Join Date: Jun 2006
Thanks Michael. I have had some other thoughts about this object, along the lines that it may not have anything to do with ordnance. My thinking began when I considered the modern plastic ones used in test laboratories. The locking tabs on both ends of each segment are more of a convenience to maintain integrity of the assembled projectile during manual loading, however the 1/8-inch-thick stainless steel disc placed on the rear of the projectile is definitely necessary, or else the segments would almost certainly separate in the bore with one pushing ahead of others. That situation would be very inefficient and might also damage the expensive gun barrel.
My point is that the oak projectile shown here simply will not function as appearance might indicate. The segments contacting the bottom of the chamber will be held in place by immense forces caused by gases flowing over the top side of the projectile (remember the considerable windage allowance in older cannons,) and I'm sure the top segments would almost immediately be torn from the bottom ones, before the latter had moved at all. This projectile would never remain intact to the muzzle. There would also be no reason to use an internal bag of "linen." In most real, antique canister rounds I've seen, when lead balls are used, they are packed in something like sawdust to help keep them from defoming due to the high G-forces upon firing. The wooden "round" shown seems to have no padding between balls.
In addition, both ends are the same, and both ends have a sharp 90-degree angle at the end, which would lend itself to the lower segments being stopped and fragmented by contact with the bore surface. As a minumum, since this had to have been made on a lathe, the turner would fashion the front end with some radius of curvature to ease the travel down the bore. Likewise, the rear end of most canister muzzle-loading rounds I've seen is rebated or has some special provision for the attachment of the cloth cartridge bag. This one is symmetrical end-for-end along with the other suspect areas, makes it an unlikely candidate for an authentic canister round in my opinion.
The leather shown bent over when the one segment is moved, seems as supple as when it was on the animal it came from, bending 180 degrees with perfect flexibility. I don't think this leather has much age.
I have to voice my humble and amateur opinion that the wooden segmented object originally had some non-ordnance purpose , and the sack of balls may have been added recently to give the object a new identity.