be a reenactor, but i' ll bet that 150 years from now a fifty five year old man pushing 240 lbs. will don fashion sunglasses and sit down at a "laptop" to "blog".

    Misguided parents will somehow believe that seeing this will be "good for the kids".

  4. Scott A. MacKenzieJanuary 16, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    Making matters worse, the Enfield musket was difficult to reload while prone, so you couldn't lie down to take cover. It was suicide. Fortunately the soldiers themselves adopted new tactics like digging trenches to cope with rifle fire. Still, combat is combat - men will die no matter what.

  5. Keith,

    When I demonstrate the loading and the firing of a musket at school presentations, I mention that a really good soldier could get off three shots a minute.

    I then inform them that with such rates of fire, there could never be anything like a "civil war drive-by" as the members of such would have to circle the block, reloading all the while to come back and fire again!


  6. You may be on to something, Pat. Ahhhh - one can only hope :)

  7. Yes Neil - I can see where that might be a problem.

  8. I have been reading that people did try to reload from the prone position, but had to roll over on their backs to do so. Still...a difficult move I suppose. I need to get a rifle and try some of this. I understand reloading while on the run was next to impossible as well.

  9. He's not gonna kill many secesh with just powder and wad in that thing. ;-)

  10. No - I do not suppose that he will. Lucky for the Rebs, I guess.