Musket Loading Questions


Silver Member
Mar 2, 2018
Todds Point, IL
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
I own many modern firearms and have since I was a kid. I don't, however, know much about black powder firearms.

Question 1: A soldier is about to load his musket. He pulls a "cartridge" (a lead slug with a paper container attached with powder) out of his box and bites the end off of the paper cartridge. I want to know what happens next. Does he ram the paper cartridge along with the slug down the barrel, or does he dump the powder in the barrel, tear off the paper, then insert the slug?

Question 2: "Dumped slugs". Piles of unused slugs found often by detectors. I assumed the paper cartridge got separated from the slug in the ammo box and was useless and so was dumped. Is that what happened and the reason there are unused slugs found often? Gary
Upvote 0

No gold in NY

Bronze Member
Mar 22, 2015
Detector(s) used
Whites Coin Master,
Whites Gold Master GMT, Whites MXSport
High banker/dredge,
DIY hand trommel,
DIY Miller table,
DIY fluidbed gold trap sluice,
Keene A-52 A-52s
2186 Wheaties
Primary Interest:
Very interesting Gary. I thought they dumped the prescribed amount of powder from the powder horn into the barrel followed buy the slug, then the wadding. I didn't know about prepared cartridges.

Southern loyalist

Jr. Member
Jun 6, 2011
Google "load in 9 times". There are many sites and YouTube videos that will walk through the process of loading a Civil War era rifle musket including handle cartridge, tear cartridge, charge cartridge, draw rammer, ram cartridge, return rammer, etc. The 9 steps ("times"), when done in one fluid motion, allow the soldier to fire 3-4 aimed shots a minute.

While there may have been a reason for "dumping" ammunition if it was defective or to avoid capture, the most common reason for a "dropped" or non-fired round, was simply that they were dropped in the heat of battle and it's easier/faster to get a new one out of your cartridge box than to try to find and pick up the one you dropped. Sometimes cartridges were torn open in camp to start fires, whittle the lead, etc so there are lots of reasons for non-combat related "dropped" rounds as well.
Last edited:

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread