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The Woodruff Gun

Annotations to the Margreiter article.


In an article in The Muzzleloading Artilleryman (now The Artilleryman magazine), Vol. 6, No. 2, Thomas S. Dickey presented updated information on the nature of Woodruff ammunition. He noted that the conventional wisdom that the Woodruff used iron grape shot balls has not been supported by recent finds in the field:

"In the fall of 1983, Van Abale was searching the wartime camp of Grierson's Raiders in Baton Rouge, La. He unearthed four lead balls, caliber 2.1 inches and two canister bases with one layer of lead balls packed in sawdust."

"The canister base was also 2.1 inches. At first it was thought that the large lead balls were Federal Navy case shot, but on closer examination the imprint of a wooden sabot and two crossing iron straps told the true story that these were indeed the projectiles for the Woodruff Gun."

"The weight of the ball is 1 lb. 12 ozs., and with the sabot and straps probably weighed 1 lb. 14 ozs. Also unearthed were several minie balls for the Cosmopolitan Carbine which some of Grierson's men had."

"At about the same time as the Baton Rouge find, another discovery was made by Tracy Seabaugh on Shepherd's Mountain near Pilot Knob, Mo. Near this town was the site of the Federal Ft. Davidson which had a battery of Woodruff Guns..."

"The surprise here was that the projectile wasn't a round ball, but in the shape of a giant minie ball with nine rings. Three tired specimens have been unearthed there, along with two of the spherical pattern."

"The conical projectile is 2.1 inch caliber, and weighs 2 lbs. 14 ozs. and has an extremely deep and wide cavity (1-13/16 inches deep) in the base which was designed to put the center of gravity so far forward that the projectile would always travel nose first, as a dart, even though it was fired from a smoothbore gun."

Dickey cites the Herder correspondence and notes that the difference in height cited by Herder is exactly accounted for by the difference between the diameter of the round ball and the length of the conical projectile.

Conical lead shot found on Shepherd's Mountain at Pilot Knob, Missouri leadshot.jpg 65536 bytes

Conical lead artillery shot found on Shepherd's Mountain at Pilot Knob, Missouri.


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