Museum Special Exhibit Online - May 2010
Civil War Collection report by Jared D.
Most of the cavalry men carried carbines. It was basically a rifle with a shorter barrel. They were used because they were able to move around better because they were a lot smaller. That would come in handy while riding on horseback. Since they had shorter barrels they were less accurate and had to chamber a smaller round. One exception to this was the sharps carbine. It was designed with a sharpshooter in mind. It was one of the most accurate carbines in the civil war and to balance things out it would carry half the ammo than a soldier because it wouldn't miss. It mainly held a .56/50 or a .44/40 caliber round. They were also revolutionary because they were one of the first types of guns to use cartages. One other feature is that some of them were breach actions. This meant that instead of shooting one round at a time, like a musket, you could turn a lever and it would open by the back sights. Some were single shot and some held more. Because of this they could hold more rounds and could put out more rounds down toward the enemy in a minuet than a musket could in three or four. Because of its ability to send lead down range the army took it up and lead to changes in tactics once again.
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