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Civil War Cannon Balls 1800s

Cannonball Fragment

Cannonball Fragment

Zoom This! These two artifacts are a fragment of a real cannon ball and two minie balls shot in the Civil War. The Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865, mostly on the eastern half of the United States, and 618,000 Americans died fighting for freedom. It was a battle between the Union from the north and the Confederates from the south. Briefly, cannons were one of the most effective weapons used in the Civil War for both the Union and the Confederates.
The first artifact is a fragment of a real cannon ball shot in the Civil War. Cannons were used in the Civil War very often, targeting charging forces from a distance. It usually took several people and a long time just to load a cannon ball into the cannon. Cannon balls were mainly made out of steel, bronze, or iron and they weighed between twelve and thirty two pounds! Naval and siege cannons, including Dahlgrens and Rodman smoothbores, were among the heaviest and most powerful, ranging up to 2,000 yards and the shells weighed from forty five to ninety pounds! However, the favorite artillery piece in both the Union and the Confederacy was the Napoleon. This is a smoothbore, muzzle-loading, 12-pounder “gun-howitzer.” They were relatively light and portable and the Napoleon was used as both an offensive and a defensive weapon by both armies. Its maximum effective range was around 1700 yards, but it was most effective at approximately 250 yards or less. Without a doubt, the Napoleon inflicted more casualties than all other artillery pieces combined that were used in the Civil War. Overall, cannons were the most powerful and deadly artillery used in the Civil War.
The other artifact is the highly common minie ball. The development of this half-inch lead rifle bullet revolutionized warfare and it was a great factor for the overwhelming number of battlefield deaths. The minie ball, even though it was bullet-shaped, was one of the many artillery projectiles shot in the Civil War. They were expensive, tight fitting projectiles that had to be jammed into the grooves of the rifle’s muzzle, a time-consuming process. They could reach half a mile or more, and an average soldier could easily hit a target 250 yards away! It was the standard bullet for both sides during the Civil War, although neither anticipated the enormous difference this would make on the battlefield. However, the widespread use of the minie balls shifted the balance greatly to the defense’s favor. Nevertheless, cannons and minie balls were some of the most commonly used and brutally effective artillery used in the Civil War.

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Posted in Artifacts 8 years, 1 month ago at 8:47 am.

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