Springfield Rifle, Bayonet and Cartridge Box.
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Pictured is the Model 1866 Springfield Rifle. It uses a .50/70 cartridge (50 caliber 450 grain bullet with 70 grains of powder) of center-fire design. This is a surplus rifle converted from the Civil War Rifle-Muskets.
At the end of the Civil War the army was considerably downsized. Although the army desperately needed a breech-loading rifle, the huge financial burden left after the Civil War forced more frugal choices. There were enough new Rifle-Muskets left over from the Civil War to issue ever soldier five. For a cost of $1.44, the 58 caliber Springfield Rifle-Muskets were converted to a .50/70 breech-loading rifle. A sleeve had to be fitted into the barrel and "trap door" added to allow the loading of a cartridge--hence the name Springfield "Trap Door".
The belt of the Infantry soldier was meant not to hold up his trousers, but as a place from which to hang his equipment. Attached to the belt is the cartridge box and bayonet scabbard.
The cartridge box held forty rounds of .50/70 ammunition used in the Springfield Rifle. Originally designed to hold paper cartridges for rifled muskets in two metal tins, the cartridge box made an awkward container for copper cartridges. Many soldiers removed the tin containers and lined the cartridge box with sheepskin so that the cartridges could lay inside without rattling about. As well, a soldier could simply drop two boxes of cartridges into the cartridge box.
By the time an Infantryman on the frontier was close enough to his adversary to use the bayonet attached to front of his rifle barrel, he was likely to be bristling with arrows and liberally punctured with Indian bullets.
The bayonet was kept in a scabbard attached to the belt when not in use. After the Civil War the bayonet was largely an ornamental item. Out West, the bayonet was primarily used only in dress parades. A soldier leaving Fort Larned on a wagon escort detail would likely leave his bayonet behind.
Last update 03/06/2005 by Staff.