Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

ECW Musket Balls

Whilst in the Sealed Knot we put on a muster at Newbury and as we often did we found ourselves down at the pub. I got talking to one of the locals who was really interested in the Civil War but was obviously disappointed with the distinct lack of knowledge of the average Knotter. So he was rather happy that I not only knew something of the period but actively wanted to chat about it. By the end of the night not only were both of us as tight as a drum but he was my new best friend! He was more than just interested in the Civil War he was keenly interested in the two Battles of Newbury and had visited the battle sights a good number of times. Would I be interested in a tour of one of them before the battle the following morning? Yes but it would have to be early and I would have to bring my hangover with me.
So next day EARLY saw me and this guy (I have forgot his name) walking around part of the battlefield and after he has given me the this happened here and that there for some time a twinkle came in his eye and out of his backpack he pulled a short spade, handing it to me he instructed me to dig. The photo's are the musket balls I dug out of the bank. Seems their is hundreds of the things in that area, so much that they are no value to the local historians or museums as they have so many already. For me it made my year and these balls remain one of my most savoured treasures.
I have taken the above pic for scale, these are 15mm Magister figures. The balls are various sizes, note the damage to some of them? Possible corrosion or possibly hit something on their way to the bank. These balls all but certainly missed their mark given that they were in the bank in the first place. Just one is almost perfect with a clear mold line round it. Also some of the dents would probably been from being chewed to make a better fit, though in these cases it seems the smaller balls are most pitted.
You wanted your ball to be as close a fit as possible to the muskets barrel as possible. If it was much smaller it would rattle down the barrel and be far less accurate. Consider at Marsten Moor that many pikes had their heads shot off through the enemy firing too high. This of course was early in the conflict and it was possible that the men firing the muskets were far less intent on killing their fellow man. Only later did it become a truly uncivil war. Oh and yes it's a great hangover cure.

12 comments:

  1. Great souvenir and great story. Thanks for sharing!

    PhilH
    Http://infrequentwargamer.blogspot.com/

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  2. Great story - and I like that local historians put no value on something most ECW nuts would love!

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  3. What a great story! May I ask what metal are they made of?

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  4. I am guessing given that Newbury had two fairly large battles, that there is so many balls in the area that they become of no interest.

    They are lead. Once you hold one you really can imagine the horror of being hit by one. Even thrown at you, it would hurt a great deal. One guy in my regiment was casting balls and we got him to fire a ball at much reduced powder into a breast to see the effect. The ball flattened out to a button like shape. The armour needed skilled attention to bend it back into shape enough to be worn again. Reinactors armour is machine pressed, the real thing was forged and beaten.

    I assume if I cut into mine it would be bright silver in colour, just like a figure but I can't bring myself to do it

    Ian

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  5. Very nice, me and Ray won some napoleonic musket balls from Hougomont at Salute one year, very treasured items....

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  7. A vertible treasure trove - excellent.

    I have some 303 cartridge cases picked up on the Somme near where ancestors fought - it touches something in soul to know what they did and connects you to history alright

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  8. Fran that must be something to own. Must have made Salute extra special.

    Dave, that would be an excellent find, I am sure you was chuffed to bits. I remember a wargames mate visiting the WWI Graves and other sites, when he came home he vowed never to wargame WWI.

    If those outside wargaming got a peak in, maybe they would see us differently.

    Ian

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  9. Did you have anything yummy to eat, at the pub?

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  10. errr no. Singing and drinking both in large amounts tends to be the life of a Pikeman in the SK of an evening. Burgers from the burger vans before leaving camp then it's off for the fun.

    Though talking of food I made our tea last night. Now that was scrummy

    Ian

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  11. juat seen these on the infoweb and thought of this post!

    http://www.bouf.com/61547/musket-ball-cufflinks-circa-1645.html

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  12. Thanks for the link, went for a look at them, they almost seem russeted. Definatly an interesting gift for the ECW fan.

    Ian

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