Authentic Paper Cartridges
"AT VICKSBURG, MISS. Wounded while in the Service, Sergts Charles W Ives in hips severely by minnie ball. Jeremiah Wilcox in hand slightly by minnie ball. Daniel B Cornell in face severely by minnie ball. Dwight S Gookins in hand slightly by minnie ball. Corporals Henry L Potter in face slightly by minnie ball. Richard O Gunn in hand severely by minnie ball...."
-- Col Wales W. Wood, A History of the Ninety-Fifth Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, 1865
These 58-caliber rifle cartridges are faithfully constructed from the specifications provided by the U.S. Army 1860 Ordnance Manual. It was, by far, the most common cartridge of the Civil War. They consist of the outer wrapper choked and tied at the nose, a lubricated and swage-sized 575-caliber Minie ball, and a powder cylinder. The bullets are lubricated with a period-correct composition of real beef tallow and beeswax (no Crisco), as specified in the Ordnance Manual, before being made into cartridges.
They DO NOT contain any powder. You'll need to fill the cartridge with powder (a brass funnel works great), and fold the tail closed. Now you're ready to shoot. As these cartridges are made to the 1860's military specification, the powder cylinder will hold up to about 65 grains of 2F black powder (only use a charge that is safe for your musket). Fill up your cartridge box, and live-fire your rifle-musket the way it was historically done during the War Between the States. Please call or e-mail me if you need more than 40 rounds.
Think you can get off three aimed shots a minute?
Now available with Williams Cleaner Bullets! By 1863, a number of Williams Patent bullets were included in every 10-round pack of rifle-musket cartridges. The cartridges with the Williams bullets are in blue paper, which was done historically to distinguish the Williams from the Minie bullets.
My 58-caliber Minie bullets are individually hand-cast from 99% pure soft lead. I have been shooting these bullets for years from my 1861 Springfield, but they can be fired from any 58-caliber or 577-caliber black powder rifle-musket in good shooting condition. These bullets are cast from my Ideal (Lyman) 575-213 mold. This was the most common bullet used during the War Between the States, having been adopted by the U.S. Army in 1855 and used extensively by both sides. While it superficially resembles the bullet designed by Claude-Etienne Minié in the 1840s, these are more correctly "Burton balls" as this particular bullet was developed by James Burton, the Master Armorer at Harpers Ferry, specifically for the Springfield Model 1855 rifle. But the name "Minie" stuck, as millions of Civil War soldiers persisted in calling them "minnie balls."
I'm very picky with my cast bullets; those with defects (bad skirts, cavity in the nose or other casting void, etc.) get tossed right back into the lead pot. This is in stark contrast to the Minie balls commonly purchased on other popular sites, which are unsized and frequently have severe defects, voids, cavities in the base, and so on. I package the Minie balls extra carefully to prevent (insofar as possible) any damage occurring to the very soft lead balls during shipment.
The unsized and unlubricated bullets are exactly as the mold makes them; they are about .578 in diameter. The sized bullets are run through a .575-inch sizing die which visibly swages them down in size to facilitate easy, consistent loading in a 58-cal or 577-cal rifle. Lubricated bullets are sized first and then lubricated in the historically-correct composition of beeswax and tallow.
You will receive the cartridges ready for filling like those on the right; after you fill them with powder and fold the tails, they'll look like the rounds on the left
Be sure to check out the Williams patent "cleaner" bullets, available here. By 1863, Williams "cleaner" bullets were being included in every pack of rifle-musket ammunition, and by late war, as many as 6 out of the 10 rounds in each package contained Williams bullets.