Re: 1st Usage of Spencers in Civil War?
I didn't see that article, but it MAY have been just a specific model, such as the later one with the Stabler Cutoff, although I BELIEVE that one was actually the Spencer Model 1865...
The OTHER question is the word "issued." Many Spencers were actually purchased by soldiers and units privately before they were issued.
But Spencer's were used both at Gettysburg, (It was Butlers Spencer's AND Battery B, 4th US with Napoleons that stopped them....I did a paper on Federal Field Artillery in the CW, and used a book written in 1896 by a gunner in that battery that fought at Gettysburg as a reference, and HE mentioned the "hot fire" from the Cavalry's Spencers that day...)but also in the West.
Wilder's Lightning Brigade of mounted Infantry, at first. was supposed to be armed with Henry's, paid for by Wilder, with the agreement that the soldiers would pay him back in installments and they then would own it. To raise the money, the Good Colonel mortgaged his Greensburg, Indiana, farm.
However, the deal for the Henry's fell through, so Wilder contacted Spencer, who was able to provide them with the Spencer Rifle, not carbine, and a quantity of ammo, along with bayonets. Some of the troopers actually started paying him back before Wilder "shamed" the US government into buying them for them, and paying him back. While these MAY have been considered "issued," they were FIRST contracted for privately. This happened a lot in the war, at least in the first years.
This was in 1862, and the first use of them was at Tullahoma Gap (If I remember the name right) when Wilder's 1500 men rode their mules (actually "lost control" of their mules is closer to the truth) through the gap and held off Braggs 35,000 on the other side with their Spencer's until the regular Union Infantry could come double quick time and take the field. This is what opened the West to the plains of Tennesee so quickly, Bragg had thought the Union could be held in the Mountains.
Then all through the war, and especially at Chickamauga, where they and Thomas' Corp and Eli Lilly's 10 gun battery held the field until everyone else retreated back to Chattanooga, they used the Spencers with deadly affect.
SO since Chickamauga was just after Gettysburg (Longstreet's Gettysburg veterans shipped quickly by rail to reinforce Bragg is pretty much what won it for the South), the idea there were NO Spencers until the fall of '63 is wrong.
And that was the Spencer full length Infantry RIFLE. There were many more cavalry carbines used, and I believe they were actually used in combat FIRST.
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Last edited by polishshooter; 08-13-2006 at 10:30 PM..