PDA

View Full Version : Union troops equiped with Dreyse needle-gun.


BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 06:33 AM
I know many will think this an idiotic idea but I thought it was interesting, I was wondering how exactly would you get the Dreyse needle gun (or an American variant of the needle gun) into use in the US army in the first year of the Civil War? Also I was wondering how I could make the American Civil war become a proxy war between European states with rival factions providing either side with weapons, supplies, monetary support, and maybe even "mercenaries" to train and fight along side the forces of which ever side their country supports? I know who would help the South but I wonder could the Union maybe garner Prussian or Russian support? Maybe Spanish or Portugese or Austro-Hungarian? Or all of them? Just think of it Union forces armed with needle guns being led by Prussian and Prussian trained American officers now wouldn't that be a force to be reckoned with? My idea (be it uneducated and childish with little understanding of history) was that the Prussians and other nations could use this to allow their officers to gain experiance in modern warfare so that they would be one step ahead of their enemies in any future conflicts. So what do you think can it be done within reason or is it just another one of my doomed to fail ASB ideas?

MrP
October 5th, 2007, 06:45 AM
Well, I think official government support is going a bit far, but perhaps Legions of volunteers that the government don't stop. Militant abolitionists supporting the North after '63, maybe . . .

Foreign officers being military observers makes perfect sense, though. It'd make the ACW have a larger effect on the world's militaries if more officers had been watching it all.

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 06:53 AM
Well, I think official government support is going a bit far, but perhaps Legions of volunteers that the government don't stop. Militant abolitionists supporting the North after '63, maybe . . .

Foreign officers being military observers makes perfect sense, though. It'd make the ACW have a larger effect on the world's militaries if more officers had been watching it all.

Thats what I had in mind, the war would start to draw attention of the European powers as well as various groups of rebels seeking to gain experiance so they could lead rebellions in their own nations who would send support to which ever side they saw as right. Now of course the offical governments would do all of this as clandestine as possible of course.

tallwingedgoat
October 5th, 2007, 06:56 AM
I'm a big fan of the Dreyse. Especially since it was invented before the Minie rifle and tactically superior. It does have its problems with gas leakage, making it not fun to shoot, but the higher rate of fire is what matters in battle. HOWEVER, by the time of the American Civil War the Union already had the Sharps rifle which was at least as good if not better. At closer range the Henry Repeating Rifle blew everything else away. The South would love the Dreyse, or any working firearm for that matter. The North might be interested in the early phase of the war when they were short on arms, but not later.

The thing with proxy war is, it only happens when the interests of third parties are at stake. The only major power who wanted a Confederate victory was France. And if Napoleon III wanted to deliver arms to the Confederates he would have a problem delivering them unless his navy go to war with the USN.

I could imagine the South secretly buying arms from Europe before the war, and hoarding some Dreyse Needle Guns, but a large scale fielding of it is unlikely. Probably not affordable also.

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 07:02 AM
Well as to the Dreyse thing I was thinking one of America's great gun makers gets ahold of it and makes improvments to it solving the gas leaking issue , maybe converting it to a metalic cartridge weapon, etc.. Another thought was southerners somehow are able to purchase large amounts of European surplus and somehow get it before the Union is able to get the the blockade fully up and running. Also I was thinking the European powers could send young officers as observers to learn and gain experience of sorts.

tallwingedgoat
October 5th, 2007, 07:06 AM
Well as to the Dreyse thing I was thinking one of America's great gun makers gets ahold of it and makes improvments to it solving the gas leaking issue , maybe converting it to a metalic cartridge weapon, etc.. Another thought was southerners somehow are able to purchase large amounts of European surplus and somehow get it before the Union is able to get the the blockade fully up and running.

Well like I said the Sharps was already the better rifle. It was also successfully converted to metallic cartridge. Why improve on someone else's imperfect design. If the Union had the money they should arm everyman with a Sharps. But those cost 4X that of a Springflied minie rifle.

The Dreyse was not surplus by any means. The Prussians never had enough of them for themselves. The Confederates would be out of luck if they wanted a lot of Dreyses.

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 07:10 AM
Well like I said the Sharps was already the better rifle. It was also successfully converted to metallic cartridge. Why improve on someone else's imperfect design.

The Dreyse was not surplus by any means. The Prussians never had enough of them for themselves.

I was thinking French and English surplus, also I was thinking American gun makers looking at the Dreyse could walk away with the idea of the bolt action improve on it and maybe you could have an American inventor come up with a Mauser like rifle early?

MrP
October 5th, 2007, 07:14 AM
There's a scenario for CSN victory in an ah compilation I have somewhere . . . Dixie Victorious, ed. Peter G. Tsouras, p.38, Ships of Iron and Wills of Steel The Confederate Navy Triumphant by Wade G. Dudley. Some lesser version of that could break the USN blockade, allowing an influx of foreign weapons to the South.

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 07:18 AM
Would it be possible to make the war wider maybe spread to Europe? But I really think it would be interesting to see the Union adopt a metallic cartridge breech loading rifle sometime early in the war as its standard weapon.

tallwingedgoat
October 5th, 2007, 07:19 AM
The French Chesspot was an improvement on the Dreyse, but by then the Remington Rolling Block was the premier rifle, and quickly surpassed by the Mauser 1871.

Neither the Remginton nor Mauser could have been made during the ACW, because those required improvement in metallic cartridge quality. I suppose some sort of Chesspot was possible, but they would be better off converting the Sharps. During this time many breechloaders were being designed. It was not clear bolt action was the way forward.

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 07:22 AM
Could you somehow get the Springfield trapdoor conversion into production early? Also how could I get mass immigration of the Poles and other Slavic peoples to coincide with that of the Irish? Would it be at all possible?

tallwingedgoat
October 5th, 2007, 07:24 AM
Would it be possible to make the war wider maybe spread to Europe? But I really think it would be interesting to see the Union adopt a metallic cartridge breech loading rifle sometime early in the war as its standard weapon.

Metallic cartridge was not all that easy to make. Poor quality control means failure to chamber, failure to extract, and case deformation etc. It took a while to get this perfected. Even during the Zulu Wars the British still had problems with their Martini-Henrys.

It was said just before the Franco-Prussian War started, the political outlook in Europe was a clear blue sky with no clouds in sight. Hard to see how the ACW would spread to Europe. Perhaps if it was delayed into the 1870s? Then you would have Europe in turmoil and the all sorts of metallic cartridge rifles on the market.

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 07:33 AM
Metallic cartridge was not all that easy to make. Poor quality control means failure to chamber, failure to extract, and case deformation etc. It took a while to get this perfected. Even during the Zulu Wars the British still had problems with their Martini-Henrys.

It was said just before the Franco-Prussian War started, the political outlook in Europe was a clear blue sky with no clouds in sight. Hard to see how the ACW would spread to Europe. Perhaps if it was delayed into the 1870? Then you would have Europe in turmoil and the all sorts of metallic cartridge rifles on the market.

I wonder Lincoln does not win 1860 or 1864 but runs again in 1868 and wins also on top of this more and more immigrants pour into an ever industrializing North as the South feeling threatend by the large number of non-Anglo Protestant immigrants and increase in abolitionist and progressivist ideas growing in the North continues to pull away as well as the increasing anger over slavery failing as an economic system which is blamed on Northern tarifs finally breaks away when Lincoln is elected in 1868, of course his election being the straw that broke the camels back. Feel free to point out how wrong I am but it sounds like it could work. Also maybe find a way to avoid any European conflicts up to this point?

Redbeard
October 5th, 2007, 06:04 PM
Im not sure introducing a breech loading rifle in itself will be that significant. I know the Prussian victories in 1864 and 1866 vs. Minie rifle armed opponents often is ascribed to the Needle gun, but IMHO a closer examination will show that superior leadership in combination with a good deal of luck was more important. Anyway the Prussians won in 1870-71 vs. a much superior French rifle - the Chassepot. The Chassepot (Fusil Modéle 1866) outranged the Dreyse by a factor two, was easier to hit with (higher MV and flatter trajectory) and was more reliable. In 1874 it was reintroduced with a metallic cartridge (Fusil Modéle 1874) and M1866s were modified to M1874.

If an important improvement in weapon technology should be pointed out it would rather be the rifled artillery. That again had the artillery outrange the infantry weapons (had not been so since the Minie rifle) and gave the field commander an extremely powerful weapon that could smash any troop concentration within eyesight, even if in contemporary field fortifications (as at Dybbøl/Düppel in 1864).

So instead of 100.000 Needle rifles the Confederates might be better off with 100 of the best rifled field artillery pieces.

Rifled artillery pieces were used in the ACW, and AFAIK usually commanded the field when present, although in small numbers. Throw in 100 rifled pieces in any of the major battles and the side having them ought to have very good chance of winning.

Regards

Steffen Redbeard

Redbeard
October 5th, 2007, 06:14 PM
The French Chesspot was an improvement on the Dreyse, but by then the Remington Rolling Block was the premier rifle, and quickly surpassed by the Mauser 1871.

Neither the Remginton nor Mauser could have been made during the ACW, because those required improvement in metallic cartridge quality. I suppose some sort of Chesspot was possible, but they would be better off converting the Sharps. During this time many breechloaders were being designed. It was not clear bolt action was the way forward.

AFAIK the Sharp rifles were only produced in small numbers and issued to specialist sharpshooter units. The Dreyse and Chassepot were mass production weapons that could equip entire armies - that is quite an advantage. The Chassepot also easily was converted into using metallic cartridges giving it decades more as a modern weapon.

Regards

Steffen Redbeard

67th Tigers
October 5th, 2007, 09:37 PM
AFAIK the Sharp rifles were only produced in small numbers and issued to specialist sharpshooter units. The Dreyse and Chassepot were mass production weapons that could equip entire armies - that is quite an advantage. The Chassepot also easily was converted into using metallic cartridges giving it decades more as a modern weapon.

Regards

Steffen Redbeard

Most Sharps were Carbine models and issued to the cavalry (90,000 Sharps or Richmond Sharps manufactured for cavalry use, some 15,000 of these being pre-war stocks), only 11,000 Sharps Rifles were manufactured during the war and not all those were issued. Those that were, were issued to sharpshooter units, either Battalions (1st and 2nd USSS, 13th Penn. Res. (Rifles) etc.) or later in the war some battalions reformed light companies for skirmish work and some got the Sharps (151st NYSV for example).

The Dreyse gas leak problem is serious. So serious that German practice was not to bring the weapon into the shoulder at all, but to conduct all fire from the hip. The Danes in 1864 and the French in 1870 routinely won the infantry firefights (although not the Austrians in 1866, since they'd adopted the similarly extreme Strosstactik). (Un)fortunately, the Prussians had some really good rifled artillery and plenty of it....

BrotherToAll
October 5th, 2007, 09:50 PM
I wanted to find a way to equip the Union army with a mass produced breech loading rifle in the early years of the war. I also wanted to see if I could some how get the South more weapons, maybe the Brits and French could smuggle surplus weapons through Mexico into Texas early in the war?

tallwingedgoat
October 6th, 2007, 02:19 AM
Most Sharps were Carbine models and issued to the cavalry (90,000 Sharps or Richmond Sharps manufactured for cavalry use, some 15,000 of these being pre-war stocks), only 11,000 Sharps Rifles were manufactured during the war and not all those were issued. Those that were, were issued to sharpshooter units, either Battalions (1st and 2nd USSS, 13th Penn. Res. (Rifles) etc.) or later in the war some battalions reformed light companies for skirmish work and some got the Sharps (151st NYSV for example).

Sharps were not produced in larger numbers because other than the notible exception of the Prussians and Norwegians, most armies thought muzzleloading was the way to go. I recall one article wrote during the Crimean War said the concept of the breechloader was obsolete, I couldn't believe my eyes.

tallwingedgoat
October 6th, 2007, 02:25 AM
I wanted to find a way to equip the Union army with a mass produced breech loading rifle in the early years of the war. I also wanted to see if I could some how get the South more weapons, maybe the Brits and French could smuggle surplus weapons through Mexico into Texas early in the war?

Breechloading existed for a long time before the war, it's just that army leaders didn't like it. Muzzleloading was what they were used to. The Halls carbine was a breechloader bought by civilians since the 1840s maybe earlier. The Norwegians had improved on the concept and introduced the Kammerlader rifle in the early 1840's.

Go to my French Mexico thread, I think that might suit your scenario.
http://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=72893

67th Tigers
October 6th, 2007, 09:22 AM
Sharps were not produced in larger numbers because other than the notible exception of the Prussians and Norwegians, most armies thought muzzleloading was the way to go. I recall one article wrote during the Crimean War said the concept of the breechloader was obsolete, I couldn't believe my eyes.

The British also issued a breechloader to the cavalry (Westley-Richards), following the success of the Sharps in the Indian Mutiny. The Portuguese imported it.

BrotherToAll
October 6th, 2007, 09:57 AM
The British also issued a breechloader to the cavalry (Westley-Richards), following the success of the Sharps in the Indian Mutiny. The Portuguese imported it.

Hmmm....would it be possible to get some sort of breech loader in large number to Southern cavalry?