Ammo The Three Piece Shaler an Interesting Bullet !

Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
American ingenuity was on full display during the civil war with major innovations in warfare. The unprecedented death toll was, by a large measure, brought on by improved ammunition – both small arms and artillery. One of the more intriguing small arms bullets was invented and patented on August 12, 1862 by Reuben and Ira Shaler.

In theory, the three-piece bullet would separate after it left the muzzle and make one marksman equal to three. There were three different nose shapes and three different base shapes manufactured as Shaler bullets. The middle sections were relatively uniform in shape and size on all three shapes of the bullet.

This is a tall pointy-nose style shaler that I recovered from the 2nd. Rhode Island Infantry Regiment winter camp near Fredericksburg about 20 years ago. In total about 500 such dropped (thrown away) bullets were excavated from this one camp site, possibly indicating their unpopularity. I have read accounts of solders throwing away Williams Cleaner bullets and Buck-n-ball ammunition because they were inaccurate. Perhaps the unpopularity of the Shaler’s my friends and I recovered were in that category. Six such bullets remain in my collection.

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This next photo is a three piece Shaler between a .58 caliber two ring and standard three ring.
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ucvrelics

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Nice one, I have always loved the experimental bullets. I have only found 2 and they were drops from a US camp in VA. One thing about these in the digger/collecting world is you will see the drops and the fired ones which from the ones Ive seen were fused together. You hardly see the individual dug piece.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
I ve never found - or seen a fired one.
You’re right about finding individual pieces. If memory serves me right we would find an individual piece but most of the time the other two parts weren’t far away.
Last year one local hunter found 500 shalers in one hole near Culprper. Must have been an entire ammo Box that was left behind
Thanks for stopping by
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
My brother and I have detected about the contents of 1 cartridge box of dumped dropped Shalers in the camp by my spring. Interestingly enough the middle pieces are the scarcest. I have 9 top sections, 5 bases and 3 middles, Steve slightly more than that. Of the top sections 2 of those are of the 2 piece Shaler variant. The same results are common to a couple of other digger buddies with finds from other sites. My theory has always been the middle pieces made nice game pieces or nipple protectors.
 
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Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
y brother and I have detected about the contents of 1 cartridge box of dumped dropped Shalers in the camp by my spring. Interestingly enough the middle pieces are the scarcest. I have 9 top sections, 5 bases and 3 middles, Steve slightly more than that. Of the top sections 2 of those are of the 2 piece Shaler variant. The same results are common to a couple of other digger buddies with finds from other sites. My theory has always been the middle pieces made nice game pieces or nipple protectors.
Yea. Many of the ones we found were in scattered sections and we pieced them together. I seem to recall difficulties finding the center sections too but am not sure. I have two extra tail pieces that were left over from putting them all together and I ve given other sections away to folks that needed a section to make a complete bullet.
Appreciate you reading my post
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
Thanks for sharing this awesome Shalers. Never seen or heard this before. Learning something new today.
[/QUOTE
As ucvrelics said - there were all sorts of experimental ammunition and Shaler was one of many. Another interesting bullet were the explosive bullet that was designed to explode on impact. I found two four years ago and lost one before I got home 😂
 

Biscoitos

Corporal
Joined
May 14, 2020
American ingenuity was on full display during the civil war with major innovations in warfare. The unprecedented death toll was, by a large measure, brought on by improved ammunition – both small arms and artillery. One of the more intriguing small arms bullets was invented and patented on August 12, 1862 by Reuben and Ira Shaler.

In theory, the three-piece bullet would separate after it left the muzzle and make one marksman equal to three. There were three different nose shapes and three different base shapes manufactured as Shaler bullets. The middle sections were relatively uniform in shape and size on all three shapes of the bullet.

This is a tall pointy-nose style shaler that I recovered from the 2nd. Rhode Island Infantry Regiment winter camp near Fredericksburg about 20 years ago. In total about 500 such dropped (thrown away) bullets were excavated from this one camp site, possibly indicating their unpopularity. I have read accounts of solders throwing away Williams Cleaner bullets and Buck-n-ball ammunition because they were inaccurate. Perhaps the unpopularity of the Shaler’s my friends and I recovered were in that category. Six such bullets remain in my collection.

View attachment 388811

View attachment 388812

This next photo is a three piece Shaler between a .58 caliber two ring and standard three ring.
View attachment 388813
I have been told that the theory behind the 3 piece Shalers was that the 3 pieces would spread out somewhat vertically, making it more likely to hit the target. This was to compensate for the fact that soldiers (even then, as today) tend to always shoot too high.

Does anyone know if is this right or wrong.
 

ucvrelics

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Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
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It was just a novelty. In my years in the US Army nothing beats the old adage "Center Mass":D
 

LouG.

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Jun 27, 2021
In 1878 the Army again began experimenting with multi-ball loads. The annual Report of the Chief of Ordnance for 1879 (Serial #1907), which summarizes these tests, includes a letter from Lt. Col. J. G. Benton (p. 339) which says in part: "The "Shaler sectional bullet" tried during the late war, in the rifle-musket...did not meet with favor when tried in the field." (Nevertheless, the idea surfaced again a hundred years later, with the 7.62mm (.308) "duplex loads" issued in Vietnam for the M-14 rifle.)
 
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rob63

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PA, but still a Hoosier
I find it interesting that here is a thread detailing how the soldiers themselves threw away multi-projectile cartridges because they were inaccurate. It rather flies in the face of the argument that Civil War soldiers were poor shots that would have been better armed with smoothbores firing buck and ball. I love it!
 

FedericoFCavada

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I find it interesting that here is a thread detailing how the soldiers themselves threw away multi-projectile cartridges because they were inaccurate. It rather flies in the face of the argument that Civil War soldiers were poor shots that would have been better armed with smoothbores firing buck and ball. I love it!
The .65 caliber under-sized round ball + 3x .310 (single aught) buckshot pellets load known as "buck and ball" was fired from a .69 caliber smooth-bore musket. Not from a rifle. The single Minie/Burton ball with a lead skirt that would take the rifling upon being fired was used in a rifle musket.

In researching .69 caliber cartridges, I have found cases where Iowans were issued a .69 caliber Minie/Burton ball intended to be used in a rifled musket that was once a smooth-bore. The ammunition was available, so it was issued out. I'm sure it failed to work all that well. I have yet to find troops with rifled .69 caliber muskets receiving round ball or buck and ball ammunition for them, but neither would work very well in the rifled arms.

Most Civil War soldiers were experienced with firearms. The vast majority never received any instruction or training in how to use the sights on their rifles, however. Drill emphasized moving in a body with other armed men, loading, and firing. Some officers and NCOs may well have given some instruction, or even shouted commands to one or another group on what setting they should make to their sights before opening fire. It does not appear that most did.

Within each paper packet containing 10 paper cartridges and a paper tube holding a dozen musket caps, one cartridge had a tinted paper identifying it as a "cleaning" cartridge with a zinc disc designed to literally scrape the interior of the bore upon firing. The idea was that the shot would carry some of the black powder fouling with it. Many of these bullets are found today, indicating that in many instances these were discarded. The Shaler sectional ball was designed to offer a greater hit probability than a single bullet. Doubtless it was sold to stiff-necked traditionalist officers who thought that buck and ball was the way to go, and a pox on these newfangled rifled arms... "It'll never catch on!" The Shaler sections did not perform as advertised. Soldiers discarded them.

During WWII, the Germans experimented with a bolt-action rifle cartridge that contained two separate bullets. The idea was that for ever trigger pull, the landser so armed would be firing two projectiles, and that might improve hit probability. The idea was then resurrected by the U.S., which laid claim to much research in weapons that had been undertaken during the Second World War. U.S. ballisticians and tacticians and engineers even managed to shape the different projectiles to try to help ensure a separate trajectory for the bullets. Other experiments looked to the idea of firing several dart-like "flechettes" for every trigger pull, again, to improve hit probability. The belief is that a single recoil impulse that comes from a single shot that produces more than one projectile directed at the enemy even led German engineers, with their rather notorious reputation for over-engineering, to come up with an outlandishly complicated combustible cartridge 4.9mm shoulder arm in the 1980s, the G-11, nicknamed jokingly by some firearm cognoscenti as "Kraut space magik." This shoulder rifle was designed to fire three separate shots from a single trigger pull, but somehow deliver the firer the sensation that he'd fired but once... The idea still comes up every now and then...
 

rob63

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Location
PA, but still a Hoosier
The .65 caliber under-sized round ball + 3x .310 (single aught) buckshot pellets load known as "buck and ball" was fired from a .69 caliber smooth-bore musket. Not from a rifle. The single Minie/Burton ball with a lead skirt that would take the rifling upon being fired was used in a rifle musket.

In researching .69 caliber cartridges, I have found cases where Iowans were issued a .69 caliber Minie/Burton ball intended to be used in a rifled musket that was once a smooth-bore. The ammunition was available, so it was issued out. I'm sure it failed to work all that well. I have yet to find troops with rifled .69 caliber muskets receiving round ball or buck and ball ammunition for them, but neither would work very well in the rifled arms.

Most Civil War soldiers were experienced with firearms. The vast majority never received any instruction or training in how to use the sights on their rifles, however. Drill emphasized moving in a body with other armed men, loading, and firing. Some officers and NCOs may well have given some instruction, or even shouted commands to one or another group on what setting they should make to their sights before opening fire. It does not appear that most did.

Within each paper packet containing 10 paper cartridges and a paper tube holding a dozen musket caps, one cartridge had a tinted paper identifying it as a "cleaning" cartridge with a zinc disc designed to literally scrape the interior of the bore upon firing. The idea was that the shot would carry some of the black powder fouling with it. Many of these bullets are found today, indicating that in many instances these were discarded. The Shaler sectional ball was designed to offer a greater hit probability than a single bullet. Doubtless it was sold to stiff-necked traditionalist officers who thought that buck and ball was the way to go, and a pox on these newfangled rifled arms... "It'll never catch on!" The Shaler sections did not perform as advertised. Soldiers discarded them.

During WWII, the Germans experimented with a bolt-action rifle cartridge that contained two separate bullets. The idea was that for ever trigger pull, the landser so armed would be firing two projectiles, and that might improve hit probability. The idea was then resurrected by the U.S., which laid claim to much research in weapons that had been undertaken during the Second World War. U.S. ballisticians and tacticians and engineers even managed to shape the different projectiles to try to help ensure a separate trajectory for the bullets. Other experiments looked to the idea of firing several dart-like "flechettes" for every trigger pull, again, to improve hit probability. The belief is that a single recoil impulse that comes from a single shot that produces more than one projectile directed at the enemy even led German engineers, with their rather notorious reputation for over-engineering, to come up with an outlandishly complicated combustible cartridge 4.9mm shoulder arm in the 1980s, the G-11, nicknamed jokingly by some firearm cognoscenti as "Kraut space magik." This shoulder rifle was designed to fire three separate shots from a single trigger pull, but somehow deliver the firer the sensation that he'd fired but once... The idea still comes up every now and then...
I could be wrong, but your answer leaves me with the impression that you missed my point. The archaeological evidence expressed in the thread indicates that the soldiers themselves valued accuracy, to the point that they were willing to throw away ammunition that didn't meet their expectations even when it included multiple projectiles. I was simply expressing that I think their opinion is relevant in the old smoothbore vs. rifle-musket debate.

In any case, interesting thread about the Shaler bullet, sorry I went off in a different direction.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
The .65 caliber under-sized round ball + 3x .310 (single aught) buckshot pellets load known as "buck and ball" was fired from a .69 caliber smooth-bore musket. Not from a rifle. The single Minie/Burton ball with a lead skirt that would take the rifling upon being fired was used in a rifle musket.

In researching .69 caliber cartridges, I have found cases where Iowans were issued a .69 caliber Minie/Burton ball intended to be used in a rifled musket that was once a smooth-bore. The ammunition was available, so it was issued out. I'm sure it failed to work all that well. I have yet to find troops with rifled .69 caliber muskets receiving round ball or buck and ball ammunition for them, but neither would work very well in the rifled arms.

Most Civil War soldiers were experienced with firearms. The vast majority never received any instruction or training in how to use the sights on their rifles, however. Drill emphasized moving in a body with other armed men, loading, and firing. Some officers and NCOs may well have given some instruction, or even shouted commands to one or another group on what setting they should make to their sights before opening fire. It does not appear that most did.

Within each paper packet containing 10 paper cartridges and a paper tube holding a dozen musket caps, one cartridge had a tinted paper identifying it as a "cleaning" cartridge with a zinc disc designed to literally scrape the interior of the bore upon firing. The idea was that the shot would carry some of the black powder fouling with it. Many of these bullets are found today, indicating that in many instances these were discarded. The Shaler sectional ball was designed to offer a greater hit probability than a single bullet. Doubtless it was sold to stiff-necked traditionalist officers who thought that buck and ball was the way to go, and a pox on these newfangled rifled arms... "It'll never catch on!" The Shaler sections did not perform as advertised. Soldiers discarded them.

During WWII, the Germans experimented with a bolt-action rifle cartridge that contained two separate bullets. The idea was that for ever trigger pull, the landser so armed would be firing two projectiles, and that might improve hit probability. The idea was then resurrected by the U.S., which laid claim to much research in weapons that had been undertaken during the Second World War. U.S. ballisticians and tacticians and engineers even managed to shape the different projectiles to try to help ensure a separate trajectory for the bullets. Other experiments looked to the idea of firing several dart-like "flechettes" for every trigger pull, again, to improve hit probability. The belief is that a single recoil impulse that comes from a single shot that produces more than one projectile directed at the enemy even led German engineers, with their rather notorious reputation for over-engineering, to come up with an outlandishly complicated combustible cartridge 4.9mm shoulder arm in the 1980s, the G-11, nicknamed jokingly by some firearm cognoscenti as "Kraut space magik." This shoulder rifle was designed to fire three separate shots from a single trigger pull, but somehow deliver the firer the sensation that he'd fired but once... The idea still comes up every now and then...
Very interesting and detailed. Thank you
As an Ole time relic hunter I have found buck n balls but most didn’t have all three “buck shots” attached. I presume the fell off easily.
Ditto on the Williams cleaner..... troops seemed to toss them because of their inaccuracies
 
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