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FIRST TENNESSEE WEAPONRY

Following on from previous discussions about First Tennessee weaponry, the following quotes may help clarify the situation. It appears that the regiment were primarily armed with the 3-Band Enfield Rifle Musket from the beginning of the war. Occasionally, one assumes, other weapons may have been captured to replace broken or lost weapons, but these would have been in small numbers and would need to match the same calibre of the .577 Enfields.

Enfield Rifled Musket
Enfield Rifled Musket

When stationed in East Tennessee in July 1861, Colonel George Maney's regiment had 944 men with "rifle muskets". Out of 19,400 Infantry available to the Provisional Army of Tennessee, the First Tennessee were the only regiment to be fully armed with this weapon, the others being mostly armed with "flint-lock" or "percussion muskets" (O.R. Series I, Volume LII/2/110).

A proud sergeant in the First Tennessee wrote on March 29, 1862:

"We have Drew the finest Arms in the Confederate states they were made last year they are Enfield rifles."
(Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee, Larry J. Daniel, p.43)

The Twenty-Seventh Tennessee (later to be consolidated with the First) at Shiloh were equipped with Enfields:

"The regiment pressed forward for some distance, driving the enemy before us; and we could see the telling effect of our Enfields, as their dead were unmistakable evidences of our fire."
(The Military Annals Of Tennessee. Confederate. Edited by John Berrien Lindsley, Nashville 1886. p.419.)

In August 1861 at Big Springs, Virginia, after a night of rain, Company H, 1st Tennessee came upon some Yankees, and both sides tried to fire on each other, but the damp powder failed to ignite. Sam Watkins recounts the events:

"I raised my gun for the purpose of shooting, and pulled down, but the cap popped. [The Yankees] discovered me and popped three or four caps at me; their powder was wet also. Before I could get on a fresh cap, Captain Field [sic] came running up with his seven-shooting rifle, and the first fire he killed a Yankee. They broke and run. Captain Field [sic] did all the firing, but every time he pulled down he brought a Yankee. I have forgotten the number that he did kill, but if I am not mistaken it was either twenty or twenty-one, for I remember the incident was in almost every Southern paper at that time, and the general comments were that one Southern man was equal to twenty Yankees."
(Sam R. Watkins, Co. Aytch, Bell Irvin Wiley Edition, 1952, pp.52-53)

This confirms that Company H at least were using percussion not flintlocks in 1861, and that the seven-shot rifle was a most potent weapon, especially in the wet. I would like this weapon to have been the Spencer Rifle for obvious reasons (J.D.), but is more likely to have been a Le Faucheux Revolving Rifle firing 11mm pin fire cartridges or Volcanic Lever Action Rocket Ball .36" or Rim Fire .44" Carbine. Don't you all go out and buy one though, it's only for the officer!!

By Mike Bussey