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Thursday, August 27, 2015
Origin of Bullets and the Amount Carried
The Bullet has always ben defined as Ball Ammo the first lead projectiles were invented by the Greeks and later adapted by the Romans and were referred to as Ballo for this part of the definition I will take an extract from my book. “In the last few years, I had seen my first ballo (ball, bullet, as well as ballista, all have French roots as words) in Webster’s Dictionary of the English language, International Edition. The original name bal’lo had its origins in Greek it means to sling aside or to put apart, to throw or thrust with intensity. Bala- Spanish, balla- High German, Ballare- Late Latin. Terms we are familiar with are ball, bullet, and ballistic. (Howard Fox historian and friend) A bal’lo- was a chunk of lead that was shaped like a football and used by the Romans; but first invented and used by the Greeks, slingers who could throw them at a really fast rate of fire. In talking to Howard, who likes history as much as I, he said the Romans could and did repel cavalry charges with them.
Lead has a high specific weight of gravity and so from the earliest time has been the projectile of choice as it has such a high impact rating.
Round bullets and square bullets - - some of the earliest gun barrels are said to have been of two types round and square. These were simply made by hammer welding flat iron around a round or square bar stock. The square bullet obviously did more damage and so it was said that round bullets were to be used on Christians and square bullets were to be used on infidels. Some of these early guns were huge and fired on match lock or a burning string dipped in the powder pan.
Steel bullets were used when lead was not available and in short supply.
Some of the first shoulder carried guns as large as shall artillery pieces that needed to be rested on a pole stand it was obvious that the caliber needed to decline. To make guns more manageable they became smaller from 25 caliber to 40,45,48,62 in smooth bore or eventually rifled gun barrels and the muzzle velocity was from 1200 to 1600 feet per second.
Battle Compliment or as some call it Unit of Fire was the amount of bullets a person would carry. As we move forward you will notice how this would increase.
Militia Act of May 8, 1798 every able-bodied male citizen between 18 to 45 years old is to create a local militia and are to arm themselves with a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge belt with 24 bullets, and a knapsack. Men owning a rifle; are required to provide a powder horn one-fourth pound of powder and 20 rifle bullets a shooting pouch and a knapsack. Why so little powder and bullets? A smooth bore musket carried by the unskilled can take up to 2 minutes to load and fire. This can take up to 48 minutes to use that amount of ammo in a face to face line shooting at each other. British troops could fire up to 3 shoots per minute. One US commander during the revolutionary war simplified the loading method and so trained Continental troops could amass faster fire than the British making the rag tag US men more formidable on the battle field than the English.
In the civil war men might carry 40 to 60 bullets and up to 100 total with some in their back packs this was the time when a transition would be made between the round ball and the Minnie ball. The Minnie ball was heaver and smaller around and would allow for the easy loading in the gun and on discharge the skirt would expand in the rifled gun barrel. The round ball was the smallest projectile that could be made and so the south used them more than the north.
In WWI and WWII the standard cartridge belt had 10 pouches worn as a belt around the waist. In WWI two stripper clips fit in each pouch so this allowed them to carry 100 rounds of ammo + 5 more in the gun. In WWII the MI Garand had stripper clips with 8 bullets per clip, which lessoned the ammo to 80 rounds + 8 rounds in the gun . In the Civil War and WWII solders were known to drop backpacks and gear to be more mobile in going into battle. This allowed for greater agility and also to carry more ammo. Many figured they could resupply among the dead who carried their stuff forward.
The Germans carried two stripper clip pouches with 3 cells each which carried 60 rounds of ammo total + 5 rounds in the gun. Photos and WWII movies showed that even the Germans did not run around with everything that was supposed to be on their belts. Wherever possible even they would lessen the load. It goes without saying that the Germans carried extra ammo when the felt the need in pockets and a lunch device called a bred bag.
WWII Japan carried two pouches with two cells each or 40 rounds with a piggy back pouch that was said to carry 60 louse rounds. I think the louse rounds were wrapped in paper pouches otherwise when you opened the flap with one hand behind your back depending on your position bullets would go everywhere.
Cloth bandoleers - - had a number of pouches and this was a good method to carry more ammo and yet were disposable when empty. Even these bandoleers were used by quite a number of different countries the US included. How many bandoleers one carried would depend on strength and agility of the individual and what he felt comfortable with. Given the size of the bullets and the extra weight involved two extra bandoleers during WWII would seem to be about the limit for the average man. Different US units were said to be required to carry 2 or 3 depending on the mission and whatever else could be left behind.
In Iraq US troops working with the M16 (Looks like the civilian AR 15 rifle) were said to carry 6 to 12 extra mags (6 = 168 + one on the gun =196 bullets and 12 = 336 + one on the gun = 364) with body armor and the rest of their gear. The mags were said to function best with 28 bullets instead of 30. In a war a US civilian in good condition without all the extra gear could carry quite a bit more. By putting extra ammo water food etc. on carry vehicles some dropped the number to 6 clips.
Richard W. Norman To see about my book click my name