Ridgeway Civil War Research Center,
A virtual examination of artifacts of the American Civil War


Civil War Artillery
by Harry Ridgeway

Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in.
Artillery 2230 Ball wood fuze 15in.

This is the "Ridgeway Civil War Research Center...", a research tool for educational purposes only, and is provided at no cost to the reader. Some of the relics listed are retained in the author's collection, most reside in other collections and are not owned by the author. None of the items listed in this section are for sale, please refer to relicman.com sales listings for items offered for sale. This is a work in progress, I list items as I get to them, there are many patterns that are not listed yet, this list will be regularly updated as I get pictures and descriptions for more items. I will also correct mistakes, so if you see any please tell me. All items listed are believed to be authentic to the Civil War or as otherwise described. Any excavated relics have been recovered from private property with owners permission. This information is available for research purposes, pictures may be used by permission only.
All projectiles listed have been disarmed.

Most information on this page is from:
Field Artillery Projectiles of the American Civil War, 1993 Edition. by Thomas S. Dickey and Peter C. George.
Civil War Heavy Explosive Ordnance, A Guide to Large Artillery Prjectiles, Torpedoes, and Mines, by Jack Bell.
Artillery Fuses of the Civil War, by Charles H. Jones.
Pictures are by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

Weapons used:
Dahlgren smoothbore gun, 15in. Caliber of the gun is 15.0in., (Navy), round projectile diameter should measure 14.75in. approximately, variations will be noted.
Rodman smoothbore gun, 15in. Caliber of the gun is 15.0in., (Army), round projectile diameter should measure 14.75in. approximately, variations will be noted.

The 15 inch ball was the largest caliber cannon of the Civil War. The "Rodman" gun was massive. The Navy mounted them in the center of the Monitor class ships and they were used extensively in the siege of Charleston SC, and Fort Fisher in North Carolina. The army used a wood fuzed version in the defenses of Washington, to defend against a Confederate sea invasion that never developed.


Artillery 2231 Ball wood fuze 15in.
Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, thick walled, Army use, wood fuze, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in.
Projectile was manufactured in the Federal arsenals for the 15 inch Rodman , the heaviest of the smoothbores, this was the army version intended to be used in land forts in defense of Washington and Fort Monroe but no credible Confederate attack ever threatened either of these forts. Fuze employed was a wood time fuze, Jones Fuzes pg. 2, fuze hole is smooth and tapered, the simple to make fuze could easily be hammered into place Projectile measures: diameter 14.85in., weighs about 330 pounds.
Ref: Bell , Heavy Ordnance, pg. 85.

A0657...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, thick walled, Army use, wood fuze, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in.
Projectile was manufactured in the Federal arsenals for the 15 inch Rodman, the heaviest of the smoothbores, this was the army version intended to be used in land forts in defense of Washington and Fort Monroe but no credible Confederate attack ever threatened either of these forts. Fuze employed was a wood time fuze, Jones Fuzes pg. 2, fuze hole is smooth and tapered, the simple to make fuze could easily be hammered into place Projectile measures: diameter 14.85in., weighs about 330 pounds. Wood fuze is missing. Projectile is disarmed, open fuze hole exposes empty interior. Recovered: surplus stocks.
Ref: Bell , Heavy Ordnance, pg. 85.

A0658...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, thick walled, Army use, wood fuze, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in.
Projectile was manufactured in the Federal arsenals for the 15 inch Rodman , the heaviest of the smoothbores, this was the army version intended to be used in land forts in defense of Washington and Fort Monroe but no credible Confederate attack ever threatened either of these forts. Fuze employed was a wood time fuze, Jones Fuzes pg. 2, fuze hole is smooth and tapered, the simple to make fuze could easily be hammered into place Projectile measures: diameter 14.85in., weighs about 330 pounds. Wood fuze is missing. Projectile is disarmed, open fuze hole exposes empty interior. Recovered: surplus stocks.
Ref: Bell , Heavy Ordnance, pg. 85.


Artillery 2232 Ball wood fuze 15in.
Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, thin walled "case shot", Army use, wood fuze, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in.
Projectile was manufactured in the Federal arsenals for the 15 inch Rodman , the heaviest of the smoothbores, this was the army version intended to be used in land forts in defense of Washington and Fort Monroe but no credible Confederate attack ever threatened either of these forts. This version is thin walled, and was intended to be filled with case shot. Fuze employed was a wood time fuze, Jones Fuzes pg. 2, fuze hole is smooth and tapered, the simple to make fuze could easily be hammered into place Projectile measures: diameter 14.85in., weighs about 380 pounds, (empty of case shot).
Ref: Bell , Heavy Ordnance, pg. 86.

A2302...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, bursting shell, thin walled "case shot", Army use, wood fuze, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in.
Projectile was manufactured in the Federal arsenals for the 15 inch Rodman , the heaviest of the smoothbores, this was the army version intended to be used in land forts in defense of Washington and Fort Monroe but no credible Confederate attack ever threatened either of these forts. This version is thin walled, and was intended to be filled with case shot. Fuze employed was a wood time fuze, Jones Fuzes pg. 2, fuze hole is smooth and tapered, the simple to make fuze could easily be hammered into place Projectile measures: diameter 14.85in., weighs about 380 pounds, (empty of case shot). Wood fuze missing, case shot never loaded. Shell disarmed, open fuze hole exposes empty interior. Recovered: surplus stocks.
Ref: Bell , Heavy Ordnance, pg. 86.


Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in., fragments.

A0107...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in., fragments.
Fragment 15 in. Ball, bombardment by the Monitors The 15 in. Rodman gun was installed as the main gun on the Federal Monitor class of ironclads. Using the protective covering, these ships would sail as close to the defending forts as possible, fire these heavy balls into the masonry or earthern defenses attempting to degrade degrade them, all the while that rifled projectiles would be firing overhead. The explosion of these biggest of the Civil War balls would have been spectacular. They were employed primarily against the North Carolina and South Carolina defenses in 1864 and 1865. 35 pound fragment with remains of a fuze hole Recovered: bombardment of Fort Fisher NC.
Frag weighs 34lbs.

A2803...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in., fragments.
Fragment 15 in ball two fuze holes, 58lbs.

A2804...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in., fragments.
Fragment 15 in ball 30 lb.

A2805...Smoothbore artillery projectile, spherical ball, Rodman smoothbore gun, 15 in., fragments.
Fragment 15 in ball, 17lbs.


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