Civil War Saturday: Ruins of the Richmond Arsenal

April 1865. Ruins of the State Arsenal at Richmond showing stacked and scattered ammunition. From photographs of the main Eastern theater of war after the fall of Richmond, compiled by Hirst Milhollen and Donald Mugridge.

April 1865. Ruins of the State Arsenal at Richmond showing stacked and scattered ammunition. From photographs of the main Eastern theater of war after the fall of Richmond, compiled by Hirst Milhollen and Donald Mugridge.

Found at Shorpy.

Comments

  1. Wow, that one hits home for me.

    My great-great-great (+/- 1 great) grandfather was a canon maker who left PA and moved to Richmond to build canon for the South. He probably worked at that very site.

    He lived through it though, and moved back home, apparently with no ill will.

  2. “Are those cannon balls? Did they have any explosive in them?”

    Most of them are, indeed, cannon balls. They kind of look like bowling balls because there are little holes in them, like the finger holes in the balls used for America’s Favorite Indoor Sport.

    Those finger holes are actually where the fuse is inserted, screwed down so it is surrounded by the explosive that normally fills the ball. Was there any explosive in those balls when the picture was taken? Probably not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong.

    Mixed amongst the large cannon balls are what looks like strange baskets of little cannon balls. That is pretty much what they are, since you were supposed to load one of the baskets in the cannon when the enemy got really close. Called “case shot”, the baskets would break up before emerging from the muzzle, and the dozens of little cannon balls would turn your artillery piece into a really big shotgun.

    If you look over to the left of the image, you can see a work crew of mostly black men digging through the rubble. They are salvaging unbroken bricks from the debris. Note the large blocks of neatly stacked bricks around the site and you will be able to get an idea as to how long they have been at it.

    James

Comments are closed