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Parrott shell recovered at Gettysburg, "groundburst", old collection


Product Description

A while back I acquired a very early Gettysburg Artillery collection, which had been in storage for many years, possibly from a defunct GAR post. There are examples of both Confederate and Union shells – some were sections and others complete. A few had very crudely painted inventory numbers, which had faded over time. Others had pieces of cloth tape which originally had information, but also faded.

They had very old glued-on typed paper labels, but most of them were disintegrated with age – however one did partially survive with Gettysburg information, that one was also worn, but I will include a copy of it with each shell, what it does have is “Gettysburg” and a couple other indecipherable words (see pictures).

The one offered here is a Union 10-pounder Parrott shell, the standard ammunition for the 3-inch Parrott rifled cannon. What is truly unique about this shell is that it has the typical characteristics of a “Ground-burst”, meaning that it didn’t explode until it hit the ground, instead of in the air as intended. It consists of the nose (originally two pieces, but currently glued together) with the remnants of the blown zinc fuse. The bottom section is one piece with the wrought iron sabot. I have examples and go into more detail on these shells in my book “Civil War Artillery – A Pictorial Introduction”.

This shell is about 75% complete and the pieces fit perfectly together. A unique feature is the crude hole in the side of the shell. I’ve seen holes in shells before, but that was done to deactivate it, so if a ground-burst, this would not be necessary.

Civil War artillery expert and author Jack Melton looked at this shell and he has an interesting take on it. He feels that the shell may have been recovered whole, and an attempt to deactivate it by drilling or punching a hole in the side caused it to explode by a spark touching the black powder. If that was the case, it would cause devastating injuries. I guess no one will ever know for sure.

These shells are great for display, allowing to show what the inside looked like. This one is very solid, no chipping or flaking, indicative of an early battlefield pickup. The two remaining parts could be glued together if so desired, but it stands erect just fine how it is now. A signed and embossed Certificate of Authenticity will be included.

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