This lead projectile still has remnants of the dried, chalky clay-like dirt it was found in. It is a Minié ball (minie ball) and is a type of muzzle-loading, spin-stabilizing rifle bullet named after its co-developer, Claude Etienne Minié. It came to prominence in the Crimean War (1853 to 1856) but Minié-derived weapons became the most common firearm in the American Civil War due to their accuracy.
The bore of this new rifle had grooves (“rifling”) in it which slowly twisted as they went from the back to the front of the weapon. The back of the bullet had a conical base with three rings which expanded when the gun powder was ignited. The base then filled into the barrel’s rifling which gave the projectile a spin, thus making it much more accurate. The adoption of this ammunition allowed soldiers to reload their rifled muskets faster and fire them more accurately. This increased the lethality of weapons used on the battlefield and effectively rendered conventional line infantry tactics obsolete.
This musket ball still has remnants of the dried, chalky clay-like dirt it was found in. It was either fired from a smooth bore musket, or a rifle that fired round balls. This type of weapon had been in use since the 16th Century, and was not very accurate, hence the phrase, “Wait until you see the whites of their eyes!” first used in 1743 when Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw warned his Regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, not to fire until they could “see the white’s of their e’en.”
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