Friday, April 22, 2005

Interesting thought on rifles

I know little to nothing about muzzle loaders. The old black powder rifles of the past have never really held my interest. But this article may change that.

During the war for Texan independance there were several battles. Most ended in victory for the Texan forces, and now one historian says he knows why. Rifle technology.
Hundreds in Santa Anna's army carried surplus British East India pattern, smoothbore Brown Bess muskets. Although they fired a hefty three-quarter-inch ball, the guns were no match against the more accurate Kentucky rifles carried by many of Houston's troops.

"The British weapon had a hitting range of 25 yards. Maybe you could hit a target at 50 yards. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess," Mitchell said recently. "On the Texas side, it's hard to know what the percentages are. There were Springfields in Houston's army, muskets of various manufacture, maybe even a few Brown Besses. But the vast majority, probably over 500, carried the weapon of choice — the American Kentucky rifle."

Mitchell said the Kentucky rifle was accurate to up to 200 yards in ideal conditions. But even in the chaos of battle, he said, it was a sure killer at 50 yards.

When the battle ended, the carnage told the tale: Only nine of 910 Texas soldiers were killed, but Santa Anna lost 630 of his 1,300-plus force.
I knew the range on muskets back then was bad compared to todays modenr rifles, and even todays modern muskets, but a 25 yard hitting range is horrible.

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