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Original U.S. Civil War Federal Bormann Fused 12lb Inert Cannon Ball Dug at the Site of the Siege of Knoxville

Regular price $550.00

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a very nice Federal 12lb cannon ball with a 5 1/4 second Bormann fuze. This example was dug up at the site of the Battle of Knoxville several decades ago. The ball measures approximately 4.5 inches in diameter with a 14 inch circumference. Some of the markings on the zinc fuze body are legible. Overall condition is very good with fantastic eye appeal.

Not Available for Export.

The Bormann fuze is named after its inventor, Belgian Army Captain Charles G. Bormann. The Bormann time fuze was employed by the United Stated Ordnance Department as early as 1852. The time fuze is contained in a tin and lead disk. This disk has time markings indicated in seconds and quarter-seconds graduated up to 5 1/4 seconds. The artillerist used a metal punch to pierce the thin metal at the desired time marking. This exposed a section in the horseshoe-shaped horizontal mealed powder train, which is covered by a thin sheet of tin. When the cannon discharged, the flame from the explosion ignited this powder train. It would burn in a uniform rate in both directions, but one end would terminate in a dead-end just beyond the 5 1/4 second mark (Confederate copies are 5 1/2 seconds). The other end would continue to burn past the zero-mark, where it would travel through a channel (1) to a small powder booster or magazine. This powder then exploded, sending the flame through a hole in the fuze underplug to the powder chamber of the projectile. The purpose of the brass or iron fuze underplug was to form a solid base of support for the soft metal fuze, which could have easily been damaged during firing.

The siege of Knoxville (November 19 – December 4, 1863) saw Lieutenant General James Longstreet's Confederate forces besiege the Union garrison of Knoxville, Tennessee, led by Major General Ambrose Burnside. When Major General William T. Sherman approached Knoxville with an overwhelming Union force, Longstreet ended the siege on December 4 and withdrew northeast. The siege was part of the Knoxville campaign of the American Civil War.

In August and September 1863, Burnside's Army of Ohio carried out a nearly bloodless invasion of East Tennessee, an area that included a substantial pro-Union population. Burnside's occupying force was thrown on the defensive when Longstreet's corps and Major General Joseph Wheeler's cavalry launched a counter-invasion from the southwest in November. Longstreet missed his chance to smash the Union forces in the field when Burnside conducted a successful fighting withdrawal to Knoxville. When Longstreet hesitated to attack, the Union soldiers built fortifications to make Knoxville's strong natural defenses even more powerful.

Longstreet's forces lacked sufficient strength to completely surround Knoxville. Therefore, Burnside's Union garrison avoided starvation by bringing food into the city from the south bank of the Tennessee River. On November 29, a major Confederate assault was repulsed with heavy losses in the Battle of Fort Sanders. Aside from day-to-day skirmishing, there were two other significant actions, the first on November 18 west of the city and the second on November 25 at Armstrong's Hill on the south bank. After the siege ended, Longstreet's troops lingered in East Tennessee until April 1864, but were unable to capture Knoxville.

DIAMETER: 4.52 inches
GUN: 12-pounder smoothbore, 4.62-inch caliber
WEIGHT: 12 pounds 5 ounces
SABOT: Wooden cup (missing)
FUZING: Bormann time fuze

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