Friday, March 11, 2016

Booknotes: Musket Ball and Small Shot Identification

New Arrival:
Musket Ball and Small Shot Identification: A Guide by Daniel M. Sivilich (Univ of Okla Pr, 2016).

In recent decades, conflict archaeology has made great strides in technique, technology and interpretation, and the practitioner's ability to analyze small arms ammunition is an important part of understanding what happened at any gunpowder-era battlefield. With over three hundred photographs and illustrations, Daniel Sivilich's new guide to musket ball identification "from the oldest formed to those fired in the early nineteenth century" looks to be a very useful (and technically detailed) reference tool for professionals and amateurs alike.
"Musket Ball and Small Shot Identification: A Guide traces the history of musket balls and small shot, and explores their uses as lethal projectiles and in nonlethal alterations. Sivilich asks—and answers—a variety of questions to demonstrate how a musket ball found in a military context can help to interpret the site: Was it fired? What did it hit? What type of gun is it associated with? Has it been chewed, and if so, by whom or what? Was it hammered into gaming pieces? By equipping historians and archaeologists with the information necessary for answering these questions, Sivilich’s accessible work opens new views into firing lines, casualty areas, and military camps. It dispels long-held misperceptions about lead shot having been bitten by humans, offers examples of shot altered to improve lethality, and discusses balls made of materials other than lead, such as pewter."
Unfortunately for us, the period range mentioned above looks concrete so I didn't see any Civil War content (beyond a single photograph of a CW-era buck and ball preparation) when quickly thumbing through the volume. The author is a Rev War expert so most case studies come from that conflict plus others from all around the world.

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