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Cartrigge rolling for Civil War muskets

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by ThorinNNY, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. ThorinNNY

    ThorinNNY Well-Known Member

    Last evening members of my muzzle loading club rolled and packaged cartridges for our June Border Skirmish. We needed a minimum of four pakages of 10 cartridges( plus 12 caps) for each shooter.
    Hate to admit it, but most of us are far better at casing Minie balls than making paper cartridges.
    During the Civil War women did the cartridge rolling & packaging. They were paid by the piece and usually worked 7 days a week I think they were paid one penny for each complete package of cartridges.They could make up to $2.00 per day. An infantry man`s monthly wage was $13.00 per Month.
    Pretty good wages for the ladies,but it was a hazardous job.
    We rolled and packaged 2 types of cartridge Frankford and Watervliet- just like they used during the CW. Frankford Arsenal cartridges used a Minie ball that differed slightly from the Minie balls the Watervliet Arsenal produced.
    Both styles worked but each type shot a bit different from the other.Get used to how one shoots, they probably give you the other type.
    Soldiers used whatever style they were issued, no peronal prefernces allowed. We vary the cartridges to give us a taste of what they had to put up with.
    Getting back to last night`s production figures, nobody rolling them would have earned $ 2.00 per day at Civil War pay rates. :eek:
  2. VA27

    VA27 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you had a good time. When the mood strikes me, I'll sit down and try to crank out 50 for my '63 Sharps Carbine (Farmingdale). I cheat and use Charlie's tubes, but sometimes I will roll some out of copy paper, newspaper, brown paper sacks, etc. I even have a couple of pieces of linen I'm going to try some shellaced cartridges with.

    BADUNAME30 Well-Known Member

    Now THAT'S handloading.
    Sure makes ya 'preciate the paperless cartridge huh thorin ? Sounds like fun tho.
  4. ThorinNNY

    ThorinNNY Well-Known Member

    Cartridge rolling is IS fun. It`s even more fun biting off the tail of the cartridge, pouring the powder down the barrel and ramming the Minie ball home.
    After firing 40 or 50 rounds, I start to get really thirsty! Seems that I ivariably get a grain or so of powder on my lips each time I bite the tail off another cartridge.:eek:
    I`ve been told it`s the nitrate in the powder that makes you so thirsty. Tired, dirty and thirsty seem to be a strange recipe for having a good time, yet somehow we eagerly come back for more and each year we manage to get new recruits.:)
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  5. Ironhorse522

    Ironhorse522 Well-Known Member

    Can you roll cartridges for rifled barrels? With balls? Sorry I am a newb at this
  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Ironhorse - same technique used for round ball rifle guns. The British riflemen of the 95 and 60 carried both loose powder & ball as well as cartridges (to be used in an emergency).
  7. Ironhorse522

    Ironhorse522 Well-Known Member

    So it will work in a flintlock? Once again sorry did not mean to hijack the thread
  8. ThorinNNY

    ThorinNNY Well-Known Member

    You can make paper cartridges for flintlocks but they`re probably better for smooth bore muskets like the Charleville or Brown Bess than for a rifle with (usually) deep rifling .Rifled barrels usually use a cloth patch, preferably of lubricated pillow ticking for best accuracy.
    If you made a cartridge using a round ball, you could probably get away with using the cartridge paper for patching, but it`d probably be somewhat undersized and probably give you disappointing accuracy and cause rapid fouling.
    The Minie Ball did not require a patch because the gases enlarged the skirting at the base enough to engage the fairly shallow rifling.The entire paper cartridge used in CW era rifled muskets was discarded after loading powder and minie ball
    By contrast, in the Charleville and Brown Bess smooth bore muskets -after the ball was seated, the leftover cartridge paper was used as wadding to hold the charge in place.Why? The balls they used were undersized and needed something to hold them in place.
  9. Ironhorse522

    Ironhorse522 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the help, much appreciated
  10. BlackNet

    BlackNet Well-Known Member

    I do an interesting twist on cartridges. I use a wooden dial and cigarette paper. I also made a loading block, it is just a block of wood with holes drilled of the correct size.


    This is the block, it is bloodwood.

    This is how they end up.

    This is 30 grains of FFFg and a .490 round ball, the ball is inside the paper. I don't tear them apart as the grooves in the rifling does that for me as it goes down.

    There is a book that covers different rolled setups over the years.
  11. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Paper cartridges for flintlocks preceded the paper cartridges for Minie balls.
  12. ThorinNNY

    ThorinNNY Well-Known Member

    Blacknet. interesting post. Really nice loading block.I take it your`e using these in a .50 cal pistol ? Are the balls cloth patched under the cigarette paper?
  13. BlackNet

    BlackNet Well-Known Member

    The cigarette paper acts as a patch. Accuracy seems good from what I have noticed so far. I have used them in my pistols and rifle.
  14. Wilfirt

    Wilfirt Member

    I used to roll a lot of paper cartridges for flintlocks. I found that newsprint actually works if you do it just right.
    For just blanks it is easy. I worked with a historical outfit for a while. We went through 1000's a year. We bought lightweight brown craft paper by the roll, similar to lunch bag paper. I made a "machine" to cut paper to the right blank. We rolled it on wooden dowels. These had a dimple in the end so you can smack it on the table and crimp the end - eliminating the twist. Then I had another "machine" made (named "Mr Cartridge") to pour 100gr of Ffg into each cart.
    Loading your flintlock with these, you just tore the end off with your teeth, primed with some and poured the rest downbore followed by the wadded up paper.
    Live rounds are similar, only slower to make. I wrap a round ball in thin cotton scrap (often with some crisco on it - yes crisco) and hold it on the dimple end of the dowel. After I roll it there is a quick knot of jute cord around it.

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