basic weapons are battle rifles, sub-machine guns, carbines, and assault rifles, basically versatile yet unimpressive weapons. the BAR is a light machine gun, therefore a support weapon, support weapons have more precise uses and are very good at what they do (such as suppressive fire or accurate sharpshooting) but not much good at anything else.
while individual infatryman's rifle is used for self defense, a support weapon like the BAR is more like a tactical asset for the entire squad.
also this is set just after 1918 so the BAR is still considered a very special, and modern weapon.
that's a misinformed label at worst, and an outdated one at best. all official and or formal sources will call it an "Automatic Rifle" and therefore a machine gun, not an assault rifle. you really cannot compare the BAR to an STG44 or an M2 Carbine.
no, in WW2 it was use as a support weapon, in WW1 it was hardly used at all, by 1918 it was only issued to a few select units as an experimental weapon, it was never issued under regular circumstances during its one year service in WW1.
are you sure? in my entire life i've only ever heard of the BAR being referred to as an assault rifle twice. and they were from casual, hardly knowledgeable sources. i mean the, glaring differences that set a BAR and say an STG44 apart from each other are quite plain as day to anyone who has a lick of sense about firearms. also "Automatic Rifle" does not mean "Assault Rifle" mind you.
yeah the BAR was a good, robust gun. it's only problems were its open-bolt system, (making it more complicated than it needed to be) its small 20 round magazine, (which made it difficult to put down sustained fire) and its slow rate of fire compared to its contemporaries (they said it was to alleviate its small clip size, but they could've just easily increased its round capacity).
Interesting timeline, what's the POD in this alt history why did the southerners decided to give secession another go?.
Also there would have been plenty of ex army kit around the U.S in Virgina they had the Blair mountain rising which was the biggest insurrection since the war most of the miners who fought were vets of the Spanish-American War and the Phillipines Campaign the list of stuff confiscated would have been enough to kit out our Irish army!