The first recorded instance of a punch being thrown was in 589 BC, when King Nebuchadnezzar II threw his fist at the rebel Daniel. This is also the earliest documented incident of anyone getting hit with either hand.
The grapeshot is a type of cannonball that was used in the 17th century. It was fired from a mortar and had an explosive force of about one ton of gunpowder.
John Gibbon famously got off his horse and rushed over to Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery, whose soldiers were firing canister as quickly as they could at Confederates across the Hagerstown Pike during the Battle of Antietam.
When Gibbon saw that the battery’s 12-pounder Napoleons were shooting too high, he ordered the gunners to lower their muzzles so that the canister would skip off the ground and into the gray lines.
After the correction, the following explosions sent a bizarre cloud of fence posts and Confederate troops into the air.
The most lethal artillery munitions of the war were canister and its precursor grapeshot. Each sent iron balls into the air like massive shotgun blasts, shredding army formations and sweeping ship decks.
Despite the fact that the words are often used interchangeably, even by troops throughout the conflict, they were created in quite distinct ways.
Grapeshot was seldom employed by field artillery batteries in either side by the Civil War, although it was still used by certain big garrison and ship-mounted guns.
It’s difficult to conceive how charging soldiers could attack an enemy artillery while knowing that iron hail might hit at any time.
This specimen carried more than the normal canister shot for the 12-pounder Napoleon, which consisted of 27 1.5-inch canister balls wrapped in sawdust.
When the tin can was fired, it disintegrated, dousing assaulting troops with the gunfire. Cannoneers were known to discharge double canister at times. (Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society)
The grapeshot stand on the far left was “quilted,” which means that iron balls were piled around an iron pin and then covered with laced fabric to keep the balls in place.
Most grapeshot was composed of iron plates and rings welded together to keep the round unbroken by the Civil War. In contrast, making a canister was a lot simpler. (Dallas’ Heritage Auctions)
The smoothbore cannons, like the 12-pounder Napoleon, excelled at shooting canister, with a bore of approximately 4.6 inches wide. Canister could also be fired by rifled guns, such as the 3-inch Ordnance Rifle shown above, although not as efficiently.
The shot did not disperse as far due to the smaller 3-inch bores. Another reason the canister balls did not spread out over a larger region was that the canister rounds might track along the rifling and take up a spin.
That knowledge, however, would have provided little comfort to soldiers facing rifled artillery. (Melissa A. Winn’s photos)
At the Battle of New Hope Church, Ga., on May 23, 1864, Private Michael Dunn of the 46th Pennsylvania lost both legs to canister.
Canister was most effective up to 200 yards, but it could potentially be lethal at 400 yards, the projectile’s maximum range. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)
This shell was developed by Smith Groom of Troy, New York, to aid rifled cannons in firing canister. As a fuze in the brass tube placed in the base burnt, the rocket was intended to fly downrange.
It was supposed to disperse its “war rockets,” as Groom called them, once it detonated. The prototype shell was never mass-produced. (Dallas’ Heritage Auctions)
Canister shot vs grapeshot is a topic that explains the difference between two types of guns. The canister shot has a large, slow-moving projectile and the grapeshot was used to fire many smaller projectiles at once. Reference: canister shot vs grapeshot.