new experiments and some improvements.
One of the most notable of these was the method of steaming the mixed materials for gunpowder just before incorporation in the cylinder mills, which was invented and brought into use by Colonel Rains
, and which very greatly increased the capacity of the mills for work, besides improving the quality of the powder.
Other examples of improvements in materiel which were more or less notable were the casting of shells with polygonal cavities, introduced by Lieutenant-Colonel Mallet
, securing the bursting into a determinate number of pieces, and devices for the ignition of time-fuses for the shells of rifled guns.
Smooth-bore muskets, of which some were in the possession of the Confederate
troops, were not very accurate, and their range was insufficient.
A plan was proposed at the Richmond Arsenal
to overcome these difficulties.
An invention had been devised for the shape and composition of the projectile, which undoubtedly would have overcome these defects in a measure, had it been practicable under the circumstances.
It is interesting to note that this plan was devised in the early years of the war by the ordnance authorities, but later in the conflict was, in identically the same form, sent to President Davis
as a scientific gift of great value, and by him turned over to the War Department.
The idea was to use an elongated projectile made of lead and hard wood or papiermache.
In longitudinal section it appeared, in the lead part, shaped like the head of an Indian arrow, and the rear portion of the bullet was filled out with the wood or papier-mache.
This threw the center of gravity well forward, causing the flight of the projectile to be like an arrow rotating on its longer axis.
From the Richmond Arsenal
there were issued between July 1, 1861, and January 1, 1865, 341 Columbiads and siegeguns, 1306 field-pieces of all descriptions, 921,441 rounds of artillery ammunition of all classes, 323,231 infantry arms, 34,067 cavalry carbines, 6074 pistols, and nearly 72,500,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, besides many thousand articles