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    « Body Bags for Stock Market Points | Main | Bearing Witness »

    March 17, 2004



    Did cannonballs explode?

    In movies showing battles from the Civil War and earlier conflicts, cannon-fired projectiles inevitably send up dirt and smoke and flailing stuntmen upon impact. It makes a nice visual and is probably easier to stage than an iron ball bouncing murderously through a division.

    In reality, an array of both exploding and solid projectiles were used in the Civil War and for centuries before, but solid shot predominated until around the1850s.

    The earliest cannons, developed in 1300s, fired nothing but solid objects -- stone balls. The following century weapons makers did develop hollow iron balls filled with gunpowder and fitted with a fuse that had to be lit just before firing. But the difficulty in handling these primitive time bombs and in getting them to explode at the target made them both dangerous and unreliable. To minimize the danger of their blowing up in the cannon's barrel, these lit-fuse balls were used mainly in quick-loading, wide-bore, stubby-barreled cannons called howitzers or with drop-and-fire "mortars," which looked like the World War II-era weapon of the same name only much larger.

    Over the centuries, weapons makers devised a great variety of solid-shot combinations and techniques. The one-two punch of stone and iron balls spelled doom for castle walls. At close range, cannons were often used like sawed-off shotguns to fire bunches of smaller balls, devastating to troops massed on level ground. At sea, ships often fired iron bars, chains and small balls to take down masts and rigging. Another trick was to heat a cannonball red hot in hopes of igniting a fire on deck or, better yet, landing one in the enemy ship's magazine. Blasting a hole through the hull of the enemy ship by firing into the water normally didn't work, however. The ball would skip off the surface.

    Elongated solid projectiles called bolts were developed for use with rifled cannons, which had a spiral groove cut on the inside of the barrel to start the projectile spinning and improve accuracy. But round balls were the most common solid shot used in the Civil War, and those are what you see today welded into a pyramid shape and set next to a cannon in a town square.

    Sources: Daniel A. Lindley and Keir Lieber, both Notre Dame assistant professors of government/political science;
    Dennis Showalter, professor of history, Colorado College;
    various reference works

    Nils Ling

    Ahh, thank you, Craig. One more piece of the grand puzzle falls into place - only eight trillion or so more, and I can die a wise man.

    Gotta say, though, every time I watch a Civil War movie, I'm still gonna be yelling at the screen, "Hey! That's just phoney!"


    The use of cannon in "Master and Commander" was apparently most authentic relying in large part at the museum at Midland on Georgian Bay which telss the story of the 1812 shipyards on the Great Lakes. I read in the Star at the time the movie came out that they decided the best way to capture a cannon ball hitting oak was have a cannon ball hit oak. One interesting thing in that movie early on is the "duck" scene where sailors get below the gunnels to hide from the on-coming shot.


    you know, you really should post on your blog more often, Nils. Otherwise it gets a little boring for those of us who lie around off our ass all day long. ;)


    when i was walking over a field by my house the other day i picked up,frome the newly ploughed field,half of what i think may be a cannon ball.
    I`ts` made of stone pale red in color with a 1 centimeter groove that goes all the way through
    is it a cannon ball or something else
    the ball measures 10 centimeters across
    it has finger or thumb marks on it as if it were moulded and handled before it was set
    what do you think

    Bob Sylvester

    I found an old 5" diameter iron ball in the basement of a house that I recently purchased. It has a 1/4" square hole on each side that appear to be filled with a rope like material. The surface of the ball is rough but three letters are (OAR) are visible. There may be more letters or markings that are not clear. Does anyone recognize this object?

    Todd miller

    A friend of mine found a civil war cannon ball about six months ago in del eon springs Florida in a cattle field I was looking it over and seen a plug in the center of it flush with the ball with two tiny holes in it. Yea live one!! Called the bomb squad and they came out and looked at it. And soon after strapped c4 to it and blew it up. They looked at it after and noticed it had a live charge in it! But it was probably to damp to self detonate. Thank god we didn't go after it with the torch like we where thinking about doing! HA HA!

    Conford Bullsquat

    I heard of a civil war vet who, some years after the war, pooped a cannon ball by accident and broke the porcelain toilet bowl. When the throne collapsed, he was anally impaled on an upstanding shard of the procelain, and was saved by a hemorrhoid. He later died laughing his ass off ...


    Call ...
    - Are you ready? I have in the offing already approached.
    - Yes, it is content, sir. Right away fix it out.
    I'm going to fly, but swiftly remembered that "game" is not complete. I was ordered to present on nipple clamps, and pasting in the ass anal plug. That's around the occasion I forgot. Where are they ...? I turned the unscathed receptacle with his "toys". Yes ... Here ... found. Dress up the protruding nipples powerful metal clips, between the clamps sags glowing, thickset, metal chain weighing 100g. Oh, no (... to me because cushioning of the dress, and clamps with a course of awful gore, as if I were stark naked. I can not defile the streets with decorations. I swiftly wearing a bra and I'm leaving the apartment.
    Decamp loophole into the alley, I receive a foul beating sentiments, because I was late and phoney to respite over the extent of the Lord. Near the german autobahn is glowering car, a measure formidable, and at the changeless heretofore artistic form. I do not spot the driver, but I perceive that set after a hundred meters His gape burns me through. I'm tardy ...
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    Herr gone the key and mid-point finger between the labia ... If we assert that there is "weed" - it's nothing to say. He raises his around up to my mouth so I licked his fingers, then allows his relief to kiss.
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    He let obtain of my neck and the heap started, and I mark time like a stone, and I'm panic-stricken to move.
    - And then we sit, what a dream)? - Calmly, with a minute grin asked my Lord.
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    - What is it?
    He took me on the skin of one's teeth and strained him to straighten up and seat on his seat. I tried to explain that clamps to the gyve is bare much stood excuse, and I hid them subservient to the bust. But exact Mr pay attention to to me did not requirement to, because I basically had no right to wear underwear. He stopped the car and said: "Come finished!"
    I sat and clapped his eyes. All ... the expiration ... the pluck will break out now.
    - Make a note of c depress doused of the buggy thing! - Ominously echoed Mr.
    Accurately ... I arrange myself to blame. Obediently down tools out of the railway carriage and shut the door. But he also comes and goes with me, takes me nigh the arm in excess of the elbow and drags it to the boot. Gentleman opened the body and gently nudged me: "defraud here, and think all through what gets up, bitch!"
    ... Darkness ... purr ... fear ... Where are we going?
    I evenly calmed down, took dippy her bust, that would no longer nettle my Lord. And in the overcast again started to hearken to their feelings. Tube in the anus is not haunted. I felt as if her move a iota, then I right away finished. A clip is already on so much pressed her nipples that I no longer quality them for a while, but minute it's a smarting, not fairly a amicable pain.
    The direction was not smooth and sinuous. I was in the locker just shaking. The machine stopped. Gentleman opened the locker and handed me a hand. I another got into the open of the trunk and said: "As a result of you, my Lord." Looked around ... we're in the woods? I hold a light shock.
    He undid the zipper on my smarten up, took the chain from the terminal and pulled to yawning the second door of the auto, pushed me into the salon, so I put her hands on the leather embed, and everything else my main part was in the supplementary air. It seemed to me that he was ready to tear me apart. Mr lifted my dress up and hands parted the buttocks. He only moved the cork, then pulled it out of pocket and threw it on the recoil from of a car. First term entered into the vagina, it was perfect drip, and then, heavily oiled my habitual lubricant, entered my ass. I arched with pleasure. I'm so extended that I wanted. This cork so "razdrakonila" my anus that I was moving with significant joy to match my master. And the restraint swaying rhythmically with my case and pulled strongly aureole everywhere the nipples. My moans unquestionably been heard during the undivided forest.
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    Orgasm my god almighty also did not skedaddle long. He immovably grasped my hands on the rear end, and entered deeply and paused for the treatment of respective seconds. I felt a surge inside.
    "By reason of you, my Lord. Credit you)) - I mumble, and breaks into a smile.
    - No thanks, negodyayka. Who is allowed to finish?
    - Excuse me, sir. Your bimbo could not button myself, and the whole kit happened so fast ... She takes the punishment, she inclination do whatever you order, Sir.
    My cicerone approvingly shuffled me on the ass and allowed to stand. I straightened up and stood as a drunk. Thin rods vgruzali the disconnected forest floor and his feet did not wish to obey.
    Herr took a subfusc scarf and tied my eyes. Then he pulled out of leather, wide cuffs with carbines and clasped his hands behind his back. He ordered me to kick off your legs, I besprikaslovno obeyed. Gentleman took my feet with a downhearted chain and set up them on the labia. Took me close the arm and led him insane somewhere. We were not much, honourable a not many meters, but it was toilsome to conform with each other extremely strongly and clearly felt clips, and when I rearranged his feet, always felt the substance of chains, heels it was thorny to continue without under my feet crunched twigs and needles, but pacific nothing I see ...
    - Wait. Behind you log. Can you stay down. Umklapp a particular leg beyond the log and air down on his back.
    I met all bezprikaslovno, sat on the wide, spinous log.
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