Join Date: Jan 2013
Theory and a short history of the POLISH CARTRIDGE BOX ( ŁADOWNICA POLSKA)
A Polish cartridge box (ładownica Polska) is a type a box made of wood
and metal, covered by material or leather with an arm belt and a
leather or a material lid with an added metal plate. It is similar to
cartridge boxes used by XVIII/XIX cavalry.
As that I know, it appeared at the end of XVI century or at the
beginning of XVII century during Polish Ottoman war at the Polish
territories, that constitute present-day Ukraine. Turkey and their
allied Crimean Tartars constantly attacked Polish borders. There were
also similar incursions from Moscow and Moldova. Polish army of the
period consisted of a small, albeit a well trained infantry and
artillery as well as more numerous cavalry. Due to a mobile nature, the
cavalry constituted a primary and most efficient arm at the vast and
empty territories of Ukraine.
During XVI century, conquest of the neighbouring territories was a
primary object of the West-European wars (seizure of castles/towns
etc). In case of the Kingdom of Poland, protection of the vast
territories against enemy invasion was most important. There was plenty
of land for everyone, and there was no need for territorial expansion.
The Kingdom needed peace. Therefore physical elimination of the enemy
forces constituted a main task of the Polish army and its commanders .
It is not well known that there were a lot of firearms during the
period. Polish units protecting the border, by standards of the day,
had a considerable firepower. A standard tactic, was to move quickly,
attack with sabres and lances, defend on foot with fire arms. Since the
wagons would slow-down the movement, the army moved with personal
equipment and ammunition. Therefore Polish Cartridge boxes carried 10
to 20 and more cartridges each.
A paper cartridge was well known in XVI century. For example during
battle at Byczyna (24.01.1588) between Polish and Austrian forces,
commanded respectively by Jan Zamoyskiand Maxymilian III Habsburg (a
pretender to Polish Crown), Polish army capture a lot of ammunition
cartridges. There were black-powder manufactures spread all over
Kingdom (sulphur i saltpetre was on place). There were also numerous paper
manufactures in southern Poland (paper from Poland was exported to
Hungary, Moscow). In effect there was a significant supply of a
“second class” paper. So called “gray paper” or “packing paper”. There
were also a good supply of a higher quality paper from printing
offices (during Reformation and Contr Reformation different Churches
printed a lot of books and other publications). Leftovers from the
printing process were used to produce cartridges.
There is a confirmed information about a Polish cartridge box in
diaries from the period of a Polish occupation of Kremlin in Moscow
from 1612. Next there is a cartridge box listed in a document produced
after death of a craftsman in 1618. There are also municipal tax
regulations dated 1626 in Lublin which provides information on prices
and description of different types of Polish cartridge boxes –Ładownica.
There is also a numerous iconography presenting Polish cartridge boxes
from the period: at the tomb of Hetman (i.e. general) Żółkiewski in Żółkiew (present day Ukraine) dated: after 1621- before 1635,
Another in Tarłowo church (ca 1645-50).
In both bas-reliefs there is an earlier and a simple type of Ładownica – with short cover and without metal plate on front.
Next, there are objects from Beresteczko (28.06-10.07.1651)
battlefield, where Polish army defeated Cossack rebels. During the
second half of XVII century Ładownica, which was originally a simple,
rough and ordinary utility object, became and expensive, part of an
army equipment, which confirmed material status of the owner. The
process started during the rule of the King Jan III Sobieski and Viena
Victory in 1683. The fact that there is a few luxury objects dated end
of XVII century (e.g. in Swedisch collection of the goods stolen
during the Swedish invasion / so called “Potop Szwedzki” or a Swedish
deluge) there are no objects such as Ładownica confirms low value of
such objects during the period. In comparison Ładownice (cartidge
boxes) from end of XVII and beginning of XVIII c. were decorated in the
same style as sabres of the Polish nobles (a mix of western barocco
style and the eastern splendour).
In western Europe this type of cartridge box appeared after 30-Years
War, when Polish light-horse cavalry (so called Lisowczycy) served in
the Habsburg army, in German states, Hungary and even France. I
believe that they exported the invention.
Till know knowledge about origin of such part of webbing as Cartridge
box was very limited. There is no sufficient Polish literature on the
subject. There are only 4 articles including mine. Prof. Zdzisław
Żygulski jun. published the most important book about arms and armour
in Poland in 1982. The book says that a paper cartridge was invented
in Spain at the end of XVI century and that King of Sweden, Gustavus
Adolphus introduced cartridge to the army service. I repeated this
information in my first text on the origin of cartridge boxes of
National Cavalry in 1990. At present, I believe that this information