Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ammunition Distribution Improvisations: Necessity may be the mother of all inventions, but when you're under fire, necessity is a mother. . . especially when your reserve is a mile to the rear.

Markings on this Confederate ammunition box:
96 Lbs
~1000~
Cart. Cal. 57-58
ELONGATED BALL
Richmond Arsenal
Augt. 1864
Pretty much since I began this blog, I have harped on the necessity of keeping ammunition in combat packing.
Last night, I reached over during my insomniac reading period and pulled down Volume III of Douglas Southall Freeman's classic, Lee's Lieutenants. The volume fell open to this paragraph about the fighting around Culp's Hill at Gettysburg:
Despite this inequality of firepower, Confederate losses were light. Steuart had his men well in hand and he instructed them to keep under cover. When his ammunition ran low, one of his staff took three men from the ranks, walked more than a mile to the ordnance train and brought back two large boxes of cartridges to the foot of the hill.
(MBV: Likely two 1000 round crates of .58 caliber minie ball cartridges as pictured above each weighing 96 pounds. This was heavy enough to be sure yet this wasn't much per man when distributed along the firing line. However it was likely all the four men could carry between them -- too bad they didn't have some pack mules.)
There they dumped the cartridges into a blanket, slung the blanket on a sapling and mounted the hill with the sapling over their shoulders. (Page 142.)
Note that this improvisation is evidence that neither the staff nor the ordnance train officers thought ahead to supply the troops during the night the unit spent on the hill before dawn. Proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.

7 comments:

JC Dodge said...

A sturdy satchel to hold bandoleers. Bandoleers to hold stripper clips. 2 spoons per satchel.

Anonymous said...

If only the rebels had some 5.56 muskets they could have had plenty of ammo on them when in the field, don't ya know!

Pericles said...

Companies did not have combat or field trains in those days. All men assigned to the company had combat duties, and only two NCOs in the regiment (QM SGT and Ord SGT) were not in the direct line of fire, and thus able to work logistics. The tactics of the day assumed battles were less than one day activities.

The Army carried this philosophy through the Indian Wars to a large extent, and then found out in the Spanish American War that the US had not kept up with developments in military affairs.

It is not until the 20th Century that the Rifle or Infantry company has a supply SGT, a clerk, or any other support function. Form followed function, and in this case by a number of decades.

PARACLETE said...

In our day and age, it would be good strip/clip their ammo and place in bandoleers with charging spoons. Then place in ammo cans for quick and easy access for speed loading magazines. The ammo can wait there to be used for any period of time.

Sol said...

Its 2015 already. Store your ammo in magazines. Be intelligent and use common magazines for your weapon systems. Store your loaded magazines in systems that can be worn, thrown and otherwise deployed. Rotate used magazines to the rear to be serviced. This is not 1994 anymore and there is no excuse other than laziness not to have a small mountain of magazines per person.

Josh said...

The confederates had major issues with supply, one being that supply leadership was helping the federates by commission or omission. Nearby supply trains were often withheld from the (often close to starving) troops that needed them for no good reason, and then when the troops were pushed out of their positions and the trains threatened, the trains were put to the torch by the troops they were to supply to keep the federates from obtaining them. A lot of the waste and ruin, more so on the confederate side, was caused by the supply system of both warring factions as it was a sickening for-profit enterprise in many instances.

It seems that a decent number of magazines in dedicated pouches and pockets filled with loose rounds will be the typical loadout in modern combat as opposed to bandoliers of stripper'd rounds. The only advantage of strippered rounds is the speed with wich they can be put into the magazine.

Dakota said...

Sol, I have heard about you guys that have a huge mountain of magazines ....loaded and ready for "that" day.... whatever that might be. First of all I do not keep the lions share of my magazines loaded. I am sure I will know when it is time to load them all. Until then I will keep my ammo in ammo cans in strippers and bandoleers. My empty mags are kept in a dust free environment until I need them. I usually take them down and inspect them every year. Many of my magazines are 20 + years old and function perfectly. Having all my ammunition in one place is also a bad idea. I have made provisions in various places that allow them to be grabbed when needed. It might be nice to sit back and see 100 loaded magazines but I can only carry so many of them and I would rather carry ammo than unnecessary extra weight with my M14 steel mags.

To each his own ...but I have no problem with the tried and true system. I also do not run around with a live round in the chamber like some "heroes" out there. Accidental discharges are an embarrassment at the very least.