Original U.S. Civil War Confederate States Bormann Fused 12lb Cannon Ball - Battle of Bean's Station Tennessee

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Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a Confederate 12lb cannon ball with a Confederate 5 1/2 second Bormann fuze. We were told that this example was excavated near border of Grainger county in the state of Tennessee, in the town of Bean Station, but we have no way to verify this information. This was the location of the Battle of Bean's Station, which took place on December 14, 1863. While it was a tactical victory for Confederate forces, it was strategically indecisive.

The ball itself measures approximately 4.5 inches in diameter with a 14 inch circumference. The numerical markings (1 to 5) on the fuze are all at least partially legible. Overall condition is very good with fantastic eye appeal!

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 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 Battle of Bean's Station was a battle of the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War, occurring on December 14, 1863, in Grainger County, Tennessee. General James Longstreet had been outside of Knoxville until December 4, when he abandoned their position and left heading Northeast. He was trailed by General John G. Parke, who had just replaced General Burnside.

On December 13, General James M. Shackelford was commanding Union forces near Bean's Station on the Holston River. Longstreet decided to go back and capture Bean’s Station. Three Confederate columns and artillery approached Bean's Station to catch the Federals in a vise. By 2:00 a.m. on December 14, one column was skirmishing with Union pickets. The pickets held out as best they could and warned Shackelford of the Confederate presence. He deployed his force for an assault. Soon, the battle started and continued throughout most of the day.

Confederate assaults occurred constantly, but the Union forces held until Southern reinforcements tipped the scales. By nightfall, the Federals were retiring from Bean's Station through Bean's Gap and on to Blain's Cross Roads. Longstreet attacked the Union forces again the next morning, but as he approached them at Blain's Cross Roads, he discovered that they had entrenched themselves beyond eviction. Longstreet withdrew and the Federals soon left the area. The Knoxville Campaign ended following the battle of Bean's Station. Longstreet soon went into winter quarters at Russellville, Tennessee.


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