🔎 UNIDENTIFIED What it it?

VickiZ

Tenderfoot
Nov 22, 2021
8
26
Hello,
I found this heavy metal ball in almost 50 years ago after my Father plowed a garden area in front of an original cabin/homestead in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. This was found in ground that’s mostly clay with some shale.

The measurements of this metal ball are 3 and 9/16 and 3 and a half inches (to the best of my ability without proper calipers). It does have a ridge in one area that I tried to capture in a photo. The ball weighs 6 lbs. and .47 ounces.
I also read you could get the circumference by measure the item and dividing by 3.14, which equaled 3.66. I’m terrrible at math so I would not trust my math.
I’m attaching pictures in hopes that it will be more helpful.

Also, the ball may appear shiny or odd and it could due to the fact I use a lot of hand lotion.

Thank you in advance to anyone replying.

-Vicki
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6D5B990D-0D2A-453E-8FD0-1B14B50FB74C.jpeg
6D5B990D-0D2A-453E-8FD0-1B14B50FB74C.jpeg
6DF804D1-3F93-48C1-A9B1-D5171B243EF4.jpeg
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F5DB7FD1-ABD3-4E3F-9BB3-B56EB9B2E427.jpeg
 
Solution
The super-precise measurements of all the cannonball calibers used in the US from the Revolutionary War through the civil war are recorded in the data charts in the US Ordnance Manual of 1861. (The Confederates used the same size specifications for their cannonballs.)
www.civilwarartilelry.com/shottables.htm

Your ball is very-very close to the weight and diameter specification for a civil war era 6-Pounder caliber Solid-Shot cannonball.
weight: 6 pounds 1 ounce
diameter: 3.58-inches

But unfortunately, in the photo you posted, your ball is shown on a super-precise digital scale to weigh 6 pounds 4.7 ounces -- NOT the "6 pounds .47-ounce" you wrote in your post. Therefore, being too heavy for its size, your ball fails the...

TheCannonballGuy

Gold Member
Feb 24, 2006
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Occupied CSA (Richmond VA)
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The super-precise measurements of all the cannonball calibers used in the US from the Revolutionary War through the civil war are recorded in the data charts in the US Ordnance Manual of 1861. (The Confederates used the same size specifications for their cannonballs.)
www.civilwarartilelry.com/shottables.htm

Your ball is very-very close to the weight and diameter specification for a civil war era 6-Pounder caliber Solid-Shot cannonball.
weight: 6 pounds 1 ounce
diameter: 3.58-inches

But unfortunately, in the photo you posted, your ball is shown on a super-precise digital scale to weigh 6 pounds 4.7 ounces -- NOT the "6 pounds .47-ounce" you wrote in your post. Therefore, being too heavy for its size, your ball fails the "cannonball weight test" and thus it is excluded from being a cannonball.

Additionally, the 1861 Ordnance Manual says a 6-Pounder caliber cannon's bore diameter is 3.67-inches. Your ball, being 3.66-inches, would not go into the 6-Pdr. cannon's bore without an enormous amount of pressure being use to force it in. (I should mention, firing the cannon causes gunpowder ash to rapidly coat the walls of the cannon's bore, reducing its "use-able" diameter.)

The following information is not intended as bragging, but only to document my credentials for the Authentification analysis I've given you. I am one of the authors of the 552-page historical reference book "Field Artillery Projectiles of the American Civil War." The US National Park Service has used me as an authoritative consultant on civil war (and earlier) artillery projectiles for about 40 years.
 
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Solution

Retired Sarge

Bronze Member
Feb 22, 2009
2,119
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Panama City Florida
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Other
The super-precise measurements of all the cannonball calibers used in the US from the Revolutionary War through the civil war are recorded in the data charts in the US Ordnance Manual of 1861. (The Confederates used the same size specifications for their cannonballs.)
www.civilwarartilelry.com/shottables.htm

Your ball is very-very close to the weight and diameter specification for a civil war era 6-Pounder caliber Solid-Shot cannonball.
weight: 6 pounds 1 ounce
diameter: 3.58-inches

But unfortunately, in the photo you posted, your ball is shown on a super-precise digital scale to weigh 6 pounds 4.7 ounces -- NOT the "6 pounds .47-ounce" you wrote in your post. Therefore, being too heavy for its size, your ball fails the "cannonball weight test" and thus it is excluded from being a cannonball.

Additionally, the 1861 Ordnance Manual says a 6-Pounder caliber cannon's bore diameter is 3.67-inches. Your ball, being 3.66-inches, would not go into the 6-Pdr. cannon's bore without an enormous amount of pressure being use to force it in. (I should mention, firing the cannon causes gunpowder ash to rapidly coat the walls of the cannon's bore, reducing its "use-able" diameter.)

The following information is not intended as bragging, but only to document my credentials for the Authentification analysis I've given you. I am one of the authors of the 552-page historical reference book "Field Artillery Projectiles of the American Civil War." The US National Park Service has used me as an authoritative consultant on civil war (and earlier) artillery projectiles for about 40 years.

Since TCBG has ruled out a cannon ball.

Wouldn't the presence of the seam in this case be indicative of a mill ball?

Seam is seen in pictures 1, 2, 3, and 10.
 
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VickiZ

VickiZ

Tenderfoot
Nov 22, 2021
8
26
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #6
The super-precise measurements of all the cannonball calibers used in the US from the Revolutionary War through the civil war are recorded in the data charts in the US Ordnance Manual of 1861. (The Confederates used the same size specifications for their cannonballs.)
www.civilwarartilelry.com/shottables.htm

Your ball is very-very close to the weight and diameter specification for a civil war era 6-Pounder caliber Solid-Shot cannonball.
weight: 6 pounds 1 ounce
diameter: 3.58-inches

But unfortunately, in the photo you posted, your ball is shown on a super-precise digital scale to weigh 6 pounds 4.7 ounces -- NOT the "6 pounds .47-ounce" you wrote in your post. Therefore, being too heavy for its size, your ball fails the "cannonball weight test" and thus it is excluded from being a cannonball.

Additionally, the 1861 Ordnance Manual says a 6-Pounder caliber cannon's bore diameter is 3.67-inches. Your ball, being 3.66-inches, would not go into the 6-Pdr. cannon's bore without an enormous amount of pressure being use to force it in. (I should mention, firing the cannon causes gunpowder ash to rapidly coat the walls of the cannon's bore, reducing its "use-able" diameter.)

The following information is not intended as bragging, but only to document my credentials for the Authentification analysis I've given you. I am one of the authors of the 552-page historical reference book "Field Artillery Projectiles of the American Civil War." The US National Park Service has used me as an authoritative consultant on civil war (and earlier) artillery projectiles for about 40 years.
Thank you very much. I appreciate your expertise. Thank you for the correction, I not only can’t do math but I can’t properly read a digital scale either. Good I posted pictures. I do apologize.

History matters to me, I wish to learn about it and remember it (and not be doomed to repeat it)
Several men that resided here in past were soldiers, I know little else about them. To not investigate the possibly of my thoughts would be of poor judgement, in my opinion.
Had it been anything of value historically, I would have donated it to the proper place.

After I started researching, I took into consideration that live very close to early established Fort near the Susquehanna River.

I hadn’t thought into a blacksmith that lived here for a couple years before his passing, he was described as “in poor health and returned here to die and be buried with his family”. Maybe he carried his work back with him- I may never know.

The history of my home has been fun but much like putting together a puzzle, pieces don’t always fit until you have more to build on…So many families lived here before me and so many will after me. I am the caretaker (so to speak) and as the ‘caretaker’, I wish to understand, preserve, honor and the people that made my land what it is.

Thank you again for all of your help.
 
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TheCannonballGuy

Gold Member
Feb 24, 2006
6,339
12,006
Occupied CSA (Richmond VA)
Detector(s) used
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Primary Interest:
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VickiZ wrote:
> I’m looking into what a mill ball is exactly.

A "mill ball" gets its name from being manufactured for use in an industrial Tumbler-Mill. See the image attached at the bottom of this post.

A Tumbler-Mill is an inexpensive way to turn big rocks into little-bitty rocks (or powder), by crushing. That is why mill-balls are sometimes called rock-crusher balls. Industrial Tumbler-Mills are used mostly in the Mining-&-Stonemilling industry, to process large chunks of ore-bearing rock, or to pulverize coal, among several other similar uses.

The Tumbler-Mill itself is a machine consisting of a large steel barrel mounted so it can be rotated on its axis. The barrel has a hatch in the side, for loading and unloading whatever material you want to be crushed.

The barrel is usually bigger than a cement-delivery truck's tank (which, coincidentally, also rotates on its axis). You fill the barrel approximately 1/4 full of the ore (or coal, or whatever), add another 1/4-load of iron/steel Mill-Balls, close the hatch, and turn on the motor which rotates the barrel. As it rotates, the rocks and steel balls tumble with each rotation, falling and smashing into each other. After a certain amount of time, the big rocks have been thoroughly pulverized. That makes extracting the precious material (gold, or some other metal or mineral or chemical) from the stone much easier.

Since the balls have no function other than crushing and smashing, they do not have to be manufactured "perfectly round" -- like a cannonball does. Mill-Balls therefore often show a casting-mold seam, because there's no need to put labor into making the balls slick-smooth... unlike steel balls made for other purposes, like ball-bearings.

The drawing attached below is small, but the Tumbler Mill in it is huge.
 

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VickiZ

VickiZ

Tenderfoot
Nov 22, 2021
8
26
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #9
VickiZ wrote:
> I’m looking into what a mill ball is exactly.

A "mill ball" gets its name from being manufactured for use in an industrial Tumbler-Mill. See the image attached at the bottom of this post.

A Tumbler-Mill is an inexpensive way to turn big rocks into little-bitty rocks, by crushing. It is used mostly in the Mining-&-Stonemilling industry, to process large chunks of ore-bearing rock, or to pulverize coal, among several other similar uses.

The Tumbler-Mill itself is a machine consisting of a large steel barrel mounted so it can be rotated on its axis. The barrel has a hatch in the side, for loading and unloading whatever material you want to be crushed.

The barrel is usually bigger than a cement-delivery truck's tank (which, coincidentally, also rotates on its axis). You fill the barrel approximately 1/4 full of the ore (or coal, or whatever), add another 1/4-load of iron/steel Mill-Balls, close the hatch, and turn on the motor which rotates the barrel. As it rotates, the rocks and steel balls tumble with each rotation, falling and smashing into each other. After a certain amount of time, the big rocks have been thoroughly pulverized. That makes extracting the precious material (gold, or some other metal or mineral or chemical) from the stone much easier.

Since the balls have no function other than crushing and smashing, they do not have to be manufactured "perfectly round" -- like a cannonball does. Mill-Balls therefore often show a casting-mold seam, because there's no need to make the balls slick-smooth -- unlike steel balls made for other purposes, like ball-bearings.

The drawing attached below is small, but the Tumbler Mill in it is huge.
Thank you, kindly for the details. I’ve been researching since I last posted but wasn’t able to come up with what you explained so easily. I do greatly appreciate your help.

I do live near an Anthracite coal region and several limestone quarries. I’m not sure either would use these sort of mill balls.

I have no other idea of how or when this ended up in a farm field but I am the lucky one that found it.

I’m not sure how to mark this solved but thank you very much for solving my mystery.
 
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