Excavated Pinfires from the American Civil War


I have been collecting pinfire cartridges and guns for a while now with a strong focus on the role the played in America’s past. On this journey I have researched Pinfire production in the US for the American Civil War by American companies such as C. D. Leet, Allen & Wheelock, and Christian Sharps; as well as guns that were imported.

What I have not been able to find research on however is what foreign companies provided pinfire cartridges for use in the American Civil War. That is why I decided to find out for myself. US production for the Union army only provided 1,572,000 cartridges. All of the rest (and I would estimate maybe 5+ times the US production) were imported.

From my research so far, nearly all have been imported from Paris, France by companies such as Chaudun, Chaudun & Derivière, Gevelot, and Houllier & Blanchard. I have also document some from Eley of the UK as well as quite a few from Charles Fusnot of Bruxells, Belgium.

The Confederate Army seemed to favor ones from Chaudun, Chaudun & Derivière and Gevelot; while the Union troops of course used the US made ones I mentioned above, as well as many by Gevelot, and some by Eley, Houllier & Blanchard, and Charles Fusnot.

Pinfire shotgun shells especially were mostly by Eley.

I have put together an image of the ones in my personal collection along with where they were excavated from. (This is an updated image from those who may have seen my old one on here)

Click Here for a Larger Version

Click Here for a GIGANTIC Version suitable for printing out as a poster or for examining in closer detail.
[color=#FF0000]Caution as this version is 11MBs.[/color]


any headstamped?



The group on the bottom left were recovered right outside Bunker Hill, WV in a Confederate camp. They are all made by either Chaudun or Chaudun & Derivière of Paris, France. The three 9mm pinfire cartridges have the headstamp [color=#0000FF]C & D [/color][color=#FF0000][over][/color] [color=#0000FF]9[/color], two 12mm pinfire cartridges have the headstamp [color=#0000FF]C & D[/color] [color=#FF0000][over][/color] [color=#0000FF]12[/color], and one “12mm” pinfire cartridge with the headstamp [color=#0000FF]CHAUDUN PARIS [/color][color=#FF0000][over][/color] [color=#0000FF]11[/color].

The one from the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, GA has the following headstamp:

This cartridge came in the following box:

For the two longer ones recovered from the Shiloh area, the right one was made by Allen & Wheelock and the left by C. D. Leet. The Long one from somewhere in the Western Theater as well as the one from Helena, AR are by C. D. Leet

All four from Corinth have the small raised [color=#0000FF]G[/color] (Early Gevelot headstamp) at the top of the base near the pin, as does the one from Prairie Grove, AR. I also suspect that the other three from Shiloh are Gevelot as well, but are too corroded. Same with the others from TN.


The one wonderful thing about found objects is that they aren’t constructs or ideas; they just are. Very interesting. Jack


I updated the original post with a new image containing more cartridges, as well as some of the info I have found out so far.


I would be suprised if there wasn’t some Belgian input somewhere. Are we talking here of issued ammunition or privately purchase? I realise with the Militia units being so prevelent the two concepts become blurred.


There are Belgian ones. The one from Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield is a Fusnot one. I have seen these a few times and the boxes turn up more often than others too so I think a bunch were purchased from him. The box they came in is pictured in a post up above, and I also have a label and a box from ones that came with four boxes in one pack.

As for who purchased these, I have absolutely no idea. I know some were purchased by the Union with revolver purchases, from both dealers here as well as the one large order of revolvers form Lefaucheux in Paris. At the time Schuyler brought back the 10,000 revolvers he also brought back 200,000 rounds of ammo. Other recorded purchase from dealers have invoices that show cartridges came with revolvers too.

I think a lot more of the privately purchased ammo may have came from the Confederate soldiers, especially the 7mm cartridges, as I have a hard time believing those would have been issued.