Grape shot is a American Civil War era antipersonnel artillery ammunition that was very similar to canister shot. This kind of shot featured several large metal balls bound with iron rings or twine and fabric that would spray in a wide cone when fired and cut down troops like grass.

Unlike canister, grape shot had no can to contain the shot and used fewer but larger metal balls. As a result, the range on grape shot was very short, from a few feet (less than a meter) from the artillery piece to two hundred yards (185 meters). Grape shot's cousin, canister shot, was effective for longer ranges (100 to 400 yards, or 90 to 365 meters). Extreme ranges of longer than 400 yards required the use of case shot.

Grape shot was not a common sight on the battlefields of the American Civil War -- muskets and melee combat were more common at such extremely short ranges. Civil War naval forces were more likely to use grape shot, where the larger shot could more easily punch through ship hulls.

Grape"shot` (?), n. Mil.

A cluster, usually nine in number, of small iron balls, put together by means of cast-iron circular plates at top and bottom, with two rings, and a central connecting rod, in order to be used as a charge for a cannon. Formerly grapeshot were inclosed in canvas bags.


© Webster 1913.

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