Canister shot is a American Civil War era antipersonnel artillery ammunition. A tinned-iron can would be filled with small iron or lead balls and packed with sawdust. When fired, the artillery piece would act much like a shotgun, spraying lethal metal balls and yellow smoke.

Like a shotgun, canister shot was most effective at short ranges -- between one hundred and four hundred yards (90-365 meters). Beyond four hundred yards (360 meters), case shot was the antipersonnel ammunition of choice for the era. At very short ranges, from a few feet (less than a meter) to no more than two hundred yards (185 meters), artillerymen would use grape shot.

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