|Civil War Bullets.|
Obviously bullets played a large role in the war. Both sides made literally millions of bullets and fired literally millions of bullets. In fact, it is estimated that over seven million
(7,000,000) were fired during the three day battle of Gettysburg alone. |
Factory workers could make 3,000 bullets per hour. Soldiers sometimes made their own in the field, by melting lead and pouring it into a mold. Unlike the bullets of today, which contain gunpowder, Civil War bullets were either loaded into a musket, with gunpowder poured in before it, or connected to a paper cartridge containing the powder.
Many collectors and history buffs collect these bullets. Many are still being uncovered in fields. Most of them have oxidized and turned white after 140 years. Here are a few of the most common types.
The .58 caliber Minie Ball was the most common bullet used by Northern troops. It is named after Claude Etienne Minie of France, who invented it. It was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1855.
The purpose of the three rings was to capture grease, helping the bullet to slide down the barrel and to clean the barrel of left over gunpowder residue. |
The .58 caliber Gardner was the most common bullet used by Southern troops. In fact, it was patented by the Confederacy in 1861.
Unlike other bullets of the time, the paper cartridge was inserted in the bullet's base. Notice that it has only two rings. |
The .577 caliber Enfield was used by both Northern and Southern troops. It was originally made in England.
The Enfield bullet is smooth, with no rings and is placed inside the paper cartridge upside down. |
The .52 caliber Sharps was designed for a breech loading rifle, meaning one that is loaded in the rear of the weapon.
The cartridge was either linen or nitrate-treated paper, which made it burn hot and fast. This made for more reliable firing conditions. |
The .69 caliber Round Shot was common in the older type muskets, such as those made during the War of 1812. At the beginning of the war, those weapons were still common.
As those muskets were smoothbore, they were only accurate for about 100 yards, versus 1,500 yards for a rifled barrel. That is why they quickly became obsolete. |
The .58 caliber Williams Cleaner accounted for ten percent of the bullets used in the North. It is called a "cleaner" because as the bullet was fired from the gun, it spun, causing the disc on the back to scrape away the gunpowder residue.
As these bullets extended the life of a rifle, the government issued one with every ten bullets. |
The .44 caliber Colt Army was the most common bullet used in handguns. It was used in the 1860 Colt Army Pistol, which was a six-shot revolver.
This allowed the user to fire six shots without reloading. It is estimated that there were over 129,000 1860 Colt Revolvers used in the North during the war. |