The single greatest cause of wounds and death during the American Civil War.

Sometimes known as the "Minnie" ball at the time of the Civil War, it was normally fired from an Enfield or Springfield musket. Wrapped in a paper cartridge which was loaded with powder. The paper cartridge had to be bitten off before being loaded into the weapon. The precursor to the "dum-dum" bullet of more modern times. Because it entered the body heavy and expanded on impact, it would leave a large, ragged wound that bled profusely. Could be adapted to different caliber weapons and was about an inch long. As the war progressed, the Minie ball was replaced by bullets that did not expand upon impact. Protests from those working with the wounded, noting the horrors associated with these kinds of wounds, helped to bring upon the gradual reduction of the Minie ball's usage.

Min"ie ball` (?). [From the inventor, Captain Mini'e, of France.]

A conical rifle bullet, with a cavity in its base plugged with a piece of iron, which, by the explosion of the charge, is driven farther in, expanding the sides to fit closely the grooves of the barrel.


© Webster 1913.

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