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Thread: Civil War Cannon Ball?

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  1. #1
    us
    Feb 2009
    Elliott County Kentucky
    Whites Specta V3i; Garrett AT Pro
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    112 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Civil War Cannon Ball?

    I found this today at an old house. It is close to some Civil War activity. It is very heavy and made of lead. It was only about five or six inches deep. I thought maybe it was a shot put, but the man that owns the property and grew up in the old home says he never even heard of a shot put, nor have I heard of it being done in this county. There used to be an even older log home that set on the same site. Any help would be appreciated.
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  2. #2
    us
    Dec 2007
    Chattanooga, TN
    Tosoro Bandido
    1,356
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    Metal Detecting
    We have the resident expert on this forum, but until he comes along let me say I don't believe you have a cannon ball First they were never made of lead and second they would not have the holes on the surface like yours has. But it still deserves being identified, so hang in there. Nice find.
    tennessee digger likes this.

  3. #3
    us
    Feb 2009
    Elliott County Kentucky
    Whites Specta V3i; Garrett AT Pro
    346
    112 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Thanks duggup. I said it was made of lead but not sure. I'm going to put it back under my detector and check it.
    Back-of-the-boat likes this.

  4. #4
    us
    steve andermatt

    Apr 2013
    California
    AT GOLD/Garrett /Garrett pro pointer/ 5x8 double d coil and sniper coil/Lesche digger
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Cannonball guy is going to need accurate measurements and weight.
    back of the boat

  5. #5
    Educator

    Feb 2006
    Occupied CSA (Richmond VA)
    White's 6000, Nautilus DMC-1, Minelab
    3,828
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    Relic Hunting
    Just stating my professional qualifications for answering your post. Pre-1900 artillery projectiles are my primary area of relic-study. See the "About me" section of my T-Net profile.

    First, I should mention that there were three types of artillery balls (excluding the little antipersonnel balls inside a shell).
    Cannon balls - fired one at a time.
    Grapeshot balls - a cluster of 9 balls, sometimes a few more than that.
    Canister balls - 27 (or more) which were contained in a tin can, basically shotgun-ammo for a cannon.
    General rule-of-thumb: Cannonballs are large, Grapeshot balls are medium, Canister balls are small.

    Now, about your large lead ball:
    There was only one type of CANNON ball made of lead. It was from the US civil war, and was made for use in the 2.13"-caliber Woodruff cannon. It was approximately 2.08" in diameter. Your photo of the ball in your hand shows it is larger than that, so it cannot be a Woodruff ball.


    Most balls for Grapeshot and Canister-ammo were made of iron, but a (very) few were lead. However, all the lead ones were smaller than yours. Please believe me that I take absolutely no pleasure in having to tell you that your lead ball is definitely not any kind of Artillery ball.

    That being said... lead balls have been made for various Civilian-usage purposes, which explains why we relic-diggers find them far away from any known Artillery activity. Some examples are counterweight balls, waterpump check-valve balls, and gunpowder-mill pulverizer balls. Lead gets chosen because it doesn't rust, and it cannot cause a spark.

  6. #6
    us
    Feb 2009
    Elliott County Kentucky
    Whites Specta V3i; Garrett AT Pro
    346
    112 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Thanks for the information Cannonball. I kind of thought it was too good to be true! I tried to not get too excited. I appreciate your help as you have answered questions for me before and fully trust in your knowledge.
    tennessee digger likes this.

  7. #7
    us
    Joe

    Jan 2014
    Virginia
    Fisher1266x/1270
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    looks like a shot to me?what else would it be?I have seen smaller "iron" shot that looked to be say ,5 pounds or so ,much to big to be a shell shot. but i am asking?why couldn't a fuse and powder push that out a cannon bore as a shot?
    It's never enough!

  8. #8
    Educator

    Feb 2006
    Occupied CSA (Richmond VA)
    White's 6000, Nautilus DMC-1, Minelab
    3,828
    2814 times
    Relic Hunting
    Answering DigIron2's questions:
    A Sports Shot-Pull ball gets thrown and lands hard. Even when what it lands on is dirt, a "large" lead ball will get impact-marks on it. EC.Mason's lead ball does show some small round impact-marks on it, as if it had been been by a Ball-Peen hammer... but is too smooth to have been tossed around as a LEAD Shot-Put ball.

    Although gunpowder certainly was capable of pushing that lead ball out of a cannon, its diameter is larger than any of the known sizes of lead Artillery-balls.
    Last edited by TheCannonballGuy; Feb 21, 2014 at 08:35 PM. Reason: Clarification that I meant a LEAD ball.
    Back-of-the-boat and DigIron2 like this.

  9. #9
    us
    Joe

    Jan 2014
    Virginia
    Fisher1266x/1270
    1,415
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by TheCannonballGuy View Post
    Answering DigIron2's questions:
    A Sports Shot-Pull ball gets thrown and lands hard. Even when what it lands on is dirt, a "large" lead ball will get impact-marks on it. EC.Mason's lead ball does show some small round impact-marks on it, as if it had been been by a Ball-Peen hammer... but is too smooth to have been tossed around as a Shot-Put ball.

    Although gunpowder certainly was capable of pushing that lead ball out of a cannon, its diameter is larger than any of the known sizes of lead Artillery-balls.
    Thanks for the imformation cannonballguy.I dont know anything about shotput, and I know lead is soft,probably would not be a first choice of metal to use for a shot,but I cant help that some stuff I see makes me wonder?
    Last edited by DigIron2; Feb 22, 2014 at 07:01 PM.
    Back-of-the-boat likes this.
    It's never enough!

  10. #10
    us
    steve andermatt

    Apr 2013
    California
    AT GOLD/Garrett /Garrett pro pointer/ 5x8 double d coil and sniper coil/Lesche digger
    1,361
    534 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by DigIron2 View Post
    Thanks for the imformation cannonballguy.I dont know anything about shotput, I do know lead is soft,probably would not be a first choice of metal to use for a ball,but I cant help that some stuff I see makes me wonder?
    Confusius said the man that will ask a question looks dumb for a minute, A man who doesn't ask a question is dumb for the rest of his life. So a question gives you knowledge, it is good to wonder.If you didn't wonder you wouldn't learn. I am fascinated by the knowledge The Cannonball Guy gives out as it's obvious this is his passion and I for one love to learn about different things I wonder about also.Thank you for asking the question.
    Last edited by Back-of-the-boat; Feb 22, 2014 at 05:27 AM.
    DigIron2 likes this.
    back of the boat

  11. #11
    us
    Joe

    Jan 2014
    Virginia
    Fisher1266x/1270
    1,415
    608 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Quote Originally Posted by Back-of-the-boat View Post
    Confusius said the man that will ask a question looks dumb for a minute, A man who doesn't ask a question is dumb for the rest of his life. So a question gives you knowledge, it is good to wonder.If you didn't wonder you wouldn't learn. I am fascinated by the knowledge The Cannonball Guy gives out as it's obvious this is his passion and I for one love to learn about different things I wonder about also.Thank you for asking the question.
    Most definitely so! the guy is like a walking encyclopedia on artillery. It's just I heard someone say onetime, that there are no such things as lead shot artillery balls.And I question that.Maybe not civil war,but I just cant get my mind around the fact that lead wasn't used for cannon shot sometime in history.
    It's never enough!

 

 

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