alternate englands - belated questions

minnow at minnow at
Mon Feb 14 19:47:50 EST 2005

Ania wrote

>Sorry all, more about guns! Quote from link from previous post:
>Chronicling the enormous impact of technology on the history of war. This
>programme looks at the Springfield rifle, which helped the Union Army win
>its decisive victory at Gettysburg. Having greater range and speed than
>previous weapons, the Springfield helped pave the way for the industrialised
>carnage of the First World War.</>
>-there's the WWI connection I was grappling for.

Yeahbut -- Mauser and St Etienne semi-automatic rifles were in use in WWI
from the first, and those were German and French, not American.  The US
forces brought the Springfield with them, but it certainly wasn't that much
better or more noteworthy than the French and German equivalents -- was it
even a semi-automatic before the redesign in the 1920s, someone?  The war
got on without the Springfield for quite a while before the US Army arrived
with it anyway.

I'd've said that if what you wanted was mechanised slaughter, the Gatling
or the Maxim would be more to the point as an origin than the Springfield
rifle.  A machine gun or sub-machine gun rather than a rifle, for carnage,
surely?  Machine-gun nests rather than rifle-nests win one the VC for
taking them.

Alternatively, any gun that was used by the winning side in any war could
be said to have "helped pave the way" for the carnage of the next war, or
the one after.  What was the weapon used in the squares at the Battle of
Waterloo, and did that help pave etc?

The Springfield may have been the first gun that was mass-produced for use
in the slaughter of one army by another; but my bet would be that there was
certainly some gun in use in the Crimea, over which the Springfield at
Gettysburg, ten or twelve years later or however long it was, was an
improvement (I wonder what they mean by "greater speed": the bullet goes
faster?  One can reload more quickly?), and in the Boer War, and the Boer
War one was probably better than the Springfield (which got redesigned in
1903, quite likely _because_ the whatever it was in the Boer War was better
in some way).  It's just one in a long line of improved ways to kill
people, and happened to be the one that the US Army plumped for at one

(it was a pity, so it was, this villainous salt-petre should be digged out
of the bowels of the harmless earth.)


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