|Ridgeway Civil War Research Center,
A virtual examination of artifacts of the American Civil War
|Civil War Artillery|
|by Harry Ridgeway|
|A0020...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, "case shot", Confederate copper time fuze, lead side-plug, smoothbore 24 pounder, 5.8in. |
Ball is Confederate wartime manufacture for the light smoothbore "Napoleon" cannon using the copper time fuze designed to detonate in the air above the target, spreading fragments against troops in the open field. Those with side plugs were generally configured as case shot (approx 18lbs. with iron balls), those without side plugs are usually "common" (approx 12lbs.) and without balls. This shell is "case shot" and employed a side plug as a way to load iron balls into the shell. Conventional case shot shells were usually filled with soft matrix and lead balls, an auger would be used to drill through the lead balls and the matrix to create a void for the powder train. Because of a shortage of lead, the Confederates substituted iron balls. To drill through a mixture of matrix and iron balls would be difficult, so a sizing rod would be inserted through the fuze hole to reserve a void for the powder, the iron balls and matrix would be loaded through a side hole, once loaded the side hole would be plugged, the sizing rod would be removed, and the powder train would be filled. This one was sealed with a lead side-plug. Fuze employed was a Confederate copper time fuze, short pattern for spherical projectiles, with flange and spanner holes, the fuze hole is recessed to seat the flange flush with the curvature of the ball, (Jones pg. 38). Projectile measures: diameter 5.68in., weight 11.5lbs, (empty without balls), balls 5.2lb, total 16.7 lb. Shell was found without a fuze, balls as shown all came out of this shell. Metal is strong, lead plug intact, fuze missing, balls is cleaned and coated inside and out and balls have been retained. Most of the balls have prominent casting sprue. Projectile is disarmed, all remnants of powder are removed. Recovered: Bermuda Hundred, Virginia (1864 site).
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 49.
|A0200.09. Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, smoothbore 24 pounder, 5.82in., fragments |
Fragments of 24 pounder ball were all found at "west fort", Second Battle of Winchester. Both case shot and common shot fragments were found. This was a Federal battery, captured by the Confederates. The shells were fired on this fort by the Federal artillery from Milroy's main battery. It is interesting to note that the batteries are nearly a mile apart, which means these shells were fired from a flanking 24 pounder, not a mortar. Milroy's defenses of Winchester in 1863 was a system of three hill top batteries in triangle fashion, this was an elevated inland fort and not a river or harbor fort. Flanking 24 pounder guns had only typically been used in coastal forts, Milroy's hilltop fort was equipped with both 32 pounder heavy guns and these 24 pounder flanking guns, this was unconventional for the period. All of these fragments were recovered from "west fort", Second Battle of Winchester, by Harry Ridgeway and Margaurite Smith.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia
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