"The U.S. Government is ... Manufacturing Poisoned Bullets"

John Hartwell

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From the Richmond Whig, 18 February 1863:
Richmond_Whig_1863-09-18_[4].png
 

John Hartwell

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Location
Central Massachusetts
Anything to make the other side look bad 😒
Take all "atrocity" stories with a grain of salt -- whichever side they are told about.

I know nothing about ACW bullets, but I am sure these charges have some basis in bullet technology (if not in 'venomous' intent). That's why I posted it in this forum ... I'd welcome the education.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2021
What about "cleaner bullets?" You know, the mine' balls designed to scour out the residue from firing the musket?

Weren't those made of copper and had a blue cartridge case?
Here's a cleaner bullet
Edit: it says the plate on the back of the bullet had a washer that would scour the barrel

https://www.gettysburgmuseumofhistory.com/gettysburg-battle/civil-war-relics-artifacts-for-sale/original-civil-war-relic-type-3-williams-cleaner-bullet-recovered-cedar-creek-battlefield/#:~:text=A specialty round of the Civil War, Williams,use. Recovered at Cedar Creek battlefield in Virginia).
 
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Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Not long ago, hundreds of dropped cleaner rounds were discovered at Stones River NB. Defenders of the Nashville Pike filled their cartridge boxes & pockets in the area of the maintenance buildings north of the cemetery. Soldiers considered the cleaner round a wasted shot so they threw them away. The large number of discards nailed down where the defenders of Rosecrans’ right flank had received desperately needed ammunition.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2021
This quote from the Troy (NY) Whig was also reprinted in the Dollar Weekly Bulletin (Maysville, KY), September 3, 1863.

Throughout the war there were accusations from both sides about the enemy using poisoned bullets.

View attachment 411317
The basis for these accusations seems to me to be the washers attached to the special bullets manufactured to clean out the barrels. I assume both sides used them, and according to one of the links, the soldiers considered these bullets generally worthless and discarded them. These articles were no doubt very useful in whipping up righteous outrage among the general population of either side, even if the soldiers and surgeons knew better. It helps people keep fighting if you can see your enemy as less humane than you.
 

Noonanda

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What about "cleaner bullets?" You know, the mine' balls designed to scour out the residue from firing the musket?

Weren't those made of copper and had a blue cartridge case?
That was my thought exactly, the type 1 cleaner only had a zinc washer on the base. based on the description this is what they described. but it did not have copper on it
 

19thGeorgia

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Apr 4, 2017
This quote from the Troy (NY) Whig was also reprinted in the Dollar Weekly Bulletin (Maysville, KY), September 3, 1863.

Throughout the war there were accusations from both sides about the enemy using poisoned bullets.

View attachment 411317
...I need to add that the phrase "poisoned bullets" appeared only 24 times from 1861 to 1865.

That's 24 out of 1 million+ issues.
 

John Hartwell

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As for actual poisoned bullets, there were continued charges and counter-charges throughout the war.
1629301340288.png
Lowell Daily Citizen, 16 Sept. 1862
1629301699869.png
Charleston Mercury, 5 Nov. 1863

But, the typical description was of a Minié ball dipped in tallow and coated with arsenic. But, given the low melting point of tallow, I shouldn't expect either it nor the arsenic would get very far from the muzzle of the musket -- the result would be a major plague of tallow-fouled barrels. [which, I guess, justifies all those cleaner rounds.]
 
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Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
As for actual poisoned bullets, there were continued charges and counter-charges throughout the war.
View attachment 411320Lowell Daily Citizen, 16 Sept. 1862
View attachment 411328Charleston Mercury, 5 Nov. 1863

But, the typical description was of a Minié ball dipped in tallow and coated with arsenic. But, given the low melting point of tallow, I shouldn't expect either it nor the arsenic would get very far from the muzzle of the musket -- the result would be a major plague of fouled barrels. [which, I guess, justifies all those cleaner rounds.]
The clip asserting that the bullet caused a peculiar kind of gangrene is typical of a lot of infections that were attributed to anything but a virus or germ. Unlike the virus deniers of today, 19th Century people had no way to know what the actual vector of infection was.

When it was noticed that hospitals maned by lye soap wielding female nurses had a 10 % or more lower mortality rate than hospitals with male nurses, basic cleanliness like boiling no bed linen was adopted system wide with obvious positive effect. 19th Century practitioners were ignorant, but that does not mean that they were not observant.
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
That was my thought exactly, the type 1 cleaner only had a zinc washer on the base. based on the description this is what they described. but it did not have copper on it
There is a detailed contemporary documentation of cleaner rounds & exploding bullets in Fuller’s “The Rifled Musket” that even includes the patent drawings. Everybody should have Fuller’s book on their ASW collection. It is out of print, but inexpensive copies are available online.
 

bayonet

Corporal
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Nov 7, 2012
I guess they wouldn't like modern day Winchester Silvertip Segmenting rounds. The bullet breaks into 4 fragments. The front part splits into 3 pieces and they flare out. The base continues straight. Uh, no poison though.
Don't believe all that hype that manufactures put out about Hollow Points etc. Bullets don't always perform (as in perfect mushroom) as they intend them to. Just remember 90% of your ability to drop the threat is shot placement (or so it's said). Just practice head shots, they work!!!
 
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