Military History/Half a cannonball ?


Cannonball ?
Cannonball ?  
Other items found
Other items found  
QUESTION: I found this half an iron ball that measures 4 inches wide and weighs 3 1/2 pounds in a cornfield in Richland Township, Rush County Indiana.
I would like to know what it is and what it was used for.
Thank you

ANSWER: The closest thing I could guess at would be, it might be one end of a bar shot for a 9 lb cannon.  Bar shot was two halves connected by a square cross sectioned bar.  That might explain the depression in the center, where the bar shot was connected. The diameter fits a 9lb shot ball 4.1 inch in diameter, and 9.14lbs in weight.  So it is a bit shy of the weight unless they factored in the bar weight and shaved down the ball halfs.

The rub is that bar shot was a naval type of shot designed to cut rigging on a ship.

It could be you dug your stuff from a former encampment for the militia regiments that formed from the state, or a mustering ground.  

Militias fought and trained as needed.  No battles that I can find were fought in your county.  The nearest was at Indianapolis.  So it might have been a camp as stated before.  How an old bar shot came to be there is anyone's guess.  The pistol barrel and trigger, coins and buttons would be in keeping with the relics found at an encampment.

Have you checked on google earth or color infrared photos available from the soil conservation service, now known as the Natural Resource Conservation Service?  You might be able to see outlines of former encampments or trench lines or fortifications, even privies.

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Cannonball ?
Cannonball ?  

Cannonball ?
Cannonball ?  
QUESTION: I have located the other half of the cannonball.
The weight and measurements are the same as the other one.
Only the other half has a funnel type hole that has a small hole on the outside of the cannonball that a fuse might go.
One half was found in a bean field and the other in a rock pile next to the field thus the collar difference.
Here is another picture of it together.


Is the center solid iron?  There would be no need for a fuse in a solid shot and the void in the center is not large enough for a powder charge to burst it.

Does it look like it has been cut?  The rim between the filler and the outer casing makes me wonder if it casing was not filled later.  Are the two metals the same or different?  If it had been joined when filled you would expect the filler to be up to the edge of the case and mot just below it.  Joining the two would leave about a 1/4 gap in the center.

Makes me wonder if it was not used for some purpose other than what it was intended for. Could be it was a hollow shell with a fuse hole, but was repurposed for something else like a mere weight.

That you found them in close proximity is interesting.  

Do you know if the site, the field was ever the site of an encampment?  Judging from the other items you found it might well have been, and the two half shot might have been used for any number of things around an encampment.  Weighting a tent side down, palm hammers for pounding in tent stakes (in lieu of having hammers...I am guessing.  I dont' know if they use plough weights back then, but my dad used to weight his with anything heavy he could find to make it bite deeper.

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Keith H. Patton


I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.


I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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