Mini Ball Facts

Mini Ball Facts
The American Civil War was one of the first wars of the post-Industrial Revolution, which mean that many new technologies were employed on and off the battlefield. The telegraph was used to send messages, trains were used to transport troops, and new guns and ammunition were used in battle. The technology that had perhaps the greatest impact on the war was the new type of ammunition known as the "mini ball." Named for its French inventor, Claude-Étienne Minié, the mini ball was a revolutionary bullet that had devastating consequences on the battlefield. The mini ball was loaded into rifles much like muskets before it, but its conical shape and three grooves on the bottom made it much more aerodynamic, which improved the range, accuracy, and velocity of the bullet. The rifles that fired the mini ball were also an advance on previous muskets as they could be loaded much quicker and had rifled barrels.
Interesting Mini Ball Facts:
Claude-Étienne Minié (1804-1879) was an officer in the French Army and an inventor.
The mini ball and the mini rifle were first used in the Crimean War (1853-1856).
During the American Civil War, the Springfield Rifle and the British Enfield Rifle, which both utilized mini ball rounds, were used by both sides.
Most Confederate soldiers used smoothbore muskets at the start of the war, but by 1863 nearly all used mini ball firing rifles.
Rifling a gun barrel increased its accuracy four times.
The mini ball round was loaded into the rifled by pouring the powder down the barrel first and then the bullet was pressed down with a rod. Once fired, the grooves on the bottom of the round would connect with the rifling of the barrel.
Mini balls were originally made with a wooden plug in the base, which allowed it to expand to fit the rifling.
American James H. Burton (1823-1894) modified the mini ball by filling the base of each bullet with gas, which gave it the same effect as the wooden plug but at a cheaper cost.
Burton's modified design was adopted by the United States Army in 1855.
The standard rifle used during the Civil War that fired the Burton mini ball was a .58 caliber Springfield.
Mini rifles, and its later variants that used mini ball rounds, were fairly accurate at a range of up to 600 yards.
Since the rifles that shot mini balls were still muzzle loaded, a soldier could at the most fire three shots per minute.
The rifling effect of the mini ball meant that the rounds usually penetrated flesh and muscle, often shattering bones.
The high proportion of limbs amputated during the Civil War was primarily the result of the mini ball's destructive effect on human bones.
The emergence of the mini ball and rifles increased the importance of tactical defense and decrease the importance of long-range artillery, which could no longer advance with infantry toward enemy lines.
Although carbine rifles were used by the Union Army by 1863, they had a much shorter range than the muzzle loaders that fired mini balls.

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