Artillery Ammunition

Artillery batteries had a limited choice of ammunition with which to kill the enemy - roundshot (cannonballs), canister, or shell.

Cannonballs were solid balls of iron that varied in size and their weight - 3-pounder, 6-pounder or 12-pounder - decided the guns from which they would be fired.

These balls would be aimed at various types of targets - formed infantry, strongpoints - and the success of it would depend upon how it bounced, rolled or hit them.

While scores of men could be flattened by one bouncing roundshot on dry ground, in wet weather the ball could just hit soggy earth and stop.

Canister, or case-shot, was a lethal short-range choice to cause maximum casualties among the enemy.

Built of thin tin, the case was filled with lead balls of up to 200 grams each and would break apart upon leaving the barrel of the gun.

The spread of shot could shatter enemy ranks, leaving them with huge gaps to plug.

The third choice a gunner had was shell, which again was thin-skinned, but had a timing fuse cut so that it would explode within, or near, large bodies of enemy troops.

The shell would disintegrate spraying shrapnel across a large area and, in the artilleryman's mind, injure or kill as many opponents as possible.

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