For soldiers in the 5th Minnesota, we could have been issued one of these two Muskets. The M1842, or the M1861 Springfield.
Let's take a look at both of them.
Click this link here for a video showing more about Muskets!
Both of these weapons are MUZZLE-LOADERS. A Muzzle-loader is a firearm that is loaded by putting gunpowder and a seperate
bullet down the muzzle (the opening of the barrel)and then using a RAMROD (A long metal rod used to stuff the powder and bullet
down to the bottom of the barrel). To make the weapon fire, a small cap called a PERCUSSION CAP is placed on a vent called
a nipple. This cap, when struck by the hammer of the musket, explodes and sneds a jet of flame into the barrel through a small
hole. This flame makes the gunpowder explode and send the bullet flying out of the weapon. The earlier model M1842 is a .69
smoothbore musket. It fires a larger bullet, but it is not as accurate. The M1861 is a .58 rifled musket, and although the
bullet is smaller it is also MUCH more accurate. The soldiers of the 5th Minnesota would have carried either of these weapons
when they marched away to war.
|Firing a volley with Muskets
Sometimes, a soldier would be given the order to "Fix Bayonets!". A BAYONET is a long triangular bladed weapon that
can be fitted to the end of the musket. This basically turns the musket into a spear, and was sometimes used when soldiers
got close enough to each other in battle to fight "hand to hand". In truth though, the bayonet was hardly ever used
in the Civil War for fighting. In fact, most soldiers used the bayonet for candle holders and cooking pokers than warfare.
|The "middle guard" position for Bayonet Drill