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[107] real value. Attempts were made to insure the ignition of the fuse by filing notches in the copper sabot to allow the flame of the discharge to pass, but they did not succeed. This was the condition of the three-inch rifled guns during the whole of 1862, and these projectiles were used also in the beautiful United States ‘three-inch Ordnance Rifles,’ of which about forty were captured during the year. In 1863 several improvements were attempted in the method of attaching the copper to the shell, and the saucer-shaped sabot was finally exchanged for a band or ring of copper, cast around the base of the shell, which form was continued until the close of the war. It considerably resembled the heavy Parrott projectiles, and was the best field rifle-shell the Confederates ever made, but was always liable to explode in the gun, to ‘tumble,’ or not to explode at all. The last defect was partially corrected by the use of ‘McAvoy's Fuse Igniter,’ a very simple and ingenious little contrivance attached to the fuse when loading, and later by fuses with strands of quickmatch for ‘priming.’ The first two defects were very serious and of very frequent occurrence, not only with the three-inch rifles, but still more so with the Parrott guns. The ‘tumbling’ was due to imperfect connection between the copper ring and the shell, which in its turn was due to the inferior quality of iron necessarily used (the best iron was saved for gun metal), to unskilled workmen, and to the fact that the demand greatly exceeded the supply, and even those which a careful inspection would have condemned were better than none.

The causes of the premature explosions were never fully understood. They were generally attributed to defects in the casting, which either allowed the flame of the discharge to enter the shell, or by weakening the shell caused it to crush under the shock of the discharge and the ‘twist’ given by the grooves of the gun.

As a single illustration of the extent to which these defects of the Parrott projectiles sometimes went: at the siege of Knoxville, Captain Parker's battery of four captured Parrott rifles fired one hundred and twenty shell at the enemy's batteries and pontoon-bridge, of which only two failed to ‘tumble,’ or to burst prematurely. Of the most valuable kind of rifle ammunition, shrapnel, the Confederates made none, on account of the scarcity of lead. Of the next most useful kind, percussion shell, (invaluable for getting the range,) few were to be had until the last year of the war. The fuse then used, Girardey's, was excellent, probably better than any of the enemy's patterns, and it possessed the peculiar excellence of being carried


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