In addition to the mountain howitzers and Coehorn
mortars, a few notes may be found concerning the small arms used by the
combatants. The standard weapon for infantrymen at the time of the Modoc
War was the 50-cal. Springfield musket, M1868 or M1870. There are
several references to Springfields in the records and it is assumed that
the infantry companies and most of the artillery batteries were armed
with this weapon.
Most of the cavalry troops, and probably Battery B,
4th Artillery (which was mounted), carried 50-cal. Sharp's carbines,
which fired center-primed ammunition. Troop F was the exception; it
carried Spencer carbines, which used rim-primed ammunition. Hardin (not
in Troop F) wrote that the Spencers were unsatisfactory: "Several men of
that troop told me that the failure of so many cartridges almost caused
panic." He said that the Sharp's carbines rarely misfired.
Ammunition forwarded to the lava beds from the
Vancouver Arsenal included:
40,000 rounds, center-primed, metallic cartridges,
5,000 rounds for Spencer carbine.
4,000 rounds for Remington revolvers, muzzle loading,
2,000 rounds for Remington and Colt revolving
(These last two are probably for the same
In August 1872, several troops of the 1st Cavalry
were designated to receive an experimental Remington single-barreled
pistol. Among the troops were four that served in the Modoc warF,
G, H, and K. If this weapon was issued as scheduled, it is quite
possible some of the enlisted men of these four troops carried them into
actionofficers purchased their own weapons.
The report discusses the Modocs collecting weapons in
the field after the 1st battle of the Strongholdcarbines and
rifles of various makes. They probably collected even more after their
attack on the Thomas patrol, April 26. It may be assumed they were as
well armed as the troops, many of their weapons being army-issue. The
Yreka Union reported in March 1873 that the Modocs had 13
breech-loading rifles, four of them "needle" or Springfield rifles. They
were said to have a number of muzzle-loading weapons.
One weapon not used was poison gas, although it was
recommended by an interested citizen in New Jersey.