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Download A Revolution in Arms: A History of the First Repeating Rifles (Weapons in History) epub

by Joseph G. Bilby

“Mr. Bilby takes us through Gettysburg, among other places, showing how the Spencer and Henry rifle played a decisive role.” —The Wall Street Journal “A valuable study. . . . his research is balanced and thorough, his writing is lively and clear. . . . his approach gives the book broad appeal.” —Journal of Military History “This is an outstanding book—accurate, judicious, highly readable.” —North & South “A Revolution in Arms is written in such a good, readable way of a very important time in the history of firearms.”—Rifle Magazine “Well written and researched. . . . certainly should be an addition to your library.”—Civil War Times Historians often call the American Civil War the first modern war, pointing to the use of observation balloons, the telegraph, trains, mines, ironclad ships, and other innovations. Although recent scholarship has challenged some of these “firsts,” the war did witness the introduction of the first repeating rifles. No other innovation of the turbulent 1860s would have a greater effect on the future of warfare. In A Revolution in Arms: A History of the First Repeating Rifles, historian Joseph G. Bilby unfolds the fascinating story of how two New England inventors, Benjamin Henry and Christopher Spencer, each combined generations of cartridge and rifle technology to develop reliable repeating rifles. In a stroke, the Henry rifle and Spencer rifle and carbine changed warfare forever, accelerating the abandonment of the formal battle line tactics of previous generations and when properly applied, repeating arms could alter the course of a battle. Although slow to enter service, the repeating rifle soon became a sought after weapon by both Union and Confederate troops. Oliver Winchester purchased the rights to the Henry and transformed it into “the gun that won the West.” The Spencer, the most famous of all Civil War small arms, was the weapon of choice for Federal cavalrymen. The revolutionary technology represented by repeating arms used in the American Civil War, including self-contained metallic cartridges, large capacity magazines, and innovative cartridge feeding systems, was copied or adapted by arms manufacturers around the world, and these features remain with us today.
Download A Revolution in Arms: A History of the First Repeating Rifles (Weapons in History) epub
ISBN: 1594160171
ISBN13: 978-1594160172
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Joseph G. Bilby
Language: English
Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1st edition edition (November 15, 2005)
Pages: 256 pages
ePUB size: 1956 kb
FB2 size: 1122 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 336
Other Formats: lrf mobi lrf mobi

Joseph Bilby's "A Revolution in Arms" is considerably more than just a treatise upon repeating rifles used during the American Civil War. Rather, it is a careful study of how those weapons were used and how a coherent, although unofficial doctrine eveolved over time. It is a study that required extensive research into obscure primary sources because relevant contemporary official reports were essentially nonexistent. Therefore, "A Revolution in Arms" is a genuinely original contribution to the military history of the Civil War, exploring areas previously unknown and subject only to speculation. Mr. Bilby wisely does not claim too much importance for the firearms at the center of his book; he does not claim that they were a decisive factor in achieving Union victory, although he concludes that they probably shortened the effort.

While Henry and Spencer rifles (and carbines) together are the primary focus of "A Revolution in Arms" because of their relatively widespread use, the book does not neglect other repeaters such as the Colt Revolving Rifle and even delves to some extent into single-shot breechloaders. Nor is the Civil War employment of these arms presented in isolation; instead, a lengthy prewar context is provided and Mr. Bilby continues his narrative with a survey of the military use of repeating rifles in various foreign armies for the rest of the Nineteenth century.

For anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of American Civil War firearms or tactical developments (infantry as well as cavalry), "A Revolution in Arms" is indispensible.
Golden Lama
Great detail and research went into this book. Great resource of information.
This is an unusual book which tells the story of the first two truly successful repeating rifles, the Spencer and the Henry. The author provides a lot of technical detail but the writing style is clear and even non-gunsmiths will understand the concepts. The book begins with a brief but interesting history of the development of firearms and then discusses the evolution of the repeating rifle. The author then goes into nearly every Civil War engagement where Spencers and Henrys played a part. I started this book expecting a dry mechanical treatise. I was pleasantly surprised that the book was brief, to the point, not overly technical. While this is a tome for the serious student of either firearms or the Civil War, I came away from it knowing a lot more about a fascinating subject.
It was with great pleasure that I provided an endorsement for the back cover of Joe Bilby's latest book. Mr. Bilby had done the same for my own latest work, The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fightig Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War, and one always wants to return a favor. However, reading the manuscript I was deeply and genuinely impressed with this effort and truly believe that this work will provide a significant and lasting contribution to Civil War literature. It, therefore, is probably not inappropriate that I repeat this endorsement here:

"Clearly written in a vivid compelling style, A Revolution in Arms is among a handful of works to provide both a comprehensive history of the development of an emerging weapons technology (in this case, the repeating rifle) and how this was ultimately employed during America's great internecine struggle. With this effort, Joseph Bilby has emerged among the front runners of a new school of the study of Civil War military history that is both more encyclopedic and ecumenical in scope and treatment than has been previously available."

Until now, most books on Civil War firearms have tended to focus almost exclusively on the technological development of the weaponry, augmented here and there by the occasional biographical accounts of the main players in the story. A detailed account of how these weapons were used during combat, how they did or did not influence prevailing tactics and combat experience is usually limited to a handful of paragraphs. It is this intertwining of the technical, the biographical with fully developed narratives of how these weapons were used on the Civil War battlefield that makes Joseph Bilby's latest work both interesting and invaluable.

So much of existing Civil War literature has looked upon the story of the evolution of the weaponry and tactics in isolation, as if they somehow sprung up out the ground after the shots fired at Fort Sumter. Current research increasingly is showing that not only can the development of rifled artillery, submarines, ironclads be traced much further back than has hitherto been thought possible, but the story is very much a "tale of two continents." Again, Mr Bilby's work scored high in this regard, and will substantially contribute to a broader and more accurate understanding of how the repeater appeared on the American battlefield.
Joseph Bilby is a prolific writer well known for his research skills.He uses his investigative skills garnered from years as a Military police Officer and later a Chief investigator in his home state to ferret out the facts as opposed to folklore and /or romanticism. Perhaps in no other area of historical writing is this more true than in dealing with firearms. We long have been satisfied to settle for quaint myths seasoned with a little bit of Saturday Morning Westerns fiction! Author Bilby, in A Revolution of Arms: A History of The First Repeating Arms has put those days to a well deserved rest! By resorting to "just the facts" he tackles the Colt, Spencer and Henry with scholarship evident from a man who knows and understands firearms.The impact of these innovative weapons are measured by the historical context in which they were used. There are historians who know something about guns and writers who know something about history. As we re-visit such renowned organizations as Berdan's. Sharpshooters,Wilder's Brigade and the Michigan Cavalry Brigade at Gettysburg it is obvious Bilby knows a great deal about each subject area and shares his knowledge generously! To this end we are all the much richer and this book catapults into the " must have" catagory.No firearms or Civil War Library will be complete without it's inclusion.