Hello and a Question about Buck and Ball loads


PDA






J.Lancaster
April 22, 2011, 03:09 AM
Hi everyone, wanted to say hello first off. I have read a number of postings here but had not joined as a member until just now. Anyway, I have a question about buck and ball.

My main question: is it safe? From what I've read when loaded from a paper cartridge the ball and 'buck' were loaded together in their paper casing, in effect holding them together until they exited the muzzle. How significant this is I don't know, but I do know the thought of a large ball being driven forward and colliding with other smaller objects in the bore concerns me a little. Does anyone else have any experience here?

Also I would like to invite those here to my site for live-fire ready paper cartridge tubes for the shooter of military flintlock and percussion smoothbores and rifles.
http://www.papercartridge.com

If you enjoyed reading about "Hello and a Question about Buck and Ball loads" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Loyalist Dave
April 22, 2011, 07:45 AM
The large ball does not "collide" with the shot, unless a gap has formed, and then the shot is a barrel obstruction, and you will have a serious problem. The shot rides on top of the ball, and accellerates forward as one mass, just as a dozen or so buckshot pellets would, when properly loaded.

The load is primarily a defense round. It's documented as used by Roger's Rangers vs. Indians and Frenchmen.

A proper military cartridge for a musket carries a ball a good deal smaller than the bore. For a .75 musket you are talking a .680 or perhaps smaller ball. The problem of the day was the rapid build up of fouling in the bore, thus requiring cleaning after several shots, (not possible in combat), or one used a much smaller ball, to ensure one could get the musket loaded after a half-dozen or a dozen shots, perhaps more. With the loose ball, accuracy suffered, except at close range, but at close range a miss would allow your adversary the opportunity to close the distance and engage you in hand-to-hand fighting. To increase the odds of a hit, about a "half dozen pea sized" shot were often loaded on top of the main ball.

I believe "pea sized" is about #1 buck, maybe smaller.

There were soldiers who created special loads for their muskets to increase accuracy. The Company of Select Marksmen I believe was one such unit. However, they could only fire a few of the accurate rounds before, as with a rifle, they would need to swab the bore due to fouling, or they switched to standard, undersized cartridges.

It's kind of you to offer to roll cartridge tubes for sale for folks too busy to take the time. They look very nice. Most of us roll them ourselves. To convert blanks tubes to live fire one merely has to drop in a ball before loading powder, and crimp above the ball with a bit of string, then add the powder, and finish.

While rifles will work with cartridges, the advantage of the rifling is lost, so one really needs to use a patched ball, but one could use the tubes for speed loading of a prepared powder charge.

Cartridge Rolling Part 1 (http://www.najecki.com/40thfoot/Cartridge1.html)

Part 2 (http://www.najecki.com/40thfoot/Cartridge2.html)

LD

xXxplosive
April 22, 2011, 08:05 AM
Loyalist Dave is +1........have done some experimenting with buck & ball loads in my smoothbores as well. Accuracy does suffer at distances as could be expected.
I read an article in Muzzleloading Mag. once where after ones loads the large ball first, the next load should be 3 pieces of shot which should nest together and lay flat in the same plane atop a cardboard wad within the barrell and over the ball.

Tried this method too......result was no difference in accuracy that i could tell.

Phantom Captain
April 23, 2011, 01:44 PM
I shoot it all the time in my Springfield '42, .69 smoothbore. I've noticed no adverse effects at all and have shot loads of it.

Basically I make simple cartridges out of newspaper and thread. I load the powder seperate and then ram the newspaper cartridge on top. I simply make a tube around the large ball, tie the bottom, then add three buckshot on top of that and tie it off. Nothing to it.

Usually I shoot between 80 to 100 grains with the cartridge rammed down on top. Good stuff and loads of fun.

DrLaw
April 24, 2011, 10:23 AM
IIRC it is not a new idea. They unearthed a skeleton at Jamestown not too long ago that showed signs of having been shot in the leg with a buck and ball combination. They also speculated, that was what caused him to die, too.

The traditional muzzleloading forum has had threads on this subject, as have been, here, too. Try doing a search on both and you might find more info.

The Doc is out now. :cool:

Loyalist Dave
April 26, 2011, 08:27 AM
Great minds think alike! :D
Basically I make simple cartridges out of newspaper and thread. I load the powder seperate and then ram the newspaper cartridge on top. I simply make a tube around the large ball, tie the bottom, then add three buckshot on top of that and tie it off. Nothing to it.

For a shot load, I use used book paper for the powder, tear it open, pour it, and ram down the empty tube to form a wad, then load a shot charge held by newsprint. I don't break this open, as the firing will do that. Makes for a nice, quick reload, and works great out of my BP shotgun, and my NCO fusil.

LD

J.Lancaster
May 3, 2011, 01:24 PM
Thanks for the input everyone. It's nice to be able to get so many opinions. I will post some pics of my buck and ball, and straight buckshot cartridges here soon.

J. Lancaster

PRM
May 4, 2011, 11:15 PM
I shoot buck and ball out of my Pedersoli 20 X 20 Howdah and have had good results. I seat a .60 caliber patched round ball with #4 buck on top of it with an overshot card. Great little hall sweeper and a lot of fun on the range.

Burt Blade
May 8, 2011, 07:38 PM
Buck-n-ball loads were commonly used in smoothbore muskets during the War Between the States. You will see many war monuments that include decorative touches of what appears to be a cannonball with four tennis balls around it. It is a representation of buck-n-ball for a musket.

Buck-n-ball was a pretty effective way to boost the lethality of the smoothbore musket. No one thought of a fin-stabilized sabot slug at the time. This would have helped equalize to some extent the disparity between the rifled musket and the smoothore by extending range a bit.

Southron, Sr.,
May 9, 2011, 07:28 AM
Buck & Ball cartridges for smoothbore muskets is pretty much a Grand Old American Tradition. For example, during the Revolutionary War most cartridges issued to Washington's troops were 'Buck & Ball.'

This remained an army "issue load" right on up thru The War of Northern Aggression; matter of fact-as long as smoothbore muzzleloaders were in use. Most European armies (and also the British) issued cartridges for their smoothbores that contained ONLY one musket ball.

Mike OTDP
May 10, 2011, 09:57 AM
IIRC, the French did start issuing a buck & ball load around 1830. Copied from American practice.

Phantom Captain
May 10, 2011, 11:39 AM
Buck-n-ball loads were commonly used in smoothbore muskets during the War Between the States. You will see many war monuments that include decorative touches of what appears to be a cannonball with four tennis balls around it. It is a representation of buck-n-ball for a musket.

Buck-n-ball was a pretty effective way to boost the lethality of the smoothbore musket. No one thought of a fin-stabilized sabot slug at the time. This would have helped equalize to some extent the disparity between the rifled musket and the smoothore by extending range a bit.

Couple things here, actually you won't see "many" monuments with buck and ball adornment, in fact I know of only one and I've visited most of the major battlefields and many of the minors in my travels. The one I do know about is the 12 NJ monument at Gettysburg. I've posted the picture below. It shows the buck and ball on top made up of the big round ball and three buckshot. The 12th was stationed on the wall of Cemetary Ridge during the repulse of Picketts Charge. It was noted that there were a disproportianate amount of Confederate wounded and dead directly in front of their position which they attributed to the use of buck and ball in their smoothbore Springfield 1842s. By that time of the war when most units had been issued rifles the 12th NJ refused to give up their smoothbores because of the effectiveness of buck and ball. If you know of any other monuments with the buck and ball adornment please do share it! I would love to know where there are others.

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r130/mboyd13/Gettysburg/12thNJbuckandball.jpg

Secondly, there is a big school of thought now that the implementation of the rifle didn't have as much impact on the war as the outdated tactics of the time did. In fact there is an argument that the smoothbores were actually MORE effective because units were still engaging at an average distance of 93 yards. When you take into account the elliptical flight path of a minie ball at longer ranges, the soldier's unfamiliarity with the use of the sights and their complete lack of training with them, in addition to having no training on estimating range and utilizing those sights at range the flat shooting smoothbores and use of buck and ball was more devastating for the ranges they were employed. Just my little $.02

Ghost Dog
May 12, 2011, 10:21 PM
PRM are you putting 2f or 3f powder under the buck and ball load? how many grains, and do you have a powder preferance?

Thanks, G D

Southron, Sr.,
May 16, 2011, 09:56 AM
Back in the late 1960's by then wife was a seamstress that started making repro Confederate and Yankee uniforms.

The Late Colonel Lindsey P. Henderson of Savannah was the owner of the Factor's Walk Military Museum in Savannah. The museum simply displayed part of his collection of Civil War era arms, uniforms, artillery, etc.

Colonel Henderson asked my wife to repair a militia coatee dating from the 1850's. That is when I got a chance to examine that coatee closely. It was what I called "War of 1812" style because it had at least 50 cast pewder buttons on the front alone!

These were round, SOLID CAST pewder buttons with the brass eyelet cast into the button to attach it to the coat. I measured the diameter of one-it was .650" !!!!

THEN IT STRUCK ME! Those cast pewder buttons were sort of an emergency SPARE AMMO SUPPLY!

As long as the soldier had some powder and caps-he could simply pluck buttons off of his coatee, load them into his smoothbore musket and shoot them at the enemy!!!

See, you simply thought those fancy military coatees with all of those buttons were for "Show" only when they actually were for "Show & Shoot!"

acronn
May 16, 2011, 12:42 PM
Makes a lot of sense, but I wonder if anything ever was written on it, or one has ever been found that was used as a projectile. Interesting post to me.

Southron, Sr.,
May 16, 2011, 02:33 PM
It was them Yankee boys that didn't know how to shoot!

Southerners grew up shooting rifles and consequently had a very good idea of trajectories, wind, etc.

Please recall that it was General Burnside, who had witnessed first hand the effects of Southern Marksmanship that was one of the founders of the NRA to teach Yankee National Guardsman how to shoot after the wahr!

4v50 Gary
May 16, 2011, 02:39 PM
In all my research on the blackpowder marksman, I've found no evidence that conclusively proves that either side had an advantage or disadvantage in marksmanship.

One should remember that not all Yankees in the nawth were factory workers or store clerks. New England and New York state all had a lot of farmers who were equally adept with the rifle as anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line. The "Yankees" of the midwest also had a lot of farmers who also hunted to stock up the larder. The midwesterner also had a lot more contact with the Indians so they were more familiar with woodsmanship too. Rebel Private Front and Rear by William Fletcher gives a good account of mxing with the midwestern yankees.

Check out the Bedtime Stories thread here at THR for examples of marksmanship both North & South.

Returning to the topic, buck 'n ball was a favorite American load since the French & Indian War.

Loyalist Dave
May 21, 2011, 11:27 AM
For example, during the Revolutionary War most cartridges issued to Washington's troops were 'Buck & Ball.'


Wow I'd like to see the documentation on THAT claim!

At the very beginning of the conflict, when the Continentals did not have bayonets sufficient in numbers to withstand a British charge, that was the case for SOME units.., to try and prevent contact, but the whole army for the entire war??? NOPE.

You don't load buck and ball when the choice is that or using the buckshot to make more ball = more shots. Washington was keenly aware of his status in the eyes of the British, and the use of buck and ball was considered a criminal offense and highly dishonorable (the Brits weren't stupid folks, and they won the vast majority of engagements, yet they didn't use buck and ball). I will remind everybody that for at least half the war, the Continentals were considered rebellious subjects, and buck-n-ball against them would've been acceptable while against a European nation's soldiers, it was not. Yet the Brits didn't mow down Washington's army with it when it easily could've been done.


THEN IT STRUCK ME! Those cast pewder buttons were sort of an emergency SPARE AMMO SUPPLY!As long as the soldier had some powder and caps-he could simply pluck buttons off of his coatee, load them into his smoothbore musket and shoot them at the enemy!!!

Except that the CW soldier was issued his powder within his cartridges, so IF he had some powder, it was with a bullet. :D Don't forget the use of the ramrod as a last shot like a spear gun..., oh wait again if he had the powder it was with a bullet..., never mind.

It was them Yankee boys that didn't know how to shoot! Southerners grew up shooting rifles and consequently had a very good idea of trajectories, wind, etc.

IF THAT WAS THE CASE then why did the Southern Boys wait until the Yankees were well within range at 100 yards instead of opening up at 300 yards and chewing the Yanks to pieces before the Yankees could get close enough that those poor non-shooting bastards could score hits? Why did the Southern Boys space their lines 100 yards apart so that the second wave of Confederates would take hits from the non-shooting Yankees in the belly, and the third wave of Confederates would take hits from the non-shooting Yankees in the knees? Were they being "chivalrous?" :D

The technology of the time had passed way beyond the tactics, just as it did in WWI when the machine gun was introduced. As the war progressed the tactics changed to suit the rifled muskets.


As for the CW memorials, HOW does one know that the finial on the top or corners of a monument is a depiction of actual buck-n-ball, vs. being a simple decoration, rather difficult to carve so it is expensive, and was simply called "buck-n-ball" as a label? "Acorn" finials are not really depictions of "acorns" and "hobnail" glass is called that because it reminded folks of hobnails, not because it was to look like actual hobnails.

LD

Phantom Captain
May 22, 2011, 08:26 PM
As for the CW memorials, HOW does one know that the finial on the top or corners of a monument is a depiction of actual buck-n-ball, vs. being a simple decoration, rather difficult to carve so it is expensive, and was simply called "buck-n-ball" as a label? "Acorn" finials are not really depictions of "acorns" and "hobnail" glass is called that because it reminded folks of hobnails, not because it was to look like actual hobnails.

Because it's buck and ball and well documented. At least on the 12th New Jersey monument at Gettysburg. It's even inscribed on the monument. It's known the men of the 12th specifically wanted the depiction of buck and ball on the top and requested it to be there. Besides that, as I said in my previous post, I've seen no others on the many battlefields I've visited. I specifically asked the poster to share what others he knew about because I was unaware of them.

http://www.gettysburg.stonesentinels.com/NJ/12NJ.php

If you enjoyed reading about "Hello and a Question about Buck and Ball loads" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!