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Thread: Bullet ID, Union or Confederate Manufacture?

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  1. #1
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    Bullet ID, Union or Confederate Manufacture?

    I have three bullets here with a 'similar' pattern on the nose.

    The question is, Union or Confederate manufacture?
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    ...helping to free the environment from lead contamination one bullet at a time!!!

  2. #2
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    The patern you are referring to near the tips is reminiscent of them having been rammed down the barrel of a gun and since I don't see an obvious signs of rifling I'd guess it was a smooth bore musket. You'll need to measure their width with a set of calipers to determine what caliber they are. As for being Union or Confederate I'm going to leave that one alone because both sides used the same bullets in a lot of cases and I'd be lying if I tried to tell you one way or the other.

    And I'll be wrong in 3...2...1...
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  3. #3
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    Typically Confederate Minie's had two rings and Union Made had Three rings. But both sides used them, and often ammunition was scavenged after battles by both sides. The markings on the nose do look like ram rod marks from the bullets being loaded but I'm not sure since fired bullets usually go smoosh when they hit something. Maybe they are Field cast bullets? I know some people had molds to make them.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Icewing View Post
    The patern you are referring to near the tips is reminiscent of them having been rammed down the barrel of a gun and since I don't see an obvious signs of rifling I'd guess it was a smooth bore musket. You'll need to measure their width with a set of calipers to determine what caliber they are. As for being Union or Confederate I'm going to leave that one alone because both sides used the same bullets in a lot of cases and I'd be lying if I tried to tell you one way or the other.

    And I'll be wrong in 3...2...1...
    What he said.

    HH, RN
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  5. #5
    Educator

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    Your 3-groove Minie bullets are a Confederate-made variety, because they are "nose-cast"... meaning the sprue from the filler hole in the bulletcasting mold is located on the bullet's nose-tip. Instead of being snipped off by the bullet's manufacturer (which is the normal procedure), each of yours had its projecting nose-sprue presssed down by a cone-shaped press, similar to the mouth of a ramrod. In your case, the lower circular groove has a slight pushed-up mound of lead below it, which tells me the cone-shaped press was pushed down onto the bullet's nose too hard, leaving an imprint of its circular lip below the sprue-line. I'm sure the imprint wasn't done by a ramrod because your bullets show absolutely no evidence of having been fired -- nor "pulled." (For certainty about that, I had to enlarge your photos and look very closely to make sure the grooves encircing each bullet's nose-tip were concentric, not the spiral which a bulletworm creates.)

    If the conical press had not been used to almost totally compress away the casting-sprue on your bullets, they would have been called Confederate "cap-nose" bullets.

    About "nose-cast" meaning Confederate-made:
    The only yankee-made Minie bullets that I can think of at the moment which were nose-cast are the Williams Regulation type, which was formerly but incorrectly called a Harpers Ferry Pistol-Carbine minie. All three versions of the Williams Patent "Bore-Cleaner" bullets are nose-cast, but they are not Minie bullets. By definition, all the versions of Minie bullet have a large-sized cavity in their base. I said "large" in order to exclude the small cavity found in some version of Sharps bullets, and some pistol bullets.

    An important Caution-note about identifying nose-cast bullets:
    Many-many times, I've seen pointed nose bullets whose nose-tip got flattened "accidentally" -- meaning it's not a nose-cast bullet, it is just a damaged pointed-nose bullet. Those can easily be mistaken for a snipped-nose nose-cast bullet. Actual nose-cast bullets whose casting sprue got snipped (cut off with pincers) tend to show a crisp clean cut, usually perfectly-flat and sometimes showing a slight raised line in the center of the flat spot, showing where the cutting jaws of the pincer met. For a good example of a true snipped-nose nose-cast minie, see the photo below. The other photos show and nose-cast minie with uncut sprue, and a "cap-nose" minie.

    For anybody who is still not quite clear about what a nose-cast minie's nose tip looks like, and what a "snipped sprue" nose-cast minie looks like... all Confederate Gardner minies were nose-cast, and many of them had their projecting casting sprue snipped off, creating a "flat-tipped" Gardner.
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    Last edited by TheCannonballGuy; Dec 05, 2017 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Typo-error correction.
    "Let The Christ be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

  6. #6
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    Those bullets haven't been fired, there is no evidence of rifling marks. The bullets are under bore size when loaded and the hollow base is so when fired, the bullet expands into the rifling. In my limited experience, my guess on the marks on the tip are caused by what was called a "gun worm," which was used to fish out cloth cleaning patches, and also to pull unfired bullets out of the barrel. My SWAG is the bullets were pulled.

    CannonBallGuy beat me to it with the proper information. Here is a picture of what I was thinking of regarding a gun worm.

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    Last edited by BosnMate; Dec 05, 2017 at 06:56 PM.
    devldog and Davers like this.
    Due to the high price of ammunition there will be no warning shot.

  7. #7
    Educator

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    Clarification for anybody who doesn't quite "get" (meaning, visualize) what happens when a double-helix bulletworm/bullet-puller (shown in the photos posted by BosnMate) gets used to "pull" a bullet out of a muzzleloading firearm:
    The sharp-tipped point of the bulletworm's arms makes a SPIRAL track as it gets twisted into the lead bullet's nose. (You attach the bulletworm onto the back end of a ramrod, insert that end of the ramrod down the gunbarrel, and forcefully twist the ramrod clockwise until the bulletworm's sharp points gouge deeply enough into the soft lead bullet's nose for you to be able to pull the bullet up out of the gunbarrel.)

    The grooves on the nose-tip of Yak1366's Minie bullets are not a spiral... they are two circles, completely separate from each other. So, they cannot be bulletworm marks.
    Last edited by TheCannonballGuy; Dec 05, 2017 at 11:23 PM. Reason: Typo-error correction.
    "Let The Christ be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

  8. #8
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    Nice info and clarification on the bullets. Pulled Minnie balls are cool to find. It looks as if a drill bit was used to drill down the middle of the bullets tip. An almost perfect impression from the bullet worm as the soldier twisted the worm into the bullets soft lead.
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  9. #9
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    Old Tom Cat.

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    As usual , 'I learned something new cool and interesting.

    Thanks guy's.
    Last edited by Davers; Dec 05, 2017 at 07:45 PM.
    As I am finding , In life we Start at the top,with the Wonder & innocence of a Child, then fall Quickly, then spend the rest of our lives trying to reach that point where we began ,through Pleasure , Fame, & Materials but Only 'Through True faith in Jesus , can we find Prefect Happiness or True Meaning in our Short lives on this Beautiful Earth filled with Both the Light of Pure goodness & The Darkness of Pure Evil. D.

    That Said, I judge No Man.
    Davers

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Icewing View Post
    And I'll be wrong in 3...2...1...
    Prophetic ain't it?
    TheCannonballGuy and devldog like this.
    “During the gold rush its a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.” Mark Twain

  11. #11
    Charter Member
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    Used this site a while back for research. After visiting many times, I got the feeling nothing was being updated. But no...

    TennesseeLead.com New items



    "For your consideration one McKee & Mason 365 Confederate double capped nose bullet. You will find this bullet to be in very good to excellent dug condition. The patina is a near perfect, thick white color. The double capped nose can be plainly seen. Mold seams can be faintly seen on both sides & the cavity is a flat tip cone. Inside of the cavity a digger code can be seen 4R2 (I think). Measures about 0.575 x 1.04 inches."
    TheCannonballGuy likes this.
    ...helping to free the environment from lead contamination one bullet at a time!!!

  12. #12
    Educator

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    Tennesse Lead dotcom is a civil war bullet dealer's sales-website. The best bullet-collector REFERENCE website for civil war bullets (and also cartridges) is the Civil War Bullet Database. It even has cross-reference numbers for the bullets in the McKee-&-Mason book and the Thomas-&-Thomas book "A Handbook Of Civil war Bullets & Cartridges." For folks who don't have either of those books, the Civil War Bullet Database website allows you to Search for bullets by how many body-grooves the bullet has, or whether it has a flat solid base, or a base-cavity, etc. All for free. It even has a civil war Firearms gallery. Go to the following link and click on "Search the Bullet and Cartridge Database."
    Bullet and Cartridge Gallery
    Yak1366 likes this.
    "Let The Christ be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

  13. #13
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    CannonballGuy, Thanks for the link to an interesting database. Somehow that M&M365 number is left out, along with all the dyslexic combinations. The 'profile pic' I linked from his website is spot on to my pieces. Not so much on his cavity pic, however his wording 'flat tip conical' base is correct. I've read the Dean Thomas Vol4 supercedes M&M. Do you know where I can obtain that reference?
    TheCannonballGuy likes this.
    ...helping to free the environment from lead contamination one bullet at a time!!!

  14. #14
    Charter Member
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    And another reference found here...
    Civil War Bullets Vol. I - Army of Tennessee Relics | Confederate Belt Buckles, Artillery, Buttons, all Authentic Civil War Relics

    A bit down on the page...
    "BLT 6. Dug Confederate Rifle Bullet .58 Cal.

    M&M # 365. Scarce nose cast variant associated with the Army of Tennessee. Dug near Tullahoma, TN."
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    ...helping to free the environment from lead contamination one bullet at a time!!!

  15. #15
    Educator

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    Yak1366 asked:
    > ""I've read the Dean Thomas Vol 4 supercedes M&M. Do you know where I can obtain that reference?

    Jim Thomas is the brother of Dean, and a longtime friend of mine. In another forum he wrote: "There are four books in the "Round Ball to Rimfire" set. Vol. 1 is Federal musket ammo [not just roundballs]; Vol. 2 is Federal carbine ammo; Vol. 3 is Federal revolver ammo. Vol. 4 is Confederate ammo."

    Those books are chock-full of superb civil war bullet PRODUCTION research, which corrects the many-many bullet identification errors in the McKee-&-Mason bullet-book. You can get whichever of the four volumes you want (or all), directly from Jim Thomas, at:
    www.civilwarprojectiles.com
    When you get there, click on "Books." Jim's contact info, (phone and email), is at the bottom of the Books webpage.
    Volume 1 costs $40
    Volume 2 costs $49.95
    Volume 3 cossts $49.95
    Volume 4 costs $50.

    Of course, the shorter but still very helpful "Handbook Of Civil war Bullets & Cartidges" by Jim and Dean Thomas is also available there, for $12.
    Yak1366 likes this.
    "Let The Christ be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

 

 
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