Paper cartridge know-how ? (Muzzleloading)

by tommy303 @, Arizona, Friday, August 10, 2007, 01:17 (4619 days ago) @ manykids

a Packet of ten rounds plus three loose rounds of my making.

What sort of paper do you use for your cartridges ? Did you make these
following the instructions as provided in the pages you sent yesterday ?

How well do they shoot ? Finally, what do you use them in ? I am going
to be shooting some in my 1861 Springfield Artilleryman's rifle. I have
an 1803 Harper's Ferry that I want to try paper cartridges in too; have
you a lot of experience with paper cartridges ? Tom

I was thinking about your 1803 Harper's Ferry rifle. The list of accoutrements issued with it included a small linen cartridge box (which in the event did not
stand up well to campaigns and was replaced with a leather and wood box worn on the waistbelt), a bullet bag, and powder horn. This indicates that the rifle
was primarily loaded with powder from the horn and a patched round ball in the usual manner. The inclusion of a small belly cartridge box was for scaled
down musket cartridges for use in emergencies to increase the rate of fire. Presumably these had smaller diameter balls than the ones used with patches to
allow for ease and rapidity of loading, although it is possible that the cartridge might have had a prepatched ball in the manner of Britain's Baker Rifle. In these the cartridge was the usual paper construction but with a pre greased patch tied around the ball (at least during the campaigns against the

I do not know if the US followed that practice, but there were instances in the Revolutionary War of riflemen being issued with or given the materials to make cartridges. The main problem of the day was the riflemen's slow rate of fire compared to musket armed line infantry or fusil armed light infantry. Cartridges helped speed up the loading of the rifle, though the undersized and unpatched ball would lead to a loss of accuracy. An alternative would be to have a paper cartridge with just the premeasured charge, and a number of greased and patched balls in a wooden loading block. This would speed things up slightly by eliminating the need to fumble around for powder horn and measure, and had been well established by the time of the
Revolutionary War.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

A.E. Housman

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