The Early Period Grenade - page 1

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Buck Conner

Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2015
The Early Period Grenade

A few months back the brothers on the AMM Internet got to talking about explosives, and a number of misc. items using black powder, it's types, etc., anyway the subject of Civil War grenade came up when a brother asked about places to see and here? how it went from there.

Rev. War You mentioning grenades, have you ever seen the pattern that Ben Franklin came up with for making the outside shell for a grenade. According to Dr. Vernon E. Bigsby (assn. director) at Valley Forge Park & Museum (30 years ago), the shell was made of sheet lead using Franklin's hexagon pattern, which is a number of small hexagons folded into a softball size container. They had several at the Museum on display, along with the poison rifle balls and some other unusual items that Mr. Franklin dreamed up for warfare.

Fur Trade I have never been able to find any documentation of American made grenades finding their way out west but there is mention of them of in "The Fur Hunters of the Far West" by Alexander Ross. He describes the building of Ft. Nez Peirces in some detail and then goes on to say that "Our weapons of defense were composed of four pieces of ordnance from one to three pounds, besides ten wall pieces or swivels, sixty stand of muskets and bayonets, twenty boarding pikes, and a box of hand grenades". Ross was with both the Northwest Company and the HBC at various times from 1813 to 1825. He mentioned earlier in the book that some Indians ambushed them at the portage of the Cascades wounding Mr. Stuart. "He tried to defend his post , but owing to the wet weather, his guns missed fire several times, and before any assistance could reach him, he had received three arrows. Anyway after all the dust settled an expedition was sent out to teach the Indians some manners. Ross goes on to say "Eve! ! ry man worth naming was armed and besides the ordinary arms, and accouterments, two great guns, six swivels, cutlasses, hand grenades, and hand-cuffs, with ten days provisions." From this I would say that the British had and used hand grenades. Dennis Fisher

AMM Internet

Civil War There is one of those Civil War grenades in the museum at Stone Mountain, Georgia - close to Conyers and close to Atlanta. Richard James

AMM Internet

Indian Wars Just recently at the site of the Sand Creek Massacre between La Junta (near Bent's Fort) and Kit Carson, Colorado, where they are excavating, they found a grenade that didn't go off when the civilian militia killed over 200 peaceful "hostels." Bill Cunningham

AMM Internet

As the discovery of black powder was happening and over the course of time, the Chinese, Hindus, Greeks, Arabs, English and Germans have all claimed the honor of discovering black powder; however, no decisive proof can be found to determine who actually made the first discovery.

There are early accounts of Chinese firecrackers, Roman Candles and Greek Fire Bombs, but most commonly, the credit is given to Roger Bacon (mid 13th century) of England or Berthold Schwartz (early 14th century) of Germany as both monks left written records of their experiments. In their documents, they proved that they had identified the explosive property of sulfur, carbon, and potassium nitrate. It is high probable that several countries independently came up with the same conclusion at approximately the same time.

Some accounts claim the Chinese made the first fireworks with a formula very much like black powder, and used black powder in weapons that explosived in the early 13th century, such as bombs and grenades. by the 14th century the hand cannon, stationary cannon and field cannon had made their appearance. This information does not have good documented proof like some of the monks of England and Germany have shown, but this is the first mention of "Fire Grenades" used to protect or defend against another force.

Classified Ad recently seen in a Bottle & Glass magazine.

Chinese Fire Grenades: these bottles were designed to be destroyed in a fire, (filled with black powder) most common colors are cobalt, greens, amber, and clears. They usually have bands or quilting on them and are embossed with the manufacturer's name/mark, They are usually about 6-8" high with a narrow neck and a round (rect) body, can be filled and sealed or empty. Good grenades can cost upwards of $2000- Have several in this price range, call for colors and prices.

Siege and Surrender of Mexico Chapter I ARRANGEMENTS AT TEZCOCO "As they reached the opening in the dike, the stream became deeper, and flowed out with such a current that the men were unable to maintain their footing. The Spaniards, breasting the flood, forced their way through; but many of the Indians, unable to swim, were borne down by the waters. All the plunder was lost. The powder and grenades were spoiled; the arms and clothes of the soldiers were saturated with the brine, and the cold night wind, as it blew over them, benumbed their weary limbs till they could scarcely drag them along. At dawn they beheld the lake swarming with canoes, full of Indians, who had anticipated their disaster, and who now saluted them with showers of stones, arrows, and other deadly missiles". Bodies of light troops, hovering in the distance, disquieted the flanks of the army in like manner. The Spaniards had no desire to close with the enemy..............

Chapter II CORTES RECONNOITRES THE CAPITAL For this he was partly indebted to the good offices of Ixtlilxochitl, who, in consequence of his brother's death, was now advanced to the sovereignty of Tezcuco. This important position greatly increased his consideration and authority through the country, of which he freely availed himself to bring the natives under the dominion of the Spaniards. The general received also at this time the welcome intelligence of the arrival of three vessels at Villa Rica, with two hundred men on board, well provided with grenades, arms and ammunition, and with seventy or eighty horses. It was a most seasonable reinforcement. From what quarter it came is uncertain; most probably, from Hispaniola. Cortes, it may be remembered, had sent for supplies to that place; and the authorities of the island, who had general jurisdiction over the affairs of the colonies, had shown themselves..............

Black powder was introduced to America about three hundred years ago in 1675 with the founding of Milton Mill near Boston, MA. As a general rule though, the American powder was of lower quality. England still restricted the manufacturing and accumulation of black powder among the colonists. It was not until the American Revolution, when rebels discovered they had a very limited supply, that small mills sprang up in the forests to aid the American cause.

Shown as a note, is an attempt by the Continental Congress to acquire better grade powder for the up-coming unrest, this was from my family history tree that's been handed down, also note name spelling change do to my Great Grand father having family problems with his father.
NOTE In the fall of 1774, John O'Connor, son to Jacob was sent to Germany to purchase flint, grenades and powder for a possible problem in the near future. With the British hieagarity in the Boston area and the un-auoritized purchase of such items, it was decided to bring the supplies in as machine parts for the family grist mill and new knitting mill. If caught John and his father could be hung and the family business taken in the process. The cost of the supplies were to be covered per the Continental Congress upon receiving the items in good order. The powder, grenades and flint was sent thought several ports and delivered as promised to various locations in the colonies, Concord being one location. Family records show that several of the men were involved with town military units, but do not show if they ever saw any fighting. A son-in-law, a native to this country was a scout under the Command of General John Johnson, not much more was said about him, probably because of his ! ! breeding. Indians married to Europeans was not favored by most families in either world.......

Franklin's hexagon pattern, which is a number of small hexagons folded into a softball size container made out of sheet lead (size of grenade was determined by size of the hexagons). They would fill the grenades with powder, broken glass and fragments of rusty old nails, seal the hole with wax - with wick sticking out of the wax. They wouldn't try to throw it because it was to heavy, instead they would roll it down an incline into a sleeping camp (no documentation as to if they were ever used).

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