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


Civil War Artillery

by Harry Ridgeway


Artillery projectile, canister, 3 in.
Artillery 2520 canister 3in.

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.


Artillery 2521 canister 3in.
Rifled artillery projectile, Dyer design, Federal manufacture, canister, pattern with thin iron can, iron top, lead slugs, lead cup sabot, Ordnance rifle, 3 in.
The canister was the artillerist's weapon of last resort. Once the enemy got close to the battery, the gunners would load these rounds, and the flimsy can would burst on firing sending the contents in scatter fashion against the troops charging the cannon. The fire was devastating against the troops but the enemy would be so close that options to reload and shoot would have been limited. The can was constructed of sheet iron shaped into a cylinder, sides are brazed, bottom of the can, also made of sheet, was recessed leaving a lip that was crimped around the sabot. The sabot is cast white metal, rounded bottom and no marks. The can was filled with lead slugs, cut from extruded cylindrical lead bars, packed in sawdust, once filled, the can upper lip was then folded around the top plate.Projectile measures: diameter 2.9in., length 5in. to 7in., approximately, weight 7.lbs.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 58 and 59.


Rifled artillery projectile, Dyer design, canister, Ordnance rifle, 3 in., fragments

A0975...Rifled artillery projectile, Dyer design, canister, Ordnance rifle, 3 in., lead slugs, Dyer canister.
Conventional loading of canister was round balls, either lead or iron. These lead slugs were cut from the feeding stock for the bullet swag machines, and were used in Dyer canister. Recovered: Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia

A0194...Rifled artillery projectile, Dyer design, canister, Ordnance rifle, 3 in., fragments of can and sabot.
Lead sabot sabot does not show distorition from firing, and may have been cut from the the can. Recovered: Frederick County, Virginia., by Harry Ridgeway, 1960's.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia


Artillery 2522 canister 3in.
Rifled artillery projectile, Hotchkiss design, Federal manufacture, canister, pattern with thin iron can, iron top, lead balls, lead cup sabot, Ordnance rifle, 3 in.
The canister was the artillerist's weapon of last resort. Once the enemy got close to the battery, the gunners would load these rounds, and the flimsy can would burst on firing sending the contents in scatter fashion against the troops charging the cannon. The fire was devastating against the troops but the enemy would be so close that options to reload and shoot would have been limited. The can was constructed of sheet iron shaped into a cylinder, sides are brazed, bottom of the can, also made of sheet, was recessed leaving a lip that was crimped around the sabot. The sabot is cast lead, inscription is also cast with raised letters, "HOTCHKISS 3 in., JAN,Y 7, 1862 " PATENT". The can was filled with balls, usually lead, packed in sawdust, once filled, the can upper lip was then folded around the top plate. Projectile measures: diameter 2.9in., length 8.0in. (excluding fuze), weight 7.1lbs.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 60.

A0022...Rifled artillery projectile, Hotchkiss design, Federal manufacture, canister, pattern with thin iron can, iron top, lead balls, lead cup sabot, Ordnance rifle, 3 in.
The canister was the artillerist's weapon of last resort. Once the enemy got close to the battery, the gunners would load these rounds, and the flimsy can would burst on firing sending the contents in scatter fashion against the troops charging the cannon. The fire was devastating against the troops but the enemy would be so close that options to reload and shoot would have been limited. The can was constructed of sheet iron shaped into a cylinder, sides are brazed, bottom of the can, also made of sheet, was recessed leaving a lip that was crimped around the sabot. The sabot is cast lead, inscription is also cast with raised letters, "HOTCHKISS 3 in., JAN,Y 7, 1862 " PATENT". The can was filled with balls, usually lead, packed in sawdust, once filled, the can upper lip was then folded around the top plate. Projectile measures: diameter 2.9in., length 8.0in. (excluding fuze), weight 7.1lbs. Nondug canister, fully intact. Projectile is disarmed, contents are packed in sawdust, there never was an explosive charge. Recovered: surplus stocks.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 60.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia

A0265...Rifled artillery projectile, Hotchkiss design, Federal manufacture, canister, pattern with thin iron can, iron top, lead balls, lead cup sabot, Ordnance rifle, 3 in.
The canister was the artillerist's weapon of last resort. Once the enemy got close to the battery, the gunners would load these rounds, and the flimsy can would burst on firing sending the contents in scatter fashion against the troops charging the cannon. The fire was devastating against the troops but the enemy would be so close that options to reload and shoot would have been limited. The can was constructed of sheet iron shaped into a cylinder, sides are brazed, bottom of the can, also made of sheet, was recessed leaving a lip that was crimped around the sabot. The sabot is cast lead, inscription is also cast with raised letters, "HOTCHKISS 3 in., JAN,Y 7, 1862 " PATENT". The can was filled with balls, usually lead, packed in sawdust, once filled, the can upper lip was then folded around the top plate. Projectile measures: diameter 2.9in., length 8.0in. (excluding fuze), weight 7.1lbs. Nondug canister, fully intact. Projectile is disarmed, contents are packed in sawdust, there never was an explosive charge. Recovered: surplus stocks.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 60.

A1042...Rifled artillery projectile, Hotchkiss design, Federal manufacture, canister, pattern with thin iron can, iron top, lead balls, lead cup sabot, Ordnance rifle, 3 in.
The canister was the artillerist's weapon of last resort. Once the enemy got close to the battery, the gunners would load these rounds, and the flimsy can would burst on firing sending the contents in scatter fashion against the troops charging the cannon. The fire was devastating against the troops but the enemy would be so close that options to reload and shoot would have been limited. The can was constructed of sheet iron shaped into a cylinder, sides are brazed, bottom of the can, also made of sheet, was recessed leaving a lip that was crimped around the sabot. The sabot is cast lead, inscription is also cast with raised letters, "HOTCHKISS 3 in., JAN,Y 7, 1862 " PATENT". The can was filled with balls, usually lead, packed in sawdust, once filled, the can upper lip was then folded around the top plate. Projectile measures: diameter 2.9in., length 8.0in. (excluding fuze), weight 7.1lbs. Projectile measures: diameter 2.9in., length 8.0in. (excluding fuze), weight 7.1lbs. Nondug canister, some rust, this was apparently stored in a barn. Projectile is disarmed, contents are packed in sawdust, there never was an explosive charge. Recovered: surplus stocks.
Ref: Dickey & George, Field Artillery (1993 Edition), pg. 60.


Rifled artillery projectile, Hotchkiss design, canister, 3 in., fragments.

A0195.. Rifled artillery projectile, Hotchkiss design, canister, 3 in., base fragment from Hotchkiss canister.
Two lead sabots from fired rounds, showing the expected distortions, fragment of the bottom of the can remain. Note that the bottom of the can is sheet iron and not iron plate. Recovered: Battle Cedar Creek, Virginia by Harry Ridgeway.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia

A0196...Rifled artillery projectile, canister, 3 in., canister plates
Plates were positioned top and bottom of the canisters, the can was crimped around the plates. Thin plates generally were top, thick plates bottom. However Hotchkiss and Dyer canister did not use bottom plates, so the thick bottom plates were probably used in canister with wood sabots. Recovered: Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, by Harry Ridgeway.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia



A0198.. Iron balls, "case shot", "canister", and "grape" shot various different sizes.
Generally small balls were used for "case shot" shells and the larger balls for cans. Recovered: Harry Ridgeway Frederick County, Virginia.
Ridgeway collection, Old Court House Civil War Museum, Winchester, Virginia


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