Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > Speculative History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Speculative History Speculative History Forum - Alternate History, What If Questions, Pseudo History, and anything outside the boundaries of mainstream historical research


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old March 23rd, 2013, 01:02 PM   #1

Fabius Maximus's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Jul 2010
From: Perfidious Albion
Posts: 368
If the Minie ball had never been invented?


Miniť ball - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So yeah, basically my question, as you can probably guess from the title, is what the world would be like if the Minie ball had never been invented and rifled guns never really became practical for line infantry. How would warfare have developed over the years? Would we still be fighting a la Napoleon, or would some other technological advance (bolt-action reloading perhaps?) have significantly changed military tactics? And what, if anything, would this mean for wider political history?
Fabius Maximus is offline  
Remove Ads
Old March 23rd, 2013, 09:38 PM   #2
Lecturer
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 443

Long before the Minie ball was invented , there was the patched lead ball that was fired from a rifled barrel . The Kentucky flintlock rifle .. The British Baker flintlock rifle. In other words that would have been other inventions to have equaled the Minie ball.
McGrunt is offline  
Old March 24th, 2013, 05:29 AM   #3

Fabius Maximus's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Jul 2010
From: Perfidious Albion
Posts: 368

I don't really know anything about the Kentucky rifle, but the Baker rifle was inappropriate for line infantry because the grooves kept getting fouled by powder if they weren't cleaned regularly. The Minie ball represented a major advance because the bottom end would flare out as it was fired, fitting more closely to the grooves and helping to keep them clean.
Fabius Maximus is offline  
Old March 24th, 2013, 06:47 AM   #4
Scholar
 
Joined: Nov 2012
From: Virginia
Posts: 887

The Kentucky rifle and rifles in general werent really practical for sustained fire due to the fouling black powder creates and has a tendency to cake in the grooves. It doesnt take many shots in a muzzle loading rifle burning black powder to clog it up to the point where you cannot continue to load and fire. The rifled barrel muzzleloader was primarily used by sharpshooters at extended distances to shoot at the leadership.

If the minie ball hadnt been invented, I think the next logical step would be the breech loading rifle using a primed cartridge. This would eliminate pouring the powder down the muzzle, starting and then ramming the ball down to the top of the powder, and placing a percussion cap to ignite the charge.

The modern rifled bore shotgun would be a good example of what Im talking about. Even if the weapon is loaded with lead ball, the accuracy would double if not triple in range compared to a muzzle loading musket.
dobbie is offline  
Old March 24th, 2013, 12:09 PM   #5
Historian
 
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 5,944

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabius Maximus View Post
Miniť ball - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So yeah, basically my question, as you can probably guess from the title, is what the world would be like if the Minie ball had never been invented and rifled guns never really became practical for line infantry. How would warfare have developed over the years? Would we still be fighting a la Napoleon, or would some other technological advance (bolt-action reloading perhaps?) have significantly changed military tactics? And what, if anything, would this mean for wider political history?

It would have delayed the rifle replacing the musket slightly, since the previous big problem with rifles was their slow rate of fire. With a round ball, the fit had to be tight to make the rifling in the barrel work effectively. The tight ball made it slower to reload these rifles than the muskets, and for most battlefield applications, the armies chose higher rates of fire over longer range and accuracy.

The advantage of the Minie ball was that you didn't have to have a tight fit to the barrell, since the Minie ball expanded, which meant reloading a muzzle loading rifle with a Minie ball was as fast as a musket. But breech loading rifles were already starting to come in shortly after the Minie ball, and in the American Civil War, where the Minie ball was first used extensively, repeating breach loading rifles like the Spencer and the Henry were already being introduced. So the majority of fighting in the first part of the Civil War might have been done with old fashion muzzel loading muskets, but the later on their might have been an even bigger push to implement the breech loading cartidge (bullet) loading rifles.
Bart Dale is online now  
Old March 24th, 2013, 02:27 PM   #6

Fabius Maximus's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Jul 2010
From: Perfidious Albion
Posts: 368

Quote:
Originally Posted by dobbie View Post
The Kentucky rifle and rifles in general werent really practical for sustained fire due to the fouling black powder creates and has a tendency to cake in the grooves. It doesnt take many shots in a muzzle loading rifle burning black powder to clog it up to the point where you cannot continue to load and fire. The rifled barrel muzzleloader was primarily used by sharpshooters at extended distances to shoot at the leadership.
So was this fouling caused by pouring the gunpowder down the barrel then, or did it also happen when the gun was fired? For some reason I always assumed it was the latter, in which case I'd have thought that even a breech-loading rifle would get fouled (or would this not be a problem with such a gun?). If the former, then yeah, I suppose you could just skip the Minie gun stage and go straight from muskets to breech-loading rifles.
Fabius Maximus is offline  
Old March 26th, 2013, 07:53 AM   #7
Scholar
 
Joined: Nov 2012
From: Virginia
Posts: 887

The fouling does come from firing the weapon, and breech loading weapons will indeed foul when using black powder. Fire a shots out of a muzzle loading rifle and after each shot, youre pushing that fouling towards the breech everytime you reload until the barrel is so fouled up that you cannot start a bullet into the rifling anymore. Breechloaders are slightly more forgiving in that respect.

Breechloading rifles are easier and quicker to clean as well. Youre pushing the fouling out the muzzle.

There were breechloading rifles at the time of the American revolution but the method of sealing the breech made them cumbersome and it wasnt very effective. The Henry rifle, itself an improved Volcanic rifle developed in 1855 was a breech loader using self contained cartridges and the .44 rimfire caliber. The metallic cartridge case solved the problems of sealing the breech properly, and other rifles followed suit.

Last edited by dobbie; March 26th, 2013 at 07:59 AM.
dobbie is offline  
Reply

  Historum > Themes in History > Speculative History

Tags
ball, invented, minie, rifle



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Who invented it? Salah War and Military History 37 September 25th, 2012 03:57 PM
Cannon ball found in a garden in central Scotland Bruce War and Military History 24 November 16th, 2011 06:50 AM
Who invented hummus? Satuf Art and Cultural History 1 July 2nd, 2011 05:42 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.