Common Guns in the Civil War
577 Enfield Musket
The .577 British rifle musket made at their armory at Enfield Lock
fired the same Minie ball and
paper cartridge ammunition as the U.S.
Springfield rifle musket. The British Enfield was popular with many
soldiers during the Civil War. The Enfield and Springfield muskets
were nearly the same identical length, weight, and used the same kind of
The mass conscript armies of both sides in the American Civil War
overwhelmed the ability to make enough guns. Particularly during
the first years of the Civil War, many foreign muskets were imported, by
both sides. Sometimes the North bought them up to keep the South
from getting them.
The Enfield musket was first produced in 1853 at the Royal Small Arms
Factory located on an island in the Lee River, drawing the name from
Enfield Lock for water transportation. The army munitions factory
opened here in 1816 and closed as recently as 1987. The
Enfield rifle musket was capable of grouping its shots into a 4 inch
circle at 100 yards and could hit a man at 600 yards. The 500
grain bullet could penetrate 4 inches of timber at 1000 yards, probably
using pine. The Enfield first saw serious service in the Crimean
War and was the British shoulder arm in the Indian Mutiny.
The Enfield had a finely adjustable rear sight. The
rear sight came with two leaves for adjustment to the three ranges of
100, 300, and 500 yards. The Enfield rear sight could be adjusted for any
range using a friction cross bar on a standing leaf. In
recreational target shooting, my Dad enjoyed make small adjustments in
the rear sight of his Enfield. The difference in actual battle was negligible.
See U.S. 58
Springfield for more information.
The Enfield was carried throughout the British Empire. Muzzle
loading Springfields were adapted to cartridge breech loading with the
Allen conversion trapdoor. The Enfield was similarly altered by a
different design known as the
||950 feet per second
||1,000 foot pounds
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