Minie ball

  • Can somebody recommend me to read a good article about the Minie ball ??? I’m interested in pictures too. For those who are not familiar with the Minie ball: the Minie ball had a conical shape with a hollow base and the projectile used a number of concentric rings around the base of the bullet in order to expand into the rifling when the powder charge forced the projectile forward. During the Civil War (1861-65) the Minie bullet was used by many rifles. Thanks in advance for any help, Liviu 07/25/10



If you google “Minie Ball” you’ll get hundreds of hits.



Here are a few information-packed articles for you about the development, history, and use of minie balls.

Minie balls were battlefield revolution
Weaponry: The Rifle-Musket and the Minié Ball
The lead minie ball

Another excellent source is the book, Round Ball to Rimfire: A History of Civil War Small Arms Ammunition by IAA member, Dean S. Thomas.

Here is also a picture contrasting some of the different civil-war era projectiles.


My site about european lead bullet systems



Dean Thomas’ earlier work Ready Aim Fire is a very good introduction to American Civil War bullets and, being a fairly slender paperback, can likely be picked up used for not a lot. I like it. Jack


Minies are a fascinating subject and one of the most significant single changes that occoured in ammunition development. Often underestimated in my opinion.

Coupled with the industrial developments that allowed the mass production of rifled barrels it gave soldiers the ability to shoot reasonably accurately out to 600yds and beyond. A massive advantage over previous musketry

Certain battles in the ACW demonstrate this. Probably the best known is Pickett’s charge on the third day of the battle of Gettysburg. The Confederate troops were taking accurate incoming fire from Union troops on the ridge as soon as they left the woods and only (I think ) twelve men made it to the ridge. The death toll was immense. I believe it still stands as the highest recorded death toll on any single day in any battle in any war including WW1 and WW2.

Had the battle been fought using smoothbore weapons firing balls the Confederates wouldn’t have been taking significant incoming musket fire until the last 200yds and the Union troops wouldn’t have been able to load and fire quickly enough to hold them off.

The battle demonstrate that Lee had failed to grasp the fact that the longer range and accuracy completely cancelled out his perceived superiority in numbers. The battle is very well portrayed in the movie Gettysburg starring Martin Sheen. All the better for having been filmed on the actual battlefield its probably as realistic as you will get without finding a time machine.


I have some spare modern ones if you wanted some, I have a friend that cast’s them for all the chaps at our rifle club.