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Cannon balls were usually called solid shot, or round shot, during the Civil War. There were many types of ammunition for artillery. Round shot were used on ships, to smash through the sides of enemy ships, and also against forts, to smash down walls, but were not the favorite type to use against enemy troops. Shells, bombs, shrapnel or "carcasses" were preferred against enemy infantry, until they got close, then the preferred load was canister, case or grape shot. The first types were all hollow projectiles filled with explosive and some type of metal pieces, such as rifle balls, that would scatter when the shell was exploded by a fuse. The second type were all projectiles filled with many small balls, which made the cannon like a giant shotgun, and were very devastating against enemy infantry at close range. The most common types of ammunition carried with the artillery operating with the armies were shells, and canister or case shot.

Cannon balls, and the smaller balls filling a canister or a case shot, or a bag of grape shot, were all made of cast iron. The molten iron was "cast" into a mold, usually a sand mold. After cooling the ball was removed, and the seam around the middle where the two halves of the mold met had to be filed off, along with the sprues where the hot iron was poured into the mold, and the vent sprue which allowed the air to come out of the mold as the liquid iron poured in, and let the caster see that the mold was full.

See the related links below for a more detailed explanation of types of ammunition and the manufacturing process.

These generalities all hold true for the most common type of cannon used by both sides, a 12 pound "napoleon". They were called "12 pounders" because the balls weighed 12 pounds; the guns themselves weighed about a ton, and could be made of iron, or infrequently brass or bronze. There were other types of cannon in use, including some types of rifled guns, which had grooves inside the barrel to make the ball spin. This made rifled guns much more accurate than the smooth bore (no grooves) 12 pounders. Some of these rifled guns required special ammunition, molded to fit snugly into the grooves in the barrel. Armstrong and Whitworth guns were common types of rifled guns. Much bigger guns could be used on ships, which were so heavy that if used on land they would sink into soft ground and get stuck. Dahlgren and Parrot guns were huge cannon used on ships, some of which fired 300 pound balls. Sometimes massive mortars were used to bombard forts, from ships, or if used on land they were fired from railroad flatcars or from specially constructed, heavy-duty platforms. These mortars fired huge projectiles at a high angle, to get over the walls of a fort and explode inside.

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10y ago
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15y ago

Cannonballs were either iron or steel. Some had lots of lead or steel shot, a sort of shotgun shell.

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Q: How were US Civil War cannon balls made?
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Who made the civil war cannon?

pig snout

What is the size of a cannon ball?

the size of the cannon ball depends on the size of the cannon. civil war cannons had cannon balls about the size of a child's head, aprox 30cm across

What did civil war cannon balls look like?

Big, black sphere- shaped cherry bombs

What was the impact Lincoln made on the civil war?

he has no balls

What was the first Civil War cannon?

The main cannon of the Civil War was the 10-pound muzzle loading Parrot Rifle. However, there were many older types of cannon still in use at the beginning of the Civil War. These ranged from Revolutionary-era "grasshoppers" (small 3-pounders made of brass) up to cast iron mortars and cannon.

How can you verify you have a civil war cannon ball?

Were there lead cannonballs during Civil WAr

How was the war at sea fought in world war on?

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What cannons were used most in the civil war?

The primary cannon used was the French made M1857 12 Pounder "Napoleon"

How are cannon balls made you read in the paper that a man was killed when an old cannon ball blew up?

Cannon balls would not blow up. The newspaper must have gotten something wrong - maybe they meant to say a mine blew up. Cannon balls are solid metal - they do damage when the cannon blows them out at high speed like a bullet. Cannon balls can explode, during the civil war era cannon balls were in use that were just a hallow shell of metal and had gun powder and pieces of metal on the inside an di fuse was placed in the cannon ball and when fired the fuse would ignite and then would burn the fuse and ignite the gun powder inside the cannon ball. There were also some cannon balls that would explode on impact using friction strips on the inside that would create a spark and ignite the gun powder on the inside. So yes cannon balls can explode, the type of cannon ball the person above me is referring to is called solid shot, there are a lot other types out there like cannister, and grape shot, and connical shaped rounds and even hexagonal shaped rounds just to name a few, but yes cannon balls can explode

What battles was Old Ironsides in?

Old Ironsides had cannon balls bounce off the sides. The USS Constitution fought the Barbary pirates, served in the War of 1812, and was a training ship for the Naval Academy in the Civil War.

When were stone cannon balls made?

Stone cannonballs have been used for centuries - very common after gun powder made its way to Europe in the 1300s. They became more common during the 1400s through the 1700s.During the US Civil War, cast iron was sometimes used for cannonballs but "gunstone" was cheaper and very effective, depending on the target and type of cannon.