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Thread: How were bullets made?

  1. #1

    How were bullets made?

    Does anyone know how the original bullets were made during the Civil War period? I have heard that they were swaged at the big manufacturers, and in smaller companies cast by hand. Are there any writings that describe the original manufacture of bullets and cartridges from that period?

  2. #2
    mikea is offline
    24th Georgia Volunteer Infantry
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Carolina - North Carolina and South Carolina
    There is an excellent book that goes into all of this.
    The title is : Round Balls to Rimfire, Vol 1 by Dean Thomas
    You can get it from Amazon and others. This volume covers Federal musket ammo. In general, they only cast bullets until they got the machines and dies to swage them.

  3. #3
    hobbler is offline
    Visitor (non-N-SSA Member)
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    The folks selling recovered bullets usually have lots of photos posted on the web. Often you can tell just by looking which ones were or were not cast.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    I read that in one case where Confederate soldiers cast bullets using thimbles. They tested them by shooting at a RR boxcar. The bullets penetrated both sides, and they were satisfied with the results.

    Sounds like they were not concerned about the accuracy.
    Norm Gibson
    Charter member of the 1st South Carolina Vol. Inf. ACWSA

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Most bullets were made/packaged in arsenals. Some were cast and some were swaged. Methods differed between North and South. As everything else in this hobby there is no short answer. That is why books have been written about it. I would also reccomend "Roundball to Rimfire". Volume 1 should address your question.
    Jim Mayo

  6. I am not sure the source of the bullet, but cartridges were rolled and packaged in Columbus Ms. They were done by the ladies of the Methodist Church, the buidling is still in use. During construction of a youth rec center and fellowship hall additions, the contractors recovered quite a few Minie Balls and RB in a variety of calibers, enough that they questioned folks about it.
    Edwin Flint
    14th Mississippi Infantry, N-SSA
    Deputy Commander, DS Region

  7. #7

    Re: How were bullets made?

    I got the "Round Ball to Rimfire" book (actually, all three volumes). Thank you for the recommendation. These books are GREAT! Lots of detailed, well-researched info on all aspects of Civil War ammunition.

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