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were used in many varieties of form. Theory would assign, as the shape of highest rapidity, one like that which would be made by the revolution of the waterline section of a fast ship on its longitudinal axis; and supposing the force to have been applied, this would doubtless be capable of the greatest speed; but the rifle-missile must first be fitted to receive the action of the powder in the most effective way. An ellipsoid cone would leave the air behind it most smoothly, but it would not receive the pressure of the gas in a line with its direction of motion; and so of the hollow butt; the gas, acting and reacting in every way perpendicularly to the surface it acts on, wastes its force in straining outwardly. The perfectly flat butt would take as much forward impetus at the edge of the conebase, where the soft lead would yield slightly. And so we find the best form to be a base which receives the force of the powder in such a way that the resultant of the forces acting on each point in the base would be coincident with the axis of the missile. And this, in practice, was the shape which the American experiments gave to the butt of the ball, the condition in which it left the air being found of minor importance, compared with its capacity of receiving the force 1
of the powder. The point of the cone was found objectionable in practice, and was gradually brought to the curve of the now universally used sugarloaf missile or flat-ended picket shown in fig. 1.
This picket has but a single point of bearing, and is driven down with a greased linen patch, filling up the grooves entirely, and preventing "leading" of the barrel, as well as keeping the picket firm in the barrel. This is of vital importance; for no breech-loading or loose-loading and expanding ball can ever fly so truly as a solid ball whose position in the barrel is accurately fixed. A longitudinal missile must rotate with its axis coincident with its line of flight as it leaves the barrel, or else every rotation will throw the point
lowing the butt, and so putting the centre of gravity in front of the centre of resistance, so that it flies like a heavy-headed arrow, while at the same time the powder expands the hollow butt and fills the grooves, securing perfect rotation with easy loading. But the hollow in the ball diminishes the gravity and momentum; the liability of the lead to expand unequally, and so throw the point of the missile out of line, makes a long bearing necessary, producing enormous friction. This objection obtains equally with all pickets having expanding butts, and is a sufficient reason for their inferior accuracy to that of solid pickets fitted to the grooves at the muzzle with a patch. General Jacob says, "I have tried every expedient I could think of as a substitute for the greased patch for rifle-balls, but had always to return to this"; and every experienced rifleman will agree with him. Yet both English and American (governmental) experiments ignore the fact, that the expansible bullets increase friction enormously; and the Enfield bullet (fig. 3) is as badly contrived as possible, being roundpointed, expansible, and with very long bearings, without the bands which in the French and American bullets reduce the friction somewhat. The Harper's Ferry bullet (fig. 4) is better than either the English or the French, and is as good as a loose-loading bullet can be.
direction of the ridges on the shot formed by the grooves will necessarily tend to change the position of the axis of the shot; and the gaining twist is the greatest improvement made since grooving was successfully applied;-to reject it is to rejeet something indispensable to the best performance of the rifle. The flat-ended picket complies with all the requisites laid down; and we will venture to say, that, if any government will give it a thorough trial, side by side with any loose-loading bullet, it will be found preferable to any other bullet, despite the disadvantage of slow loading from using a patch and a tight-fitting ball.
To make the statement conclusive, we give the results of the United States experiments, and a statement of the European as compared with the United States firing, and then the results of Kentucky rifle-firing. With the new trial-rifle at Harper's Ferry, (a target 1 X 216 feet being put up at two hundred yards,) with the American ball, (fig. 4,) the best string of twenty-five shots averaged 3.2 inches vertical deviation, 2.4 in. horizontal deviation. At five hundred yards, the best string of twenty-five shots averaged 10.8 inches vertical deviation, 14 in. horizontal deviation. At one thousand yards, 26.4 vertical deviation, 16.8 horizontal deviation. In another trial with the new musket-rifle, the mean deviation at two hundred yards was 4.4 vertical, 3.4 horizontal.
In a comparison of the power of French, English, and American rifles, it was found that at two hundred yards the American gun averaged 4.8 vertical and 4.5 horizontal deviation. The Enfield rifle gave 7 in. vertical, 11.3 horizontal; the French rifle à tige, 8 vertical, 7.6 horizontal. A Swiss rifle, at the same
The only detailed reports of General Jacob's practice are at one thousand yards or over, at which his shell averaged 31.2 in. horizontal deviation, 55.2 in. vertical; not far from the range of the Enfield. His bullet is fig. 5. 5
But long ranges test less fairly the accuracy
of a rifle than short ones, because in long flights they are more subject to drift of the wind, etc. We shall compare the government reports of shooting at two hundred yards with that of the Kentucky rifle at two hundred and twenty, the usual trying distance. At that distance, the American gun gave
.8 in.; both at two hundred and twenty yards, and better than Mr. Chapman's report. In the northern part of the State of New York, the practice at shootingmatches is, at turkeys at one hundred rods, (five hundred and fifty yards,) and a good marksman is expected to kill one turkey, on an average, in three shots, and this with a bullet weighing from two hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty grains, while the army bullet weighs five hundred and fifty-seven. The easily fatal range of the bullet of two hundred
and forty grains is a thousand yards; and farther than that, no bullet can be relied on as against single men.
In breech-loading guns, much must be sacrificed, in point of accuracy, to mere facility of loading; and here there seems room for doubt whether a breech-loader offers any advantage compensating for its complication of mechanism and the danger of its being disabled by accident in hurried loading. No breech-loading gun is so trustworthy in its execution as a muzzle-loader; for, in spite of all pre
cautions, the bullets will go out irregularly. We have cut out too many balls of Sharpe's rifle from the target, which had entered sidewise, not to be certain on this point; and we know of no other breechloader so little likely to err in this respect, when the ball is crowded down into the grooves, and the powder poured on the ball,- as we always use it. The government reports on breech-loaders are adverse to their adoption, mainly because they are so likely to get out of working order and to get clogged. We have used one of Sharpe's two years in hunting, and found it, with a round ball at short shots, perfectly reliable; while with the belted picket perhaps one shot in five or six would wander. Used with the cartridge, they are much less reliable. They may be apt to clog, but we have used one through a day's hunting, and found the oil on the slide at night; and we are inclined to believe, that, when fitted with gas rings, they will not clog, if used with good powder. The Maynard rifle is perfectly unexceptionable in this respect, and an excellent gun, in its way. The powder does not flash out any more than in a muzzle-loader. Of the other kinds of breech-loaders we can say nothing from experience, and should scarcely recommend using one for a hunting-gun. One who has used a rifle of James, of Lewis (of Troy, New York), Amsden of Saratoga, (and doubtless others in the West are equally famous in their sections,) will hardly be willing to use the best breech-loader. There is no time saved, when the important shot is lost; and the gun that is always true is the only one for a rifleman, if it take twice the time to load.
In the rifling of cannon, there seems to be no reason why the same rules should not hold good as in small arms. The gaining twist seems more important, from the greater tendency of the heavy balls to strip; and there being less object in extreme lightness, the gun may be made a large-sized Kentucky rifle on wheels; and there is less difficulty in loading with the precision that the flat-ended picket
requires. In the cannon, even more than in the rifle for the line, there is no gain in getting facility of loading at the expense of precision. If, by careful loading, we hit the given mark twice as often as when we load in haste, it is clear how much we gain. The breech-loader seems to be useless as a cannon, because that in which it has the advantage, namely, rapidity of loading, is useless in a fieldpiece, where, even now, artillery-men can load faster than they can fire safely. Napoleon III. has made his rifled cannon to load at the muzzle, and practical artillerists commend his decision. The Armstrong gun, of which so much is expected, we confidently predict, will prove a failure, when tried in field-practice in the hurry of battle, if it is ever so tried. It is a breech-loader of the clumsiest kind, taking twice as long to load as a common gun, and very complicated. Its wonderful range is owing to its great calibre, -sixty-four pounds; but even at that, it furnishes no results proportionate to those given by the Napoleon cannon, or by our General James's recent gun.
The great anticipations raised by the general introduction of the rifle, and its greater range, of such a change in warfare as to make the bayonet useless, seem to have met with disappointment in the recent wars. No matter how perfect the gun, men, in the heat and excitement of battle, will hardly be deliberate in aim, or effective enough in firing to stop a charge of determined men; the bayonet, with the most of mankind, will always be the queen of weapons in a pitched battle; only for skirmishing, for sharp-shooting, and artillery, will the rifle equal theoretical expectations. Men, not brought up from boyhood to such constant use of the rifle as to make sure aim an act of instinct with them, will never repel with certainty a charge of the bayonet by rifle-balls. With men whose rifles come to an aim with the instinctive accuracy with which a hawk strikes his prey, firing is equivalent to hitting, and excitement only makes the aim surer and more prompt; but such must have been
hunters from youth; and no training of the army can give this second nature. American volunteers are the only material, outside the little districts of Switzer
it won't make his bayonet a shield for a ball from the rifle of a man who has learned, by the practice of years, not to throw away a ball or to fire at random;
Wellington's army over a cotton-bale intrenchment, in the face of a double line of Kentucky rifles. It is very well to sing,
"Riflemen, riflemen, riflemen, form!"
land and the Tyrol, who can ever be train--it couldn't carry the bravest men in ed to this point, because they are the only nation of hunters beside the Swiss and Tyrolese. The English game-laws, which prevent the common people from using fire-arms ad libitum, have done and are doing more to injure the efficacy of the individual soldier than all their militiatraining can ever mend. In the hands of an English peasant, "Brown Bess" is as good as a rifle; for he would only throw the ball of either at random. Discipline is wonderful and wondrously effective; but, in the first place, it won't make a man a ready and accurate shot, in time of excitement; and, in the second place,
but where are the riflemen? Can Britannia stamp them out of the dust? or has she a store of "dragon's teeth" to sow? God grant she may never have to defend those English homes against the guns of Vincennes! but if she must, it is on a comparatively undisciplined militia she must depend;-and then she may remember, with bitter self-reproach, the lesson of New Orleans.
A TRIP TO CUBA.
COMPANY AT THE HOTEL.-SERVANTS.
I Do not mean to give portraits of the individuals at our hotel. My chance acquaintance with them confers on me no right to appropriate their several characteristics for my own convenience and the diversion of the public. I will give only such general sketches as one may make of a public body at a respectful distance, marking no features that fix or offend.
Our company is almost entirely composed of two classes,-invalids and men of business, with or without their families. The former are easily recognizable by their sad eyes and pallid countenances; even the hectic of disease does not deceive you, it has no affinity to the rose of health. There is the cough, too, -the cruel cough that would not be left at the North, that breaks out through all the smothering by day, and shakes the weak frame with uneasy rocking by night.
The men of business are apt to name