Yes, I am well aware of use of the Spencer during the ACW. But from what I have read I understand that they were also used during the Indian Wars. I had thought that they may have been carried by US troops engaged at the LBH. Thank you.
The troops at the Little Big Horn used a .45-caliber (.45/55 or .45/70), Model 1873 Springfield carbine (single-shot) and an 1873, 6-shot, .45-caliber Colt, single-action revolver. The carbine had a 1,000+ yards maximum range and a 250 yards maximum effective range. The carbine could reach a range of 2,800 yards before the bullet would fall below the minimum of 300 feet per second, and weighed about 7.5 pounds. It was manufactured by the National Armory of Springfield, MA.
The Model 1873 Colt Single Action Army revolver could reach 700 yards before the minimum velocity was achieved.
All 90 unfired cartridges retrieved during the 1984 – 1985 archaeological dig were determined to be .45/55 rounds. “All ninety rounds were identified as carbine by the presence of either the wad… or tube liner…. Only three rounds exhibited evidence of the tube liner….” [Scott/Fox/Connor/Harmon, Archaeological Perspectives on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, 168 – 175]: 30 were found in the Custer area of fighting; 60 were found on the Reno-Benteen field.
The ammunition for the .45-caliber carbines and rifles was manufactured by the Frankford [Bridesburg/Philadelphia, PA] Arsenal from January 1874 to July 1882. From March 1874 to July 1874 carbine rounds were head-stamped, “U. S. Carbine.” Starting in March 1877, head-stamping began again, a “C” designating carbine, an “R” for rifle. In addition, the date of manufacture was included, as was the arsenal (“F” for Frankford). Military ammunition used in 1876 was not headstamped, but did have a distinctive style of crimping near the base of the cartridge.
1SG John Ryan, in an August 29, 1909, letter to Walter Camp, wrote: “At the time I possessed a seventeen-pound Sharp’s telescope rifle, made for me in Bismarck, which cost me $100. I used infantry ammunition, 70 grains of powder, which I procured from First Sgt. Wm. F. Bolton of Co. G, 17th U. S. Infantry, before going out on this trip. I gave him some of our carbine ammunition in place of it.” The telescopic sight was, in all likelihood, a 30"-long William Malcolm three-power sight, made in Syracuse, New York, and widely considered the best available. Malcolm’s scopes had achromatic lenses providing better target definition, “with a flatter field of view and a clear definition at the edge of any target.” They also had accurate windage and elevation adjustments. “The action was a falling block, breach-loading, single shot. Triggers… could be single or double set,” allowing for reduced trigger pull. The barrel was probably octagonal and 32" long.
CPT Tom French—Ryan’s commander—carried a “Long Tom”—or “Big Fifty”—infantry rifle, an old Springfield, .50-calibre, 425-grain bullet using 70 grains of black powder, breech-loader.
Custer carried a Remington Sporting rifle, octagonal barrel; two Bulldog self-cocking, English, white-handled pistols, with a ring in the butt for a lanyard.
One trooper-- BSM Bailey of I Company, was reputed to have carried a shotgun, but this is unsubstantiated.
Post by benteeneast on Jun 10, 2016 7:22:43 GMT -5
The chamber for the rifle and carbine are the same size. The ammunition differed by the amount of black powder in the case with something needed within the case that had less than 70 grains of black powder. A cardboard tube was one of those solutions to take up the space distance.
Notice that the Y axis is in yards. Try drawing a line at the height of a man or even a man on horse and you will the limitations of a .45-70.
The illustration above of the .45/70's trajectory to impact at 1,600 yards paints a little too dark a picture of the Springfield carbine's capability in my opinion. At more likely combat ranges the picture is not so grim.
Using the muzzle velocity from the carbine of 1,166 FPS as obtained in tests at Springfield Armory, August, 1876, firing the .45-55 405 cartridge, as input to Norma's ballistic calculator I find the following:
With the sight set to strike a target at 200 yards, the Mid-range Trajectory (height of greatest rise above the line of sight during the bullet's parabola from muzzle to target) is 15 inches. Aimed at the center of a 68 inch high target 200 yards distant, a strike on the target would occur at any range from the muzzle to 274 yards; that is at 274 yards the bullet would just fall 34 inches below the line of sight.
The carbine's loopiness does come in to play when shooting at a 300 yard target. The MRT increases to 37 inches and a dead space some 85 yards in length, where the bullet will be above the top of the target, occurs 114 yards from the muzzle and continues to approximately 200 yards. However, a strike will occur on the 68 inch target at any range between 200 and 354 yards.
It's interesting that during the 1876 test mentioned, a Winchester 1873 rifle in .44-40 gave a muzzles velocity of 1,127 FPS, about 3% slower than the Springfield. I'd take from that that however loopy the Springfield was, the Winchester was just a little more so.
Certainly the .45-55 did not perform like a smaller caliber, high-velocity cartridge but then again neither did any other cartridge of its era.
The choice of rifles in this period is often pointed to as an example of military stupidity Weapons able to hold multiple rounds were used in the civil war with great success but after the war when it was decided to rearm the army and select a different rifle extensive testing was done. One of the concerns with multi shot rifles was that soldiers would shoot a lot of rounds but marksman ship would suffer. They were still living in the era of the minute men behind trees picking off red coats. The springfield had a range much greater then the winchester rifles possibly the Springfield would have been an excellent weapon for the infantry for laying down a long range base of fire. While the cavalry was primarily a branch for getting up close quickly to the enemy would not need such a long range weapon but would need to repeatedly and quickly fire on an enemy.
Spencers were carried by the 7th Cavalry at the Washita, and for a time afterwards.
I believe the attached troopers from the 2nd Cavalry (27 of them?) that Fetterman had in 1866 were armed with Spencers. But Fetterman's infantry still had rifles without the .50-70 Allin trapdoor conversion. But the infantry at Ft. Phil Kearny had received converted 1866 Springfields in time for the Wagon Box Fight and the Hayfield Fight.
This is off topic from the original question (asked a year ago), I know, but it is another example of cavalry in the west using Spencers.
Last Edit: Jun 23, 2017 15:37:02 GMT -5 by sgttyree