Borman Fuse Cutter

The Bormann fuse, a circular metal disk about an inch-and-a-hatf in diameter and a half-inch thick was most commonly used. It was tapped so it could be screwed into the shell, while the inside was iilled with a

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used by cannoneers for riding. (George Lomas Collection)

Bormann Fuse

circular train of powder. Its [ace was marked with a set of parallel lines of differing lengths and numbers, each representing a different time. The gunner cut into the fuse at the proper point for the shell to explode at a given time. The first mark exploded the shell at three quarters of a second after firing; die second, one second; the third, a second and a quarter; the fourth, a second and a half; the fifth, a second and three quarters; the sixth, a number 2, at two seconds; and so fourth tip to five and a quarter seconds. This proved to be the most reliable fuse in Federal service.

The poor quality of southern-made Bormann fuses caused battery commanders some problems. According to Alexander: "Confederate artillery could only sparingly, & in great emergency, be allowed to fire over the heads of our infantry. We were always liable to premature explosions of shell & shrapnel, & our infantry knew it by sad experience, R-1 have known of their threatening to fire back at our guns if we opened over their heads. Of course, solid shot could be safely so used, but that is the least effective amnumition, & the infantry would not know the difference & would be demoralized & angry till the same," Indeed, production of southern-made Bormann fuses was discontinued in December, 1862, although some batteries were forced to use them as late as Gettysburg. Instead, the Confederates used a variety of fuses, ranging from simple paper models to an elaborate device that used a bullet attached to a friction primer. As the shell rotated in the barrel, the bullet was spun off, igniting the primer which had been previously picked for the correct time required.

The Federal artillery also experimented with placing a percussion cap on a cone under a metal cover on the nose of ammunition fired with rifled gum. Since the nose of a round fired with a rifled guri would hit the target first, the percussion cap would then fire the shell on impact. This meant that estimating times for setting fuses would be unnecessary. The Confederates used similar fuses made of copper which screwed into the shell nose.

Due to the problems of premature explosions when firing over infantry, ]. 1'. Shenkl produced a 3-in. Ordnance Rifle shell encased in papier-mache which would turn into harmless powder as it flew towards its target. Another maker, James, produced ammunition for his system of rifled smoothbores that used a long soft-metal covering that fit into the grooves on firing. The cast-iron body was oblong and had a cast of slanted iron ribs under the tinplate and lead covering. The special ammunition produced by Wiard for his guns used a cast-iron body loaded with shot and bound by wire. The wire was connected to projections at the end. Small holes allowed the gas on discharge to enter the projectile, expanding its sides.

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