1842 69 cal Musket Ammunition

Joined
Apr 9, 2019
Messages
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#1
Hi.

Does anyone know the the true size of the round ball used in the 69 cal 1842 Springfield smoothbore musket? I have a copy of the 1861 Army Ordnance manual that has a chart that says it is 0.685 inch, but it also says it weighs 730 grains. That weight cannot be correct, and makes me question the whole chart. Part of this chart is replicated in "Making Cartridges" by Patrick Reardon, a Watchdog Quarterly publication. I can't find any other corroboration of this number (0.685). Does anybody know any other reference to the 1842 69 cal ball true size?

Thanks,

-Lawrence
 

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Jul 17, 2015
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#13
I shoot an 1842 live in North South Skirmish competition. We aren't allowed by comp rules to use paper cartridges but my roundball ammo weighs in at about 472gr and it .682. For a paper cartridge to be stuffed into the bore containing the ball, the ball would have to be on the order of .660 depending on the thickness of the cartridge paper. While I'm not the best smoothbore shooter in the NSSA, my 42 Macon will group about 3in at 25yds.
 
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#14
Thanks, everyone, for your replies. This was my first post, and I am impressed by the responses. This is a really good forum.

The chart in the 1861 Ordnance manual must be referring to a 730gr Minie, as johan_steele commented. The link that James Brenner provided has diagrams of 69cal Minie's that show 0.685 true size for the Minie. So, the Ordnance Manual makes sense. The manual also says the round ball for the buck and ball round is 0.65 inch, which seems to be what one would expect, with all the paper from the cartridge and all.

Lee makes a 0.690 round ball mold, and their website says "Lee Single Cavity Mold produces a .690 diameter Ball, 493.14 grains.". This makes sense, and jives with calculation (I calculate 492gr for an true size of 0.690"). rebed19th's cool pic of the 0.68 ball coming in at 429gr seems light compared to calculation (about 471gr), but the scale doesn't lie.

So, I still don't have a reference that confirms the true size of the spherical ball in the single round ball 1942 musket cartridge, but it seems likely the 0.65 ball is used, same as the buck and ball round. Does this make sense?
 
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166
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San Antonio, Texas
#15
The U.S. started out using .643 in. balls--aka. "19 to a pound" in the French .69 caliber muskets during the American Revolutionary War. The basic .64 cal. in .69 caliber musket size persisted for quite some time. There is an anecdote about Minnesotans breaking open spherical case shot to get at the .64 caliber balls therein for use in muskets against hostile Indians.

During the time of the Civil War, as everyone has related up post, the round ball was .65 or buck and ball .65 + 3x .310 buckshot.
The rifled .69 caliber "flying anvil" Minie/Burton ball was a monster 730 grain conical bullet propelled by something like 70 grains of powder... "Kills on one end, wounds on the other."

I shoot skirmishes with an original Model 1842 .69 musket. For smooth bore, I am going with a .670 ball for a tighter no-paper fit. Many guys use a .672 ball that has been roughened up uniformly to remove the sprue and ensure that Alox lubricant will adhere to the surface. The "proof is in the pudding" as the saying goes... I'd love to see everyone get "as issued" .65 caliber balls sometime!

I've relined a rifled and sighted Model 1842 rifled musket barrel and use a 535gr. "wad cutter" bullet in that instead of the service load...

A weird wrinkle, if you will, is that battlefields turn up every now and then an odd .69 caliber bullet supplied by the Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind in North Carolina for tar heels issued smooth bore muskets. It is called a "Nessler" or a "Nesler" but it is not really a "true" Nessler bullet as devised by a Belgian/French ordnance official to try to get more militarily useful range out of a smooth bore musket. Such bullets were used in the Crimea and other conflicts. The North Carolina "slug" variant has a solid base and a skirt that suggest it is a bit like the Pritchett bullet, albeit for use in a smooth bore. I've got a mould to throw those at .680, while my Minie/Burton mould is a .685. Thus far I've not made enough of the Neslers--so-called--to do a meaningful test, but hope to soon. To start out I'll probably go for a silhouette at 200 yards after walking up from 75 yards or so...

Good luck with your research! And welcome!
 

frontrank2

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#17
The U.S. started out using .643 in. balls--aka. "19 to a pound" in the French .69 caliber muskets during the American Revolutionary War. The basic .64 cal. in .69 caliber musket size persisted for quite some time. There is an anecdote about Minnesotans breaking open spherical case shot to get at the .64 caliber balls therein for use in muskets against hostile Indians.

During the time of the Civil War, as everyone has related up post, the round ball was .65 or buck and ball .65 + 3x .310 buckshot.
The rifled .69 caliber "flying anvil" Minie/Burton ball was a monster 730 grain conical bullet propelled by something like 70 grains of powder... "Kills on one end, wounds on the other."

I shoot skirmishes with an original Model 1842 .69 musket. For smooth bore, I am going with a .670 ball for a tighter no-paper fit. Many guys use a .672 ball that has been roughened up uniformly to remove the sprue and ensure that Alox lubricant will adhere to the surface. The "proof is in the pudding" as the saying goes... I'd love to see everyone get "as issued" .65 caliber balls sometime!

I've relined a rifled and sighted Model 1842 rifled musket barrel and use a 535gr. "wad cutter" bullet in that instead of the service load...

A weird wrinkle, if you will, is that battlefields turn up every now and then an odd .69 caliber bullet supplied by the Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind in North Carolina for tar heels issued smooth bore muskets. It is called a "Nessler" or a "Nesler" but it is not really a "true" Nessler bullet as devised by a Belgian/French ordnance official to try to get more militarily useful range out of a smooth bore musket. Such bullets were used in the Crimea and other conflicts. The North Carolina "slug" variant has a solid base and a skirt that suggest it is a bit like the Pritchett bullet, albeit for use in a smooth bore. I've got a mould to throw those at .680, while my Minie/Burton mould is a .685. Thus far I've not made enough of the Neslers--so-called--to do a meaningful test, but hope to soon. To start out I'll probably go for a silhouette at 200 yards after walking up from 75 yards or so...

Good luck with your research! And welcome!
Just out of curiosity, how much powder do you load and ff or fffg?
 
Joined
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Messages
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San Antonio, Texas
#18
When I use my original for skirmishing, I use way, way less than the original charges. A full-tilt .69 rifled Minié/Burton would be way too much gun for me! Heck, I'd probably get a detached retina or something.

I use 55grains of FFFg Goex with the 535-grain wadcutter conical/elongated skirted bullet. I use about 60 or so grains of FFg with the .670 round ball, although I've also tried just 50-gr. of FFFg at 50 yards.

As everyone on this site knows already, the original charges were as follows:
Union powder charges from The Ordnance Manual for the Use of the Officers of the United States Army (Philadelphia, 1861)
.69 expanding ball/ Minié 70 grains
.58 Minié 60 grains
.69 smoothbore round ball 110 grains
.44 cal. Army revolver elongated ball 30 grains
.36 cal. Navy revolver elongated ball 17 grains
.52 cal. Sharps cavalry carbine 50 grains

CSA The Field Manual for the Use of the Officers on Ordnance Duty (Richmond, 1862)
.54 cal. Mississippi rifle 70 grains
.577 cal. Enfield 70 grains
.58 cal. rifle musket 75 grains
.69 cal. rifled musket 80 grains
.69 cal. smoothbore round ball 100 grains
.69 cal. smoothbore buck and ball 110 grains
.54 Merrill carbine 50 grains
.52 Sharps carbine 60 grains
.50 cal. Maynard 55 grains
.44 Army revolver 30 grains
.36 Navy revolver 17 grains
.54 cal. single-shot pistol 30 grains
 



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