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Ammunition Supply in the Civil War

Supplying ammunition to the armies of the Civil War must have been a truly Herculean task. The average infantryman was issued 40 to 80 rifle cartridges, with hundreds of rounds per man more in reserve- and that’s just the infantry! This being said, the arsenals of the day were constantly busy with orders. (I know the feeling!)

One particular order from May, 1862 that was shipped to Tennessee from the arsenal in Indianapolis contained the following:

921,000 rifle, elongated ball, with caps, cal. .69 908,000 rifle, cal. .577 221,000 rifle, cal. .54 21,000 buck and ball, with caps, cal. .69 63,000 buck, no caps, cal. .69 52,000 Colt’s rifle, with caps, cal. .54 159,000 Mississippi rifle, no caps, cal. .54 57,000 Colt’s rifle, no caps, cal. .54 30,000 Sharpe’s carbine 601,000 musket round balls, cal. .69

The order weighed 160 tons and required 3,033 wooden ammunition boxes, and may have been intended to resupply ammunition expended by the Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh. When you take into account that there would be many other battles of a similar scale as Shiloh, and that this order only accounts for the infantry of the Union Army, one can only imagine the astronomical figure of ammunition that the armies of both sides expended during the War.

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