Civil War Guns

Shooting a Civil War gun can be fun with instant gratification of the smoke cloud, but requires a safe place with a good high hill as a backstop. The bullet can go a mile, or more, if it escapes over the hill. All of the safety issues that apply to all guns continue to apply, with the biggest being to never to point a gun at another person. Not even as a jest in fun. But there additional considerations for guns made as far back as the Civil War.

Black Powder requires special care as it is more flammable, much more easily ignited, and becomes an explosive in smaller quantities then more modern smokeless propellant powders. Black powder also has shipping restrictions and special storage requirements. There are modern substitutes such as Pyrodex, CleanShot, Pinnnacle, ClearShot, and 777. All of these are safer to ship and store, but they are still flammable. The smoke cloud doesn't quite look and smell the same as the original black powder.

Do not use any other smokeless powder in a firearm made for black powder has been the standard advice for many decades, and for good reason. There are too many injuries from inexperience trying to do so. While such advice isn't exactly true as black powder cartridges are loaded with smokeless powders all the time, there are differences between cartridge and non-cartridge guns that make a seriously unsafe condition whenever smokeless powder is loaded in a muzzle loading gun. Refer to loading manuals such as Lyman's before reloading any type of cartridge, which has a separate manual for reloading cartridges with black powder.

Civil War flags

Civil War flags was a term used for the flags carried by Civil War regiments. Both armies used flags, which they also referred to as colors, to locate their troops on the battlefield, in camp, and while on the march. Battle flags were used to guide soldiers in battle. Wherever the flags went, the soldiers followed. Flags led the charge or led the retreat. A regiment’s flag was carried by a color sergeant who was the central man in the color guard. A color guard was composed of six corporals whose job was to protect the color sergeants and the flags of the regiment. The regiment’s flag was a great source of pride in each regiment and to lose the flag in battle was a great disgrace. The capture of an opponent’s flag was, in turn, a great honor. While infantry regiments had their flags, there were also special flags made for headquarters, the artillery, cavalry, and even the quartermaster and engineers- almost every unit had one! Columns of soldiers marching toward Gettysburg were easily identified by the colorful flags that each unit carried, most having the name of the regiment painted on them.

Memorandum on black powder guns

Up to 1887 there was provision only for the proof of guns for black powder Guns ; but by that time the use of smokeless or nitro powders was commonplace. In that year a proof to cover their use, supplementary to definitive proof, was introduced. The service load of the powder intended for use, i.e. E.C. or Schultze, was then impressed on the barrel at proof. Under the 1896 Rules, proof to cover the use of nitro powders was still supplementary to the ordinary proof for black powder, but the words "Nitro Proof" were introduced as a proof mark.The NP marks were introduced in 1904 but the nitro proof test remained optional until 1925, when new Rules of Proof made it obligatory. By that time most gunmakers had been voluntarily submitting their guns to nitro proof for many years.Except on guns proved since February 1955 the NP marks were always used in conjunction with the words "Nitro Proof". The black powder proof marks remain valid, and a gun bearing them may still legally be used with black powder cartridges, provided it has not undergone any alteration taking it out of the category and state in which it was originally proved. Such alterations include conversion to ejector, rebrazing the lumps, increasing the depth of the chambers to take a longer cartridge or the enlargement of barrels beyond certain defined limits.A gun, through neglect or misuse, may become unsafe even in a short time, and a gun made over fifty years ago may be extremely dangerous.Shooters are therefore urged most strongly to buy only guns bearing the marks of nitro proof and not to permit the use of nitro or smokeless cartridges in any black powder gun already in their possession, until it has passed the nitro proof. If owners wish to use such guns with nitro powders, they should send them to their makers, other gun firm or gunmaker for advice, estimate for preparation in accordance with the Rules of Proof, the carrying out of such work, and submission for nitro proof.The charges involved must of course be paid whether or not a gun passes the proof test, but it is better that any weakness be revealed at the Proof House rather than in the field.Muzzle-loading and black powder proved guns may be reproved for black powder. It will hardly be necessary to point out to members of the gun trade that neither their own interests nor those of their customers can be served by the sale of black powder guns which may have become dangerous. For many years some firms have not sold black powder guns and, in addition, will not do any work to such weapons except preparation for and submission to proof.Such a policy may not be possible in all cases, but apart from any question of legal liability for repairs carried out, it is urged that there is a heavy moral responsibility to point out the age and condition of any of these veteran guns before accepting them for repair.Muzzle-loading arms should never be fired with nitro powders.