This fired bullet (Minie Ball) and firing cap were fired only hours before the end of the Civil War, and just two miles from where General Lee surrendered to grant on April 9th, 1865. Lee's forces were trying to escape Grant's army but at 4:00 pm General Robert E Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.
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.
Special Note - Firing Cap: These tiny primer caps are very difficult to find with metal detectors! Thin and fragile, our relic hunters word tirelessly to locate them, and we conserve each one by hand in our Conservation lab.
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