Back (19th Century)

Muzzle Loaded Artillery, U.S. Civil War, circa 1865

Federal 6pdr
Bronze "6 Pounder" - Smooth Bore Field Gun
6pdr Fixed Round, Solid Shot
6 Pound Solid Shot with "Fixed" Propellant Bag

Smooth Bore Field Cannon and the Advent of the Rifle
Up to about 1850, the smooth bore field cannon was "Queen of the Battlefield". Artillery could reach out effectively to well over 800 yards. At close range (~250 yards) "Canister" shot was used. Canister (a thin-walled container, containing large amounts of bullet-size lead balls) transformed cannon into giant shotguns.
Infantry, armed with the smooth bore musket, could only bring effective fire to bear at under 100 yards. Advancing troops could do nothing but endure the hail of destruction. Field artillery dominated the ground. It had a long reach and infantry suffered for it.

The advent the rifled musket, with improved range and accuracy, put the smooth bore cannon at a disadvantage. Infantry now had the capability to attack opposing gun positions from a much greater distance. Before, artillery was often brought into position in full view of the enemy at 500 yards. Now the exposed nature of manned artillery pieces made them vulnerable. For the first time, massed volleys of long range rifle fire could do more damage to artillery crews than they in return. The dominant role of artillery on the battlefield was threatened.

Night FireThe rifled musket used a conical bullet made of soft lead with a hollow base, known as the Minié Ball. Smaller than the gun's bore diameter it was easily loaded from the muzzle. When fired, the hollow base allowed the bullet skirt to be forced outward making a tight fit which resulted in higher muzzle velocity. Rifling (helical grooves in the barrel wall) spun the bullet providing better accuracy. The bullet's conical shape made for a more massive projectile than a round ball of the same caliber. This development vastly improved the performance of the smooth bore musket. Cannon would benefit by this same technology as well, but that proved to be a much more difficult design challenge.

While the Minié Ball approach was almost universally accepted for muskets, the best approach to a solution for rifled cannon was not clear. Simply scaling up the lead Minié Ball concept to cannon-size would result in a projectile which would be prohibitively heavy and was not an option. Many different concepts evolved and made their way to the battlefield, each with their own advantages and draw backs. Before any one design reigned supreme, muzzle loaders became obsolete in favor of breech loaded designs.

A vast field, late 19th century artillery is a fascinating subject of study. Further explore details of a few items below.
A visit to this website,  civilwarartillery  is also time well spent.

Click on the "Dyer" for Rifled Rounds.    Click on the Round Ball half for Smooth Bore Case!

Dyer Hotchkiss Spherical Case Studded Schenkl