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Old 10th June 2019, 02:46 PM   #1
Via Dixiane
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Default Waterloo or not...

Hi everyone,
I bought a few years ago that "" battle field" memorabilia.
One big piece of hollow Canon ball mounted on 3 small ones.
Weight 2 kilos
Diameter of big one at least 100 mm
Small ones 40 mm
There is a solide brass plate on it... That's the beginning of the mystery... I can't read it... It seems to be handwritten Cyrillic...
It seems to have been important to made such efforts. The plate is very good quality and as old as the Canon ball. It's the reason why I wonder it would not come from Waterloo batte field. Some Russian troops took part in it..
Thanks sharing knowledge!
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Old 11th June 2019, 09:33 AM   #2
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Nice setup.
... with what appears to be four grapeshot or canister ammo balls; diameter and probable weight (250 grams) too small for one pound solid shot. The grenade fragment, if measured 13 cms. in diameter, would be for a 5 1/2" howitzer ... or similar equipment.
I confess i would never guess the inscription on the plate is Cyrillic !

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Old 11th June 2019, 10:34 AM   #3
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about the cyrillic... i'm not so sure... But i can not read it in french
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Old 12th June 2019, 02:29 AM   #4
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The inscription translates as "Memory of Sevastopol". Possibly a fragment of a shell shot during the Crimean War (1853 - 1856).

Last edited by batjka : 12th June 2019 at 02:41 AM.
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Old 12th June 2019, 06:07 AM   #5
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thanks a lot Batjka !
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Old 12th June 2019, 10:10 AM   #6
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So .. it was Cyrillic, after all .
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Old 12th June 2019, 02:55 PM   #7
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Default "Valley of the Shadow of Death"

This famous photo was taken in Sevastopol on April 23, 1855, by photographer Roger Fenton who was sent there by Thomas Agnew of London to capture images of the Crimean War in place there.

The Crimean War was one of the first to be observed in a journalistic sense by 'war correspondents', and Roger Fenton one of the first official photographers.
While it is fascinating to see images in 'real time' of such historic events, it was typical that such photographs were 'staged' to dramatize or recreate the circumstances. Obviously it would have been difficult to move the equipment and properly set up each shot spontaneously.

In this case, the 'road' was probably somewhere near the location where the famous 'Charge of the Light Brigade' took place. The British troops were under constant shelling and gathered shot for further use, and it is believed the balls that line this road were either thrown there as such..........or more likely these were 'staged' there for dramatic effect. Another photo from the same vantage point is void of cannon shot.
The valley was apparently called 'valley of death' by the British forces from that constant barrage.

The famed charge of the Light Brigade had taken place October 25, 1854, and Lord Tennyson penned his famous poem, which of course had used the phrase 'valley of death' on December 2,1854. It was published in the 'Examiner' on December 9, 1854.

Fenton first exhibited this photograph in September of 1855, so the title was likely with reference to Tennyson's use of the 'valley' phrase.

1. The 1855 photo of cannon ball strewn valley by Fenton
2. artistic rendition of the action in 1854 , the charge.
3.the area today contains a vineyard as seen in this panorama
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Old 12th June 2019, 05:35 PM   #8
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thanks jim for the pictures and your interest
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Old 12th June 2019, 06:33 PM   #9
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Default The reality or fantasy of (photo) press.

Jim, in trying to relate your post & pictures with the ongoing topic, the closest i can get is that you are suggesting that the discussed setup is not an isolated personal memorandum but a 'marketing' souvenir.
While in the famous photo you show, judging by the 'disciplined' (read implausible) line up of such immense parade of balls, is practically undeniable that it is a setup organized by the photographer, to the extent you may even doubt if those balls were actually all shot, without an extra resource of unshot ammunition reserves, at least Via Dixiane memo has a bursted grenade, which gives it a reality look.
I don't have scruples in so saying because i once saw a photographer, during a street demonstration (Paris 1968), enticing a young man to burst the windows of a kiosk, to later publish the scene in his magazine, as if it were spontaneous.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:23 PM   #10
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Actually I had not given it any thought, and simply recalled research of years ago when I was obsessed with the "Charge of the Light Brigade" and the cannons, which were the focus of the immortal charge.

'cannon to the left of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon in front of them, volley'd and thunder'd'

I was not suggesting anything, but as this item is said to be from Sevastopol, my memory to countless years of research on the charge was piqued.

Batjka translated the inscription, clearly Cyrillic, and suggested perhaps it was a fragment of a shell from the Crimean War. Somehow that triggered thoughts of the charge and the lines of the Tennyson poem, and the famed photo.
I actually had no thought of the character of the ball shown, whether it was authentically exploded or not, nor why it was mounted, except I will note that there are countless souvenir items from that war with such labels.
As far as I have known these are generally items which belonged to members of the units in the Crimea, presentation items to such groups, and personal keepsakes.
I have never seen 'marketing' souvenirs from this war personally, so would not have thought of such an instance for this example of what is commonly known as 'trench art'.

In trying to add interesting information pertaining to Sevastopol, as suggested by Batjka, I did not realize I had postured such a perplexing notion.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Via Dixiane
thanks jim for the pictures and your interest



You are very welcome! fascinating item. I once had a ball from the War of 1812 I acquired in New Orleans, which sat on my desk for decades. Eventually it literally fell to pieces, completely corroded from within.

Simply an anecdote about cannon balls in general
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Old 13th June 2019, 06:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
You are very welcome! fascinating item. I once had a ball from the War of 1812 I acquired in New Orleans, which sat on my desk for decades. Eventually it literally fell to pieces, completely corroded from within.

Simply an anecdote about cannon balls in general


Jim, you are a living encyclopedia! Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge on this forum.
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Old 13th June 2019, 10:18 AM   #13
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If i may Jim, not all of us get carried in the same direction ... in this case when it is about electing one's topic collateral inputs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... In trying to add interesting information pertaining to Sevastopol, as suggested by Batjka, I did not realize I had postured such a perplexing notion...

Call it instead a little hesitation, before i figured out which angle of the topic you selected to articulate.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... While it is fascinating to see images in 'real time' of such historic events, it was typical that such photographs were 'staged' to dramatize or recreate the circumstances.

... As such is what in my entry i have chosen to focus on; the subject of inauthenticity of images; a practice that you point out having been exercised since the very first photojournalist intervention on the scenario. This drove me to recall the experience i had in the 1968 French tumults, not counting later episodes of similar caliber.
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Old 13th June 2019, 01:18 PM   #14
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Spoke too soon ...
This one even has articulated features.


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Old 13th June 2019, 02:56 PM   #15
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The ensemble is definitely put together in recent times - the script is contemporary Russian Cyrillic, put in place after the orphography reform of 1918. However, it does not mean that the items are not authentic. So-called "black archaeology" is widespread in Russia with people digging up items from passed wars and selling them as souvenirs. So it's plausible (if not likely) that the balls and the grenade are authentic ordnance from Crimean War.
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Old 13th June 2019, 03:26 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batjka
... So it's plausible (if not likely) that the balls and the grenade are authentic ordnance from Crimean War...

Sure thing Batjka; that is something i did not think of doubting.
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Old 13th June 2019, 03:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batjka
The ensemble is definitely put together in recent times - the script is contemporary Russian Cyrillic, put in place after the orphography reform of 1918. However, it does not mean that the items are not authentic. So-called "black archaeology" is widespread in Russia with people digging up items from passed wars and selling them as souvenirs. So it's plausible (if not likely) that the balls and the grenade are authentic ordnance from Crimean War.



Very well noted Batjka!!! The inscribed plate is most pertinent, as you say that its manner of Cyrillic is a manner post 1918. Indeed, this does NOT suggest any inauthenticity of the items used to fashion this poignant memento. …..which is what it is, NOT a contrived marketing item.
The fact that the plate simply notes 'IN MEMORY OF SEVASTOPOL' strongly suggests this notion, rather than elaborately detailing date, event etc .
While the 'black art' possibility is compelling, it is possible this assembly might have been put together many years ago from a survivors memorabilia and likely by the family who did not know details of its circumstance.

When I mentioned 'trench art', this referred to many items which were fashioned by soldiers using items of ordnance, and other battle related materials to fashion interesting assemblies in the manner of this cannon ball display. What comes to mind is candle holders etc. made from shell casings (much of this was WWI),

When I illustrated the photo of the 'Valley of the Shadow of Death', the intent was to convey the powerfully dramatic effect that artillery had on the men in the Crimean War, the relentless shelling and the foreboding feeling that went with the photo. The reason I brought forth the fact that it had been 'staged' was to establish transparency and emphasize this was the artistic effect the photographer wished to instill.

Clearly, whoever assembled this almost chilling memento of Sevastopol had intended to convey similar notions.

While I know that in the original post there was apparently a genuine hope of this relic/art having Waterloo provenance, however, the battles and events in the Crimea in 1854-56 were equally important. The 'Charge of the Light Brigade', mostly through the words of Lord Tennyson, is one of the most famed, and fateful, cavalry charges in history. It is remarkable that his poem, as well as this famed photo with title phrased from it, carry the dramatic nuance of this relatively little known war.
This 'memento' does much the same, regardless of when and why it was assembled.
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Old 13th June 2019, 04:20 PM   #18
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Jim, what i read from Batjka is that these ammunitions were potentially caught in the Crimean war scenario, but intentionally for the making of setups to sell as souvenirs.
You might have missed or ignored my post #14 where i have shown pictures of an example in the same line as the one here discussed, in this case (by the way) an articulated candle holder, ironically offered in a Waterloo memorabilia website, although assumedly tagged as a Crimean souvenir.
From which both notes we have no doubt left that, these things pour out there, definitely for commercial purposes. Looking at these as they should be seen, is a way to not confuse them with more serious items, actually made to remember moments by those who had been through such real tragic situations.
All in all i realize that, one and the other do not represent the same .
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Old 13th June 2019, 04:30 PM   #19
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Cannon balls literally carpeted the Valley of Death, many rolling back downhill and collecting on the valley floor. This one is almost the same location as the earlier photo, but before the EOD teams cleaned up the road.
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Old 13th June 2019, 05:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
Cannon balls literally carpeted the Valley of Death, many rolling back downhill and collecting on the valley floor. This one is the same as the earlier photo, but before they cleaned up the road.


Wayne this is a most interesting perspective. There is indeed an alternate photograph without the cannon balls scattered, however in the investigations which I read, it was suggested this photo was taken BEFORE the balls were placed in array for a more 'provocative'(?) photo.

In looking at the photo, it does seem that some of the ordnance is somewhat imbedded in the dirt or ground material. If these were placed strategically for the purpose of a photographic image, would they have had such evidence of settling into the surface dirt? Meanwhile those balls on what appears to be the main 'travelled' part of the road remain superficially situated ( harder dirt?).

The suggestion that given the hilly terrain, the spent balls would have likely rolled downward after impact and loss of velocity, is well placed. But that so many seem to have all hit in the same place and rolled backward en masse seems somewhat suspect, though still plausible.

The trajectory and distances that cannon shot would travel, even though low velocity, is remarkable. Even a slow moving ball could effect traumatic injury past its established range, often they could even be seen moving along in flight.
My GG grandfather, who fought through the Civil War, and lived to very old age (died 1941) was interviewed about his recollections and asked if he was ever wounded said, he was....."got hit by a cannon ball once, but didn't hurt me none'!! Clearly the ball was beyond spent, and at the end of its flight.

I think the point is that regardless of how certain relics or objects which have provenance to a certain event or campaign are displayed, they still have inherent historical importance. We cannot possibly determine (usually) what the intent of such assemblies or displays might be, and can only try to appreciate whatever inherent value might exist.

With art, the purpose is to elicit certain emotional, sensitive and other subjective reactions in the viewer. Clearly those results have been accomplished here, thus is the essence of 'art', and well done.


We do all see things through different prisms, and myself as both artist and arms historian (only in degree in both) I am inclined to see subjects from an artistic perspective, and often overtly optimistic.

A quote I have long kept best describes:
"...I was once told that it was said of Laking (Sir Guy Laking, British arms historian and collector) that he would always find something kind to say about a fellow collectors object".
"Arms and Armor Study in Edwardian Britain"
Sid Blair & Michael Lacy (1999).

Laking was one of the early 'greats' in arms collecting and well known author of many long venerated articles and references, who I very much admired from my own early beginnings in collecting.

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Old 13th June 2019, 05:46 PM   #21
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I almost added an "or after" after the before ; I figured you'd comment .

Journalists have always spiced up their photos, right up to now. one got fired not long back when they found he was holed up in a posh hotel far from the front in the sandpit and staging photos to 'illustrate' his second hand stories.

I heard they moved bones a lot in Cambodia to make it more concentrated and less spread out 'for dramatic purposes' after it was safe for them to go back..
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Old 13th June 2019, 05:57 PM   #22
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These are great pieces of history. No reason to doubt authenticity as tons of it is still in the ground. Seems they are digging up stuff for decades and more.
I have 93rd Highlander buttons from a seller in Russia, most likely from old graves dug up as you don't find lost buttons by the dozens. Seems wrong to me but well after 100+ years out of living memory graves tend to be more archeological and less sacred. I have no idea if British Crimea graves were well marked or not or a variation of unmarked and marked.
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Old 13th June 2019, 07:16 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will M
These are great pieces of history. No reason to doubt authenticity as tons of it is still in the ground. Seems they are digging up stuff for decades and more.
I have 93rd Highlander buttons from a seller in Russia, most likely from old graves dug up as you don't find lost buttons by the dozens. Seems wrong to me but well after 100+ years out of living memory graves tend to be more archeological and less sacred. I have no idea if British Crimea graves were well marked or not or a variation of unmarked and marked.




As far as I know Will, there is a memorial marker to the British soldiers who fell during the 'Charge' in the location there (mostly vineyards now). It seems most graves, as often in battle aftermath situations, were largely unmarked, or whatever temporary markers now long gone.

Places of battle still give up relics and material from those events, and for example, in Nashville and surrounding areas there are constantly items found from the Civil War.

As young boys, my brother and I living in Utah at what was once a WWII air force training base (the war had only been over less than 10 years), we were walking through a field a in the tall grass found a (thankfully inert) 500 lb. training bomb. It was mostly empty, but we carried in home, to the dismay and horror of neighborhood folks as they looked out their windows! It is not hard to imagine the reaction of our parents.
After time, dad put in in the attic. Then we moved...…..unloading our stuff states away, my brother and I wondered where the bomb was...….dad apparently uh, forgot it in the attic...
I often wondered the reaction of the houses' new owners!
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Old 13th June 2019, 08:50 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
... Journalists have always spiced up their photos, right up to now. one got fired not long back when they found he was holed up in a posh hotel far from the front in the sandpit and staging photos to 'illustrate' his second hand stories.
I heard they moved bones a lot in Cambodia to make it more concentrated and less spread out 'for dramatic purposes' after it was safe for them to go back..

Wayne old chum, i know you are a well versed dude.
Grapeshot, reportedly (also) used in Sebastopol, has a 200 meters (minus) range. From this on, solid shot is used, which can reach with efficacy a minimum 200 meters, going a few hundred more. When used in close quarters, like it is written in Peninsular War records, within 50-50 meters (French forces in Vimeiro), and even as close as 40 steps (Allied forces, left flank in Buçaco), the result is devastating, to the extent that, the parts of bodies mutilated in first the line hit the ones in the back equally with lethal results. But when these volleys found no obstacle in front they would fly low for a while and then landed, rolling endlessly and catching as many enemies as they can find in their path. However, realizing that such erratic course would make them all fall down the hill and stop in line on the same slope, is like believing in an act of God.
Concerning photo fixing, it takes a wise man to define the thinness of the line between staging and forgering. I like your mentioning the number of journalists spicing their photos, the position 'adjusting' of the Cambodian bones and all. On the one hand, you have such characters doing it all for scoring audience points and, on the other, you have these hawks doing whatever it takes to make their dirty bucks. I compare a side note made by Ariel the other day, reminding us that, (quote) in the Old City of Jerusalem one can buy aluminum cans with “ The air that Jesus breathed” (unquote) with the relics from (Portuguese) Fatima sanctuary, containing earth from the sacred place the Lady appeared.
On a different note, it doesn't take any illuminated scholar to tell us that we must always have a kind word for our fellow collector's item. One thing is to offer our insignificant knowledge about it, with sincere honesty and exempt of all sarcasm, the other is illude him by saying his piece is an excellent acquisition. It is best he faces reality and learns from it, preventing him from carrying on acquiring mediocre stuff, giving him a hand to discern what is good and what is a dud. We are all grown ups around here; no lollipops needed.

.

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Old 14th June 2019, 07:03 AM   #25
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hi everyone,

that's great, i learnt quite a few things thanks to all of you.

The reason i had to believe it came from Waterloo in the first place was that there are quite a lot a memorabilia from it. I did not know the Crimean war also had the same phenomenon.

When it come to journalists, due to my experience in former Yugoslavia i know that they like to show things according a certain "angle".
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Old 14th June 2019, 12:27 PM   #26
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Thumbs up Bienvenue

You are welcome to show us further acquisitions, Va Dixiane .
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Old 15th June 2019, 01:49 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Via Dixiane
hi everyone,

that's great, i learnt quite a few things thanks to all of you.

The reason i had to believe it came from Waterloo in the first place was that there are quite a lot a memorabilia from it. I did not know the Crimean war also had the same phenomenon.

When it come to journalists, due to my experience in former Yugoslavia i know that they like to show things according a certain "angle".




I am glad for what I could add here, and while the display apparently was not from Waterloo as you had hoped, the Crimean War was also rich in historical context. For me personally it was exciting to revisit the extensive research I enjoyed on both over many years. The memorabilia phenomenon is of course pretty universal in the human experience as nostalgia and curiosity effects most people in one way or another.

I thank you for sharing this item here, and giving us a chance to learn from it.

I would add that it seems a number of these 'arrangements' of ordnance from Crimean War context appear to be 'marketed' online with similar setup and brass plaques.
Perhaps these might imitate earlier such displays of actual souvenirs from the Crimea which became prototypes for these 'marketed' arrangements.

An interesting instance found under "War Tourism" (Wiki):
"...during the Crimean War, tourists led by Mark Twain visited the wrecked city of Sevastopol- he even scolded his travel mates for walking off with SOUVENIR SHRAPNEL".

It would seem that while there MAY have been authentic such displays of such materials in those times.....obviously as with all manner of militaria and these kinds of items, one must be aware of the constant presence of modern creations of same.

There is no harm in optimism in observing items shown, however all possibilities must be considered equally. Discussing an item toward its inherent historical potential whether authentic or not is not necessarily the concern of the discussion, for some of us it is the history being represented that is important.
To each his own, and for collectors, as always.....caveat emptor.

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Old 17th June 2019, 09:38 AM   #28
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Was enthralled by Errol Flynn's Charge of the Light Brigade, and the movies about the Wooden Ships and Iron men of the age of sail and their weapons, as well as the famous 'last stands' from Leonidas at Thermopylae onwards.

Wastched a movie a few days ago about 21 Sikh warriors in the British army making a last stand in a outpost fort in afghanistan against 10,000 pathans for days, to allow the Brits time to come up the Khyber with reinforcements for the main Skh regiment. They died to a man, but took hundreds of the enemy with them before running out of ammo, and then took quite a few before the died with cold steel.

Grapeshot is fairly large, was arranged around a central wooden rod set in a wooden base sabot, and wrapped in a canvas cover. Cannister was also coming into fashion, with musket balls in a ton 'cannister'. all last ditch shots as you were about to be overrun. You had more chance not to be when breech loaders ballowed faster reloads before they swamped you. Colonel Shrapnel's invention with the bombs bursting in the air were deadly at longer ranges. cased shells with timed shrapnel warheads provides a blast of balls in a wide oval at very long ranges and were the age's cluster bombs. especially useful with the new rapid breech loading recoil damped pieces from the end of the 19c. I seem to recall cannister was used by US & Allied forces in the pacific WW2, Korea, and also in Vietnam.

below are a batch of grape charges for a 9-pounder naval gun, cased cannister, and a cutaway of a shrapnel round shot, and a modern ogival artillery round.
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Old 17th June 2019, 11:53 AM   #29
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Governor, history is profuse in narrating epic episodes in that a handful of dudes defended a post from the assault of a zillion foes.
We know of some that would put Leonidas far back in the queue for the Guiness . I gather that, the difference between facts and myth often resides in the ratio of combatants allegedly registered in either side.

The ammo business ...
Grapeshot and shrapnell were both (also) used in the Peninsular war, together with canister, which curiously we call lanternetas (small lanterns). Wellington was not fond of shrapnell, which he personally checked that its effect wasn't lethal enough; plenty wounds but ... not deadly as should. He saw General Simon being hit by shrapnell in his face and head; the bullets were removed like it is done when one accidently gets hit by birth shot in the face whilst duck hunting (SIC); not actually seriously wounded. When he heard that in Badajoz they used such grenades with the 24 pounders as a solution, he ordered that cannons of equal caliber were loaded with musket balls, to obviate such system flaws and ensure that the wounds did in fact incapacitate the ones that received them.
One not so talked about apparatus that became a latter occasional addition (1823-1814) in this war was the explosive rocket, invented by Baronet Sir William Congreve.

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Old 17th June 2019, 12:06 PM   #30
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Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
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True, later high explosives worked better. Actually wounding an enemy is better strategically as it takes more manpower to care for the wounded , more food, etc, too, a dead person just needs a hole, or not even that.

Conceive's rockets were in use in the war of 1812, and included in the US's national anthem (the Rockets red glare).

Apparently they also were under development in the Peninsular war.`

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0deTf57rUqE

I like the flank officer's sword....
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